Our EU masters have no sense of shame
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Our EU masters have no sense of shame
By Iain Martin 19/06/2008 www.telegraph.co.uk
Guinness and oysters combined can make for a dreadful hangover. Celebrating the Irish way, after the good citizens of the republic had bravely rejected Lisbon and all its works, seemed like a good idea at the time. But after the party that followed such a rare piece of good news for Euro-sceptics, comes the blistering hangover.
|Why can those involved not see that the Euro-project lacks any popular mandate?|
Irish voters may have thought they had killed the treaty, but, in the European Union, no never quite means no; or rather no seems not to matter. And, our peers also bulldozed it through the Lords.
There has been something staggering and infuriating about the events of the past few days. The response to the latest setback has been so brazen from the European elite that wants full integration, it proves those involved have passed beyond a point where they might feel the slightest embarrassment about appearing not to be good democrats. In reality, they are now actively anti-democratic in pursuit of their master plan, revelling in a refusal to acknowledge that voters might be anything other than sheep needing to be led in the right direction.
The word is that Ireland’s veto is not worth the same as a French veto of the previous constitution, and that the Irish are being given time to reflect.
The sense is that Irish voters, bless them, are the most simple of souls, appearing not to know what they were up to when they voted. Their bog-ridden land was rescued from the economic dark ages by the EU, and Dublin, previously a cultural backwater peopled by pygmies such as James Joyce, was only turned into a great European city when the EU, or EEC, pitched up.
The implication is appalling: Ireland’s economic revival had nothing to do with Irish ingenuity and the nation’s celebrated creativity. In that insult is one flickering hope: few peoples like and vote for being told they are stupid.
The Irish have been thoroughly insulted. On hearing of the death of a Turkish ambassador, Talleyrand is supposed to have said: “I wonder what he meant by that?” And so it has been with the Lisbon Treaty. The Irish voted no, but the Eurocrats ask: What did they mean by that? In this case, it appears that they meant they did not relish the centralising aspects of Lisbon.
The realisation that the Euromaniacs would try to plough ahead, by bullying the Irish, produced a feeling on the part of many sceptics of hopelessness and ennui. Admittedly the celebratory Guinness might well have been a contributing factor, but it is clear that the large European powers have decided that Ireland, and the rest of us, can be railroaded. Protesters demanding a referendum were dragged from the gallery of the Lords as Europhiles such as Lord Kinnock rammed the treaty through the Upper Chamber.
Impotent rage is an understandable reaction. Why can those involved not see that their project lacks any popular mandate and is driven by an elitist contempt for opinion across Europe? On and on drives the ratification of Lisbon, and yet there is nothing to be done.
But the situation is not hopeless in Britain. The polls are quite clear: the most recent YouGov survey, conducted for Open Europe this week, showed that just 14 per cent of those polled think our Government should continue ratifying Lisbon. Only 29 per cent of those polled want to continue our current relationship with Europe, while 38 per cent want to stay in the single market but withdraw from the other political aspects of the EU. Almost a quarter want to withdraw completely.
So, while the sense that resistance is futile may prevail, there is also a natural coalition of 62 per cent that wants to withdraw or remodel our relationship with Europe. Rather than getting angry about Lisbon, those of us who want a different kind of Europe should work out ways to get even.
The Government is deaf to this, as it long ago lost a sense of national sovereignty, and there is a danger that the next one (likely to be led by David Cameron) will be equally hard of hearing for different reasons.
Already Cameroons, Euro-sceptic by nature, shake their heads and say that this is all very difficult indeed, old chap, and, what kind of lunatic would want Europe to wreck his first term? A renegotiation of our terms with our partners might have to “wait for a second term, perhaps”. This is an opposition’s kiss of death, with “second term” meaning never and “perhaps” meaning perhaps not. If Britain is to shake this curse, pressure must be applied to a wobbly Tory leadership.
Global Vision, a think tank, is handily mapping a path out of this mess for Britain and the Conservative Party, but it needs support. Look at the polls: it is no use screaming that we must get out of Europe completely when the future of the Euro-sceptic argument centres clearly on crafting a calm, clear message to our European partners that, while we want to trade and co-operate, we do not want integration. Tory ministers will have to fly to Brussels on day one to open negotiations.
The European model is propelled by two forces: a sense of Marxist historical inevitability, when in reality we can stop whatever we choose; and an idea that the project embodies modernity.
The first prop can be knocked away by painstaking argument, the second now looks out of date. It is the EU that is out of fashion and reeks of the 1970s. The trend in economics and social policy, as evidenced by the rise of the internet and consumerism, is running in the direction of less central control, not more. To compete in the 21st-century, Britain will have to be fleet of foot and not shackled to a distant 20th-century bureaucracy.
The Irish cheered us Euro-sceptics up for a few days, but be certain they will be swept aside. What is required is a hard-headed, decade-long drive to start our disengagement from this mad process. It will require hard pounding, and pressure on a Conservative leadership that is nervous. But there is no other way if we want to govern ourselves. The Irish said stop; we need to find our reverse gear.