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A 36 Year Media Failure

by ThatBritGuy Thu Jun 11th, 2009 at 11:38:41 AM EST

After the EU elections - what happens now?

EUROPEAN ELECTIONS

Firstly, Brown has to resign soon. It would be unheard of for a party leader to continue after this much of a kicking.

This will be interesting to watch. Brown is famously stubborn, and won't go quietly. So it's likely that he'll either be deposed by his cabinet, or humiliated in public with a vote of no confidence. Either way, it's over for Brown.

Secondly, an election will have to be called soon. Brown - or his caretaker successor - may decide to hang on until next year, on the not unreasonable grounds that Labour has nothing left to lose. Replacing Brown won't change much. Even though he's loathed, a replacement will still carry the New Lab stigma. This might bring back some of the faithful, but it won't change the result.

More interesting - but not necessarily more depressing - are the implications of what Labour's final disastrous term means for UK politics, and also for Europe.

diary rescue by whataboutbob


The rise of the UKIP and the BNP are the direct responsibility of Brussels. EU Central has utterly failed to communicate or explain any of the benefits of membership to the UK's population, leaving the media field open to a drooling mob of ragingly angry semi-fascist little Englanders with a comic book vision of independence, sovereignty and empire which hasn't existed for over a century.

The older generation in the UK remains profoundly ignorant and racist, and there's almost no concept of the UK as part of Europe. Events and experiences which could build a European identity - like the Eurovision Song Contest - are treated as jokes.

In part, that's because they are jokes. In media terms, Europe suggests Eurovision, and (to older people) the heavy-handed knockabout of Jeux Sans Frontieres. Allegedly De Gaulle's idea, JSF is pure media poison. It's ridiculous, it's not particularly funny, it's impossible to feel team spirit, and it's emphatically Not Cool.

Compare this media presence with the constant river of iconic Hollywood gun play, giant explosions and definitively aspirational glamour, and Europe looks irrelevant and laughable. Add the constant media drum beat which reinforces points about unfair bureaucracy and meddling, and Europe takes on the disturbing aspect of a sinister menace, lurking just over the Channel, ready to destroy British integrity, dignity and self-respect, with a combination of third rate athletes in bobbing latex birds and irrational legislation about bananas.

And there's more - because over the last few months, in the popular imagination (such as it is), Europe has become associated with the corruption of the expenses debacle, and also with New Labour's petty authoritarianism.

To many people, Brown is a symbol of the EU. A vote against one is a vote against the other. Because elections are lost and not won, Brown has become the scapegoat for the City meltdown, for rising unemployment, for recession, and (worst of all) for collapsing house prices.

By association, Europe is also responsible and must be punished.

This is true because Britain is a proud and great country by definition. Left to itself, the UK doesn't make these kinds of mistakes or suffer these kinds of consequences.

Europe, meanwhile, is a holiday destination and occasional investment opportunity which is inexplicably populated by people who don't speak English. It's not really a place - it's a nosy neighbour. And even if it were a place, it's not home.

This is of course certifiably insane. But that's the current narrative, and everyone here will be living with it in the next election.

Will the UK drop out of the EU? The one consolation is that local and European elections play out as a popularity contest - a chance to let off steam and make one's sovereign democratic displeasure felt in no uncertain terms. This is very dramatic, but also very usual, and some Labour voters will return to the fold in a General Election.

The UKIP's strong turn out won't be sustained. This election has made the UKIP look like a serious force, but its only real policy point is a shift from Europe. If the Tories own that, and play bait and switch with it - which isn't unlikely - the UK will remain in Europe for at least another term.

Cameron has promised a Lisbon vote, and if that's overwhelmingly negative - as is likely - it may even wake up Brussels to the fact that better communication is needed. The first vote will be a strong 'No', but this won't mean instant ejection. More probably Lisbon will stall, the treaty will be renegotiated, and some or all of the Brussels mediacrats may realise that they'll have to make an effort to argue a positive view.

It's also true that there's no diplomatic or political mechanism by which the UK could leave. Secession would have to be negotiated, and - for once - there would be some reality based discussion in the UK about what that would mean in practice.

So longer term, the news isn't quite as bleak as these results suggests. It's hardly happy, and a shift to Cameron's rather peculiar vision of conservatism seems inevitable. But it doesn't mean the UK is out yet. It's going to be up to Brussels to decide how likely secession is, and what happens next.

Display:
EU Central has utterly failed to communicate or explain any of the benefits of membership to the UK's population

Granted this is the Commission's failure, but is it the Commission's fault?

The fact that an "official" European voice is conspicuously absent in all member countries implies at the very least that this is not a priority for the national governments. And I imagine e.g. the likes of Poland would become downright irate at the notion of the Commission actively talking up the benefits of Europe.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 02:57:27 AM EST
No one is suggesting a poster or ad campaign with Merkel and Sarkozy winking and giving thumbs up signs and a banner saying "Your friends in Europe." Although in fact from time the Commission does seem to try to put out leaflets which are almost as clumsy - there were some strewn in the press room of the London Book Fair last year. (Who knows why?)

It's as much about media presence as blatant propaganda. Where are the TV dramas set in Europe? Where's the European soccer squad? Where's the cross-channel music scene?

Most British people get far more TV exposure to New York and LA than they do to Paris, Berlin or Vienna.

You don't win an argument like this by talking up benefits in a rational way. You do it by creating an inclusive European identity through popular and middle-brow media, and persuading people they belong to it.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 04:01:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So what are  you suggesting? EU commissioned soap operas?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 04:04:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Friendlier Europeans would be a help too.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 04:12:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 04:13:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
French garçons are rude to British patrons?

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 04:18:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
European teams keep rudely beating British ones at their "own" sports?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 04:19:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Eastern Europeans vote for each other at Eurovision?

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 04:20:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You know, TBG, giving me a '2' for reporting the content of the reader's SMS section of London's free commuter newspapers (and of a number of TV critic columns) about last year's Eurovision is a bit over-the-top.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 05:10:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... Barzelona did. A rude beating is one fing, it 'appens to the best uv pub brawlers.

Bein' outplayed and outclassed, 'ats anuva fing entirely.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 04:58:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why doesn't British TV air dubbed European productions?

For instance, the Dutch Zeg 'ns Aaa was a hit on Spanish TV in the 1990's.

The sad fact is, Britons are not interested in mixing with Europeans who speak funny.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 04:09:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's not as simple an explanation as it seems. It's partly the language issue - it's much easier to buy media from the US - and partly because there's never been a good push in the media for suggesting that they might want to, or explaining why they should. It may also be down to marketing - I'm not sure how close the connections are between Euro TV and UK TV, and how much of an effort is made to sell to the UK.

And yes, Euro-soaps, or soap operas with European connections, would go a long way to helping solve that.

Those of us with towering ET intellects will of course find the idea endearingly chucklesome, but in fact soaps have a long and global history of being used deliberately as mild - and sometimes not so mild - public education and propaganda.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 04:29:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I do see your point. From my understanding talking to people in the "industry" though, the pan-European problem here is that programming executives are such total cowards.

They might steal a format if it's successful in another country, and they're happy to put foreign productions in post-prime slots and niche broadcasters, but the very thought of putting foreign content into a high-profile slot is enough to make them mess themselves.

Certainly in Germany, the public broadcasters are as risk-averse as the private-sector ones.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 04:55:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
dvx:
the very thought of putting foreign content into a high-profile slot is enough to make them mess themselves
Unless it's American content.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 04:57:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The wiles and failings of media execs are a whole other diary.

But I still have a suspicion that if Euro content was perceived to be as sexy as US content, subtitles wouldn't be an insurmountable problem.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 05:06:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For a country of 60 million people it's not outrageously expensive to dub programmes.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 05:08:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Still more expensive than just buying US content.

What's the share of non-US, non-Spanish movies in Spain theaters ?

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misŤres

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 07:32:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sufficiently high - there is a dedicated foreign film circuit which has grown from very small to now being sizeable.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 07:40:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not necessarily-the marginal cost to the European programmer of supplying the Eurosoap to the British market is effectively zero, so there's a generous amount of room for negotiating down the price to share the cost of dubbing.
by Sassafras on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 05:26:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... pommieland, it'd be Spain or Italy, with frequent swimming cossies for cute starlets and hunklets in the midst of teenage angst.

And a grumbly bumbly old pub keeper wif a heart of gold, I reckon they were put in entirely to nail down the pommie export trade.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 05:02:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hmmm, I've got an idea we might be able to pitch:

Rich, reclusive Ricardo Montelban clone media magnate (his friends call him "Sly", his juvenile friends call him "Papi") lives on a large estate on a fashionable Mediterranean island. At the beginning of very episode, an a large government aircraft flies in an assortment of sexy starlets, sophisticated international criminals, brutal mafia killers and naive photographers, their arrival being announced by the magnate's pet dwarf ("Boss, boss, de plane, de plane!").

In the first episode, Sly organizes an 18th birthday party for "Tina", but Sly's wife misunderstands... scope for both drama and comedy there.

Or is that too far-fetched for suspension of belief?

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 07:12:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why, that is clearly the kind of silly fluff that only ze Europeans could produce. Its sounds like it would be as bad as Eurovision, or possibly worse.

8-)#


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 07:36:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No one is suggesting a poster or ad campaign with Merkel and Sarkozy winking and giving thumbs up signs and a banner saying "Your friends in Europe."

Come to think about it - why not?

Seriously, when it comes to talking up the importance of Europe, the various heads of state are usually most conspicuous by their absence. Europe would garner a lot more interest if the heads of state put it on the political agenda more often.

We've seen how effective Europe can be used for negative politics. Maybe it's time for Merkel, Sark et. al. to try making points with the benefits of Europe.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 07:19:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Panorama did a good job of that 40 years ago. Europe, sadly, is like the subject of space exploration - vaguely interesting, but not relevant to daily life.

It's the language - or rather the languages. There are other continents that contend with more than one language, but a babel of languages?

Hopefully technologies for instantaneous translation will swamp the media soon. Because I don't see a solution to a united Europe until they do. Cultures are artificially divided by language.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 05:35:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are other continents that contend with more than one language, but a babel of languages?

How about Africa?

How about India?

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buiter

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 06:07:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Africa does not have any serious prospect of an effective federal superstructure within a foreseeable future.

India was united first by a common colonial power, then by a common struggle against that colonial power.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 06:29:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The federal language of India is English, is it not?. For Africa it is English, French and Portuguese, depending on the broad area of colonial influence..

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 03:25:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it's actually Hindi and English, where English is supposed in theory to be phased out eventually.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 04:17:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's Hindi (or Hindoustani for the purists)...!

"What can I do, What can I write, Against the fall of Night". A.E. Housman
by margouillat (hemidactylus(dot)frenatus(at)wanadoo(dot)fr) on Thu Jun 11th, 2009 at 08:01:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I stand corrected

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Jun 11th, 2009 at 06:57:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - A 36 Year Media Failure
To many people, Brown is a symbol of the EU. A vote against one is a vote against the other. Because elections are lost and not won, Brown has become the scapegoat for the City meltdown, for rising unemployment, for recession, and (worst of all) for collapsing house prices.
Can you take this apart? I can't make sense of it. Brown is a symbol of the EU, exactly why?

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 03:53:30 AM EST
I didn't say it made sense - because I don't think it does, particularly. It's narrative logic, not rational logic.

Because Brown has never been an aggressive Euro-skeptic, he's seen as someone who plays for the away team, and not a staunch patriot - unlike the UKIP and the Tories.

And since 'everyone knows' Brussels is corrupt, it makes perfect sense - in narrative logic - that he's semi-European, not One of Us, and likely to be stealing money from UK taxpayers.

It's easy to underestimate the not so latent xenophobia and the fundamental irrationality of the middle-englanders.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 04:07:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
Because Brown has never been an aggressive Euro-skeptic
But Brown has always been more Euro-sceptic than Blair!

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 04:17:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's perception, not reality.

When was the last time Brown made any kind of significant overtly critical media noise about Europe in public?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 04:32:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Perception is reality, as we know.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 04:56:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
well, the brits make the best tv in the world (rainy climate!?), and so have a surfeit of quality, please note i'm speaking from italy, lol, where a sky sub is a seditious act, according to the Leader.

what other country can boast a media environment where the internet rollout is less than latvia or rural india, the dead tree rags are owned by the first family, and where supporting 'murdoch's evil agenda®' is actually a vote for greater freedom and objectivity?

as for a euro pov, i rate cult tv as a perfect example, lotsa foreign flicks from all over the world, along with cutting-edge-6-months-ago americana, subtitles and choice of dub or original s/track available.

then there's current tv which is really good too. yes 90% is unwatchable, but that 10% is easily worth the euro p. day, worth more than that to evade the berlu-filter factor, made even easier by the fact that 90% of that is the intellectual level of a slow 8 year old with a voyeur streak.

so it is being done, arte tv is another excellent example. that and cult and current should be the top viewed channels in europe, available in all euro-tongues, this would do more for the sorry state of ignorance and 'm'enefregismo' (don't give a fuck attitude) that is the italian disease.

looked at from here, sky uk news is hopelessly parochial, and don't get me started on the yank main network news channels!

i wonder how controlled by murdoch all his organisation is, because right now some of his channels are all that's standing between now and greater media lockdown.

if sky were banned from italy, i would take that as a powerful reason to read the writing on the wall, same if beppe grillo's website was hacked to pieces.

but then on the other hand it might force the issues many are discussing over the web, into the piazzas, one step closer to really uniting the people to state their will, and test the state's resolve to hold onto the undeserved power it has today, votes bought through enabling italy's lowest common denominator to become the dominant political force through near-unilateral media control.

pravda with bimbos, greasy old bald guys with combovers and jowl-tucks spoonfeeding steaming bullshit daily, fresh from the liars' mouths, aaagh.

gimme sky uk news again, i'm sorry, i'm sorry, i take it back, at least adam boulton comes on once in a while.

bbc world is less tabloid, but a bit constipated and middlebrow, risk averse, to put it mildly.

euronews has great mag/culture section, where they tell you about which art exhibitions are on europe wide, but the overall programming is a bit on the bland side.

still the vestiges are already up and running...

i've never lived in a place surrounded by so much shitty tv, where i was also able with skysat to actually feel well served, abundantly so.

just another example of italy's love affair with duality. i'm glad some of my sub will go to supporting the channels i dig, but i get the horrors about financing the rest of the murdoch-ery, same with buying petrol, or using plastic bags.

ugh! (but thanks), just another daily dose of cog-diss, swallow it like a good lad, it won't kill ya hehe....yet...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 06:43:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And since 'everyone knows' Brussels is corrupt

Unlike Parliament...

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 02:41:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy: Brown has never been an aggressive Euro-skeptic, he's seen as someone who plays for the away team, and not a staunch patriot

in the UK, is there a sentiment then among Britain-firsters and Euroskeptics that by being for Europe, one is betraying one's country, not being patriotic, hating one's country, hating freedom, and so on?  i always presumed that it was not so much a matter of tribalistic national loyalty, but rather something closer to national arrogance and ignorance about the practical cost-benefits of EU membership, a notion that Britain does it better than the feckless Continentals.  in contrast, embracing an internationalist or non-American point of view in the U.S. lays one open to accusations of being un-American = anti-American.  does a similar dynamic exist in Britain, i.e. by saying that one is for Europe, it is a short step to being called disloyal to one's country, if not a traitor outright?

if not, then there is more room for propagandizing the benefits of EU membership without having to waste time and energy defending oneself against attacks of disloyalty and treason.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 03:54:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd say yes to an extent.  The sovereignty of this Island is paramount.  The EU makes the UK peripheral, tells us what to do, tries to destroy our autonomy, and in doing so is destroying what makes Britain great!  The pound sterling makes Britain great. Not the euro.

So if you are for the EU, you are willfully letting Britain go to rack and ruin.  There isn't real logic to it.  But that is the view of the 'patriots'.  

Others who are anti EU are so because they see European Parliament as an irrelevant, undemocratic, wasteful body that brings no real benefit.  Others are anti-EU simply because they haven't heard any reason not to be, they are ill informed.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 04:16:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Are there polls that shed light on who are the Euro-skeptics in the UK (e.g. by age, geography, education, occupation, etc.) and how many of them there are?  And are there any indications that younger British are significantly more EU-friendly than their elders?

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 05:29:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm interested in that, too.  It was one of the frustrating things about the BBC's coverage: There wasn't any data gathered on demographics and motivations, so the "What does it mean?"-type questions were left completely up to spin.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 06:33:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The US does a much better job of exit polling.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buiter
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 04:03:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good question and I don't know. I would expect there to be analysis of this in some detail over the coming months but whether it will be from this angle I'm not sure. I'll look about to see if I can find such stats.
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 03:05:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The odd thing about Euroscepticism is that it's often the most aggressively Eurosceptic who are most keen to take advantage of the benefits of being in the EU.

Take (please), the Costa Brits with their depreciating Spanish villas and loud wails that their failure to learn Spanish in the five years they've been living there puts them at a disadvantage in the local job market.

Or the UKIP voting (I think) GP next door who plans to retire to Germany for the better health care.

I honestly don't know how to start negotiating with mindsets like that.

by Sassafras on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 04:19:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sassafras: The odd thing about Euroscepticism is that it's often the most aggressively Eurosceptic who are most keen to take advantage of the benefits of being in the EU.

if the UK left the EU, how significantly would life change for these people?  and how significantly would life change for British people in general?  (i could speculate based on the list of benefits articulated by the EU Commission, but that would be more guess work than anything grounded in reality.)

there is a movie called A Day Without a Mexican (see trailer below).  maybe there is a role for a movie called A Day Without the EU.



Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 05:36:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For a start, our bananas can be banana shaped again!

And then we can see an attack on our employment rights and equality legislation.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 03:07:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For a lot of the anti-EU crowd, those are good things. Equality rights aren't for normal, proper English people.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 03:12:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just abnormal bastards and state spongers like me.
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 03:15:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yup. Don't forget the darkies as well..
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 03:22:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I caught a bit of the report on one of the British channels last night about a BNP voter and is was just insane: starts with "What's wrong with being patriotic?" and got madder and madder until it reached "What's wrong with wanting Christmas?"
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 03:26:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's the constant media drumbeat.

Example:

School cancels Christmas nativity in favour of Muslim Eid celebrations - Telegraph

A junior school has cancelled its Christmas performances because they got in the way of the Muslim children celebrating Eid.

Greenwood Junior School sent out a letter to parents saying the three day festival of Eid al-Adha, which takes place between 8-11 December, meant that Muslim children would be off school.

That meant planning for a traditional pantomime were shelved because the school felt it would be too difficult to run both celebrations side by side.

The move has left parents furious.

See the "related articles".

I linked in another comment to a BBC piece about a report on "citizenship lessons" in Schools which drew criticism because it mentioned discussing the slave trade, the legacy of Empire, and the European Union.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buiter

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 04:02:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I guess that calling for a Euro-Christmas campaign would be considered unserious and earn me a 2.

Though how you go about being more unserious than the UK euro-sceptics is beyond me.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 04:18:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]


The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buiter
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 04:22:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The rise of the UKIP and the BNP are the direct responsibility of Brussels

No, they're the direct responsibility of British voters. They're at best the indirect responsibility of Brussels - whoever that means. Do you mean the Commission? The Parliament? The Council?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 03:58:50 AM EST
The rise of the BNP is an entirely British phenomenon.

The UKIP represents pure, unadulterated eurosceptic vote. They poll very badly in every election but the Euro ones (unlike the BNP which polls consistently). So the EU's communication strategy shares part of the blame there.

But the fact is the LibDems are the only British party to be explicitly pro-EU. Even the Labour party is lukewarm about it. Therefore, the ferment for the UKIP vote is laid down by the entire UK political class. And the media don't help, what else is new?

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 04:06:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have a slightly different set of predictions.

Cameron will be Prime minister in no less than 12 months, that is certain.

However, emboldened by the fact that 52.5% of the vote in this election was at least as Eurosceptic as himself (Tory, UKIP and BNP), Cameron will push on with his plan to "un-ratify" the Lisbon Treaty. This may trigger Scottich independence.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 04:03:23 AM EST
Migeru:
Cameron will be Prime minister in no less than 12 months, that is certain.

Really? There's a lot can happen in 12 months.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 05:34:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
All Cameron needs to do is not fuck up.

Unless you mean there's going to be some sort of brownshirt coup in the interim...

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 05:43:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
True, but at this point we're in Dead-Girl/Live-Boy territory, don't you think?

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 10:36:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Brown is famously stubborn, and won't go quietly. So it's likely that he'll either be deposed by his cabinet, or humiliated in public with a vote of no confidence. Either way, it's over for Brown."

I don't think Brown will resign, for exactly the same reasons; and it still looks like he still weighs too much in the party for a vote of no confidence. Worst of all, there is hardly anyone I see capable of replacing Brown at Labour's helm, be it as a PM or for the following elections.

"To many people, Brown is a symbol of the EU"

Wasn't it Blair the pro-european and Brown the skeptical one?

"Secession would have to be negotiated, and - for once - there would be some reality based discussion in the UK about what that would mean in practice"

The UK would fall back in Switzerland's situation, with an association agreement and likely paying more for the right to access the Common market.

"The older generation in the UK remains profoundly ignorant and racist, and there's almost no concept of the UK as part of Europe. Events and experiences which could build a European identity - like the Eurovision Song Contest - are treated as jokes."

This is because it is not clear yet what the European identity is. Greeks have little to do with Finns, no more than the Slovens with the Welsh. Too little is done to emphasize the things in common or to acknowledge that Europe is a dire patchwork of cultures. Brussels must build bridges that look a bit less artificial - human rights or economic stuff is not enough, without the cultural part.


Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franÁa) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 05:33:11 AM EST
The 36-year media failure is primarily Britain's own, and only secondarily Brussels'.

In the 1970's the Tories were pro-EEC because of the free market dimension and Labour was against.

In the 1980's the Tories became anti-EEC as it started acquiring a political dimension culminating in the EU. Labour stayed lukewarm.

With the two major parties undermining the EU and most of the media (the only exceptions being the LibDems and The Independent, both "minority interests") against the EU, how could the EU possibly break through with a positive message, if they had one?

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 06:01:00 AM EST
By playing the culture card. By selling Europe at the popular level.

Even just by taking an interest, which is something that doesn't seem to have happened in any obvious way.

This shouldn't be hard to understand. If you have a well-funded and established anti-culture, it shouldn't surprise anyone that if you don't put up some kind of opposition, you're going to get your arse kicked.

'We don't do that' stops being an excuse when it's almost guaranteed to end in a debilitating political crisis.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 06:15:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
By playing the culture card. By selling Europe at the popular level.
Back in 2007 the LibDem MEPs (all 10 of them) were well aware of the need to do that and also to fight the distortions of the mainstream press.

But they don't have the manpower and (shockingly) the media access (or they have the access but not the savvy).

If 10 British MEPs cannot reach the British public, how can the EU Commission?

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 06:27:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The EU Commission should be slightly better funded than 10 MEPs. I'd guess media access shouldn't be a problem either.

Savvy, of course, seems to be a different issue.

And it's not just the UK. After the Lisbon fiasco, after Poland, and after these elections here, there's still no realisation that there might, perhaps, be a problem with the EU's communication strategy.

The UKIP came second. How much more of a hint is needed?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 07:13:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How much of the problem could be due to xenophobia?  Is Britain unique in there being high levels of xenophobia and racism or is this something we see a lot elsewhere in Europe too?
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 07:27:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, you just have to look at which countries contribute MEPs to the IND/DEM parliamentary group.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 07:45:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
The UKIP came second. How much more of a hint is needed?
A hint of what? That the British public wants out of the EU?

Notice that, despite the quip that the UKIP is just the BNP with 12 years of 'public school', there was a campaign to vote against the BNP but not against the UKIP.

Because the UKIP is exclusively and anti-EU protest vote unlike the BNP whose vote is consistent across elections.

So maybe the EU has ignored the rise of British Euroscepticism for too long but, on the other hand, if Britons don't want to be in the EU, who's the EU to force them to stay?

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 08:47:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There hasn't been any decent pro EU campaign or  easily available literature in the UK. Can we really say that your average citizen in the UK is adequately informed of what the EU does and what the benefits are?  

Especially in light of a fairly contast no to EU presence.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 09:18:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In Wales:
There hasn't been any decent pro EU campaign or  easily available literature in the UK.
No political party in the UK runs a decent pro-EU campaign for the Euro elections and we're supposed to conclude it's Brussels' fault the British public is Eurosceptic?

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 09:23:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If this was about this particular campaign, you'd have a point.

It wasn't, and isn't.

That's why it's a 36 year failure, and not a 36 day one.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 09:38:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Over 36 years it's the British government's euroscepticism that is at fault, then.

Because if they had any interest in pushing a positive message about the EU, they would have. Instead you get things like

Blair sets out red lines on EU constitution | World news | guardian.co.uk

Tony Blair has set out Britain's red lines for accepting or rejecting a new EU constitution, as the UK looked more likely to be isolated at this week's crunch Brussels summit.

Last night the French and Spanish government appeared to be in agreement that they would press for a new charter of fundamental rights and more majority voting - both of which the UK opposes.

Today Mr Blair set out four no-go zones for negotiations on which he insisted he would not compromise.



The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 09:42:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here's some passive-agressive eurosceptic crap from the UK government:

Gordon Brown 'ashamed' to sign Lisbon Treaty, say Tories - Times Online

Gordon Brown will travel to Portugal to sign the reworked European Union constitutional treaty, but he will not attend the actual signing ceremony for the document, it was confirmed today in a decision that the former Tory leader William Hague called a "ridiculous fudge".

The Prime Minister's attendance at the signing of the controversial EU Reform Treaty in Lisbon on Thursday had been in doubt for several weeks because of a clash in his schedule.

Mr Brown was due to make his first appearance before the Commons Liaison Committee, a heavyweight group of senior backbench MPs, at exactly the same time as the Treaty of Lisbon is being signed by the other 26 EU leaders. "The Liaison Committee must come first," an aide said.

Mr Brown would have faced little criticism at home if he did miss the signing of the Treaty, which replaced the failed EU constitution dumped after its rejection by French and Dutch voters in referendums in 2005.



The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 09:50:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, and? The Treaty was still signed. There was some grand-standing and point-making, but the UK is still a signatory.

How hard would it have been for a vehemently sceptical and hostile UK government to organise a referendum in the UK? What do you think the result would have been?

New Labour, like Thatcher's Tories, has always taken an aggressive and not very helpful negotiating position. But that's very different to planning full secession - and there has never been any interest in that.

In fact the resistance has always been against left-leaning legislation, not against the EU as a whole. The business benefits of the EU are obvious, and I'm not convinced that the Tories are going to go against that, even if voters want them to.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 10:02:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
New Labour, like Thatcher's Tories, has always taken an aggressive and not very helpful negotiating position. But that's very different to planning full secession - and there has never been any interest in that.
But they also have done nothing to check eurosceptic sentiment, and they have a much easier time at it than "Brussels". It is their failure - especially Labour's - if the UKIP has come 2nd this time.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 10:07:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Cameron says he will scrap Lisbon Treaty if he is elected - The Irish Times - Wed, Jan 14, 2009
THE BRITISH Conservative Party leader David Cameron has threatened, should Gordon Brown call an early general election, that if he wins he would scrap the Lisbon Treaty

...

In an interview with the Financial Times yesterday Mr Cameron said there was now a 50/50 chance of an early election. If the Conservatives won an election, Mr Cameron said the party "could have a referendum [on Lisbon] in October" and lead the campaign for a no vote.

...

Most political analysts predict a No campaign led by the Conservatives in a referendum on Lisbon would doom the treaty to defeat and prompt a major crisis within the Union.

And if this is not hostile action from the Tories, I don't know what is.

And, note, UKIP voters (17%!) are those who think the Tories are not Eurosceptic enough.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 10:12:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, because Europe has always been peripheral to Labour. But Europe has never been peripheral to Europe, obviously.

So if there's an enlargement strategy, and a consolidation strategy - both of which exist - it makes no sense to leave enlargement and consolidation entirely to national governments without making any democratic effort at all to persuade national populations.

You don't even do this in business. You don't throw random people together, tell them they're a team now - yay - and then act surprised when fights break out and some people wander off and find something else to do.

You're effectively arguing for a completely hands-off disinterested Europe. And that can't possibly work - for common sense reasons, never mind strategic ones.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 11:11:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
You don't throw random people together, tell them they're a team now - yay - and then act surprised when fights break out and some people wander off and find something else to do.
People weren't randomly thrown together. The UK applied for EU membership, held a hotly contested referendum (which fractured the Labour Party - what was that thing about UK opposition being to left-wing legislation, again?) for membership.

The UK wanted in, they got in. Now they want out. They should get out. The UKIP election result is actually more meaningful than the Irisn no referendum in respect to EU membership.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 11:21:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The UKIP election result is actually more meaningful than the Irisn no referendum in respect to EU membership.

Why do you say that?  UKIP took a large share of the vote, but we're still talking about less than 17% in an election with very low turnout.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 06:44:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Because referenda on the Lisbon Treaty are not referenda on EU membership despite everyone and their mother wanting to interpret them that way, whereas the 25% combined vote total by the UKIP and BNP is an explicit vote against EU membership since that's what those parties campaigned on. And the other 25% of Tory vote is also against the EU though as TBG reminds us, if push came to shove the Tory party probably wouldn't advocate withdrawal outright.

Granted, turnout was low, but so it was in every other EU member state. And when people tout the 70% majority for Lisbon in the Spanish referendum, they forget to mention only 40-45% voted, too...

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buiter

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 03:55:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Cameron sleepwalks towards Europe's exit

The timing of the government's demise could mark the difference between a serious argument about Britain's relationship with Brussels and a rupture that would set in train its eventual departure.

It is clear to all that Mr Cameron wants to derail the process of European integration. His decision to withdraw from the European People's party, the European parliament's mainstream centre-right group, is a step in that direction. By aligning with a hotchpotch of small far-right parties, Mr Cameron has downgraded his party's relationship with its French and German cousins.

To move Britain to the sidelines of influence is one thing. To threaten to blow up the Lisbon accord is another. This is what Mr Cameron proposes by pledging to campaign for its rejection in a British referendum. And this is where the timing of the general election really matters.

(...)

the consequences would be monumental. Mr Cameron might argue that earlier versions of the treaty were rejected in referendums in France, the Netherlands and Ireland. But these were not conscious acts of government.

Withdrawal from the EPP is a Tory shot across the bows of European integrationists. Wrecking the Lisbon treaty would be a declaration of war. Such would be the crisis in Britain's relationship with its partners that it would precipitate compelling calls for a re-evaluation of its membership of the EU. Many Conservatives, one suspects, would cheer.

The Serious People are not Amused.


In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 11:35:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The national governments are the EU. That's who's running the place, despite what they'd like you to believe: that's where all the power is in the end. They appoint the Commission. They approve and negotiate all the rules.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 11:23:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
You're effectively arguing for a completely hands-off disinterested Europe. And that can't possibly work - for common sense reasons, never mind strategic ones.
But a meddlesome EU would quickly alienate the Eurosceptic states. The backlash in the UK would eject it from the EU quicker than you can say "European superstate".

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buiter
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 04:10:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If the Eurosceptic states are alienated and trying to leave anyway and/or sabotage what's already there, what difference would it make?

But it depends on what 'meddlesome' means in practice.

Media and cultural positivity is not the same as political pressure. This isn't about speechifying and posterating, it's about creating a positive image of the EU which voters can personally identify with.

That process shouldn't mention politics at all. If it's cultural and apolitical it's not meddling. (Well, it is, but it doesn't look like it which makes it much harder to challenge.)

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 04:34:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
But it depends on what 'meddlesome' means in practice.
Oh, nothing dramatic. But we're talking media narratives, right?
If the Eurosceptic states are alienated and trying to leave anyway and/or sabotage what's already there, what difference would it make?
Not a whole lot, except whether the narrative is that the Eurosceptic states left on their own or were pushed out.

I think they'll leave eventually.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buiter

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 04:44:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We're talking media, certainly.

One of the most depressing things in the UK is the way in which culture has been completely colonised by the US. It's so pervasive it's part of the background noise, and no one notices.

A trivial example - at a local open microphone night, with exactly one exception, all of the singers sang with a fake US accent.

One even sang a song he'd written about Vietnam, even though I'm pretty sure the closest he'd ever been to Vietnam was his DVD copy of Apocalypse Now.

30-40 years a folk night would have British folk songs - some of which are aggressively socialist and populist - and people would have dared to sing them with a British accent.

Now we have an endless wave of poor Bob Dylan clones.

That's what I mean by meddling. Of course, there's no Central Secratariat of Cultural Propaganda in the US which has made this happen. (Or maybe there is - I don't know.)

But if it's subtle enough, it happens by osmosis. And it has a huge effect on what people who absorb culture and media are able to imagine about the world.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 08:38:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was actually responding to your last point;
if Britons don't want to be in the EU, who's the EU to force them to stay?

How do you interpret that as me concluding that it is all Brussel's fault? If Britons have only been informed by the no 2 EU campaign then how is that balanced?  And how can we address the need to get better information about the benefits of the EU down to your average citizen?  Current MEPs and Governments should play their part but why not Brussels also?  

Why can't Brussels produce good literature or good campaigns that MEPs can adapt and use for their constituencies?

But elsewhere it has been noted that the left leaning legislation is not especially liked by UK for example - the age regulations are a good example of that. We wouldn't have brought in rights at work on the grounds of age were it not for a European Directive and we are still fighting against getting rid of the mandatory retirement age which actually legitimises age discrimination.  

Many employment rights that people have are a result of EU directives, and are now taken for granted.  Yet people are hostile about the EU because this message isn't being given to them, they only hear the anti-EU stuff.

That's the point I was making.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 10:51:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In Wales:
Many employment rights that people have are a result of EU directives, and are now taken for granted.  Yet people are hostile about the EU because this message isn't being given to them, they only hear the anti-EU stuff.
Because nohardly any UK politician is telling them on the doorstep. As far as I can tell, Lib Dem MEP candidates actually do it. I have talked to a fair number of their MEPs and MEP candidates. One in particular (who didn't get elected as he wasn't top of his region's list) was commenting the other day on how he had been to some event where he could talk to other farmers (he's one, too) and had been trying to convince them that being in the EU actually helps them. I don't know how the Labour Party has framed their campaign. You have been involved in Wales. Was the party literature any good on the EU? Did the party train volunteers on it? Were the MEP candidates explicitly pro-EU?

I can answer these questions mostly in the affirmative for the LibDems. How about the Greens, or Labour?

Why can't Brussels produce good literature or good campaigns that MEPs can adapt and use for their constituencies?
It's really not the Commission't job to produce materials for use in election campaigns - that would be political interference. Where are the MEPs and MEP candidates? Do they actually have a clue?

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 11:12:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not talking about election campaigns, I am talking about general awareness campaigns, general communication from the EU on an ongoing basis - even if it is a straightforward web presence that can be used at national/regional level by MEPs or Parties themselves.  

My Labour candidates were explicitly pro-EU, yes.  They talked about their manifesto commitments in terms of what they wanted to achieve for Wales by being an active part of the EU.

My MEPs have sent out newsletters a few times a year to members about their work, unfortunately not more widely though.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 11:26:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
Where are the MEPs and MEP candidates? Do they actually have a clue?

no, not much. the EU is something offshore to the brits, and the links to the continent are not obvious to the low-info voter. the good ones in Wales mentioned are under-reported, meanwhile the media are only too brisk in trying to flog anti EU sentiment, as they know they get controversy points for that.

i think history plays a significant part in this, too.

the brits remember the war dead, and so it's easy to kindle sentiment against 'the continent', source of mayhem and fascism, it doesn't have to be overt, dog-whistle stuff is all that's necessary.

it's not even that fleet st. is really against the EU, they're just sluts for sales, and tickling the old stereotypes and prejudices pays off.

the problem with not joining the 'continent' community is that you're left out there alone with wet depends, when you could use a little help.

but after looking down your nose at europe (wogs begin at calais), it becomes an irrational attachment to some dwindling embers of uber-nationalism to suffer rather than be seen to be taking charity, or accepting legislative common sense from abroad.

it's ridiculously self-destructive, but there you go. old habits die hard, and the best the UK can come up with is endless dithering, and/or an aggressive, manipulative sense of entitlement which are seen from the rest of europe as antithetical to the spirit of the aquis.

of course every country stands up for its own interests, and brits are far from being the only monkey-wrenchers, the poles really take it to new levels, but i suspect there is some-behind-the scenes gameplaying going on (Libertarse) that is trying to undermine the EU, a pincer movement, with the UK and ireland on one side and poland on the other.

the EU made some silly mistakes way back with excessive regulation over cucumber straightness and similar folderol, and the gutter press really don't have to work too hard to get the old xenophobe gears grinding.

what's missing, as others have pointed out, is a feeling of community between the brits and the great land mass they once were physically part of, and (sigh) was lobbing v2's at them 70 years ago.

better education about european history, with special emphasis on the brilliant contributions to everyday life by science and culture from 'continentals' would help, but even if that were to happen today, we'd still be a generation away from being on the same page, methinks...

it's sad but true, and so unnecessary, but it'll take a lot more good faith before it's possible.

(oh for a million ET's!)

iow, 'perfidious albion'.

meanwhile, as chris points out, a lot can happen in 12 months. cameron is a younger man and thus possibly more flexible, notwithstanding his class loyalties. if his feet are held to the fire, especially about regulation of the City and the environment, it's possible we may see more progress than under brown, who should be put out to pasture where he can waffle out some memoirs.

the problem with that is his time in power has been so inglorious, i think he fears fading from politics with such failure attached to his memory.

which is why we're lucky he's fundamentally a decent, if deluded man, and not as insane as blair, bush or sarko (or berlu, for that matter). i don't think he will do anything major stupid to compensate, just fade slowly to black, remembered more for what he wasn't than what he was, an inneffectual, power-lusting, footdragging politician without a clue as to how to manage a failing economy (his supposed strong point!) let alone govern an ex-empire, crustily long past its due date.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 12:34:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In Wales:
Many employment rights that people have are a result of EU directives, and are now taken for granted.  Yet people are hostile about the EU because this message isn't being given to them, they only hear the anti-EU stuff.
Remember the Human Rights Act? That is not EU but Council of Europe. In any case, Blair and New Labour Generally have spent their second term in Office threatening to take it down without opposing the tabloid narrative that it's somehow a bad thing.

This is your party's leadership (including a large fraction of the front and back bench) we're talking about. When you fix that you can come back and blame Brussels.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 11:17:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh right. So here it is.

I personally accept full responsibility for all the shit that MY party has landed on the UK since it came to power in 1997.

I'll go off and fix that now shall I?

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 11:31:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think he may have using a plural you there.

Mind you, if you could personally  fix that stuff it'd be great too.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 11:37:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd love to fix it.
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 11:39:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why can't Brussels produce good literature or good campaigns that MEPs can adapt and use for their constituencies?

Why doesn't Whitehall produce good literature or good campaigns that MPs can adapt and use in elections?

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 11:25:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, fine - but I haven't said Whitehall shouldn't.  I'm saying that as well as National Governments perhaps Brussels does have role.
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 11:28:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Civil servants producing election material?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 11:30:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not talking about election material.  I am talking about informing the general public of what the EU does and how it has benefited them.
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 11:32:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps because it isn't trying to unify the UK, or trying to organise the signing of a treaty which would unify the UK.

You want an organisation with a stated interest in promoting closer links by democratic means, including but not limited to parliamentary democracy and referenda, to ignore those same democratic means because - er - why, exactly?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 11:37:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by marco on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 12:12:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In Wales:
And how can we address the need to get better information about the benefits of the EU down to your average citizen?
Well, there's this:

BBC NEWS | UK | Education | Schools 'must teach Britishness' (25 January 2007)

New topics for citizenship
  • Immigration
  • Devolution
  • Slavery
  • British Empire's legacy
  • The European Union
  • Rule of law
  • Democracy
  • Equality
Do you remember the reaction in the popular press to this report? Loud condemnation of Euro-brainwashing of British children.

Did the recommendations of this report actually make it to the classrooms? I doubt it, it is most likely that Alan Johnson simply shelved it. I'd love to be wrong. But if they didn't shelve it, you can be sure the next Tory government will.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 11:56:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How can the Commission effectively run a campaign in Britain against the British government?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 09:23:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Where has the British government said that it's formally against the EU?
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 09:36:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
By their actions you will know them.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 09:42:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One minute you're talking about narratives, the next you want formal opposition?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 10:09:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes - that's exactly what I want you to provide evidence of.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 10:59:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've provided evidence of actions by political leaders which buttress the narrative that the UK government is either against the EU, or defending Britain from EU encroachment, or embarrassed to be pro-Europe or too cowardly to follow its conscience about it.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 11:13:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well - I make that three entirely different narratives. Which one do you prefer?

Also, you've ignored my point about left-leaning legislation and not pushing the referendum issue.

Which would - in fact - have been a vote winner for Labour, if they'd wanted to go down that route and sacrifice Euro membership over political expediency.

So - no.

The reality is that there hasn't been any consistent diplomatic position from Labour at all. There's a patchwork of different preferences which seem to depend on who's talking at the time.

Perhaps that's because there are not a few people of quality and influence who stand to lose significant cash in CAP handouts if the UK leaves.

So they're happy to agitate loudly as a negotiating position, and to herd the proles along, but perhaps not as dedicated to the nuclear option as they might seem to be.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 11:27:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And all this is Brussels' fault rather than Britain's, exactly how?

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 11:39:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Obviously a democratic organisation trying to use democratic means to create a larger and more coherent democratic organisation should never dream of trying to use democratic methods to influence voters who live within its borders, in any way whatsoever.

The suggestion that it might want to makes absolutely no sense of any kind.

It can't be done, it shouldn't be attempted, no one wants it, it's probably illegal, immoral, and fattening, and the sky will explode if anyone in Brussels so much as considers the possibility.

Congratulations. You and Colman have made my point for me with rare perfection.

Well played.

Now that that's settled - perhaps we can have a diary about how both of you think the pocket nationalists and the sceptics should be handled?

Or is it only a UK problem and not an issue in Spain, Ireland, and elsewhere in the EU?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 12:17:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
perhaps we can have a diary about how both of you think the pocket nationalists and the sceptics should be handled?
By the domestic Europhiles and internationalists?

I thought that's what I have been saying all along.

Or is it only a UK problem and not an issue in Spain
I don't know about "only in the UK" but definitely "not in Spain".

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 12:23:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
H'mmmmm.

If the "few people of quality and influence" don't realize they can't have CAP and a nationalistic message then they are stupider than I thought.  

But, then, the "few people of quality and influence," at least as I can tell from afar, have been operating under a strategy that attempts to skim the economic benefits of EU membership - for them - while fighting, and with all the Opt-Outs granted by the EU: winning, to limit the economic benefits for the British public as well as the social/political benefits.  I suspect the nationalistic message is intended to achieve the latter.

Long Term this strategy is meta-stable as it is inherently self-contradictory.  I be a' thinking your Ruling Class is either going to have to give-up CAP (economic benefits of EU membership) or the British Exceptionalism message.


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 11:53:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ATinNM:
But, then, the "few people of quality and influence," at least as I can tell from afar, have been operating under a strategy that attempts to skim the economic benefits of EU membership - for them - while fighting, and with all the Opt-Outs granted by the EU: winning, to limit the economic benefits for the British public as well as the social/political benefits.  I suspect the nationalistic message is intended to achieve the latter.

In a word - yes. That's why it's such a farce.

Chris Cook keeps saying that turkeys don't vote for Christmas. In the UK and elsewhere - they very much do.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 12:19:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not just the communication strategy I'm afraid. Sometimes it seems to me as Britons quite like playing the odd one out (and enjoy the right to a critical look on the others) as well as the feeling of safety for not being dissolved in the half-billion voice cacophony.
Continental Europe must understand this.
France's 'exception' is another name for the same, in a way.

Take for instance the issue of the sterling. The french franc wasn't wept for too much, nor was the deutsche mark, while the sterling is a mark of britishness even more than London's bobbies, big ben or doubledeckers.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franÁa) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 09:25:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
And it's not just the UK. After the Lisbon fiasco, after Poland, and after these elections here, there's still no realisation that there might, perhaps, be a problem with the EU's communication strategy.
You forgot Vaclav Klaus' one-man stand against the Lisbon Treaty.

FT.com | Brussels Blog | Brits, not Irish, loom as threat to the EU's Lisbon treaty

According to a RTE/Sunday Independent opinion poll in Ireland, supporters of the European Union's Lisbon treaty will defeat opponents by a margin of 54 per cent to 28 per cent (with 18 per cent undecided) when the treaty is submitted to a second referendum, probably in October.  Such a thumping victory would not only reverse but for all practical purposes bury the memory of Irish voters' rejection of the treaty in June 2008.

...

Prime Minister Gordon Brown's government ratified the treaty last year.  But the opposition Conservatives have steadfastly opposed it and warned that, should they win power in the UK's next election, due within a year, they will not meekly let things stand as they are.  Recently, this position has threatened to harden into a determination to hold a referendum even if all 27 EU member-states have approved the treaty by the time the Tories enter government.

This may strike other EU governments as a wholly unreasonable and even legally dubious stance.  But consider the following possibility.  In the Czech Republic, parliament has passed Lisbon after a long political struggle but President Vaclav Klaus, who intensely dislikes the treaty, has refused to add his signature, as Czech law requires.  So, too has President Lech Kaczynski of Poland.  As long as they hold out, Lisbon cannot come into force.

Other things being equal, both men would probably find it impossible to resist the pressure to sign Lisbon, if Irish voters were to say Yes to the treaty in October.  But other things are not equal.  Klaus and Kaczynski are looking at events in London and asking themselves how long it will be before Brown's government is out of office and replaced by a Conservative government that sees eye to eye with them on Lisbon.



The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 09:56:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
how could the EU possibly break through with a positive message, if they had one?

relax, mig, you're doing it right now...

building new and better content, clearer arguments, deeper understanding, and we're just one grain of blog-sand at ET.

MULTIPLY, add more, scale up, work harder, and relax more, time is so on our side in all this.

did brown jump or was he pushed?

still leader-itis, still a sideshow...

yookay, first there's whizzy conman blair revered then reviled, as the cons became more obvious.

now the old myth of sturdy, dependable, no-nonsense, rational, scottish (thrifty) banker wif a keir hardie soul was exalted, basted a few months of projection, and now burned in effigy toasted till done.

which skillset will be next hauled over the coals?

what ideology other than sheer machievelli-ism or boring death-by-dull incompetence is the public willing to have its next fling with?

ah yes, cameron... back to 'the upper class knows best' 19th century thinking, retooled for the analogue age.

wasn't it you TBG, warning us about chubby cheeked babyfaces?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 07:05:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
With the two major parties undermining the EU and most of the media (the only exceptions being the LibDems and The Independent, both "minority interests") against the EU, how could the EU possibly break through with a positive message, if they had one?

Broadcasting Family Guy in French?

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 12:32:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
a drooling mob of ragingly angry semi-fascist little Englanders

En-Ra-Ha, TBG, En-Ra-Ha.



Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 09:24:44 AM EST
And take Texas with yo--...oh, sorry.

Well said, TBG.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 10:34:14 AM EST
Drew J Jones:And take Texas with yo--...oh, sorry.

but not Austin!

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 11:49:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy - A 36 Year Media Failure
EU Central has utterly failed to communicate or explain any of the benefits of membership to the UK's population

Not quite.

Of course, you'll have to "order" a copy.

Unfortunately, the European Commissions's web staff forgot to put a link in the HTML to do that.

But being one of those really dogged and web-savvy, EU-curious British types, you will Google the title from that page -- 'No-nonsense guide for UK citizens' -- click on the top result that comes up -- AEDE :: No-nonsense guide for UK citizens -- recognize the same document blurb and author's image as on that European Commission page, and be delighted that here there is a link.

Which you eagerly click on.

Only to discover that your are back at the first EC page without the link.

But you are undeterred.  Because you really curious and care about what benefits membership in the EU can bring to you.

So you try the second Google result, which looks promising, because it has 'europe' in the domain name.  Your excitement mounts when you see that this page, another copy of the EC page, is titled 'Europe in the UK'.  Now we're talking.  There is a link there, which you click hopefully.

This takes you to something different: an order form titled 'Publications', with lots of charming text boxes.

Your heart sinks.  But with a last sliver of hope of finding something useful, you scroll down and see a list of publications that you can order.  You accidentally roll over one of them, and lo and behold, see that they are links.  What's more, they are links to PDF's.  This is too good to be true.  If you click on 'The EU - What's in it for me? A no-nonsense guide for UK citizens to what the European Union delivers', surely you will be charged for it.  But no, it's starts downloading a 1.9 MB file which a few seconds later you can open up in your reader.

And here is an enumeration of what those EU benefits to British people are:

  1. Moving Around Europe Freely and Safely
    • Living and Working Abroad
    • Studying Abroad
    • Air Safety - Blacklist of Airlines
    • Transparent Flight-Ticket Pricing
    • Charter of Air Passenger Rights
    • Moving Around without Passport Checks

  2. Giving Consumers a Fair Deal At Home and Away
    • The Single Market's Contribution to Economic Growth
    • Shopping Abroad
    • Phoning While Abroad: Roaming and the GSM Standard
    • Liberalization of Telecoms
    • Preventing Market Stitch-Ups: The Car Market
    • Monitoring Consumer Markets
    • MP3 Downloads

  3. Making Our Food and Environment Safer
    • Climate Change and Sustainable Energy
    • Bathing Water
    • Waste
    • Hazardous Chemicals
    • Life
    • Animal Health
    • Food Labelling
    • GMOs
    • Watchdogs - the European Food Safety Authority, and the Food and Veterinary Office
    • Protecting Consumer Safety: RAPEX

  4. Fighting Crime and Policing Borders
    • The European Arrest Warrant
    • Fight Against Money Laundering
    • Counterfeiting and Piracy
    • External Borders Agency

  5. Some Things the EU Doesn't Do
    • 'The EU has got rid of lbs and ozs and will soon force us to use km on the road'
    • 'The Lisbon Treaty would force the UK to give up its seat on the UN Security Council'
    • 'The EU is doing away with 999 as our emergency number'
    • 'The EU is trying to wipe England off the map'
    • 'The EU wants to stop pub-goers calling bar staff `love''
    • 'The EU wants to drop the Queen from our passports'

Which begs the question: Is all this worth giving up British integrity, dignity and self-respect and putting up with a combination of third rate athletes in bobbing latex birds and irrational legislation about bananas?

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 11:46:44 AM EST
Good catch.

It's exciting stuff, isn't it?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 08:44:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
It's exciting stuff, isn't it?
You have a point, but this is like complaints that a math curriculum is not "motivating" to students.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buiter
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 09:08:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Apples and oranges.

The point of political messaging -- propaganda, to be blunt about it -- is persuasion, not thinking.  Having an emotional content to a message really does help persuade.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 10:56:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Was just reading that the head of deception for the Middle east in the Second world war (Who coincidentally invented the names for the Commandos, the Special Air Service and the US Rangers) after the war went off to work for the Conservative Party as head of Public Opinion research for several years.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 11:02:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Right Wing is especially prone to move from military "service" - defined broadly - to a position within their political organizations.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 11:28:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I do have a good friend that is convinced thet the rise of Thatcher was plotted by people who all knew eaqch other from Colditz POW camp.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 11:31:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
LOL

That evokes snarkifolous speculation about "bonding" (psychological or physical) and it's role in later life in social and political ... er ... "affairs."

(again, LOL)

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 11:44:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think there has been some complacency that membership of the EU is self-evidently a Good Thing.

After all, Britain's own relationship with it proves it.  We weren't interested in the proto EU when it was founded, then had to go grovelling and accept allegedly disadvantageous financial terms some years later. When Mrs Thatcher was renegotiating UK contributions in the early 1980's, the impression I took away was that we must really need to be members if we'd accepted membership at any price.

But there is a huge underlying resentment of the EU based on the belief that we have been substantial net contributors when equally wealthy countries (France) haven't pulled their equivalent weight and other countries (Ireland) have rolled in subsidy for years beyond the point when their per capita income exceeded ours.  Why we mind when other net contributors apparently don't (or not to the same extent) is another question.  However, to the extent that this is true,  those in the EU who have treated the perceived unfairness as an ignorable expression of Little Englanderism have effectively forced British politicians into ever more shrill posturing and red line drawing in order to look effectual.  They do have to share some of the blame.

by Sassafras on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 12:02:40 PM EST
The key problem, like everywhere, is that the corporate media have been allowed run entirely out of control: they can simply lie with impunity to push the agenda of their owners.

The politicians at every level are afraid to fix that.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 12:07:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed.

And as we've seen with Brown recently, when the pols go off message, retribution is speedy and brutal.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 08:46:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Putting aside the ethnic paranoids for a moment, who/what are the vested interests in Britain that would profit/benefit from not being in the EU?  (Taking the pro-EU literature I've seen at face value, it sounds like the EU's single market/common standards/etc. would be a good thing for corporations.  If so, why what are they railroading it?)

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 09:11:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because the EU is not purely a free-trade, regulation reducing project. The EU is a social, political and trade regulation project.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 09:17:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Colman: Because the EU is not purely a free-trade, regulation reducing project. The EU is a social, political and trade regulation project.

That is just the anti-EU spin, right?  But corporations are about maximizing profits, and they separate the spin from the reality, can't they?  So if the EU in fact, not in spin, helps to improve their profits, what are they gaining by attacking it?  Or are you saying that in fact UK corporations' profits are less with the UK in the EU than if it were outside it?

Here is a pure hypothetical:  Suppose that EU regulations miraculously changed/disappeared (e.g. under pressure from the supposed resurgence of the right in the recent elections) to become perfectly amenable to the interests and aims of UK corporations.  Then would the anti-EU rhetoric in the UK media -- at least the part driven and sponsored by UK corporations -- disappear and give way to pro-EU rhetoric?

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 09:51:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here is a pure hypothetical:  Suppose that EU regulations miraculously changed/disappeared (e.g. under pressure from the supposed resurgence of the right in the recent elections) to become perfectly amenable to the interests and aims of UK corporations.  Then would the anti-EU rhetoric in the UK media -- at least the part driven and sponsored by UK corporations -- disappear and give way to pro-EU rhetoric?

I think that experiment may have been done in reverse.  IIRC, back when the EU was the EEC,  the Labour Party's then policy to take us out of the EEC was framed by the media as yet more evidence that they were the Loony Left.

So my answer would be-yes, remove all those nasty workers' rights and equality bits and I expect the UK media would have a change of heart.

by Sassafras on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 01:56:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
marco:
 But corporations are about maximizing profits, and they separate the spin from the reality, can't they?  So if the EU in fact, not in spin, helps to improve their profits, what are they gaining by attacking it?

Needle. Groove. Stuck...

it's the principle, innit?

gvt = brakes, faster profit = ungoverned.

great google almighty, i loved the story of your e-search, marco!!

nothing like making it easy and attractive to random readers.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 01:56:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I completely misread what you wrote as an ironic characterization of how UK Euroskeptics spin the EU.

Sorry for the confusion.

Still, I am curious about the actual, bottom-line benefits to UK corporations with respect to membership vs. non-membership in the EU.

And although it is a completely unrealistic hypothetical, I am still very interested in hearing what might happen in the fantasy scenario of a neoliberal European Union: would the British media, followed by the British population, then embrace the EU?

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 10:06:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The real benefits or the perceived ones?

The perception is that things like worker protections, environmental standards, safety standards, human rights protections, maternity leave and so on are bad for corporate profits. It's not clear to me that this is true in the long run (i.e. in the order of tens of quarters, not one quarter).

The British population would probably hate a neo-liberal EU even more because it would become the excuse for taking away their rights and benefits. The British media might very well love it to bits though, if that's what their bosses told them to do.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 10:13:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Colman: The perception is that things like worker protections, environmental standards, safety standards, human rights protections, maternity leave and so on are bad for corporate profits.

But the financial costs of these to UK corporations must surely be less than the financial/economic benefits of being part of the EU, mustn't they?

The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform has a web page titled What if we Left the European Union? which lists downsides such as:

  • we might lose the advantages that economies of scale bring to pan-European industries such as  car manufacturing or aerospace;
  • we would have to bear the costs of renegotiating bilateral trade agreements
  • we would risk losing direct inward investment from companies which see the UK as a gateway to the EU.
  • If we wished to continue trading with the EU - for example as a member of European Free Trade Area (EFTA ) (like Switzerland) or the European Economic Area (EEA) (like Norway) - we would still have to comply with EU laws, while having no say in negotiating them.  We might even have to keep up contributions to the EU budget as the price of continued access to the Single Market, but get nothing in return.

Are the above points are just pro-EU spin that just try to cover up the larger downsides (to corporations) that you listed above?

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 11:10:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A rather nice Appeal to Greed, tho'.  :-)

As I recall, and 30+ year old memories are lousy evidence, the UK was sold on the EU by economic arguments.  The socio-political justifications were either not mentioned or used as reasons for not joining.

At least in the media I was consuming.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 11:36:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ATinNM: The socio-political justifications were either not mentioned or used as reasons for not joining.

Oh hell no.  I didn't even bother considering the socio-political arguments.  These are corporations we are talking about here.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 11:43:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
i only selected those points that seemed relevant to corporate interests.  others they list on that page (and they go into it elsewhere as well):

What if we Left the European Union? - BERR

1. basic Single Market freedoms such as the right to live, study and work in Europe might be jeopardised;

4. we would lose out on EU funding for research, which currently outweighs our contributions, and would   no  longer be able to influence the development of the Framework Programme. [this one is quasi corporate relevant as well, perhaps even more so than socio-political relevant]

5. guarantees of important protections for consumers could be lost;

6. workers' rights could be eroded, making it harder for employees to find a satisfactory work-life balance;

7. one of the strongest voices for reform in EU would be lost, with the result that new EU rules would be more likely to be damaging to British interests; [this one also somewhat corporate relevant]



Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 11:47:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The EU was originally the EEC, and was defined exclusively as a trade organisation. So the original referendum was sold on the basis of economic benefits - Jobs™, etc.

Since then there's been a drift towards closer cultural and political integration. I'd guess some of the old timers feel this was never part of the deal, which explains part of the push-back.

But as InWales said above, we have our own 'patriotic' wingers who are captivated by a Disneyfied semi-feudal British identity. Brussels threatens this identity and promises a tidal wave of something bad or other.

These wingers don't much like anyone who isn't British.

They'll tolerate some immigrants as long as they work hard for them (middle and upper class) and don't steal their jobs (lower middle and working class). But the idea of being flooded by foreigners - i.e. anyone who isn't English British - makes them break out in a cold sweat.

The core problem is that plastic faked-up identity, and the constant media portrayal of everything that happens in Brussels as a rather floppy and bureaucratic dagger pointed at the heart of it.

And the reason for that portrayal is partly a genuine sense of outrage, and partly the expediency of being able to use public Euroskepticism as a negotiating position.

I'd guess wingers in other countries have similar motivations.

It's reactionary in the widest sense - perhaps because the UK has never quite assimilated the cool rationality of European modernism. The culture moved straight from paternal imperial arrogance to feudal volkisch nostalgia, with a side order of neo-Victorian business brutalism.

There was that hippy thing in the sixties, but apart from that UK political culture has been reliably grim, adversarial, antiquated and desperate. The only vision is a nostalgic one. Looking forward in a positive way is something that seems to terrify people.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Jun 11th, 2009 at 01:27:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the idea of being flooded by foreigners - i.e. anyone who isn't English British - makes them break out in a cold sweat.

I guess the fact that the UK wasn't flooded by (South) Asians after India's independence or that no Ozzies, Kiwis and South African under-30s come to the UK to work explains why the EU worker mobility rules are such a problem...

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buiter

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 11th, 2009 at 01:40:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Indians aren't popular with the nationalists. Nor are Pakistanis.

Ozzies, etc, are still part of the Empire, and therefore British by default - obviously.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Jun 11th, 2009 at 02:17:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
At least they have the accent - sort of.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buiter
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 11th, 2009 at 03:08:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why don' t Brown and co fix it now? The papers can't hurt them now!
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 09:18:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hurt them politically or hurt them personally?

Besides, Brown and his NuLab friends have by all accounts internalised the institutional cowardice that they've been taught from an early age.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 09:39:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Giving 'em the benefit of the doubt ...

Let's assume, for the moment, they really do accept the Neo-Liberal economic position.  

Under that assumption it becomes clear -- to me, at least ;-) -- you can't fight something with nothing and for all intents and purposes we, the Left, ain't got something.  At least something that is (a) intellectually up-to-date and (b) persuasive.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 11:10:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why would not Scottland, deprived of Scottish PM, secede first? That may be easier, and keep Cameron busy... I secede you, you secede me... What went wrong is the theory of the state, does cameron have anything different to propose?

Patrice Ayme Patriceayme.com Patriceayme.wordpress.com http://tyranosopher.blogspot.com/
by Patrice Ayme on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 12:03:50 PM EST
  1. Britain lives with the image of winning WW2 and has not really felt to need to make peace with other European countries. Thus, Europe is not an overriding thing like it has been for France and Germany;

  2. Plus, several centuries of divide-and-conquer are hard to forget. The EU evokes a visceral threat of continent unification;

  3. the UK media is dominated by virulently anti-EU Murdoch papers and TV channels;

  4. 25 years of deregulatory drive and dominance of finance, money and self-regulation don't mix well with a technocratic bureaucracy bent on imposing explicit rules and trying to build the political legitimacy for it.

Fighting the political nature of the EU remains a fundamental goal for London in every way - against isolation, against regulation, against uppity foreigners.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 04:25:19 PM EST
Well that sounds a little bitter - even to these old ex-pat ears ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 04:29:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]

"We are quite the best country in Europe," she declared. "In my lifetime all the problems have come from mainland Europe, and all the solutions have come from the English-speaking nations across the world."

 (October 1999



In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 04:35:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Anecdotal...

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 05:04:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I no longer represent any Anglo-Saxon point of view. That was 40 years ago. I DO represent (in my own mind) the Nordic point of view. The Nordic point of view is imperfect, but, I believe, it represents the best of empathic Europe at the moment. Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland: the best models imho for the future of Europe as a continent of PEOPLE...

...at peace.

I will never see that - but I am prepared to work toward it.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 05:20:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sven Triloqvist:
I no longer represent any Anglo-Saxon point of view. That was 40 years ago. I DO represent (in my own mind) the Nordic point of view. The Nordic point of view is imperfect, but, I believe, it represents the best of empathic Europe at the moment. Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland: the best models imho for the future of Europe as a continent of PEOPLE...

nice one sven, still looking for a sense of 'psychic home' myself. sure wish i could feel prouder of italy right now.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 05:33:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Finland didn't seem that good a decision in 1974 - but the deeper I've got the more I like it. There's a psychological element, I'm sure - so much of Finland today reminds me of childhood in the Leicestershire countryside.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 02:00:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
a psychological element? nah...

:)

funny you say that about childhood, the woods here in italy remind me of the idealised woods i grew up with in england, robin hood, maid marian, and sir lancelot kind.

user-friendly

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Jun 11th, 2009 at 02:09:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which reminds me of a new tagline for the Anglo Disease - 'Usury-Friendly'

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Jun 11th, 2009 at 02:45:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think number 1 is the most important thing, and it explains a lot of the EU-scepticism in Sweden too. People 'round here always, always, always ignore that no matter how stupid, inefficient etc the EU is, it's so much better than the natural European state of afairs: war.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 04:35:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Starvid: it's so much better than the natural European state of afairs: war.

While I agree with you that the peace dividend of the EU is a huge if not the hugest benefit that the EU provides, I wonder how much weight it bears as a selling point to the UK.  For if the UK left the EU, how significantly would that increase the probability that war would break out in Europe?  I'm guessing not by very much.  But even if it did make European peace significantly more precarious, realistically how credible would that be as a disincentive to those seeking UK "independence" from the EU?

Other more vivid and compelling upsides to embracing the EU -- and downsides to rejecting it -- must be identified and communicated.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 06:12:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are two different scenarios to consider:

  1. The UK leaves the EU, but the EU remains.

  2. The EU disintegrates.

In the first scenario, the UK is basically a glorified version of Iceland, except that they've managed to piss off everybody nearby, except the Americans (who treat them like a disposable landing strip today...), whereas Iceland can still draw on Nordic solidarity.

The second scenario would seriously destabilise Europe, probably to the point of igniting at least a couple of minor wars, and quite possibly a major one.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 06:27:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
JakeS: In the first scenario, the UK is basically a glorified version of Iceland, except that they've managed to piss off everybody nearby, except the Americans (who treat them like a disposable landing strip today...), whereas Iceland can still draw on Nordic solidarity.

Well then too bad for the UK, with sympathies to Euro-philes who live there.

JakeS: The second scenario would seriously destabilise Europe, probably to the point of igniting at least a couple of minor wars, and quite possibly a major one.

I supposed that this scenario was so unlikely as to be not worth worrying about.  Are you saying that UK withdrawal could encourage other countries to withdraw as well?  Or that the EU without the UK would not be able to sustain itself (administratively, financially, economically, whatever)?

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 06:47:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I supposed that this scenario was so unlikely as to be not worth worrying about.

Well, that's true. So the selling point for the UK would not so much be "Europe will disintegrate into bloody, messy wars without the UK in the EU" as "Iceland is not in the EU. Ireland is in the EU. Which one would you guys prefer to be?"

But of course that argument cannot hope to be effective if the British still labour under the delusion that the UK is a serious world power.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 07:11:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
except the Americans (who treat them like a disposable landing strip today...)

Now that's not fair.  We use them for moral cover, too.

And, anyway, it's not like we treat them as a disposable landing strip for the same reason anymore.  It's just that the President knows the PM is Dead Man Walking, so we reckon we might as well cosy up to Merkel and Sarko.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 07:11:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
JakeS:
In the first scenario, the UK is basically a glorified version of Iceland, except that they've managed to piss off everybody nearby
And a lot of people within (only the English nationalist would be happy).

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buiter
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 03:50:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But turkeys don't vote for thanksgiving. One of the kinda crucial points about the British strategic picture is that nobody would take them seriously if they weren't in the Union.

But I just thought of an exceedingly nasty scenario: What if a couple of the kingdoms secede and petition the EU for membership. Now that would be a nasty flash point. Imagine the reaction of a Tory government that had just pulled out of the EU to Wales and Scotland seceding and sending a polite "can we join, pretty please?" letter to Bruxelles.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 04:56:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We discussed these kinds of scenarios in 2006/7.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buiter
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 05:01:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In all likelihood, if the UK tries to leave, this is exactly what will happen.

Which would be perfectly ironic - the UK breaking up completely because it refuses to give up some of its sovereignty by joining the EU.

It would also put Northern Ireland in an interesting position.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 08:50:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I must work out whether Sinn Fein are anti-EU or what. They opposed Lisbon and so on, but I forget on what basis.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 09:11:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, they're not too bad: http://www.sinnfein.ie/eu-affairs
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 11:48:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
See:


The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buiter
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 09:19:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Scenario 1 (The UK leaves the EU, but the EU remains) should probably be split in at least 2 sub-scenarios:

  • the EU remains, and the UK is a quasi-member à la Switzerland/Norway/EEA (ie, most of the regulations and ease of access remain); or

  • the EU remains, and starts treating the UK like a foreign country, like the US is treated, for instance(ie no access to EU passport lines, to intra-EU trade rules, etc...).


In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 11:44:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Jerome a Paris: the EU remains, and the UK is a quasi-member à la Switzerland/Norway/EEA (ie, most of the regulations and ease of access remain)

at a cost:

What if we Left the European Union? | BERR

If we wished to continue trading with the EU - for example as a member of European Free Trade Area (EFTA ) (like Switzerland) or the European Economic Area (EEA) (like Norway) - we would still have to comply with EU laws, while having no say in negotiating them.  We might even have to keep up contributions to the EU budget as the price of continued access to the Single Market, but get nothing in return.


Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 11:54:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fact id swiss is joining the EU just because of this... And the rest will follow. Even the UKIP fanatic on TV the other day said he would keep the good sides of the EU, before driving off in his white BMW Z4 roadster... It was hilarious.

Patrice Ayme Patriceayme.com Patriceayme.wordpress.com http://tyranosopher.blogspot.com/
by Patrice Ayme on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 11:36:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Plus there is the fact London operates as the even less regulated in some ways annex of wall Street, and a Trojan Horse made in USA (which is not much to say these days)

Patrice Ayme Patriceayme.com Patriceayme.wordpress.com http://tyranosopher.blogspot.com/
by Patrice Ayme on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 11:33:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wonder...what do people think would be the chances of pan European parties standing for election in their country? Is your electorate sophisticated enough to vote European on European issues?  And if it can be done, why hasn't it?
by Sassafras on Thu Jun 11th, 2009 at 05:38:41 PM EST
In Denmark's case, part of the explanation is that the existing parties have cadres, funding and access already in place.

Another part of the answer is that the European parties are coalitions of state-level parties rather than genuine federal parties in their own right (except - maybe, tentatively - for Libertas and Piratpartiet).

And a third part of the answer (which is related to the first) is that the press is a circle jerk. Insiders are interesting and have access because they are insiders. Without the patronage of an insider, you will never be adopted into that club. And the insiders know better than to saw off the branch they're sitting on by allowing their clients to build independent patronage networks of their own without giving them a prominent place.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jun 11th, 2009 at 06:31:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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