L'Ombre de l'Olivier

The Shadow of the Olive Tree

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26 June 2007 Blog Home : June 2007 : Permalink

Fighting the EU "Not a Constitution"

Now that the EU's "Not a Constitution Honest Guv" Mandate and IGC has been agreed, the question is where should we opponents go now. There are, it seems to me, two or three separate issues which deserve responses and these responses are probably separate.

Firstly there is the referendum question. Despite the claims of A Blair (ex PM tomorrow) that a referendum campaign “would suck in the whole political energy of the country for months” (via Nosemonkey) the main reason why the great and the good (and even the Nosemonkey) don't want a referendum is that they are fairly sure that the answer would be NO. Oddly enough the desire for a referendum is not limited to the UK, we were told last week that a majority of EU voters in all countries would like a referendum, something that indicates that it isn't just bolshie brits who are less than enthused with the EUro project. Although it seems sure that EU citizens are pretty vague about Europe and the EU as a whole so they may well not be voting in an informed manner. However, contrary to Mr Blair, it seems to me that a referendum might actually help people realize what bits they like (and dislike) abiut the EU and decide whether the trade-off is reasonable.

Secondly there is the question of the content of the treaty itself. It seems to me that the treaty is not that bad in the short term as it is unlikely that the more objectionable bits (the "Not a foreign minister" for example) will work for a while. The problem is that the treaty seems to be yet another move towards the single european state idea and one that is being deliberately hidden from voters. Fighting against the treaty on pure content grounds may be hard to do and is likely to be harder because it seems that the whole thing has been written in as opaque a manner as possible. On the other hand fighting the treaty on the grounds that it is opaque and obfuscatory sounds like a winner. Certainly the comparison between the former EU Constitution and the US constitution in terms of clarity and comprehensibility was one of the better points made when we fought that version.

Thirdly there is the question  of the EU and whether we should actually start removing bits of it. I.e. not just not ratfying this "not a constitution honest guv" but going on and insisting on the removal of some other objectionable bits of the EU such as the CAP. Related is whether when EUrocrats say "if you don't accept this you leave" we should take them at their word and leave. It seems clear to me that the UK is potentially in an extremely strong position here (being the largest budget contributor will do that). Furthermore the abrupt exit of the UK could well cause the entire project to collapse as a number of other nations (Denmark, Sweden, Poland and other Northern/Eastern European nations) might also decide that if the UK can survive without being in the EU then they can too. Since these nations would, in general, be the ones with the better economies this could well result in the core EU sinking into a mess of failed socialism and protectionism and we might well then see other nations exiting too. In other words it may well be worth while welcoming EUropile rhetoric about no opt outs etc.

Finally there is the question of the mode of support. Currently we have at least two UK newspapers (the Torygraph and the Wapping Liar) in the "NO" camp. One assumes that some other UK newspapers are in that camp as may be a few in other countries such as Denmark. TV is probably not an option, as almost all European TV companies are slavishly in love with the EU, and the lack of US-style "talk radio" makes radio tricky too. The obvious solution is to use the Internet and to rely on viral marketing campaigns to get YouTube videos and the like into the public consciousness. A good campaign to follow might be the "anti-immigration bill" stuff being done in the US right now where youtube attack ads are being done by members of the public who then blog about them and point out to the politicians being attacked that this sort of ad could be used for real in their next campaign. It seems to me the youtube videos and blog posts pinting out referendum commitments and the "its the same as the constitution only we changed some words" comments of political leaders could be a winner in this case. Politicians hate it when voters are shown that they are blatent liars and are entirely likely to overreact and get even more publicity as a result.