Richard North, 06/09/2004  

The morons are taking over… or, at least, attempting to. "We are internationalists who support an EU based on the ideal of European co-operation", proudly proclaims the web site for the new, if somewhat mis-named "think-tank" called the Centre for Social Europe.

Never mind that the EU is not and never has been based on the "ideal of European co-operation". It was the perceived failure of the co-operation model in the League of Nations that led Monnet to devise his supranational authority which would take powers from the member states and rule over them and a separate “government of Europe”, which marks the EU out as a unique and distinct construct.

Yet these lame-brain morons continue to prate about "co-operation", as if nothing in the world had changed for the last fifty years. "But it is time to accept that the current European model is not working", they wail - as if it ever could. "The EU is trying to do too much, and it is doing much of this badly. It is wasteful and inefficient; auditors have refused to sign the EU's accounts for a decade because of the scale of fraud".

But then for the dregs of what passes for sentient thought: "A neo-liberal economic and competition policy championed by an elitist Commission is strangling growth and locking in mass unemployment across the continent".

"Neo-liberal"? Just which planet, in which god-forsaken galaxy do these people live on? Centralist, dirigiste, inflexible, incompetent… all of those things and more. But neo-liberal? Pull the other one.

What is worse, these people "want to contribute to a debate on the sort of European Union we want to live and work in", and have applied their dim little brains to that end. Touchingly, "as a group of individuals on the centre-left", they share principles and core beliefs, not least the touchy-feely sentiment that "Europe must be more open and accountable… subject to democratic control and proper accountability." Yea, and we love motherhood and apple pie as well… to say nothing of flying pigs.

But then the teeth bare: "The Commission's neo-liberalism must end. In an era of growing global challenges the EU is attempting to push outdated 1980s style neo-liberal 'reforms'. Governments can and should play a positive role in the economy – the EU should stop driving forward a privatising agenda".

Furthermore, "joining the euro would mean giving up control of the economy and put at risk the Government’s ability to invest large sums in the public services".

That's what it is all about… a push by leftish, public service unions and their hangers on, and the rump of the statist, public-ownership dinosaurs, all looking after their own interests, unable to understand even that the quasi-privatisation agenda of the EU is no such thing – simply device to detach member state enterprises from national ownership in order to re-invent them as "European" enterprises.

So what do they want instead? "We believe in a Europe that is neither dominated by the old bureaucratic, federalising ways of the 1970s nor the free-market fundamentalism of the 1980s or 1990s. We believe in a Europe of democratic nation-states that moves into the 21st Century with confidence". Oh yea? And what does that mean when it is at home?

The trouble is that this sort of tosh is actually the brain-child (if it can be described as that) of the self-appointed "Vote-no" campaign. The Centre for a Social Europe is being run by Matthew McGregor, a campaign manager at the no campaign, and Graham Copp, who co-ordinated parliamentary activities for Vote 2004, the campaign for a referendum on the constitution, which has now become the "Vote-no" campaign. The pair has been hived off in an apparently separate unit in an attempt to mobilise the left-wing vote against the constitution.

Fortunately, their efforts are likely to be fruitless. The public service unions have vested interests in the status quo, and are unlikely to be swayed by anything the "Vote-no" campaign can do. And as for the disparate collection of names they have gathered around them, who cares what they think? If they could think, they would not be seen dead in this "Centre for Social Europe".

More to the point, in the 1975 referendum, not least of the reasons why people voted for remaining in the (then) EEC was because the unions were against it. With the all-powerful public service unions very much for the "project", the same dynamic might well apply in reverse. Frankly, if they were brought into the "no" camp, that alone would be enough to convince any sensible person to vote "yes". The best bet would be to let sleeping left-wingers lie.

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