The Snarling of the Euro Right

images1Nigel Farage took his snake oil circus to Manchester for the Tory conference a couple of weeks ago. UKIP, the Bruges Group, the Forest pro-smoking group and the ‘Freedom Association’ were all in one room like a Marx Brothers version of Blind Date and I was in a committee in Brussels finalising the new Common Agricultural Policy – I can’t express how sorry I was to miss such a show.

However, I watched and read coverage of the Tory-UKIP event later (research is sometimes a painful thing), and most instructive it was. Nigel Farage was clearly at home with the Tory grassroots, if not the party leadership. As the Telegraph reported, Nigel came as “a conquering hero”, and took the time to say “you frankly didn’t have the balls to put country before party” to, erm, Bill Cash MP over the Maastricht rammy – from 20 years ago. Sky told us that Cash then predicted that the Tories could lose “60 marginal seats [at Westminster] as a result of the UKIP surge” and “a Labour/LibDem pact would be worse for eurosceptics” to which “Farage tells him to get lost.” UKIP tweeted a picture to prove it was standing room only with rolling applause for the conquering hero himself and the Telegraph wound it up with “Wild cheering as Nigel says he will not do any deal with David Cameron ahead of the next general election.”

This is not just a curmudgeonly sideshow. If we’re living in a world where Bill Cash can be called soft on Europe then we are through the looking glass. It would be easy to dismiss this as conference fringe fluff but the UK government doesn’t and so long as the UK government speaks for us in the world then that should give us all pause for thought.

I can’t just write that off as different politics in a different place; when it impacts on the government of the UK and therefore directly influences UK negotiations in the. That’s sad because it’s unnecessary, and based on a toxic legacy of decades of failure to properly understand or engage with the EU. I’ve said before that UKIP is entirely a result of the Tory miscalculation that they can somehow be more UKIP than UKIP and they’re feeding the beast that will gobble them up. The fact is, in London politics it is easier to pander to euroscepticism than face it down for the misleading nonsense it is. The vacuous black-versus-white europhile-versus-europhobic coverage of what is just another part of our government misleads everyone and leaves a toxic residue in the minds of the public.

The “fun” that journalists used to have about the EU banning bagpipes, mince, Mr and Mrs and even Christmas (all have been trotted out, all have never come to pass) has changed in recent months, getting shriller and nastier. With undercurrents of anti-gypsyism, misogyny and xenophobia while being utterly untrue, there was a particularly vile example from the Daily Express just this week.

I can’t the only one concerned that such wanton and demonstrable lies can be peddled in a major newspaper without serious challenge. If the public is hearing this and it’s unchallenged the vocal anger at and distrust of the EU is more than understandable.

The European Commission office in London has a pretty forthright blog trying to nail “euromyths” including this one but once they’ve been put out there then they’re out there. The Express piece has had substantial social media coverage and repeating. How many of the people who came to the story through social media channels will find their way to its demolition?

The media presentation of the EU is shriller now than it ever has been and daft EU stories are no longer only the hunting ground of obscure but headline-hungry backbenchers; they’ve been joined by cabinet ministers. Eric Pickles peddled some fantastic tosh a while back about the EU wanting to standardise birth certificates and other documentation and he repeated it at Tory conference in spite of it being demonstrably false.

Then there are human rights. The UK Home Secretary saying that “judges are on the side of foreign criminals” is ludicrous. She has promised a Tory manifesto that will repeal the Human Rights Act, and has set out a timetable for withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). This has been dutifully reported in the press as a government standing up for Britain against those ghastly, bonkers foreigners, ignoring the fact that the Human Rights Convention was a largely British creation of which we should all be proud.

Furthermore, the ECHR is written into the European Union in Article 6 of the Treaty on European Union. In order to withdraw from the ECHR, the UK would have to leave the EU. There has been no acknowledgement of that rather significant fact from the Home Secretary or the Prime Minister. We’re having less than half of this debate.

So many individually thoughtful and intelligent senior UK cabinet ministers cannot be so collectively and catastrophically badly briefed. It must, therefore, be a deliberate political calculation, pandering to prejudice, perhaps in the hope of staving off UKIP.

The UK government is systematically and deliberately denigrating our fundamental human rights which the UK itself did so much to promote. A set of rules the UK voluntarily signed up to is now being presented as some sort of foreign infringement.

A set of rules which a host of states including Armenia, Bosnia and Montenegro are working within apparently pose a unique difficulty for little old Britain. The UK government looks unstable, uncertain and confused in the eyes of others and all of us are tainted with that look.

It is clearer now than ever that when the SNP says that the biggest threat to Scottish participation in the EU is the actions of the UK government, we’re right. Scotland’s voice, with its different tone, must be heard above the UKIP-tainted snarling of the UK government.

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  1. Abulhaq says:

    “England” is turning reactionary, revanchiste, europhobic and very nasty. Left or right, liberal or conservative the mood is the same. The musty stink of the dug up cadavre of Anglo-saxon imperialist, hegemonic attitudes fills the air. I do hope our leaders have the nous, not to mention the steely balls and strong stomach, to deal with it; kid-gloves off and sovereignty knuckle-dusters on. This is a profound existential struggle which we cannot afford to lose.

    1. JBS says:

      Agreed. The sooner we ditch this sickening political union, the better. The young people of Scotland deserve a better future than this.

      1. The young people of England also deserve a better deal than this. Let’s hope Scotland manages to gain independence, ditches being tied into this miserable approach to politics, and show that a different way is possible for everyone.

    2. Abulhaq If the England you describe is such a vile country why should the SNP say that following a yes vote they would like an open border, social union, dual nationality and a share currency? An independent Scotland would have few bargaining powers with rUK.
      60% of all Scots exports go to rUK, nearly 800000 people born in Scotland live in rUK, the main customer base for your financial industry is in rUK, the biggest number of tourist to Scotland come from the rUK and Scots defence industries main customer is rUK.
      If the rUK so desired it could establish full border controls and treat Scots living in rUK as non EU aliens. I believe Scotland should be independent but not an the expense of rUK.
      I dont want an open border, a social union, dual nationality or a shared currency with Scotland, Independence should mean full independence not independence plus.

  2. Sir,I find it amusing that there are so many people crying out for a referendum on being in the European Union.One of the most used reasons is that those under 58 years of age never got to vote on the EU.Those of us over 58 (I’m one) who did get to vote,voted no at the time,and I’m still not fully convinced of being part of a bigger union that takes so much sovereignty away from another country,but wait is there anybody in Scotland who has ever voted on the union with England? similar argument can be said for this referendum! Why is it fine for one union to hold sovereignty over another on one hand but not another? this questions confuses and confounds me.
    I read that some say we have so much history together and yes so we have,and also so much history with the rest of Europe also.One other complaint is that Brussels takes so much money from Westminster for so little in return,I’m not convinced on that part either,but the same can be said for Westminster taking so much from Scotland with so little in return.Next about the EU referendum should this be held every-time that there are more citizens who never got to vote on joining so that they can be independent? similar in Scotland should we have a referendum every-time those citizens that never got to vote on the union outnumber those that got to vote,have the right to call for another referendum? I ask this question;”Why should my ancestors make an unbreakable deal with others,that forces me to carry on with their agreement?” It is of course two sided,do the other citizens of these other countries want to be locked into agreements that they also,had no input and times do change along with circumstances .Perhaps looser trading agreements should be made with a “sun-set clause” that allows those that never made the initial agreement,to cancel or alter to an agreement that suits the present.I sent this out to several newspapers,and thought it might fit here as a comment.

  3. spewin bile says:

    The very existence of Nigel Farage jist illustrates how foreign and alien a feel tae these people, oan a political , social, ideological,and cultural level, am so far at the opposite end of the scale, that there is nae chance we could ever find any common ground . We aw know that traditionally, Scotland has always been a wee bit mair tae the left than England, but the way the whole political spectrum there has moved tae the right implicates us aw. The mere idea of farage and his ilk huvin ANY say in the governance of ANY country,far less ma ain,makes me physically ill.

    Noo a see that big buffoon , and future Tory prime minister Boris Johnstone is oan tour in china wi school fly-boy Osborne, and his begging bowl , lookin fur some mair dirty money , tae finance mair costly vanity projects in the U.K (England). They shoulda took that daft harridan Theresa May wi them, so she could see how well a country kin work wi nae human rights, and proper military and political corruption ! And the message is:- China good , Europe bad !

    As fur the Torie’s in red ties that are the labour party , they wid sell any founding principal of what was wance a movement fur freedom , equality and justice, tae pander tae bigoted , racist , middle england voters. Red Ed my arse ! the only red thing aboot him is his neck !

    Bile duct empty , am away tae lie doon ! Dae a feel British ? DAE A FU………………………

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