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big is not better

More stupidity from the European Union. There are plans to ‘rank’ academic journals. I suppose there are a lot of people with not much to do in Brussels, which is why they come up with these needless regulations that make no sense at all. Underneath the rhetoric about free markets there is a tendency towards monopoly that is characteristic of totalitarian regimes. All this policy would do would be to draw funding from smaller journals which often publish the most valuable research. Bureaucrats and government bodies can NOT improve upon the free market of ideas, and they can NOT identify and develop the best. This error is fundamental to the EU set-up.

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Ring of Fire

According to the Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Lisbon Treaty isn’t substantially different from the European Constitution that was rejected by the French and the Dutch. “The good thing is…that all the symbolic elements are gone, and that which really matters – the core – is left.” Now we learn that those symbolic elements, the anthem and the motto, will be retained anyway. According to the European Parliament’s Constitutional Affairs Committee, “contrary to what some people appear to believe, the fact that they are not included in the Treaty in no way, either politically or legally, prevents the institutions from continuing to use them as they have done up to now, or indeed intensifying their use.” In other words, the four per cent of the Constitution that was changed will be introduced anyway.

It is indeed true that compared to the ceding of powers to the EU on energy, immigration, policing and justice, the imposition of the symbols of the Union is of small significance. Although we are now occasionally treated to disingenuous claims by some fanatics that they feel European, Britain is not going to be eventually overcome with pride in a new identity due to frequent exposure to a nice tune written by a German, a vapid wonk-speak motto and a flag that looks like a gold-studded anus.

What is significant is the manner of these symbols’ introduction. The bureaucrats of Brussels continue to act in a manner that is contemptuous of the people for whom they claim to be governing. In January, the European Parliament gave its President the right to prevent MEPs calling for points of order, giving speeches explaining their votes, or calling for a roll-call vote – the only kind of vote that allows which MEPs vote for or against a piece of legislation to be recorded. In March, the Parliament increased the numbers of members a grouping in the EU parliament needs to get funding, in a deliberate attempt to make it harder for Eurosceptic voters, those represented by the Ind/Dem group including the UK Independence Party, to have their vote heard. UKIP were the second-placed party in our last EU elections. The EU, aided by Richard Corbett MEP (New Labour), conspired to make it harder for their voters to be heard.

All these measures are defensive, and they need to be. For the European Union is spectacularly unpopular. Not only was the Constitution rejected by the Dutch, who were previously believed to be europhiles, by a whopping 62% to 38%, but the French also rejected the treaty. Although their result was closer, only Paris and ten Departements out of one hundred voted for the treaty. In ninety per cent of French Departements, the treaty was rejected. Public opinion in Britain is in favour of a loose, free trade agreement with our European neighbours rather than political union. In Denmark, when offered a referendum on the Euro, the public voted against, as they did in Sweden.

Who wants a political and economic union? The answer is, of course, the politicians of Europe. Despite that conclusive vote in Sweden, all the main Swedish parties want to adopt the Euro. Despite its negative vote on the Euro and on the Maastricht treaty of 1992, the Danish PM wants to force his people to vote again. In the UK, all three major political parties have failed to reflect the views of the people. In YouGov’s survey taken at the time of the ratification of Lisbon, only 29% of respondents wanted to stay in the EU; this means less than a third of the British people feel that EU membership was worthwhile. Thirty-eight per cent favoured membership of a single market, whereas twenty-four per cent just wanted to leave. Ignoring the ‘don’t knows’, sixty two per cent of people don’t want to remain in the EU.

These attitudes aren’t simply a response to the duplicity of the government’s actions over the Constitution. We can see this from examining the history of Yougov polls on the subject. In June 2007, 59% of people said the EU had too much power. As long ago as October 2006, 77% of people favoured a referendum on returning powers on fishing, farming, and borders, whereas only 11% were against it. In 2005, only 21% of people said they would vote for the Constitution. There is no appetite amongst the general public for a federal state of Europe in this country.

It comes as no surprise to see that the Yougov survey from August this year shows that 65% of respondents either agree or strongly agree that the EU is out of touch with ordinary people. This is an impression which is only strengthened by the EU’s adoption of the symbols of nationhood. We now have a bizarre situation, in which the cadres of the unpopular bureaucracy are developing their own sense of identity that is at odds with the British people they purport to serve. Of course, the Ring of Fire is no competitor to the Union Jack for our affections. It is however, the visible symbol of the allegiance of our politicians to a power that has no democratic legitimacy in our nation. At a time of public distrust of politicians, it would be very unwise of any political party in the UK to publicly declare their support for these measures.

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See also my post on Charles Clarke below.

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Why I joined UKIP

It’s difficult to be a eurosceptic. The EU is an institution without the legitimacy that a vote on it would have given it. We have never assented to become a part of the EU, we were never told what it would do, and we have not been consulted over the changes to its structure. Every time a new EU initiative emerges into the sunlight – the EU-wide armed riot police, the post-office closures, the idiotic ethanol schemes – the first instinct is to attack the policy, but then that is implicitly giving the stage of the debate legitimacy. One often ends up shuttling between railing against the policy and against its source, an unconvincing mixture which dilutes both arguments. Eurosceptics end up arguing about the legitimacy of the EU which leaves questions about the idiocy of the policy unanswered, or arguing about the idiocy of the policy which ignores the dubious nature of the source of the policy.  What to do?

Furthermore, how are we to approach the question of voting? Every person who voted for the Labour party last time was used by them as a source of legitimacy for their scandalous signing of the Constitution despite the promise they made not to sign it. Conservative voters this time will, presumably, have to leave Cameron to steady his bike alone after giving him a firm push in the voting booth. How can we be confident that he will fulfil his promise to withdraw from the social chapter and his implicit promise to retract the powers lost through the Lisbon Constitution?

The EU has got where it has due to the fact that political parties have been able to make the calculation that they can garner our votes with different issues, so there is no need to respect the majority opinion, no need to campaign for our independence.

How can we steer a course through this minefield?

We must reward Cameron for his promises on Europe by campaigning for a Tory victory next time. But we must also accept that he and his party will be dealing with a whole raft of issues and events, and the temptation will be to duck the problems that can be ducked and make a calculation about which issues it is necessary or sufficient to win the public’s approval on to win the next election. Consequently, the pressure must be kept up. There are MEPs in the Tory party who believe in the federalist project – they must not be given an ounce of support. The EU elections must confirm the British people’s judgement of the EU – it stinks.

As a result, I have finally joined UKIP, after agonising over the various inadequacies and peculiarities of the organisation. The most glaring was the idiotic decision to accept Spinks as an MP after his ‘send them home’ comments, which played straight into the hands of those who caricature us as xenophobes. Nonetheless, I see the shift to our side of the Tory party in recent years as a substantial victory which is due in some part to UKIP’s stealing of votes from the Tories in vital seats and to its advocacy of a popular point of view that could have slipped out of the political mainstream a few years ago without them. Our success in moving the Tories towards euroscepticism must be the first of many successes. Let the weight of the Tory party fall behind the arguments for the inadequacies and stupidities of EU policy on energy and defence, and let UKIP hover on the fringes of the political scene, reminding everyone of the very real possibilities for ignoring the whole spectrum of lunacy and governing ourselves properly once more. And so I joined UKIP.

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