Fishy Tales

07 June 2005

Land of the Setting Sun

We Europeans are the original Westerners, and have been for quite some time. That's because the name Europe is (apparently) derived from the Phoenician term for "where the sun sets" - as opposed to Asia, derived from the Phoenician for "where the sun rises".

I don't think the Phoenicians meant anything insulting by making us inhabitants of the land of the setting sun, but then again.

Sure enough the EU is a pretty crap institution, though I reckon that 's just because it tries to create a coherent unity out of a gloriously rich diversity - European Union could be seen as a contradiction in terms. So much for my thoughts. The view of the EU itself is that a new constitution will sort everything out.

I had mixed feelings about both France and the Netherlands declining to ratify the new constitution in recent referendums. On the one hand I thought "Yay! Nice one!" but on the other hand, I strongly suspected Blair and his cronies would use the No votes as an excuse to pull out of giving us Brits a referendum.

And what do you know? That's exactly what happened, courtesy of my old mate Jack Straw.

Why is that a problem? Simply because our government continues to stand by the principles of the new constitution (a good summary of the constitution here, courtesy of the BBC), which probably means that there will be a variety of back-door agreements which move us decisively towards a situation where we may as well vote Yes when we do get the referendum. The damage will already have been done, and commitments already made without our say so.

The government has plenty of form on that front. The reason that the new constitution is as Straw put it a while back, "a tidying up exercise" is because the EU already has more power over us than we would probably choose to give it. Check out the BBC summary of the constitution, linked above, to see what I mean.

A very telling point from Straw when he was arguing against a referendum around the same time as he declared the new constitution a tidying-up exercise:

Mr Straw argued that referendums are reserved for major constitutional changes - such as membership of the EC in 1975 or a future poll on joining the euro.

"Our default setting is that it is for elected parliaments to make decisions," he said.


But that is exactly the problem. There's a creeping death approach to constitutional change that consists of making a number of poisonous little agreements - it's the cumulative effect that kills.
After all, how did the EU come about as the officious bureaucratic monster it now is, when all we agreed to back in 1975 (well not me personally, as I was only 12) was a Common Market?

So, I would say that we want a referendum so we can do more than reject the new constitution; we also want to say No to further integration. But perhaps we want even more than that the chance to say No to the EU overall; to reject all the EU has become without our having any say in the matter, with the complicity of our own governments. Death to the monster!

Yes trade, Yes culture.

But, for me anyway, there it ends.

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