A blog by Patrick Crozier

European Union

November 11, 2004

Vlaams Blok banned
Patrick Crozier

Tim Worstall covers it. A few thoughts:

  • It is amazing (even by the standards of the BBC) that this story hasn't received higher billing. Actually, I don't think it has received any billing at the BBC.

  • Are there other examples of this sort of thing happening in Europe? We shouldn't forget our rather pointless broadcast ban of Sinn Fein. And I seem to remember the Spanish banned Herri Batasuna, the political wing of ETA. But these are terrorist organisations ie ones that don't accept the outcome of elections, so I suspect an exception can be made. And I'm not going to get that upset about the Germans banning the Nazis even though a better approach might be to allow them to get thrashed at the polls. No, this seems to be unique.

  • Someone will doubtless tell me that it has not been banned and then go on to bombard me with details. I don't care. Obstacles are being put in the way of a peaceful political party. That's all you need to know.

  • Where next for the Flemings? I don't think the Belgian state is nasty enough to violently oppress its own people. And if democratic avenues are blocked then only undemocratic ones are left.

  • This is a hell of an admission of weakness. "Belgium is such a good place that we have to silence all those who think it should be dissolved."

Footnotes

Vlaams Blok is a Belgian Flemish political party that (depending on who you talk to) either wants to secede from Belgium or are a bunch of neo-Nazis.

April 25, 2004

Why Blair will lose a referendum on the EU constitution
Patrick Crozier

The polls are very bad for Blair at the moment. The Telegraph has a 3 to 1 “No” vote. It is often said that the polls were similarly bad prior to the 1975 referendum but in the end that was carried by a 2 to 1 margin. Ergo, it can be done again.

I don’t think it can. There are some big differences between then and now:

1. We know what the EU is like
2. Then all the main political parties were in favour. Now they are not.
3. Then most of the papers were in favour. Now most of them are not.
4. Then, our economy was a laughing stock. Now it is the rest of Europe that has the problem
5. Then, most businessmen were in favour. Now things are much closer.
6. Although I don’t know what it was like then, now there are plenty of celebs prepared to endorse a “No” campaign.

Quite frankly it is hopeless. So, why is Blair holding one? It could be that he is deluded. The other possibility is that he knows the affair is coming to an end and he will use the fact of the referendum as a means of strengthening his negotiating position so that agreement with the rest of the EU becomes impossible. He can then look tough as he starts us on the long journey of disengagement.

We're all Eurosceptics now.

April 20, 2004

Euro-Constitution Referendum
Patrick Crozier

So, Tone is going to give us a referendum on the European Constitution, is he? He must know that he'll lose it. Maybe, that's why he's calling it. Or maybe he's just plain deluded. I just can't figure it out.

October 16, 2003

Queen raises fears over EU constitution
Patrick Crozier

So says the Telegraph:

The Queen is growing more concerned about Tony Blair's plans to sign a European constitution that she fears could undermine her role as sovereign.

The Telegraph has learnt that Buckingham Palace has asked for documents highlighting the constitutional implications of the EU's plans to be sent to her advisers.

But nothing is going to happen is it?

September 14, 2003

More EU claptrap
Patrick Crozier

Do 3 million jobs in the UK depend on the EU? No.

Does the Single Market make it easier to trade with the EU? Again, no.

Christopher Booker has the details.

July 04, 2003

The burning issue
Patrick Crozier

In all this hoo-haa over Berlusconi there's one question that seems to have been overlooked: would German MP, Martin Schulz make a good Kapo?

I think we should be told.

UPDATE. Actually, it seems that Alexander Chancellor has the answer.

June 28, 2003

The influence argument
Patrick Crozier

The argument British European federalists most often use to justify their case is that we can only have influence in Europe if we first demonstrate that we are committed to the federal end-goal. They acknowledge that we have lost every argument that we have ever had but put that down to our timidity rather than Franco-German opposition. The implication is that everything will be fine "when we are married".

One might counter by pointing that in real life things are rarely so fine after the ceremony but my real bug bear here is the argument about influence. Because I think Britain would have far more influence on the EU if she withdrew.

Just imagine it. Britain withdraws, the EU embarks on a headlong dash for socialism now and within half a generation has got trapped in a morass of regulation, recession, unemployment and unrest. Meanwhile, plucky Britain has just sailed on much as ever. At which point our example starts to have enormous influence. At which point EU countries start to introduce precisely the sort of liberalising measures we have long been calling for.

There's more than one way to influence people.

June 12, 2003

Don't forget to vote
Patrick Crozier

It's probably the only chance you're going to get.

June 08, 2003

Vive la France libre
Patrick Crozier

I know it is unlikely that anyone surfing here has not already read David Carr's Samizdata piece on the situation in France (based on a letter published by den Beste) but in case you haven't I suggest you read it. Here's a taste:

The city of Toulouse was blocked during the morning of yesterday and not a single step was taken by public authorities to end this blocking. On the contrary, the police collaborated with the unions in order to make sure that people could not pass. In the demonstration I just mentioned, not a policeman was dispatched to protect us against the assaults of the communist union's members.

May 30, 2003

Why I am a Eurosceptic
Patrick Crozier

Tony Blair has come out against the Eurosceptics (at least that’s the BBC’s take on things) and, as a not-quite fully-paid up, card-carrying member of the Eurosceptic movement I feel obliged to respond. But it occurred to me, reading the BBC report of Blair’s words, that very few of his criticisms applied to me. The one about withdrawing certainly did but other than that I rather got the impression that he must be talking about someone else.

I am a Eurosceptic (meaning I want Britain to withdraw from the European Union) because I am a libertarian. I believe that the current set up makes it very difficult, legally, for a British government to follow libertarian policies and that further engagement would only make things all the more difficult.

As someone who, in another place, covers transport issues, I am confronted daily with the block-headedness of the European Union’s rail policy. It’s been there for over ten years and the problems that Britain’s railways face are in large part inspired by the EU – along with, it must be said, a fair dose of our own stupidity. Were I ever to become Transport Secretary and seek to introduce what I regard as sensible policies I would almost immediately find that they would be ruled out as contrary to European law. I would then be faced with the uncomfortable dilemma of deciding whether to carry on in defiance of the EU or to resign.

Although I can’t prove it, it is interesting to observe the Transport Secretary, Alistair Darling’s almost complete paralysis on the subject. Although (I think) he has correctly identified fragmentation as the problem, he resolutely refuses to do anything about it because he can’t – the EU won’t allow him to. The thing that damns him is his failure to tell the rest of us.

“Ah”, say the critics “what you need to do is get involved. Show that you are committed to the project and the debate will start to go your way.” Don’t they always. But that is precisely what Britain has been trying to do for over 30 years. In the late 1980s it was just possible to believe that the Single Market was the answer to our prayers; proof positive that our free-trading instincts were being listened to. But very soon we realised – largely through the magnificent Daily Telegraph columns of Christopher Booker - that far from being a boost to trade the Single Market was being used as a club with which to batter and subdue enterprise, especially the smaller and more traditional varieties.

After 30 years of trying and failing to get the EU to move in our direction surely the time has come to say enough is enough, the trial period is over, the experiment has failed?

“OK,” say the critics “well, what about the peace and prosperity? Aha, got you there!” The argument being that the EU alone is responsible for the peace and prosperity we have enjoyed over the last 40 years. To which one might reply, how come Switzerland and Norway haven’t been ravaged by war and poverty over recent years? The truth is, of course, that we had peace in Western Europe because we had, in the Soviet Union, a common enemy and because both sides had nukes, effectively making nuclear war unacceptable. Modern-day British prosperity is down to the Thatcher Revolution and not the EU. Yes, yes, yes, I know these are assertions and I can’t prove them (or at least I am unwilling to do so here and now) but then again so is the one about the EU being entirely responsible for peace and prosperity.

Tony Blair may, today, have succeeded in knocking down a straw man but I do not feel that he has laid a glove on me.

October 19, 2002

Euro lobby hires critic of currency
Patrick Crozier

Well it makes a good headline. Not quite sure if it is the whole story. Spotted on Airstrip One.

August 21, 2002

Other news
Patrick Crozier

Pull yourself together - The Edge
The Mob - a waste of police time - Mr Happy?
Customs still breaking the law - The Captain
How Tory MPs are selected - secrets revealed - Conservative Commentary
Administration split on European invasion - Samizdata
On this day in 1940 - Samizdata
What kind of world is it when, in sheer self-defence, you have to Fisk your own newspaper articles? - Samizdata
Bishop's words "laughable" - The Edge
Brits invent force field - Mr Happy?
EU finds new ways to snoop - shock - Dodgeblog
Pollard attacked - "It's always fun" - Stephen Pollard
What's the point in being middle class? - The Edge
American Revolution - bad guys won - The Captain

August 13, 2002

Other news
Patrick Crozier

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister was turfed off his flight after the captain claimed he was a security risk. Stephen Pollard.

The BBC has become the latest EU front organisation. Samizdata.

August 12, 2002

The great Euro price hike
Patrick Crozier

Seven months after the introduction of the Euro, Italian diners have been stung for a whopping 70% increase in the cost of eating out. And it appears that creeping Euroland socialism to blame. According to David Farrar of Freedom and Whisky:"The EU is not a capitalist project. The euro is not a capitalist currency. Under a true capitalist monetary regime - based on gold and silver - Italian dinners would not suddenly increase from 30 to 50 but would actually decline gradually in price year after year."

The Euro, the EU's monopoly currency, was imposed on most Europeans at the start of 2002. Britain, Sweden and Denmark continue to defy demands to abolish their own currency.

August 10, 2002

Europeans "not living in the real world" - Cuthbertson
Patrick Crozier

European policy makers have been condemned as "not living in the real world" and finding excuses in "post-modernist garbage" in a report by Peter Cuthbertson of Conservative Commentary.

Cuthbertson was responding to an article in the Daily Telegraph pointing to differences between American and European ways of thinking. In a hard-hitting report he said: "If democratic ideals are no better than socialist ideals or Fundamentalist Islamic ideals, then fighting for one over the other is so much needless killing. So no wonder blind pacifism is now dominant across Europe, which no longer has the army to fight even if it wanted to."

His remarks have added weight to calls for Britain to leave the EU and invade Zimbabwe.