Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Who are the real authoritarians, Mr Miliband?

David Miliband, the foreign secretary, has in recent weeks launched a typically New Labour, McCarthyite attack on the Conservative party for teaming up with some east European political parties in the European parliament who are alleged to hold anti-semitic, homophobic and ‘neo-Nazi’ views.

However, since the European Parliament is clearly not where significant power lies in Brussels, the decision of the Tories to team up with East European centre-right parties is of little consequence, regardless of whether or not the claims made against them have been spun in some typically New Labour way by the foreign secretary.

McCarthyite tactic

New Labour, throughout its Peter Mandelson-orchestrated history, has frequently attempted to smear its opponents as being ‘far right’ or ‘xenophobic’ in order to distract attention from the actual substance of the inconvenient political position or claim being advanced.

The foreign secretary in making the attacks he has is merely continuing a long, disreputable tradition, characterised in relation to the EU issue principally by former Europe minister Denis MacShane.

David Miliband’s intention now is to distract attention away from his government’s anti-democratic breaking of its promise at the 2005 general election to let the British people vote on the Lisbon treaty (the cynically re-named European Constitution rejected by a large majority of French and Dutch voters in 2005).

Nor does he want us to focus on the fundamentally undemocratic nature of the system of governance that citizens from all the member countries are being placed under the control of without their consent.

EU's fascist backers

Since Mr Miliband has attempted to create this McCarthyite smokescreen, he should perhaps reflect that, as Dr John Laughland’s book The Tainted Source: The undemocratic origins of the European Union so brilliantly demonstrates, the original project of creating a Pan-European political system was actually enthusiastically supported by fascist movements.

The National Alliance in Italy, the successors to Mussolini’s party and partners in the Berlusconi coalition government, are firm supporters of greater European political union today.

The British fascist leader, Oswald Mosley, campaigned post-war on the slogan of ‘Europe a nation’. The original plans for a single currency were drawn up by the Nazis.

Former French presidents and drivers for European centralisation, Francois Mitterand, Giscard d’Estaing and Jacques Delors were all active for the Vichy government in various capacities. Mitterand even received the Francisc medal from Marshall Petain for his service to the fascist regime.

Fascists were attracted to the idea of a politically unified and regulated continent with a non-elected elite at its core.

New euro-authoritarians

The peoples of Europe today are confronted by a new and dangerous post-democratic elitism - Euro-Authoritarianism - of which David Miliband is one classic manifestation.

Euro-Authoritarianism is self-evidently more subtle than Twentieth Century fascism, and it is not motivated by anti-semitism.

The Euro-Authoritarians do not seek to end multi-party elections, but rather to greatly restrict the parameters within which electorates can make meaningful collective choices.

This is achieved by transferring ever more law-powers to appointed, non-accountable institutions in Brussels and through so-called Human Rights legislation that enables judges to become policy makers though their interpretations of vaguely drafted articles.

The new Euro-Authoritarians are driven by a post-modernist, Third Way ideology. This represents a direct threat to the liberal, anti-colonialist legacy of the European Enlightenment and the idea that sovereignty should reside with national communities of people rather than unaccountable elites.

Mr Miliband and his associates in New Labour today are working to create an elitist, post-democratic political system based in Brussels that does not accord with the rule of law and can by-pass parliamentary and public accountability.

The Euro-Authoritarians fear the concept of popular democracy, hence their hysterical denunciations of the idea that voters should be allowed to directly determine important issues by referendum.

The New Euro-Authoritarians support…

…preventing the peoples of the EU member states having a direct democratic say regarding whether or not new law-making powers should be centralised in Brussels. When the French and Dutch voters overwhelmingly rejected the Lisbon treaty (then named the EU Constitution) their wishes were ignored. When the Irish rejected both the Nice and Lisbon treaties they were forced to vote again within a year in rigged referenda so that these treaties could be forced through.

…the centralisation of more law-making powers in Brussels. Once directives are passed, no national elected government or parliament can opt to reject or reverse them as the unelected Commission retains the monopoly right to initiate new legislation. Because of the volume of laws emanating from Brussels, most of the measures are passed in Britain through the use of statutory instruments. MPs do not even get the chance to debate them, let alone vote to block them.

…the introduction of a raft of measures designed to increase state surveillance and control. Lisbon will lead to the creation of the Committee on Internal Security (COSI) which will share DNA, fingerprint, CCTV footage and internet surveillance material between security organisations. In May, the EU Data Retention Directive was passed. This enables state agencies to find out what all citizens - not just those suspected of committing criminal offences - have been downloading and who they have been contacting electronically.

The Commission is already funding Project Indect which is a mass surveillance project dedicated to identifying "abnormal behaviour" through CCTV footage and a "continuous monitoring of websites, discussion forums, usernet groups… and individual computer systems".

The EU now has an embryonic police force, Europol, whose officers, like senior EU officials, enjoy, revealingly, immunity from prosecution in member states (Statutory Instrument 1997 No.2973). This body will gain powers of "implementation"of operational powers within the member states as a consequence of Lisbon.

EU citizens can now under the European Arrest Warrant be deported automatically to another member country without any hard evidence having been provided by prosecuting authorities. The Commission has been for many years financing various projects designed to result in the introduction of ID cards, though their formal implementation is still a matter of national law.

…the current undemocratic structure of the EU. In addition to the unelected Commission’s monopoly right to introduce new legislation, the Council of Ministers meets in secret and votes are not recorded. In reality, the vast majority of its decisions are taken by civil servants representing the ministers from the member states in COREPER. European voters cannot hold these bodies collectively responsible through the ballot box.

The executive and the key legislative body, therefore, are beyond democratic account. It is illegal under article 108 of the current treaty for elected representatives from the member states to in any way try to influence the deliberations of the European Central Bank.

Under Lisbon, the political leaders, meeting behind closed doors in the European Council, will be able to appoint a full-time president and foreign minister to represent the Union on the world stage.

… an elitist, corporatist system of politics. The mindset of the EU political class is to concentrate power in the hands of elite bodies representing big business and the major trades unions. Hence, the Committee of the Social Partners which affords elite access to the European Round Table of Industrialists.

The EU model of corporatist politics cuts out ordinary voters and gives a massive advantage to lobbyists from big financial interests, as was seen in the decision to outlaw 300 alternative health treatments following extensive lobbying by Pfizer, Boots and other big companies.

Cowardly elite

New Labour have shown themselves to be notoriously cowardly in terms of openly debating the EU issue, as well as virtually every other issue.

They prefer, as good authoritarians, to speak only at controlled, all-ticket events with no or only planted questions from the floor.

Having made his outspoken accusation in the cosy company of the press that EU critics like William Hague and the Tory party are consorting with ‘neo-Nazis’, does the foreign secretary - who claims to be an intellectual - have the cojones to publicly debate the question of ‘anti-democratic politics’ with Dr Laughland?

We would be pleased to make all the arrangements, including finding a neutral chairperson that both participants find acceptable.

So how about it Mr Miliband?

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

BBC bias in Lisbon treaty reporting

UPDATE: Tues 20 October 2009

The BBC are at it again with their subtle bias: "His signature is now virtually the last hurdle before full ratification of the treaty,
which is aimed at streamlining the 27-member EU's decision making." A completely one-sided presentation of the treaty's purpose, given in the BBC's supposedly non-partisan voice, and therefore not fairly balanced by the critical quote from the clearly partisan Czech President that follows it.


A flurry of BBC reports surrounding the recent referendum in Ireland has once again displayed the continued pro-EU bias in the BBC's supposedly 'neutral' and 'impartial' output.

BBC stories about
the referendum result, discussing what the Conservatives now intend to do about the Lisbon Treaty and on questions about Czech ratification were all peppered with the subtly biased descriptive statements about the Treaty that have featured in many other BBC articles on the subject in recent years.

The BBC kicks off its latest festival of euro bias just a few paragraphs into the piece reporting the result of the Irish vote, by declaring: "The treaty - which is aimed at streamlining decision-making in the 27-nation bloc - ... "

This is of course an abjectly pro-EU 'government line' description of the purpose of the treaty, with which the treaty's critics would profoundly disagree.

We, for example, would argue that the treaty's only purpose is to continue the EU political integration project, by transferring more decision-making powers from national governments and parliaments to undemocratic EU institutions. And to establish for the EU further symbols of the statehood to which it so clearly aspires.

Yet there, presented as the view of the 'neutral' BBC, the unalloyed government view sits. Completely unqualified and unattributed, supposedly a statement of impartial fact.

Credibility clash

Nearer the bottom of the same article appears a second, similarly biased statement of BBC 'fact'.

"The treaty is intended to make EU institutions better suited to the enlarged bloc of 27", the article intones. Another 'government line'.

At least, after this second biased claim, albeit right down at the bottom of the piece, the views of "opponents" are finally given a short airing.

But still that is unsatisfactory, as such opponents are being set against not the opinions of the EU, the government or some campaign group whose broad stance can be determined and their view put in context. But the view of the supposedly neutral BBC.

That credibility clash is a totally unfair one on the treaty's critics.

More bias

The same problem crops up in the BBC article questioning the Tory position on the treaty after the Irish vote.

Again, only a few paragraphs down, it is written that the treaty "aims to strengthen EU decision-making processes by using a majority vote, not unanimity, for more decisions."

Yet another completely pro-EU interpretation of the treaty's aims, unattributed to any known EU-friendly voices, and unaccompanied by any balanced mention o
f the consequent weakening of national democratic structures that more EU majority voting entails.

No mention, for example, of how majority voting allows entire governments and parliaments to be overridden by EU institutions and laws imposed on countries regardless of domestic popular or even political opinion.

Are we really expected to imagine that the BBC considers such trifling details of little relevance or interest to readers? Because if not, what other conclusion is there to draw but that of unthinking or deliberate bias?

No critical voices about the treaty are featured in this article at all. But two quotes - from Gordon Brown and Irish PM Brian Cowen - are included in effusive praise of the treaty.

Third time unlucky

And finally, in an article about the Czech ratification of the treaty, the BBC states without qualification as if it were indisputable fact: "The treaty aims to streamline EU decision-making and boost the EU's role globally."

"Opponents" do get a look-in this time, using the same non-specific line as previously that: "Opponents see Lisbon as part of a federalist agenda that threatens national sovereignty."

No detail there about specific negative treaty provisions that might actually make people question the treaty's merits. Heaven forbid!

Guilty verdict

Back in 2005, in a report the BBC itself commissioned, the Corporation was deemed guilty of an institutional pro-EU bias.

Probably worse than any deliberate bias, of which the BBC was cleared, the report concluded that the problem was institutional because the broadcaster “suffers from certain forms of cultural and unintentionial bias”.

It put this down to BBC journalists often being ignorant about how the EU works.

But a far greater contributor to the problem seems to be the internal perpetuation of an inaccurate cultural view of the EU's critics - a view that is too heavily defined by crude labels used by the government and other EU supporters to try to discredit their opponents.

The most commonly broadcast manifestation of this cultural fault is frequent use of the term "anti-Europeans" to describe EU-critics, with all the cultural antipathy to 'Europe' that term misleadingly injects into what is in reality a political debate about governing structures.

Sadly, on recent form, it seems very little progress has been made in the intervening years to restore the BBC's reputation for impartiality.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Ireland votes on Lisbon treaty

Ireland has voted to approve the Lisbon Treaty in the re-run of the referendum that led to the treaty's rejection last year.

In a vote tainted by irregularities and illegalities - such as blatant breaches of Irish referendum rules requiring balanced media coverage and no public money to be used for either side - the result this time was a 67% 'Yes' vote.

While it's hard to believe that the Irish people voted 'Yes' based on the idea that the economy would suffer further if they refused to give the EU even more governing powers, that seems to be exactly what a majority has been bullied into doing.

The pro-Lisbon
camp promised a 'Yes' vote would mean more jobs and economic recovery - the relevance of either outcome to the Lisbon Treaty having been dismissed by even the Irish Referendum Commission.

If these promises fail to materialize - for example, if Irish unemployment continues to rise after this 'Yes' vote - it will be clear beyond doubt that the 'Yes' camp has misled people.

In all likelihood, the only jobs the Lisbon Treaty will create will be in Brussels for yet more former politicians and more legions of attendant bureaucrats taking up new positions in the various EU agencies and bodies the treaty introduces.

That further needless financial burden on the backs of Europe's taxpayers will only delay economic recovery, not hasten it.

Imbalanced campaign

That the 'Yes' camp ran a fundamentally dishonest campaign appears to be widely accepted.

As ever, their chief strategy was to make a deliberate conflation between the implications of EU membership and those of the Lisbon Treaty, and claiming falsely that a 'No' would put Ireland's economic links to other EU member countries at risk.

The last thing the 'Yes' camp wanted to discuss was the the treaty itself and whether it is really necessary for yet more political decisions to be transferred to Brussels.

Whether, for example, it is necessary for the EU to have a full-time President, Foreign Minister, its own diplomatic service, or for Ireland to give up a large slice of its influence over EU decisions.

'No' outspent

This strategy was particularly potent at the present time, when Ireland's economic troubles have worsened considerably since the last Lisbon Treaty referendum.

The inaccurate representation of what the referendum was about by the 'Yes' camp was then rammed home by outspending the 'No' side more than ten times over.

In particular, serious legal questions must now be asked about the role played by the European Commission - a direct beneficiary of the result - which used millions of pounds of public money to influence the outcome in their favour.

The myth still perpetuated by a few starry-eyed EU luvvies that the Commission is the benign 'civil service' element of the EU structure must now be permanently marked 'busted'.

Wrong path

With this vote, Ireland has stepped into the worst of all worlds.

None of the promises made by the 'Yes' side can or will be delivered.

Millions of potential friends among ordinary people across Europe who would have liked to reject this treaty, had they been given a say, have been lost.

Respect will not even be forthcoming from EU political elites, who will most likely be chuckling behind Ireland's back in amazement that their economic scaremongering and shabby trick of empty declarations has actually worked.

Democracy tag team

The baton of halting the onward march of an illegitimate EU State now falls to the lone figure of Vaclav Klaus - President of the Czech Republic.

But even if it passes his final hurdles, the underhand way in which this treaty has been forced through has served to further erode faith in the EU project among those who uphold democratic principles.

Disquiet about how the EU and its backward-looking supporters amongst Europe's governing class have conspired to deceive people about their intentions and deny people a say on their actions will echo long into the future - long after this particular event is forgotten.

Today, EU elites may well celebrate another step towards this extra level being built on the EU's already lofty powers.

But it has been achieved at the cost of further crumbling the foundations of the EU's legitimacy.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Commission out of control

Is there any more democratically corrupt an idea than a governing institution - which stands to gain considerable extra powers depending on the outcome of a referendum result - splashing millions of pounds of public money trying to influence the result in their favour?

Public bodies using vast sums of taxpayers' money not available to campaigners on the other side of a referendum debate is not just unfair but, more seriously, incompatible with how governing institutions should behave in modern liberal democracy.

Yet this is the situation right now in respect of recent European Commission interventions in the Irish referendum debate on the Lisbon Treaty.

Commission circus

First we had Catherine Day, secretary-general of the European Commission and, if EU-fanatical voices are to be believed, effectively head of the EU’s civil service.

According to the Irish Times, at the beginning of September she "spent the past week in Ireland undertaking a series of media appearances and public-speaking engagements to support the Yes campaign."

Just imagine the outrage if the head of Britain's civil service during a general election campaign spent a week publicly campaigning for victory by one or other political party while still in post.

Leaving aside the political consideration, who paid for Ms Day's trip?

Then along came European Commission President Jose 'dimension of Empire' Barroso, hot footing it to Ireland brandishing the taxpayers' cheque book.

Visiting Limerick last week he pledged just under £13.5m (€14.8m) to 'help former Dell workers find new jobs'.

"I am very glad that the Commission can demonstrate concretely the Union's solidarity with Limerick [...] in this manner," puffed Mr Barroso. Neglecting to mention that the EU had already approved a far more substantial £50m (€55m) grant given to Dell by the Polish government, towards expanding the computer company's operations in Lodz - the place to which the Irish jobs were exported.

Then, as we highlighted here last week, we saw Transport Commissioner (and Commission Vice President) Antonio Tajani joining an invective-strewn 'Yes to Lisbon' flying tour of Ireland organised by Michael O'Leary, chief executive of Ryanair.

Capping it all, yesterday the European Commission paid what has subsequently been confirmed as £139,000 (€150,000) to insert in all Irish Sunday newspapers over 1 million copies of a 16-page pamphlet 'explaining' the Lisbon Treaty.

The pamphlet says "Today, members of the EU enjoy a wealth of benefits: a free market with a currency that makes trade easier and more efficient, the creation of millions of jobs, improved workers' rights, free movement of people and a cleaner environment.

Then claims, even more controversially, "These are major goals. The Lisbon Treaty is designed to give the EU the tools to achieve them", before launching into a rollecoaster ride of serious inaccuracies and major omissions.

This latest wad of public cash spent by the Commission on securing for itself more power was on top of a £1.4m (€1.6m) contract the Commission signed earlier this year with public relations firm Edelman, to conduct a "PR blitz ... aimed at the three groups who voted en masse against the Lisbon first time around."

Action 'illegal'

Reacting to the news of the Commission pamphlet in last Sunday's newspapers, former Green Party MEP and chairwoman of the anti-Lisbon People’s Movement, Patricia McKenna, has sent a legal letter warning the commission she would take out an injunction against any newspapers carrying the guide to Lisbon.

“This clearly breaches Irish law as set down by Supreme Court in the McKenna judgment in 1995 where taxpayers’ money cannot be used to promote one side in a referendum. This guide is advocacy,” she said.

According to Bruno Waterfield in the Daily Telegraph, even the legal services of both the commission and the Council of Ministers expressed reservations the publication of the "citizens summary" of the Lisbon Treaty.

Waterfield quotes an EU official saying: “The lawyers asked if it was right for the commission to produce a summary of Lisbon, before it was ratified and when there was not one for the Constitution."

In addition to Irish law, McKenna also questioned if the commission breached EU law, given that the institution has no treaty-given role advocating the ratification of EU treaties in member countries.

Rules sacrificed

Yet somehow the European Commission is getting away with interfering, using large sums of public money, to its own potential benefit.

The truth is, the EU elite are so desperate to barge their self-aggrandising Lisbon Treaty past this only permitted public verdict that the rules are being flung out of the window.

Vote NO

That the Commission sees its antics during the Irish referendum as acceptable says everything we need to know about the dangerous, pre-Enlightenment era attitude to democracy and the rule of law at the heart of the EU.

Please, Ireland. Today, only you have the power. This is not just a vote about the EU and Ireland, but about Europe and democracy.

For the sake of democracy in Europe. Please stop these people, by voting 'No'.