by Richard North
"The EU is not such a
sharp oppression as was Soviet Communism, but it is similar in
this respect - it tries wherever possible to avoid the
democratic judgment of the people it rules.
When that judgment
does come, therefore, it will be merciless."
So writes not a
swivel-eyed Euroskeptic "loon", but a respected member of the
English establishment, former editor of The Daily Telegraph,
none other than
He is writing in the op-ed of his former newspaper, under the
dictatorship will face day of reckoning," commenting on
how it comes to pass that a prime minister, who probably does not
agree with the treaty he has just approved, goes with the flow and
accepts it anyway.
Addressing the question which so many of us have considered and
discussed endlessly, Moore writes:
"Why does any Prime
Minister get himself into this situation?"
In normal circumstances,
political leaders will accept short-term unpopularity, but they will
not knowingly embark on a course of action that cannot bring them
popularity in the end.
Yet it is more than 20
years since any British politician had a win out of Europe.
He then posits that
Brown is in this situation
because of something that is extremely hard for us, the public, to
It is that the
European process is, for its participants, almost compulsory.
Europe is a
bureaucracy. Just as a public company must always seek a better
return for shareholders, so a bureaucracy must seek more power
for its employees.
When a politician takes over the leadership of his country, he
is told that he must join the process.
The round of endless
negotiation, small disagreements (this time there was fierce
argument about whether the Italians should be allowed one more
MEP), new institutional powers, treaty, vin d'honneur is
Any mere elected person who seriously tries to disturb it will
have the whole official and diplomatic class against him, not
only in his own country, but in 26 others.
It requires someone
of quite exceptional courage and tenacity to try to resist this
- and even she failed.
Mr Brown will not
Moore may have a point
Within the "bubble", it
is very hard for a politician to see things clearly and, under the
pressure of modern politics, it is also very hard to get the time to
think. He will be sucked into whirlpool and dragged down by it,
simply because it is a powerful, elemental force and there is no
countervailing force to keep him from it.
But, if Brown is in his own "bubble", so indeed are the majority of
MPs in their own - as indeed is the claque of political journalists
which feed off them.
And while Moore writes of
things which are extremely hard for us, the public, to understand,
one of the most formidable of those is the depth of pure ignorance
that handicaps most MPs.
Because they have managed to get themselves selected and elected
does not mean that MPs know anything of EU politics and the process
of political integration. By and large, they do not and, the further
up the ladder they go, the less likely they are to understand
Thus, you are dealing
with a group of men and women who are profoundly ignorant of the
events that are occurring around them.
Against this background, we see a change in strategy in The
Telegraph which, in its own leader, announces a shift in the
focus of its campaign. In addition to asking its readers to petition
directly for a referendum, it is now enjoining them to write to
their MPs, asking that they keep their promises made at the last
election, to give us a referendum.
Well-founded, obvious and well-intentioned, this strategy is also
bound to fail.
As much as the paper may
make some good points (and some bad), those MPs who can be bothered
to engage in the issue (not many), might easily content themselves
with the leader in The Guardian, which offers a contrary
It writes of Gordon Brown coming under "venomous attack" for
accepting the new European treaty, criticizing The Sun for
painting him as attending,
"a sordid last supper
for Britain as an independent sovereign state".
This is "hysterical
language", says The Guardian, even from a newspaper with a
history of exaggerating the implications of European Union
In rejecting the calls for a referendum, the leader goes on to note
The strange thing is
that such calls for a popular vote come from groups that also
claim to be the greatest defenders of Westminster's sovereignty.
This makes no sense.
One might think that
supporters of the supremacy of the House of Commons would be
keen for it to take the final decision on the matter, as
constitutional precedent shows it should.
So why are they
looking for another route? The reason is obvious.
a majority of MPs who will back the new treaty - just as they
backed entry to Europe in 1973, the
Single European Act and then
Maastricht later on.
This unhappy reality leaves opponents of the treaty promising to
save parliament from the consequences of its own folly by
ignoring its view.
But if its members
are so unwise and unrepresentative of their country on this
important matter, should they be trusted to take decisions on
Is it right that a parliament that cannot be relied upon to
examine a treaty adjusting the operation of an international
organization of which Britain has long been a member should take
the final decision on momentous issues such as war, or major
domestic questions, such as identity cards?
There is certainly
much wrong with the way parliament works and the way that it is
elected. That is why it needs reform.
A referendum, which
will diminish representative democracy, is no way to achieve it.
Where, of course, this
paper goes utterly wrong is in defining Parliamentary sovereignty as
For sure, Parliament is
sovereign in its own House, (once) having absolute mastery of its
own rules and procedures. But the ultimate sovereignty belongs to
The Guardian would
have it that Parliament is free to give away something which is not
its to give. It has no license or mandate so to do.
However, such niceties will not trouble the MPs who do not wish to
hear the calls of the people (those few who care enough to follow
the Telegraph's injunction). But, most of all - as
we observed earlier - this is now a
tribal issue. The Conservatives have made it so.
reservations any rank and file Labour MPs have, with but a few (very
few) brave exceptions, they will rally to the colors when the whips
The pity is that, although it is rightly theirs, few people are
really aware of what is at stake.
I venture that is you go
out into the streets today and stop 100 people and ask them what
"great event" happened over the last two days, not one in those
hundred will be able to tell you. For the MPs - and the "colleagues"
- therefore, stealing their sovereignty is as easy as taking candy
from a baby.
That notwithstanding, people eventually do notice. In many ways,
they already have… that it really does not matter who you elect, the
outcome is always the same - and that means you usually get shafted.
At the moment we tolerate
it, but this will not always be so.
Moore thus, in writing about "merciless" judgment, is doing nothing
more than articulating the lessons of history - that when people are
disfranchised and can no longer affect the way they are governed,
eventually, they will rebel.
First, though, has to come the realization that our government - of
which Mr Brown is a member - is no longer in Westminster, but
Brussels and that, behind the smiling faces and soothing words, it
is our enemy.
Then, if history is any
guide, we will have to kill them...