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I don't have a problem with competent people doing good jobs "even if they were not elected to anything".  

My concern is that we have just fought a very hard referendum campaign in Ireland where much of the NO argument was driven by British and Irish Eurosceptic arguments about "unelected elites" in Brussels taking over peoples lives and now we seem to be going almost out of our way to appoint someone who fits that description reasonably accurately.

Membership of the British House of Lords (and she is still a peer) does not sit well with most peoples idea of democratic accountability and all sides - even the yes campaign - conceded the EU had some way to go to make the EU institutions appear "closer to the people" and to encourage greater popular identification and emotional involvement with those institutions.

That argument always seemed particularly specious to me when it came from British Eurosceptics with their (frequent) attachments to the House of Lords, "distain for the masses", and attachment to direct democracy only when it came to demanding referenda on the EU.

But it is still an argument and a perception which gained a lot of traction in the campaign and appointing a Peer who has never submitted to a popular election doesn't help that perception.  Politics is about popular engagement as well as administrative competence, and in my view Baroness Ashton has not conclusively demonstrated either.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 08:08:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
Membership of the British House of Lords (and she is still a peer) does not sit well with most peoples idea of democratic accountability and all sides - even the yes campaign - conceded the EU had some way to go to make the EU institutions appear "closer to the people" and to encourage greater popular identification and emotional involvement with those institutions.
I am on the record not minding an unelected House of Lords.
Actually, an unelected second-reading chamber helps protect the State from the influence of money. Case in point: if the House of Lords votes down 42-day detention it will be in part because Brown can't threaten the Lords with a snap election where they'd lose their seats, or engage in horse-trading on individual constituency demands.

So I am convinced that having two directly elected chambers is a waste but I am not convinced that an unelected second chamber is a bad idea. Spain's Senate definitely is useless as configured and I would much rather it be replaced with the Conference of Presidents.



En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 08:49:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 Whatever about the UK - and they are as entitled to their internal traditions as anyone else - how is this relevant to the EU?  You are hardly advocating a second, unelected Chamber of the EU Parliament?

The irony I am seeking to highlight (perhaps ad nauseam by now) is that British Eurosceptics never stop criticising the EU for a lack of direct democracy  whilst being contemptuous of popular politics within the UK and being supportive of the Queen, The lords, and the constitutional privileges of the House of Commons.  There is hardly a country in Europe with less direct democracy than the UK, and a highly flawed first past the post electoral system at that.

Appointing a Baroness to a top EU post is going to do nothing to challenges the faux "unelected Brussels elite" argument they so love to pedal.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 09:01:57 AM EST
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Frank Schnittger:
Whatever about the UK - and they are as entitled to their internal traditions as anyone else - how is this relevant to the EU?
Because everyone is making Ashton being a life peer an issue in her EU appointment, including you to whose comment I was replying.
You are hardly advocating a second, unelected Chamber of the EU Parliament?
I'm not. If you read my comment you'll infer that I would oppose a second elected chamber which is not the same thing as advocating a second unelected chamber.

But, really, as I am forced to point out repeatedly, the German Federal Council (Bundesrat) is an unelected (that is, indirectly elected) second-reading chamber and nobody clamors for its removal, and it is very analogous to the European Council itself, where representatives of the Member States' governments act in codecision with the directly elected parliament in the EU's legislative process.

Appointing a Baroness to a top EU post is going to do nothing to challenges the faux "unelected Brussels elite" argument they so love to pedal
So the British Eurosceptics peddle inconsistent nonsense, what else is new? I thought the point of our debates was to do our own honest analysis of sorts. And I disagree - attacking a fellow Brit, and a former Leader of the House of Lords and President of the Privy Council would be a bit muchfor the British Eurosceptics.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 09:11:19 AM EST
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Baroness Ashton was only appointed to her various UK ministerial jobs on the basis of being an appointed member of the House of Lords. That maybe ok in the context of UK Parliamentary tradition, but I suggest, not a great basis for EU appointments when the EU is itself under constant criticism for its "demodratic deficit".  Should we appoint (say) a member of the Belgian royal family to a top EU post?  They might be very competent.

I thought the Lisbon Treaty and the new posts created under its terms was part of an attempt to encourage greater popular identification and involvement with EU institutions by EU citizens.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 09:24:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
Baroness Ashton was only appointed to her various UK ministerial jobs on the basis of being an appointed member of the House of Lords.
As there were hundreds of other members of the House of Lords, I think you're overstating the case here.

Within the institutional context of British politics, her life peerage is totally incidental to a political apparatchik's career. If someone has to be made a peer in order to be a minister because they're not an MP, they are made a peer. It's pretty meaningless. Most non-hereditary peers know this and are not assholes about being a Baron(ess).

Sarah Ludford MEP is also a life peer and nobody questions that she works her arse off as a parlamentarian. Then again, she's in an elected position and in the Lib Dems you have to go through an open (to party members) primary in order to get the #1 slot on the party list.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 09:35:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
Within the institutional context of British politics, her life peerage is totally incidental to a political apparatchik's career. If someone has to be made a peer in order to be a minister because they're not an MP, they are made a peer.

Precisely my point.  In Britain it is possible to have an extensive ministerial career without ever standing for election - something which is less common in most other member states as far as I am aware  - and not necessarilly a great way to tackle the acknowledged "democratic deficit" within the EU.

My point is that because of long-standing tradition (some would call in class prejudice) it is not very unusual for senior political leaders never having to be electorally accountable in the UK.  As long as they're the right sort of British, that's all well and good old chap.

However the EU has nothing like the long tradition and legitimacy that appears to be bestowed on the British ruling class.  What legitimacy it has is largely bestowed on it through popular elections and the participation of popularly elected Governments.  

I'm sure if she ends up doing a very good job, none of this will be an issue.  But its not a good place to start from right after the difficulties we had in getting a popular endorsement of Lisbon against allegations that it was all an elite project and a conspiracy against ordinary people.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 09:58:36 AM EST
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Frank Schnittger:
In Britain it is possible to have an extensive ministerial career without ever standing for election - something which is less common in most other member states as far as I am aware
Um, take Pedro Solbes, Spain's minister for agriculture 1991-3, Economy minister 1993-6 and 2004-9, vice-president in 2004-9, and EU Commisioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs in 1999-2004. He only even joined the PSOE in 2008 and was a parlamentarian for exactly one year.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 10:04:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So you are saying it is, and should be an elite project? That wasn't the Yes campaign line.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 10:08:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've had enough of your populist demagoguery in this thread.

You make a factual claim, I rebut you and you reply with this? I was not part of the yes campaign in Ireland.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 10:15:09 AM EST
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Migeru:
I've had enough of your populist demagoguery in this thread.

Ah so it is populist demagoguery to argue that the EU should be more than an elite project and I should stop arguing that popular mandates are an important though not the only form of democratic legitimacy.  Seeing this is the second time you have told me I am not welcome here I shall leave.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 10:23:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have replied with reasoned arguments and facts to the litany of talking point after talking point coming from you, some of which are not even your own opinions. So, yes, I find it frustrating to debate you. And no, I am not speaking for here but for myself so don't play victim either.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 10:26:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You will never turn me into a victim, but I will not debate on exclusively your terms either. I find your almost exclusive emphasis on the rational and disdain for the popular, democratic, emotional, affective and imaginative elements of politics equally frustrating, but I hope I have never been discourteous in my replies.  If so I apologise.  Cheers!

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 10:34:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 "You have a history of pretending to articulate positions that are not yours without making it explicit that that's what you're doing. Could you stop?"

"I've had enough of your populist demagoguery in this thread."

I don't find these statements can be lumped together with other "reasoned arguments and fact."

Without going into the validity of anyone's arguments here,  i would be displeased if ET lost the quality Frank Schnittger brings to the table simply because you might dig too deeply for civilized discourse.

If you've indeed had enough of x or y, the proper response is leave it alone.

And i may discuss the anti-Brit thread elsewhere, but not here.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 11:53:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]


Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.
by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 08:18:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course the Eurosceptics want to preserve their own delusional concept of sovereignty and empire.

Democracy has nothing to do with it - it's just a convenient stick they can use to beat the dog. If the electorate is dim enough to believe the sceptics have any interest in democratic accountability, more fool them.

Elected leaders are hardly models of excellence - Blair, Aznar, Burlesquoni, ad nauseam - so being elected isn't quite a benchmark of appropriateness.

What this debate underlines is the impossible criteria needed for leadership. If you're elected you're likely to be a spiv, a fool, and/or a sociopath, and if you're unelected you're undemocratic - which is even worse

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 09:13:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
What this debate underlines is the impossible criteria needed for leadership. If you're elected you're likely to be a spiv, a fool, and/or a sociopath, and if you're unelected you're undemocratic - which is even worse
What this debate underlines is that there's always a talking point available within one's narrative to argue either way on anything.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 09:19:35 AM EST
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That's what I said. :)
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 09:22:58 AM EST
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It applies with full generality, so I restated it.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 09:26:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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