Monday, November 13, 2006

‘No more referenda’ – EU urges less democracy

"Given the recent experience in France and the Netherlands concerning referendums, we would not advise anyone to organise one."
(European Commission official)

This is the considered opinion of the European Commission’s spokesman, as reported by The context is the Polish decision to hold referendum on entry to the Euro at some point in 2010. The response from Brussels has been one of dismay, with the firm reminder that ‘the treaty obligations are clear, the Euro is to be introduced when the convergence criteria are met’. For Poland there is no option to consult the people, no opt-out, no possibility of preserving fiscal sovereignty: ‘The Euro is part and parcel of becoming part of the EU, joining was ratified by referendum, including the Euro too.’ said the Commission official.

His Grace finds the political certitude of the European Commission a quasi-theological construct; it is teleological philosophy, in which there is one foreknown direction and one fore-ordained outcome. Plebiscites are regarded as highly risky. Dissenting voices are ignored or ridiculed, and any inconvenient referenda results are ignored.

His Grace’s loyal, erudite and intelligent communicant, Mr Colin, has quoted Sir Frederick Forsyth (he is actually a mere CBE, but his knighthood is long overdue) at length on the post below, and he provides a link to the whole speech. He posits one possible way forward - a successor to the strategy deployed by Sir James Goldsmith in the General Election of 1997:

What we have to seek, what we have to demand until the pressure becomes relentless, is a national referendum. It’s not as weird as it sounds. The first ever held in this country was held by a Labour Prime Minister called Harold Wilson in 1975. We have never had a national referendum since... We are, I believe, entitled to another one, on a number of grounds... every nation in Europe has had a referendum on an aspect of the EU since 1975... I believe that we can say with complete justification, we’re entitled to one. We are entitled to revisit 1975. We should demand, not I fear of the Labour party, I think we should demand of the Conservative party. But demanding is all very well; people have been demanding things like law and order, good policing, a bobby in the village, a copper on the street. It doesn’t change a damn thing. But you know things can occasionally change, even the Labour party. You may remember the 1997 election, that the one thing that the late James Goldsmith did actually bequeath to this country is that he frightened John Major into guaranteeing that we would not abolish the pound sterling without a referendum...

The only way to be heard, to be listened to and to be abided by, is to speak softly and carry one hell of a big stick. If those out there in the constituencies and the shires, those on the constituency associations can make it quite plain that this MP is not coming back to the house unless the Conservative leader gives a pledge that within twelve months of entering Downing Street he will grant this nation a national referendum. At the point where they know that they are going to lose fifty seats they’ll buckle, despite the screams of Clarke, Heseltine and Patten. They will buckle despite the whinging of Hurd and Howe. They will buckle because politics is about reality. The reality is, if it is clear to the present leadership that you are not going to enter Downing Street, because quite simply two to three or maybe even up to four million loyal Tory voters are going to mow the lawn on polling day, they will grant the referendum...

How long, O Lord, how long?


Anonymous Voyager said...

Interestingly enough France MUST have a referendum to approve any new entrants to the EU.............and Ireland is constitutionally obliged to hold a referendum..............

The EU is whistling in the wind.........political parties are becoming hollowed out and are losing the voter base

13 November 2006 at 19:25  
Anonymous old red socks said...

Does His Grace have a Luton 'connection'?

I only ask as a Reverend Doctor of inestimable intelligence, erudition and sagacity, albeit of modest clerical standing, brings an aura of nobility to that otherwise undistinguished corner of the Kingdom.

13 November 2006 at 20:05  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Old Red Socks,

His Grace has no corporeal presence in Luton or any other corner the earthly kingdom, distinguished or otherwise.

His citizenship is in heaven.

13 November 2006 at 21:06  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luton needs missionaries from the muscular Christian tendency rather than erudion or sagacity.

13 November 2006 at 22:59  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Then Luton must look to Africa

14 November 2006 at 06:07  
Anonymous Ulster Man said...

The EU can't interfere in national issues. The Republic had a referendum on Nice, Ulster didn't. That was a decidsion of the national parliaments. As Voyager says, France now has a constitutional right to a referendum on Turkish accession to the EU, so I can't see Brussels banning that one. Dog's breakfast really, but the statement from the Commission 'spokesman' only shows how out of touch with people the Commission is.

14 November 2006 at 11:11  
Anonymous bob said...

As far as I'm aware Ireland is constitutionally obliged to hold a referendum on any EU treaty. However, as was seen by the Nice Treaty, the people seem to have only one real option, which is to accept the treaty.

14 November 2006 at 11:53  
Anonymous Colin said...

The readers of His Grace's venerable blog would certainly be most grateful to him if he might be able to contact Sir Frederick Forsyth - possibly via his publisher - and to ask him how we all could best support his drive for a referendum in Britain.

14 November 2006 at 17:59  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Colin,

His Grace has no need to contact Mr Forsyth via his publisher; he is a personal friend, as was the late Sir James Goldsmith. The enquiry is in hand.

It is, however, of lamentable note that when His Grace posts on Islam, there is a veritable proliferation of diverse, vehement assertion, yet when he posts on the EU, communicants diminish to single figures. Mr Forsyth therefore may be challenged on his expectation that upwards of 3 million UK subjects may register their concern and demand a referendum; Sir James Goldsmith achieved nowhere near that figure.

14 November 2006 at 18:51  
Anonymous Bob said...

Perhaps, Lord Cranmer, it shows that the perceived threat from Islam is more real for people that any perceived threat from the EU. That's no doubt down to the means used by Islamic extremists, which naturally makes people more wary. The EU is, or at the very least has the potential to be, a threat to the sovereignity of each of it's member states, but this threat is more subtle, less direct, more diplomatic, but perhaps equally as threatening in the long run.

14 November 2006 at 20:34  
Blogger Sir Henry Morgan said...


You have a good point there. With me I do feel the threat from the EU, but it is at a background level, with the threat from Islam very loud in the foreground.

I'd like another referendum though.

14 November 2006 at 21:05  
Anonymous Colin said...

His Grace has no need to contact Mr Forsyth via his publisher; he is a personal friend, as was the late Sir James Goldsmith. The enquiry is in hand.

That's good news, indeed.

It is, however, of lamentable note that when His Grace posts on Islam, there is a veritable proliferation of diverse, vehement assertion, yet when he posts on the EU, communicants diminish to single figures.

I totally agree with His Grace, Bob and Sir Henry Morgan in this regard. It seems that people don't understand that the EU is promoting the Islamization of the EU in order to destroy national identities and that the most efficient way to protect the UK from Islamization is to remain an independent nation. His Grace deserves a lot of praise for trying to inform the public about these interrelated dangers. Although communicants diminish to single figures when His Grace posts about the EU, probably because the details are more complicated, I am certain that the majority of the British population would vote for British independence in a referendum. Once Britain has decided to leave the EU, the latter is likely to collapse and the national states will again try to protect their existence by controlling their immigration and borders. In conclusion, it seems to be worthwile to focus the energies on the most decisive point, i.e. demanding a referendum about the survival of the UK as a nation.

Hence, it also is referendum about the survival of the British and European culture.

15 November 2006 at 00:16  
Blogger istanbultory said...

His Grace will concur that the EU is a mind-numbing, incomprehensible, rather abstract, bureaucratic edifice as far as the masses are concerned. The Islamic threat, is rather more concetre.

Colin, the British population would almost certainly vote for British independence in a referendum. And they would be deceived and mis-informed into supporting the inevitable second referendum that would follow its No vote. In any case, none of the three main parties would ever risk submitting any EU-related matter to a referendum. Asides from the constitutional provision existing in the Republic of Ireland on the ratification of EU texts, and the French referendum/likely veto on the question of Turkish accession, the era of referendums in Europe is now definitively over. The EU institutions have collectively taken note of last year's upsets and adapted. The Giscardian push for provactive constitutional devices is over, we are now seeing a retreat to the tried-and-tested method of intergovernmental treaty-making. Stealth federalism in other words.Plus ca change....

15 November 2006 at 10:44  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Istanbultory,

His Grace shares your views in this matter, and yet finds himself in sympathy with Plato. In fact, His Grace has decided to re-read The Republic, and his next post may well be a reflection on the flaws of direct democracy.

15 November 2006 at 11:01  
Anonymous Voyager said...

On the other hand Plato did want The Guardians to be an elite unable to be dislodged who held their women in common and their children; and that revolutions only occurred if there was a split in the ruling elite, so that must be avoided at all costs.

It was his notion of Ideas and Forms with the decay of Forms from Ideas that motivated his "Politeia" and it is essentially a desire to stop earthly decay from his supposed Olympian Ideal that seems to be the similarity between Plato and the conception of the EU - you could argue that Plato was justifying rather as Monnet wanted, a Fascist Superstate impervious to Demos in the sense of the people

15 November 2006 at 14:20  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Only in the case of Monnet it would be a Fascist Europe without any nation states so the only people who would be subjected to violence would be the individual citizens, qua subjects of such a polity...........but it would be essential to prevent any rival centres of power emerging to cause fissures in the ruling elite.

Monnet seems to have imagined a powerful Europe where power was so dissipated that noone could do anything, like a giant mosaic

15 November 2006 at 14:23  
Blogger istanbultory said...

"Monnet seems to have imagined a powerful Europe where power was so dissipated that noone could do anything, like a giant mosaic"

Well, yes. The whole premise of the EC/EU was to intermesh former belligerents into a tangle of ambiguous political and economic relations built on expansive welfare systems and banal consensus politics. Financed by the Germans, run by the French.That system will prevail despite the referendum shocks of last year.

15 November 2006 at 19:16  
Anonymous Colin said...

I agree that Instanbultory and His Grace are probably right with their pessimistic view about the feasibility of a referendum. However, why waste part of our lifetime by useless lamenting if we are 100% certain that writing blogs about the inevitable won't have any effect? In fact, nothing appears to be 100% certain except that we all have to die. Furthermore, many - including myself - were 100% certain that the UdSSR would exist for several centuries.

Plato was the first statist. He offers his vision of the ideal state in the Republic. An elite group of philosopher-rulers run it. They are wise and all knowing. The rulers are not accountable to the public, and they require absolute individual devotion and submission to the good of the state. The EU is an implementation of Plato's idea.

Plato's intellectual successor was Hegel. Hegel and his followers, most notably Karl Marx (1818–1883), took one approach, which is the philosophical basis for modern-day statism., i.e. the EU.

Hegel’s idea of dialectical change includes the concept of alienation, which figures prominently in Marx’s Dialectical Materialism and concept of class struggle. In Hegel’s system, dialectical change proceeds historically from individuals – to groups – to the state. The group has primacy over the individual and the state has primacy over the group. Individuals represent a lower level of reality. The state, being closer to the Absolute Spirit/Idea in the dialectical process, is more real. It is the highest order of humanity, to which individuals owe their obedience and subservience... The 20th century followed the "ideals of its epoch," as framed by Hegel and Marx, and tried socialism, fascism, and collectivism. One hopes that the 21st century will have the good sense to reject these philosophers and turn to Schopenhauer.

Schopenhauer, a contemporary of Hegel and a pronounced Anglophile, said about Hegel and his statist cohorts: "It is easy to see the ignorance and triviality of those philosophers who, in pompous phrases, represent the state as the supreme goal and greatest achievement of mankind and thereby achieve the apotheosis of philistinism."

Schopenhauer viewed the role of the state from a classical liberal perspective. He writes, in The World as Will and Representation:

The State is nothing more than an institution of protection, rendered necessary by the manifold attacks to which man is exposed, and which he is not able to ward off as an individual, but only in alliance with others. [This] protection [includes] the safeguarding of private right. But, as is usual in things human, the removal of one evil generally opens the way to a fresh one, [which requires] protection against the protection… This seems most completely attainable by dividing and separating from one another the threefold unity of protective power, the legislative, the judicative, and the executive, so that each is managed by others, and independently of the rest.
And the problem with the EU is that it doesn't separate the legislative from the executive.

16 November 2006 at 00:07  
Anonymous Voyager said...

The group has primacy over the individual and the state has primacy over the group.

The usual comment is The State is permanent. The individual is transient

The problem is that Hegel was using a deontological justification of The Prussian State which was in reality tribal in that it was the reification of the Teuton Race as a bulwark against the Polish-Lithuanian Empire, Russia and the Hapsburgs.

In a real sense Prussia built as it was upon the inheritance of the Teutonic Knights had a symbolism which people today do not consider when looking how Prussia carved out a country called Germany in the course of its development before finally being abolished in 1945

Hegel was simply offering philosophical underpinnings for a political leadership rather as Leni Riefenstahl provided cinematic support for the Neo-Hegelian State under Hitler with his immature transmogrification of the Teutonic Knights into the Waffen-SS

16 November 2006 at 05:59  
Anonymous Rev Sue D Corner said...

I 'ad that Voyager in me Vestry once. Lovely bloke but 'e kept on about deontological this, and reification that.

Pew, by the time, 'e got onto immature transmogrification, I was in the land of' this was 'alf-way through Evensong.

16 November 2006 at 12:25  
Anonymous Lilith said...

The "muscular Christian tendency"?

16 November 2006 at 13:53  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Dear Rev Sue D Corner,

His Grace welcomes you to his august blog, but seeks to point out that it is a place for the intelligent and erudite. If you are capable of neither, please join Mr Seattleite and play elsewhere.

16 November 2006 at 13:55  
Anonymous Colin said...

Hegel was simply offering philosophical underpinnings for a political leadership

Exactly! And as Marx did for Russia, as Francis Galton did for German Nazism and as American multiculturalism did for the EU.

16 November 2006 at 23:58  
Anonymous Voyager said...

NO. Marx had nothing but contempt for the Russia of his day. He thought Russia backward and Germany the likely place for his theories to hold sway.

It was Lenin who changed Marx and made Russia the focus of revolution, even then he lost the Nov 1918 Election and had to start a Civil War against the SRs to gain power.

It is Marxism-Leninism because of the role of The Party, Marxism did not work as predicted..........Marxism was typical Jewish Millennialism using Darwin and Hegel to provide the temporal mechanics

17 November 2006 at 07:30  
Anonymous Colin said...

NO. Marx had nothing but contempt for the Russia of his day.

Correct. But that does not contradict the fact that Marx was used by Lenin and his party as philosophical underpinnings for a political leadership.

18 November 2006 at 13:09  
Anonymous Voyager said...

True Colin, but my point was that Hegel was a contemporaneous apologist for the Prussian Absolutist State

18 November 2006 at 13:13  
Anonymous Colin said...

Voyager, if you would like to see your statement restricted to the Prussian Absolutist State, then you are correct. I was attempting to generalize from your correct comment to similar cases.

18 November 2006 at 20:20  

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