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Monday, 14 March 2011

People's Pledge

There's not generally much common ground between leftie Mark Seddon and this blog, but in the case of the cross-party initiative to sign voters up to pledge to vote only for candidates at the next election who vow to support a referendum on the UK's membership of the EU, I'm happy to sign-up.

Free trade and no tariffs, yes. A common European cultural heritage, yes. A European identity, yes. The loss of British sovereignty and of control over our fish, our border and our laws, NO.   


Edward Spalton said...

For several months I have been asking around . As far as I can see, the Referendum Pledge campaigners have not given the slightest thought as to how they would win a referendum if they got one.

The actual, official campaign in the run up to a referendum is only the home straight of a much longer race which has no rules at all and where all the advantage is with the big spenders and well-funded, well placed manipulators of public opinion.

Cameron has just arranged for Chris Patten to become Chair of the BBC trust, so the BBC will know its impartial duty to be resolutely Europhile. He has also done the most amazing favour to Murdoch by allowing his merger plans through on the nod - rather like allowing Sainsbury and Tesco to merge without a reference to the Monopolies Commission. That is the sort of favour for which a pay back will be expected.

I discussed this with Tony Coughlan of Irish National Platform. He is of the opinion that an"In/Out" referendum would be hard to impossible to win without the full-hearted support of the party in government for an "out" vote.
As he put it "It is the fear of the people, not the will of the people" which would decide the outcome.

I have a horrible feeling we are being volunteered for the Charge of the Light Brigade of which a French general remarked "C'est magnifique mais ce n'est pas la guerre"

Budgie said...

Oh dear, Mr Spalton, Richard North is claiming you as like minded in his quest for an "ism" or intellectual basis for leaving the EU. Please say this is not true. If someone keeps hitting your head with a hammer, then stopping that is reason enough - no intellectual basis is required.

Moreover, I am quite sure that most countries in the world do not tie themselves in knots trying to dream up positive intellectual reasons why they are better off out of the EU. Mostly, I suspect, the thought never crosses their collective mind - they just get on with life - as we would, out of the EU.

Then again, perhaps you also have no faith in your fellow citizen's capacity for rejecting the BBC's, Murdoch's and CMD's blandishments to remain in the EU, and are looking for some sort of magic wand to wave at the people. In that case what is the difference between you, Mr North, and the EU Apparatchiks? For if we are saved from the EU only by bamboozling the public into supporting us with vast wodges of dosh then we have lost anyway.

Anonymous said...

Budgie wrote: "For if we are saved from the EU only by bamboozling the public"

No, we've already won the intellectual war against the EU. The British people don't need 'bamboozling', they're already convinced.

Budgie wrote: "you also have no faith in your fellow citizen's capacity for rejecting the BBC's, Murdoch's and CMD's blandishments to remain in the EU".

It's not a matter of 'faith', it's about simple pragmatism.

An offshore wind-farm is to go ahead in our neck of the woods. (Surprisingly) well-informed locals know it's a monstrous waste of money. The vast majority agree that the technology is useless and will cost us all dearly in the long run, and many believe 'wind power' to be one of the greatest scams of our time and have repeatedly stated as much publically. But it's going ahead with little more than a whimper of public opposition. Why? Because it will bring desperately needed JOBS to our area. The majority have no choice but to support it.

So what will they do when all three major parties, the majority of the print media and the BBC (all backed by massive covert support from the EU propaganda machine) with all their dire warnings that withdrawal would mean loss of jobs and investment??
They'll dither of course. Even despite their hatred of the EU, they'll go with the status quo.

The British are nothing if not pragamatic. Paying the bills and clothing the kids will trump 'the truth' any day of the week.

Edward Spalton said...

Dear Budgie and Anonymous,

Having spent about 25 years making the case for national independence, I share the frustration of having (I think) won all the arguments yet still have seen not the slightest change of direction within the political class.

So I understand the frustration which drives people to demand a referendum- almost regardless of the likelihood of winning it. But the last thing we will get is a fair one. It will only be called when the pro-EU camp are certain of winning it - as they were in the Seventies.

If you look on the website A CASE FOR TREASON, you will find the Royle report in the evidence files. This is from a junior minister to Willie Whitelaw, explaining how public opinion was turned round from around 66% against EEC membership to 66% in favour. The resources and techniques for this type of "spin" have increased massively since then.

In any operation, you should start by "appreciating the ground from the enemy's position" and estimating what forces he will have available and what forces and dispositions you will need to overcome them. If you mean to win, that is the first thing you do. As far as I am aware, this has just not been done at all - nor even preparations for doing so set in motion. If an "in/out" referendum is lost, then we have lost the war - at any rate, for my lifetime.

So the campaign reminds me a little of a tale about the Duke of Wellington, observing an exercise by ill-prepared troops. "I don't know what they'll do to the French" he said "But, by God, they frighten me".

Anonymous said...

One thing that fascinates me is, that for every nation that cares about its role in the world, there are persistent tides that govern its behaviour. These tides persist through history, despite national catastrophes An example is Russia in search of warm water ports.

For Britain or the UK, it has been an obsession not to be sidelined in Europe. This feeling arises from Britain’s own character, and the geographic reality that Britain is on the periphery of Europe. For a thousand years, since the Norman invasion, Britain therefore had found some reason that it should be involved in continental Europe. The Hundred Years war, many wars after that, and the two world wars, can be seen in that context.

After the last war in continental Europe, the USA became the only Western power with influence, sidelining Britain. Despite the fact that Britain was now reduced in power and wealth, Britain’s historic tide to be a part of Europe persisted. France under De Gaulle though, knew his history (Hundred Tears war etc), and thwarted Britain’s desire to become a member of the EEC.

We had an option right till the sixties, to be the most important part of a thriving Old Commonwealth, perhaps including India, as long as we continued to be a thriving industrial power. But all that fell by the wayside when we joined the EEC. The Old Commonwealth was left to find its own way, while India is now developing to become a power in its own right. It’s now too late for all that.

The historic tide though still pulls us to Europe. Tony Blair, gave an indication of that pull, when he said he wanted the UK to be at the centre/heart of Europe. It is to be noted that neither France nor Germany feels the need to say so, as they know they are. To show therefore how good we are as a EU member, the UK then follows every regulation of the EU with zeal bordering on zealotry, while France or Germany, feel no need to. It is this zealotry over EU regulations, that so annoys the ordinary Brit.

Dean Acheson stated, “Great Britain has lost an empire and has not yet found a role” – still holds. The Old Commonwealth is for all political and economic purposes, not an option any more. That boat is gone. Beguiling calls from NAFTA have to be treated with suspicion. The only game in town now is the EU.

Where do we go from here? The EU now revolves around the German-French axis. Even here, as Germany outclasses France in industrial and economic power, the CoG steadily moves towards Berlin. For Britain therefore, unless a new future broad horizon is defined (as happened when Britain set out to make the New World and Empire), it means we have to revitalise our industrial and financial base. From this will automatically follow our centrality in Europe. Or we hope that the EU collapses under its own mountain of debt and regulations, and this sets forth new opportunities.

Budgie said...

Anonymous @ 15 March 2011 05:40 said: "Budgie wrote: 'For if we are saved from the EU only by bamboozling the public'
[Anon answered] No, we've already won the intellectual war against the EU. The British people don't need 'bamboozling', they're already convinced."

Well, duh! If Anon bothers to actually read what I wrote he will see that I opposed bamboozling the public. "Bamboozling" was my derogatory term for the effect of the new "ism" that Mr North wishes to invent.

If Anon opposes bamboozling the British public - well, good. Anon must then join me in opposing any new "ism" - some God-forsaken ideology - conjured in panic by a few eurosceptics apprehensive of the power of the europhile establishment.

The British public are pragmatic enough not to need a new intellectual case - a new "ism" - we are opposed to the EU and that opposition is sufficient.