David Cameron’s new EU group is
Catholic and Reformed Conservative and Reformist
And so, in 2009, a courageous and untried politician has posted his 10 theses to the cyber-door of the European Parliament, and there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth from those who are the self-appointed guardians of EU orthodoxy. As he is excommunicated by President Sarkozy of France and Chancellor Merkel of Germany, he is besieged by those same cries of ‘schism’ and ‘traitor’ which tend to herald isolation and promise eternal damnation.
David Cameron has fulfilled the solemn promise he made during his 2005 campaign to become Leader of the Conservative Party, and a new protestant movement has begun. He is ditching more than 20 years of Conservative co-operation with the mainstream ‘centre-right’ Christian Democrats in the Parliament, the European People's Party, on the grounds that it is dominated by those whose ultimate aim is a United States of Europe with a single government and a single currency.
But the philosophical reality is that true Conservatives are always reformist: they simply have to discern between that which merits conserving and that which needs reform. And the EU, an institution stubbornly squatting in the same post-war mentality with which it was conceived, is in desperate need of reform. Just as Luther in 1517 dared to challenge the immutable doctrine of papal supremacy which heralded the end of Christendom, so David Cameron has issued a declaration which rides roughshod over the infallible doctrine of ‘ever closer union’, thereby proclaiming the demise of its successor empire. The abuse and corruption of 16th-century religion has found conducive accommodation in 21st-century politics. By issuing his declaration, Mr Cameron manifests the very Protestant instinct for liberty, equality and accountability which yielded the ethics of Western democracy and sowed the seeds of its capitalist economic success.
On this, the Feast Day of Sir Thomas More, the Patron Saint of Politicians, it is apposite to consider the observations of Lord Shore of Stepney on the EU:
"…no one who has been engaged seriously in the business of examining draft EC laws and treaties can have any doubt about their quite extraordinary – and deliberate - complexity. Every new article or treaty clause is, with reference to articles in earlier treaties - generally to be located in a separate treaty volume. Indeed part of the whole mystique of Community Law is its textual incomprehensibility, its physical dispersal, its ambivalence and its dependence upon ultimate clarification by the European Court of Justice: and the Brussels Commission and their long-serving, often expert officials are, in interpreting and manipulating all this, like a priestly caste - similar to what it must have been in pre-Reformation days, when the Bible was in Latin, not English; the Pope, his cardinals and bishops decided the content of canon law and the message came down to the laymen, only when the Latin text was translated into the vernacular by the dutiful parish priest.”
It is when one reads such an account that one begins to grasp the importance of David Cameron's initiative in forming a group capable of protestation against that which hitherto has been universal. One must hope that they communicate incisively in the vernacular. For all the EU’s supposed transparency, accessibility and long-promised comprehensibility, the Lisbon Treaty might as well be in Latin: it is Greek even to the Greeks. To counter such purposeful obfuscation, The Prague Declaration (for that is what it is to be termed), sets out the 10 aims and values of the new parliamentary grouping which seek to challenge the EU's otiose settlement:
"CONSCIOUS OF THE URGENT NEED TO REFORM THE EU ON THE BASIS OF EUROREALISM, OPENNESS, ACCOUNTABILITY AND DEMOCRACY, IN A WAY THAT RESPECTS THE SOVEREIGNTY OF OUR NATIONS AND CONCENTRATES ON ECONOMIC RECOVERY, GROWTH AND COMPETITIVENESS, THE EUROPEAN CONSERVATIVES AND REFORMISTS GROUP SHARES THE FOLLOWING PRINCIPLES:
1. Free enterprise, free and fair trade and competition, minimal regulation, lower taxation, and small government as the ultimate catalysts for individual freedom and personal and national prosperity.
2. Freedom of the individual, more personal responsibility and greater democratic accountability.
3. Sustainable, clean energy supply with an emphasis on energy security.
4. The importance of the family as the bedrock of society.
5. The sovereign integrity of the nation state, opposition to EU federalism and a renewed respect for true subsidiarity.
6. The overriding value of the transatlantic security relationship in a revitalised NATO, and support for young democracies across Europe.
7. Effectively controlled immigration and an end to abuse of asylum procedures.
8. Efficient and modern public services and sensitivity to the needs of both rural and urban communities.
9. An end to waste and excessive bureaucracy and a commitment to greater transparency and probity in the EU institutions and use of EU funds.
10. Respect and equitable treatment for all EU countries, new and old, large and small."
The new group consists presently of 55 MEPs:
• 26 British Conservative MEPs
• 15 Polish MEPs from the Law and Justice Party
• 9 Czech MEPs from the Civic Democratic Party
• 1 MEP from Belgium's Lijst Dedecker - Derk Jan Eppink, a Dutchman who is a former senior European Commission official
• 1 MEP from Finland's Centre Party, Keskusta - Hannu Takkula (who has left the Liberal Group where the rest of his party sits)
• 1 MEP from the Hungarian Democratic Forum - Lajos Bokros, a former finance minister
• 1 MEP from the Latvian National Independence Movement - Roberts Zile, a former finance and transport minister
• 1 MEP from the Dutch Christian Union - Peter van Dalen
It is a fragile collaboration, hanging, as it does, by a number of slender threads. Since the group needs a minimum of 25 MEPs from seven countries in order to fulfil EU criteria, the single members may exert disproportionate influence. But that is the case in any coalition in the system of proportional representation. And it may similarly be observed that the Conservative and Reformist Party may also exert disproportionate influence on the EPP with which it will rightly cooperate on legislation which is deemed to be in the Conservative interest.
One now awaits the spitting and scorn of the Left.
The Guardian has already referred to David Cameron’s ‘militant Roman Catholic’ EU partners who believe ‘global warming is a lie, homosexuality is a "pathology" and Europe is becoming a "neo-totalitarian" regime’. The paper talks of the ‘ingrained prejudice’ of ‘fundamentalist Roman Catholicism’ which is intent on ‘peddling a daily diet of bigotry and paranoia’.
And the National Secular Society decries the order from the Roman Catholic Church in Poland to ‘Pack the EU Parliament with obedient Catholics’ who ‘will help the Church impose its teachings on European law’.
It appears that any political group which seeks to conserve Christian ethical principles, protect the unborn, sustain the institution of marriage and uphold the family as the foundational building block of society, is ‘neo-fascist’.
As Daniel Hannan MEP has already observed, Labour MEPs are already ‘sitting with Polish homophobes, Stalinist nostalgics, an old IRA man and a 9/11 conspiracy theorist who travels the Muslim world arguing that the twin towers were brought down by Israel. And the EPP includes ‘a Spanish party whose leader refuses to disown Francoism, a German party that campaigned against immigration under the slogan "Children, not Indians!", the partners of an Austrian party nostalgic for the Third Reich, an Italian neo-fascist movement and several anti-gay and anti-gipsy parties’.
The accusations of phobia and bigotry must be, as they invariably are, simply manifestations of Freudian projection.