Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Cameron to support creation of Euro-State without democratic consent

by Marc Glendening

The British government in March gained the initial approval of Parliament to give the EU at a later date new powers over economic decision-making, through a redefining of Article 136 of the Lisbon treaty.

As was confirmed yesterday (August 16) at the Sarkozy-Merkel mini summit, Brussels intends establishing central economic governance under the leadership of the EU president Herman van Rompuy. Ostensibly, this will only apply to the Eurozone countries.

As People’s Pledge advisory council member Douglas Carswell MP, among others, has warned, giving the green light for the creation of such a powerful centralised authority carries huge risks for Britain, together with other non-euro countries Denmark and Sweden.

A unified Eurozone voting bloc will be able to force through whatever measures it wants to, aided by the European Court of Justice which has the final say in any dispute regarding interpretations of the treaty.

Remember, back in May 2010 it was decided by the eurozone majority that Britain and the other non-euro countries must contribute to the bailouts under Article 122 of the treaty. Our government believed, in its naivety, that this article was only about helping countries that were experiencing ‘natural disasters’.

Whatever opt-outs David Cameron believes he has secured will ultimately mean nothing so long as the EU enjoys legal supremacy over us. Once he has given his consent to a new Article 136, the gates of the eurozone Gothic castle will clamp shut for all EU member states.

No consent

There is also a moral dilemma relating to this issue, but not one that concerns the current UK government, sadly: Should Britain really be enabling the EU to further extend its undemocratic control over the lives of German, Greek, Irish, French, Italian and other eurozone peoples when they will have no chance to give or withhold their democratic consent to what is being planned for them?

Remember, not one European electorate voted explicitly for the single currency project in a referendum. Opinion polls showed at the time the euro came into existence that a clear majority of the German people wanted to keep their national currency.

The legal instrument through which the new powers will be transferred from the member countries to the EU is Article 136 of the Lisbon treaty. When the time comes, the political heads of all the member countries, including David Cameron, will vote to change the wording of this article.

Blank cheque

As opponents of Lisbon have always warned, the treaty contains within it the means for the political elite to add new policy making controls to the EU portfolio without having to go through the lengthy and often politically messy process of ratifying new treaties through national parliaments or, heaven forbid, referendums.

This they are now in the process of doing. The Irish government is particularly keen to restrict the right of its voters to have a say. This will no doubt be tested in the courts by citizens demanding a referendum on what will clearly be an issue of constitutional significance.

It may still be that some of the measures the French and German governments want to force through will also require a new short treaty. For example, Angela Merkel has the problem to contend with of legal challenges before the German supreme court that claim that the bail-outs of Greece, Portugal and Ireland are unconstitutional as they violate Article 125 of the treaty which forbids paying off the debts of other eurozone countries.

While nothing has been decided yet, it might be that in order to overcome the objections of many German citizens, together with some politicians, Merkel will require an explicit re-writing of the treaty.

Miliband's opportunity

Even if this proves to be the case, our government has stated it will do whatever is required to facilitate a politically unified eurozone. Cameron will attempt to whip through Parliament, enthusiastically supported by the Lib Dems, naturally, any new treaty in addition to the beefed up Article 136.

It will be interesting to see how Ed Miliband plays all this. If he’s smart, Labour will oppose this Cameroonian chicanery and make common cause with the numerous Tory MPs who can be expected to defy their leadership on this. If this were to happen, it is not inconceivable that the government could be defeated and the Labour leader would be able to position himself as a champion of the rights of the British and other European peoples against the furtive, secretive political class.

If he doesn’t, he will confirm that he is just another dreary and untrustworthy political insider.

The good thing about all of this is that at least the fog is now clearing from the battlefield and a growing number of people appreciate what is at stake and that the stark reality is that Britain now needs to decide whether it is governed principally from Brussels or by those who are accountable to us through the ballot box, as in Switzerland and Norway.

It’s that simple. And this is where the People’s Pledge referendum campaign comes in.

written by Marc Glendening

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

EU re-negotiation is not an option

by Marc Glendening

Regimes and politicians periodically feel the need to reiterate arguments and claims that they know to be untrue, we the recipients of their propaganda know to be untrue and they know that we know are untrue.

Yet, they feel strangely compelled to continue repeating their claims or impossibilist demands anyway.

One Tory equivalent of ‘widget production is running at record levels in the Upper Urals’, or ‘violent crime is at its lowest point in the UK for 50 years’, is the periodic re-articulation of the pretence that the EU treaty can, and should, be re-negotiated.

A number of Conservative EU-sceptics, including John Redwood, have recently tried to revive the line, in the wake of the Eurozone crisis, that the opportunity now exists for David Cameron to play real hardball with Brussels. Unless the EU returns powers over aspects of social policy and other matters, the UK should not sign any new treaty enabling the creation of ‘economic governance’ in the Eurozone, they urge.

That nice Dr Cameron, however, can be confidently expected to respond to this proposal by applying his trusty political sedative, based on a carefully crafted cocktail of pretending to take this demand seriously, combined with the making of vaguely sympathetic, soothing noises.

A sense of calm will return to the Tory ‘patient’. And nothing will then happen, except, of course, that the current government will agree to a greater EU centralisation of power, claiming that none of this will apply to non-Eurozone countries.

Reality check

My suspicion is that 90% of the Tory re-negotiatists know that the choice now confronting us is, in reality, whether to continue accepting whatever comes down the tube from Brussels or to quit membership.

They must appreciate that forcing a repatriation of powers is an impossibility since the Lib Dems will simply not permit it, as Nick Clegg has recently confirmed, plus any attempt at re-negotiation would take months - possibly years - of complex arm-twisting and coalition-building in Brussels.

It also seems unlikely that the EU will risk presenting a new treaty any time soon. A lot of the economic governance agenda will be forced through using a revamped Article 136 of the post-Lisbon EU treaty, so avoiding any risk of a referendum in Ireland or anywhere else.

Back in March, our government won the backing of Parliament to agree to the EU beefing up Article 136 with absolutely no strings attached. Brussels is now using the Lisbon treaty changes to give itself new powers not spelt out in the original text of the treaty.

Strategic mistake

Accepting the stark reality before us, however, is not something at this stage, for politically understandable reasons, most Tory (as well as Labour) EU-sceptical MPs and wannabee politicians want to acknowledge.

Putting forward the case for a theoretical re-negotiation is therefore a much more attractive option: it enables politically ambitious EU-sceptics to sound simultaneously radical without instantly placing them outside the mainstream (instant death in today’s conformist, cautious and superficial political culture).

Inevitably, the central demand the Tory boys and girls make in this context is the repatriation of employment and other aspects of social policy. But this is a strategic disaster from an anti-EU perspective, because the Social Chapter has obviously been popular amongst those on the left.

Targeting this area can only undermine the struggle to build a mass, democratic popular front across the political spectrum for a referendum on EU membership - the only way now to change our relationship with the EU. Clearly, the centre-right on its own does not have the strength to deliver this objective.

It is as unwise for EU-sceptical conservatives to whine on about the Social Chapter as it would be for pro-EU Tories to, say, crow about Brussels imposing public sector cuts on the Eurozone and centrally demanding the liberalisation of a range of services.

To do so is to potentially drive a wedge in the coalition of forces that is in the process of being created around the referendum demand.

Broad alliance

The building of this cross-party alliance on Europe is a delicate business that requires the different component parts to apply a self-denying ordinance. It means emphasising the issues and demands that unite rather divide left, right and centre.

To employ a New Labour-ism, the EU-sceptical ‘narrative’ needs to make it clear to the British people that, so long as Brussels remains legally supreme over the member states, it doesn’t matter whether the electorate want public ownership to be re-established over the railways or postal services, or instead want greater economic deregulation of employment policy and other areas.

These and other key decisions will not be made by law-makers accountable to the electorate. Proper democratic political conflict between left and right will only resume once we are free of EU control.

Presuming it is accepted that we all acknowledge that there is no real prospect of re-negotiation, Tory EU-sceptics should either 'out' themselves as now being overtly anti-EU or, if they cannot bring themselves to do this, they should refrain from reiterating European policy demands that the left do not share.

Such demands inhibit the work of those waging the battle for independence through the building of a pro-referendum alliance.


written by Marc Glendening
This article was published yesterday on