Friday, 25 May 2012

Revealed: The reason the pro-EU lobby don't want a referendum

by Marc Glendening

'We can't have a referendum because I can't think of any good arguments for the EU': The true anti-democratic nature of EU-elitism exposed!

Gaby Hinsliff had a very interesting and revealing article in The Guardian ('Ed Miliband, you stoke this anti-Europe fire at your peril', May 21) earlier this week.

She was commenting on the growing number of prominent Labour figures - Peter Mandelson, Ed Balls, Alan Johnson and now new party policy supremo, John Cruddas - who have all recently argued that there will need to be a referendum on EU membership.

The possibility that Ed Miliband might boldly go where Harold Wilson dared to venture during the two 1974 general election campaigns and cause havoc for Cameron and Clegg by making the promise that he would, if prime minister, give the British people the chance to decide who governs them, fills Gaby with fear.

Why? Because, she concedes: "Any future yes-to-Europe campaign is now seriously short of compelling arguments." Yes, the project of building a centralised, top-down, Brussels based system of government has indeed, some of us would argue, been rendered redundant by the liberalisation of world trade, the shift in power from west to east, the new technology and demographic change (among other factors).

Gaby is like a mystic who having seen her belief in supranatural powers demolished by the onward march of science still cannot let go of her pre-modern faith. This would be fine if this was just a personal matter. She could happily wrestle with her inner contradictions till the cows come home.

However, there are sinister implications in relation to her opposition to an EU referendum. She is effectively saying that she wishes the political class will continue to deny us the right to decide who gets to make the key decisions over our lives, because she does not have the arguments to persuade us to share her EU dogma.

There is an implicit, well perhaps not so implicit, authoritarianism with many - but by no means all - on the pro-EU side. While there are honourable pro-EUists, such as former Europe minister Keith Vaz and Ian McKenzie, director of the People's Pledge EU referendum campaign, who do believe the people should be entrusted with a say, the likes of Shirley Williams and Denis McShane are adamant that we should not be given a vote on this question.

The majority of EU-elitists are up-dated versions of nineteenth century Tory elitists who thought the working classes and women were too imbecilic to have the franchise extended to them.

Sadly, Gaby Hinsliff appears to come in this category too. At the conclusion of her article she writes: "It's immoral to refuse a vote on Europe lest the people give the 'wrong' answer': but it's certifiably mad to start this fight without knowing you could win."

This is classic Guardian 1984 double-think/newspeak, professing to believe in democracy whilst simultaneously ruling it out unless the right result can be guaranteed beforehand.

At least the trad Tory opponents of universal franchise had the grace to honestly and proudly proclaim their anti-democratic politics.

by Marc Glendening

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

EU's response to election results risks Europe's stability

The weekend's election results in Greece and France have demonstrated more clearly than ever that the European Union and its austerity policies, designed to preserve its flagship euro currency, are feeding a rise in the popularity of extremist parties.

In Greece, the two centrist parties Pasok and New Democracy together received just 30% of the vote compared with almost 80% three years ago, while a 'radical' left-wing coalition called Syriza secured 17% and the openly fascist Golden Dawn gained 7% giving it seats in the Greek parliament.

France also was not immune to such forces, with Marine Le Pen and her Front National party gaining almost a fifth of votes and coming third in the country's presidential contest - an improvement of more than 2.6 million votes on her father's result in 2007.

Continuing a trend that was already in evidence, voters turned to alternatives to the centrist parties as they refused to budge from the Brussels doctrine and appeared unable to provide people with the responsive government they crave.

As the editorial in today's Guardian puts it, "Democracy matters. When Brussels or Berlin loses sight of that simple fact, voters reach for simpler and uglier solutions."

Stability at risk

For the EU's advocates, who claim the organisation is responsible for preserving peace in Europe since the Second World War, this impetus being given to ultra-nationalist forces by the inability of countries locked within the euro to quickly restore competitiveness and growth to their economies should give pause for thought.

The EU's critics on the other hand have long argued that the only true guarantor of continued peace and stability between European nations is effective democracy, where people feel they have meaningful influence over the rules that affect their lives.

Since the EU's fundamental ethos is political integration, which aims to centralise political decision-making in its largely unaccountable Brussels institutions, it's no surprise that growing numbers of people are coming to realise that the EU system is in reality working against goals of peace and stability by driving Europe away from its post-war democratic revival.

Arrogant elite

Such an idea appears far less shocking when leading EU figures are seen stepping in immediately following a public vote in another country to slap down the result.

Take Peter Altmaier, the chief whip of Angela Merkel's Christian Democrat party, who said that France's president-elect Francois Hollande needed to learn that while his election victory may herald change in France, it would not be allowed to change anything on the EU level.

Almost glorying in how people and their votes no longer matter when it comes to directing their own political future, Herr Altmaier said: "It is very important indeed to send a message to the markets that nothing will fundamentally change."

Germany's chancellor herself has also stressed her opposition to Hollande's key campaign pledge of reopening the euro fiscal pact, telling the Berlin media "that's just not on."

"We in Germany are of the opinion, and so am I personally, that the fiscal pact is not negotiable. It has been negotiated and has been signed by 25 countries," she said.

Turning her fire on Greece, Mrs Merkel insisted that Athens must also comply with the stringent terms of its £100bn bailout even though more than 60% of the Greek electorate had voted for parties rejecting those terms.

The European Commission has also weighed in, telling the new French leader that all previous agreements between France and EU were binding despite the election.

"We expect agreements to be ratified. That is the very basis of the EU," said a Commission spokesman. Yet isn't the ability of a new president or parliament to overturn the decisions of a predecessor in response to a majority of public votes the very basis of democracy? Can there be any further doubt that the EU and democracy are fundamentally incompatible.


The moment of truth now looming is not just an economic one over the future of the fiscal pact and the euro, but also a civil and democratic one that goes to the heart of political power on our continent.

Who truly decides how European countries are governed: voters in elections or the technocrats of the EU?

If the EU elite continue on this course of slapping down events in which people cast their votes and expect things to change, they will be playing increasingly dangerous games with the future of Europe.

When those who govern either cannot, or will not, respond to public votes, the necessity of a radical change in course away from EU centralism and its outdated, 1950s goal of political union becomes even more urgent.