If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Monday, 30 August 2010

I Love Europe

I love Europe. I love the people, I love the countries, I love the landscapes, I love the roads, I love the food and drink. In all measurable ways, I am a Europhile. But I'm not all that keen on the EU.

I'm not a little-Englander, harking back to the 'good old days' of the Brishempah. I'm not a racist, believing that all them pesky forriners have come to steal our jobs. But I am a democrat - I believe in the right of people to govern themselves. You know, the kind of thing we fight wars for in other parts of the world. And 27 unelected people governing 500 million doesn't sound like anything close to a democracy to me. Especially when it's so corrupt that the accounts haven't been signed off for, what is it, eleven years now? Twelve?

I believe that Gordon Brown broke his word when he signed the Lisbon Treaty behind everyone's backs, despite having promised a referendum on the Constitution (and when even someone like Valery Giscard d'Estaing admits that they are one and the same, I believe him). I believe that David Cameron broke his word disgracefully when his 'cast-iron pledge' to hold a referendum on the Treaty wasn't followed through. I believe that we have been lied to and manipulated by the European Union and their obedient followers in Westminster.

I voted in the referendum in 1975. I voted in favour of staying in, mostly because of Edward Heath's statement that voting 'yes' would entail no loss of sovereignty for the UK. He lied, of course, and he admitted that he lied. I voted for what was then called the 'Common Market', and that's what it was - a trading agreement between a group of nations. Then it became the European Economic Community. 'Community' implies more than just trading, but we let them have it. Then the European Community (see how the 'economic' got quietly sidelined?). Then the European Union. I would never have voted for what we have today, and yet at no point in that process of mission creep and name-changing were the British people ever asked what they thought. That's not democracy in my book.

I think we should have a referendum on our continued membership, and I think we should have it now. Recent figures suggest that even in the most Europhile countries, support for the EU has reached a 9-year low:

The European Commission says fewer than half of voters across Europe are in favour of the union.

The “Eurobarometer” survey – conducted in May – found only 49 per cent of voters backed the EU, four per cent fewer than last year.

The UK figure is 20%, which should tell you something.

Via Dick Puddlecote, I hear of a new push to get a referendum on the matter. The Coalition has promised that any measure getting more than 100,000 signatures will get a hearing in the House of Commons. They are hoping for 10,000 from an online petition. You can sign up here.

I have. The result of any referendum will be a foregone conclusion, I would have thought, which is why it either won't be allowed to happen, or will be non-binding. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try. (And by the way, I have yet to hear of any argument against a referendum which isn't some re-hash of the 'our masters know better then us' theme. If you know of one, please feel free to rehearse it in the comments. Note: not an argument against leaving the EU, on which there are many serious points to be made for and against, but an argument against asking the British people for their opinion.)

Daniel Hannan has some interesting figures here. Two million pounds an hour.


  1. Spot on and well said, in so many ways.

    I was disappointed by Cameron's U-turn. Even recognising that there could be difficulties in leaving the EU, and consequences to doing so, I felt he should have at least carried on to ask the question. I suspect, like yourself, there's no doubt what the answer would be - but it would be rather nice if everybody knew by how much.

    Then, perhaps, the British government could give some serious thought as to how best to honestly represent the will of their electorate. And, perhaps, how to implement 80bn of spending cuts that would almost certainly win popular appeal.

    Thanks for the heads-up on the petition: duly signed and I hope it makes it to a hearing.

  2. I hate the way that anti-EU feeling is portrayed as some kind of backwoods ignorance. I am just in favour of people being given a say, that's all.

    I've heard it said that people shouldn't be given a say on certain matters - the usual one is the death penalty. "But if people had a vote, they would vote in favour!" Well, if the majority of the British electorate is in favour, isn't that something we should address? Sidelining people's genuine and heartfelt concerns is what has given the BNP such a boost in recent years.


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