Posts Tagged ‘Europe’

Cathy Ashton Google mentalism.

February 20, 2010

Cathy Ashton – everybody’s favourite election-dodging Labour peer who went from low-profile technocrat to fairly high-profile Eurocrat – was the subject of a Google search I conducted the other day.

I had only typed in ‘Cathy Ashton’ when Google automatically suggested some popular searches. Of course the largest number of search results is 806,000 for ‘Cathy Ashton EU’. Predictable. I was more bemused to see that the second highest was ‘Cathy Ashton Jewish’ (401,000 results) closely followed by ‘Cathy Ashton Communist’ (315,000 results) and ‘Cathy Ashton Bilderberg’ (181,000 results).

There are also 139,000 results for ‘Cathy Ashton Dalek’. I initially wondered whether Google-addicted conspiracy nuts were convinced that Cathy Ashton was part of a Jewish-Communist conspiracy, operating through the Bilderberg group, to use the EU and a force of Dalek mercenaries to take over the planet. But then I remembered that Cathy Ashton is known to be a massive Doctor Who fan and apparently has a life-size Dalek in her sitting room.


Papists, the Presidency, and the European Project.

November 24, 2009

Apologies for the lack of posts in recent days. I suffered a slight breakdown after all the excitement of Herman Van Rompuy being designated the first permanent President of the European Council and have only just started to recover.

Much comment has already been made elsewhere about the choice of Van Rompuy as Euro Prez. Some see this cautious decision as evidence that the EU remains an intergovernmental organisation where individual states don’t want to be overshadowed by a powerful supranational polity. I would tend to agree.

Others simply make jokes about ‘Rompuy Pumpy’ being a boring character, dismiss the entire process of European integration as anti-democratic because it’s a bit complicated, and then concentrate on informing the British people about far more important news events such as the insects being poured between Katie Price’s mammaries on ‘Celebrity Jungle Factor’ or whatever its called. I tend to get annoyed by this.

Something that struck me is how one aspect of Van Rompuy’s character makes him a perfect candidate for being the first permanent President: he is a committed Catholic.

Many studies of the EU suggest that Catholicism plays a vital role in encouraging pro-integration sentiments.

Three of the original instigators of European integration – the Christian Democrat politicians Konrade Adenauer of Germany, Robert Schuman of France, and Alcide de Gasperi of Italy – were all very hardcore Catholics whose faith greatly informed their support for greater unity in Europe.

Euroboffins Nelsen, Guth and Fraser conducted some research using public opinion polls and found that throughout the period 1973 to 1998 European Catholics were far more likely to support the EU than non-Catholics, even when other factors were controlled. Countries with sizeable Catholic populations tend to be the most pro-EU whilst Protestant states such as the UK and Sweden are the most Eurosceptic. (Poland’s a funny case before anyone points this out!)

Picking Herman Van Rompuy for the Presidency is therefore consistent with the Catholic tradition that lies at the heart of the process of European integration. This is a man who apparently goes once a month to meditate in a monastery amongst silent monks. He is also opposed to letting Turkey into the EU because he feels letting in a Muslim-majority nation would clash with Europe’s fundamentally Christian values, or something like that.

Of course, there was another devout Catholic wanting the top job, but things did not work out so well for him. I am simply pointing out that Catholics of strong religious conviction have played important roles in the history of European integration; not that the EU is a Papist-run conspiracy (as loons like Ian Paisley think). Obviously being a Catholic was not enough to help Blair in the diplomatic wranglings over who was to get the Presidency.

David Cameron’s Euro Luck?

November 4, 2009

I think some Labourites were hoping that Europe was going to prove a secret weapon in the struggle against Cameron’s Conservatives.

Undoubtedly the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty has made things awkward for the-one-they-call-Dave, but I still doubt that this is going to hurt him too much. After all, previous Euro setbacks have not inflicted serious wounds upon him.

In the Labourite dream, the Tory leader was supposed to undermine his moderate and pragmatic credentials by pandering to the most reactionary Eurosceptic elements in his party. Abandoning the EPP and forming an alliance with far-Right nationalists meant we could shout “Nazi” and “anti-Semite” at the Conservatives and their new friends.

Although the British public is unenthusiastic about the EU, Tory obsessing over the issue at the expense of voters’ more immediate concerns would lose them support. Hopefully the Conservatives would split over European policy as they did in the 1990s. Nobody likes voting for a party at ideological war with itself.

Even if all this failed to dent the Tory lead in the polls, at least it looked like Cameron would have to put up with Tony Blair becoming President of the European Council. How irritating it would be for a newly elected Tory Prime Minister to be overshadowed on the world stage by “an all singing, all dancing” former Labour premier.

But the secret weapon seems to be a dud. Less an explosive bang of Tory turmoil than a pathetic fart of misplaced Labour expectation.

  • Last week Poland’s Chief Rabbi clarified his views on Polish MEP Michal Kaminski by telling the Beeb that he does not think the bloke is a Jew-hating extremist. This doesn’t help David Miliband’s argument.
  • It now appears less likely that Blair will become truly presidential.
  • Thus far the Euro-hating headbangers are not in open rebellion. Dan Hannan MEP admits a referendum on Lisbon “might no longer be the most logical option”. The Sun is telling its readers that Cameron has not broken his referendum promise.

I can see something very much like the scenario predicted by Hopi taking place. The immediate situation should not be too hard for Cameron to manage: blame Gordon, make vague promises of renegotiating the terms of Britain’s membership at some point in the future, remind Tories that they should be focused on winning the general election.

Things may get tricky for the Tory leader again in the long-term but – as much as it pains me to say it – I think his Euro luck will hold for now.

Tories and Europe.

October 6, 2009

Thoughts for Pride II – the struggle elsewhere

July 6, 2009
This is where we were

This is where we were

This time last year most of the Paintbrush Collective and various associates were visiting Budapest and enjoying a few days of baths, bikes, and Communist statues.

Everything was going well. The sun was shining; the beer was cheap; the Unicum was disgusting; and the comradeship was of the greatest quality.

I remember we were sitting in a cafe close to Heroes’ Square in central Budapest having a well-deserved rest after an arduous morning doing something or another when we noticed that the police were erecting metal fences in the street around us. In-fact access to the main thoroughfare of Andrassy Avenue was blocked off by multiple rows of these barriers.

Taking the hint that something might be going on, one of the more enterprising members of our group asked a nearby police officer what was happening. She was told that Budapest’s gay pride march was taking place and it was supposed to be ending at Heroes’ Square shortly.

My own experience of gay pride activities had been minimal but I associated them with carnival-like atmospheres, people wearing outlandish costumes and generally having fun. Sticking around to watch the parade therefore seemed like a good idea.


EU elections: a new perspective

June 9, 2009

Much has been made at the Paintbrush of how the country which repelled fascism is now sending elected fascists back to Continental Europe. Whilst this, and Labour’s humiliating result deserve considerable mention, there has been little discussion of what the votes mean for the EU project in the UK. A rough analysis of the votes for the 6 most popular parties in this election reveal that support for openly (though to differing degrees) Eurosceptic parties is double that for pro-European parties.

I appreciate that this election involves factors considerably more complex than a general referendum on the European project. I believe, however, that this adds to the evidence that the virtues of the EU are not being adequately sold to the British people. Nobody in Government seems to listen to the increasing Euro-scepticism of the British public. There is no attempt to counter this through open debate. I am a European%20Flag(1)vocal critic of many aspects of the European project. I despair at the ECJ, I disagree that the doctrine of supremacy is a necessary part of the project and I think the idea of a common foreign policy is laughable. I am, however, a passionate supporter of the European project in its broader sense. The rise of UKIP baffles and concerns me in equal measure. Until we face them head on and expose their inaccuracies, we will be forced out of the mainstream of the EU by our own, sceptical population.

Results in Islington

June 8, 2009

The Labour Party – 12,428

The Green Party – 8,551

Liberal Democrats – 8,167

Conservative Party – 6,170

United Kingdom Independence Party – 2,639

British National Party – 1,488

So not too bad considering the devastation for Labour across the rest of the country.

More people voted for UKIP than Labour. We were beaten in Scotland by the nats. Second to the TORIES in WALES. We came behind the Cornish Nationalists in Cornwall. And that’s not even mentioning the fash bastards now going to the European Parliament to represent the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber.

Awful awful awful. By the way, have you seen this new blog on the block?

Andrew Brons MEP

June 8, 2009
  • 1960s – Member of the National Socialist Movement. Yes, as in Nazism. So when the fashionable thing to do was to grow your hair and start talking about peace and love, Brons was actually celebrating Hitler’s birthday and was a member of an organisation that used to go around firebombing synagogues.
  • 1970s – Member of the National Front.
  • 1980s – Active in the National Front’s policy unit (presumably quite an easy job where you just have to come up with different ways of saying ‘Rights for whites’ and ‘There ain’t no black in the Union Jack’)
  • 1990s – Concentrated on career as a lecturer.
  • 2009 – Elected as a BNP Member of the European Parliament.

Sick to my stomach

June 7, 2009

The view at 2300hrs

I am watching the BBC coverage of the election. Only the North East has yet declared, but the BBC is predicting that the BNP may have won a seat in Yorkshire and the Humber.

I am a grown man, and I am literally fighting back tears. It gives me such a feeling of deep shame to think that our country will have any representatives who are Fascists.

The failure of mailstream politics in general – and, if I’m honest, Labour in particular – is laid bare here.

It’s the way he tells ’em

May 20, 2009

I’m all for the odd celebrity endorsement of a political party, even a political party like UKIP. I also understand that these celebrities might not be quite as clued up on the minutiae of policy as we are here at the ‘Paintbrush’. Is there not a duty on the BBC, when reporting such a news story to correct massive errors made the newly-political celeb?

Today, the renowned heavyweight of light-entertainment, Frank Carson has endorsed UKIP. Clearly this will cause a huge exodus away from the 3 main parties into Mr Farage’s band of “cranks and political gadflies”. Predictably, Mr Carson  stated  “We need to get out of the EU and ditch the human rights legislation”.

Leaving aside Mr Carson’s wish for us to escape the villainous clutches of the EU (which has effectively subsidised his country for years), his desire to ditch HR legislation baffles me. Now it would be easy to caricature Mr Carson as a Stalinist opponent of basic human rights for UK citizens. I suspect his problem is with the way these rights are currently protected in the UK. This is achieved by the Human Rights Act 1998 which gives effect to the European Convention on Human Rights. Now let me do the job which the BBC should have done…

The European Convention on Human Rights has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the European Union. Anyone who suggests otherwise is an ill-informed moron or is a sneaky Euro-sceptic trying to deceive you. It is a treaty. It was produced by a huge range of States including Iceland and the United States, many many years before Britain joined the European Community.