Fainting in Coyles An occasional letter from the
Heart of Euroville
Wednesday, July 09, 2003
The Miniture for Europe - What Rot
About time this man was taken to task for his ignorance bile and insubstantiality. Denis McShane you are about to be fisked. Today’s Times
This Tory anti-Euro cabal is a disaster for Britain
by Denis MacShane
Once in a while there comes a magic moment in the Commons when the veils of
obfuscation and parliamentary blah, blah vanish and stark clarity is there
for all to see.
Yes this true, funnily enough it only happens by accident when any member of the present government takes to the dispatch box. When Peter Hain inadvertently let the cat out of the bag in December that the Government was prepared to use a guillotine motion to curtail debate on the European Constitution for example.
Such a moment came earlier this summer when Ian Taylor, a
former Conservative minister, was describing how he was sitting in the tea
room during the Maastricht debates ten years ago. Suddenly, a Tory whip (
David Davis ) came running in and urged him to put down his teacup and go
into the chamber. “There is some nutter in there calling for a referendum on
the Maastricht treaty,” the whip said as he urged counter-speeches from
‘Tis true that Davis was the Maastricht whip, but I doubt that the Hon Member for Esher, Mr Taylor required much persuasion to waffle on about how wonderful Europe is, as I am reliably informed the time of Maastricht came to a vocally sceptical Tory meeting and
patronised us all by telling us that "Europe's a jolly good thing, don’cha
know? The make lovely wine and it's a great place for holidays!" He was
greeted with howls of derision.
Who was that “nutter”? Mr Taylor gravely informed the Commons it was none
other than Iain Duncan Smith. Far from squirming with embarrassment at Mr
Taylor¹s story, the Tory benches were delighted at their leader¹s
perspicacity in opposing the EU so long ago.
So this is a man who labour would have us believe that is weak and insubstantial, but in fact has been consistent on what he believes to be a major threat to the freedom of his country. So principled was he that he was willing to risk his entire political career in order to echo the silent voices of the majority of his fellow countrymen. Meanwhile of course Labour taking the role of principled opposition also supported the Tory rebels.
The Conservative Party is controlled by a cabal of anti-EU obsessives.
Tomorrow, Mr Duncan Smith will make “a repositioning speech” in Prague. We
can guess the drift of it. Bill Cash and Michael Howard have made
renegotiation of Britain¹s relationship with Europe (barely disguised code
for withdrawal) their guiding star.
This one is such a canard as to be laughable. What I understand is that this repositioning has something to do with certain red lines as HMG would have it on the Constitution. Hardly a repositioning in the case of Mr Duncan Smith. These Tory blue lines have been in the public domain for a while now. I believe that there will be a mention about the Conservatives relationship to the Europäischen Volkspartei. The centre right group is about to agree to the Constitution lock stock and 25 smoking barrels. IDS has stated time and time again the Conservatives cannot agree to aspects such as the European Public Prosecutor, the Convention on Human Rights, yesterdays latest amendments giving the European Parliament the right of some initiative on Foreign policy, and agreement to revisit the Constitution in a couple of years to look at the way in which it can be modified (by majority voting no less),. Oh need I go on. The Tories wish to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with Europe. This is true. They wish to define Britain’s position as an independent nation trading with Europe, be it a single political entity or a group of independent nations. Labour also wishes to renegotiate Britain’s position in Europe. In their case they wish to do this by handing over 34 veto rights and so on. The only difference is that the Tories call it renegotiation and Labour calls it negotiation.
Last year the Conservative leadership appointed John Maples, the calmest Tory on the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, to be their nominee on the Convention on the Future of Europe. He was booted off after a revolt by anti-EU Conservative backbenchers. His replacement was David
Heathcoat-Amory, who resigned from the Major Government because he felt it was insufficiently anti-euro.
This is pure bunkum. John Mapels was not ever the choice of the Tory leadership and Mr McShane knows he is lying. Mapels, as ineffective a man ever to repre4sent the Tories in the role of Foreign Affairs spokesman, was chosen by the Labour dominated Foreign Affairs Select Committee in much the same way as the Tory Commissioner, Chris Patten, was chosen by Blair. Thus Labour tried to bounce the Tories by putting a piece of damp cloth into the Convention. At very short notice the Tory leadership led by IDS instituted a democratic vote of its members, which selected Heathcote-Amory. This meant that Blair could no longer appoint a placeman, much to his chagrin. McShane, you lie.
Mr Heathcoat-Amory has published a pamphlet calling for a “renegotiation” of
Britain¹s EU membership to transform it into a kind of associate member.
This is the common vocabulary across Europe used by those who want to break
up the EU. No one from the Tory leadership has repudiated his pamphlet.
McShane again plays on the ignorance of the Uk public about points of view across Europe. From my privileged position in Brussels reading the European press and talking to euro politicos both pro and anti, the only place I have heard this “common vocabulary’ is amongst Brits. Tosh again Mr McShane.
From a purely political point of view, it is helpful for Labour to have the
Conservatives so violent in their denunciation of Europe. When Bill Cash
heard a reference to France in a Commons debate recently he started chanting
”Vichy”. There can be and are disagreements with France. But to compare the
Nazi-collaborating regime of Vichy with modern France shows the dangerous
xenophobic streak on the Tory front bench.
Bill Cash did indeed call out the word ‘Vichy’ in a commons debate. This was on the occasion when a Labour minister had stated for the record that France had “always been Britain’s closest ally”. Of course for most of New Labour Vichy only exists as a bottle of water, petillant or non-petillant on the tables of their Islington restaurants. History started in 1997 remember.
The calls for a referendum on the EU constitutional treaty are an example of
this. Obviously there is always a discussion to be had on how one takes a
major national decision. In Britain, line-by-line scrutiny of international
treaties by Parliament is the norm. Instead, the anti-EU press has whipped
up a frenzy over the need for a referendum.
The whipped up frenzy includes those famously eurosceptic countries such as Holland, whose Parliament voted to have a referendum on the Constitution, Portugal where this weeks opinion polls had 84% calling for a referendum. The people of Britain are not hog-tied by the press, the BBC hardly mentioned the Mail’s campaign. Also in Britain the inability of one Parliament to constrain a future Parliament is the norm, referendums are only for important issues such as whether Hartlepool should have a mayor.
But what is the question? We will not know for months (possibly not until
well into 2004) what the outcome of the negotiations between 25 EU member
states will be on the constitutional treaty. As the Conservative leader told
the Commons, he just wants a referendum so that he can vote "no" to the EU.
Of course and the referendum would not take place until we could all see the final shape iof the proposed European Constitution, so a bit of a paper tiger from Denis here. Not sure when or what IDS was referring to, nor is Denis make clear.
For sensible, middle-of-the-road Tories such as the Shadow Foreign
Secretary, Michael Ancram, the anti-EU sulphur emanating from the Tory
leadership is frightening; but the Conservatives have no John Smith figure (
a rising and future party star) standing up for Europe. The Labour Party in
the 1980s was gripped by similar anti-EU hatreds but at least there were
figures such as John Smith, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, making the case for
I seem to recall that the leading stars of the Labour Party all campaigned on a withdrawal ticket in the 80’s and only when Jaques Delors pointed out the blindingly obvious to the TUC conference did they realise that a socialist agenda could be imposed from without, obviating the need to convince the British public of its efficacy, did Labour become pro-European.
Instead, the Tories have reinvented themselves as the party of Chamberlain,
treating Europe as ³a faraway country of which we know nothing². Their
message of a Britain scornful of our EU partners is damaging to the national
interest. Investors and leaders around the world wonder if Britain might one
day turn its back on Europe. It is a question only a new generation of
Conservatives can answer.
This one is the best of the lot, For the insignificant little twerp McShane to call the Tories appeasers while he and his Government cave in to any possible desire of the federasts is gargantuan cheek. The New generation of Tories along with the New Generation of British people are convinced that Britain is capable of surviving with it’s friends without having to be suborned by them. McShane is the extinct volcano on the bench. The new Britains have confidence in their country he merely has contempt.