Déja Vu

Peter Farrell, one of our supporters has kindly passed on a transcript of a programme broadcast on Radio 4 on Thursday 3rd February 2000, entitled “A Letter to the Times”. It is a shocking exposé of the underhand tactics used by a number of leading Europhiles in the run-up to our joining the EEC in 1973.

In December 1970, six months after Edward Heath’s unexpected election victory, an opinion poll showed that only 18% of the UK electorate supported him in his long-term dream of taking our country into the EEC. A massive 70% were opposed. While the decision on accession was to be taken by Parliament, it was apparent to Heath that he would never gain a parliamentary majority in the face of overwhelming public opposition. While some of the tactics he used are well-known, notably disguising the political project as an economic project and not mentioning loss of sovereignty, other underhand tricks employed at this time have only come out into the open more recently.

The programme revealed one particularly successful tactic: a barrage of letters to the Times during the Autumn of 1970 all apparently written by MPs who supported accession. In reality, these MPs only signed them; they were all produced by an ardently pro-European PA to the MP Sir Tufton Beamish.

But how were the rest of the population, who didn’t read the Times, to be converted? Equally clandestine methods were used. Those of us of a certain age will remember the name Jack de Manio, who presented the Today programme from 1958 until 1971 and who was twice voted British Radio Personality of the Year. He was also strongly Eurosceptic. Geoffrey Tucker, who was closely linked to Heath and who organised breakfasts for supporters of accession, lobbied for his removal. The following year, the programme was reorganised to feature two presenters. De Manio was not happy with the new arrangement and resigned. A coincidence? Whatever, by 1971, the BBC had been effectively “nobbled.” The managing director of BBC Radio, Ian Trethowan, was another friend of Edward Heath and was very willing to accede to the wishes of Geoffrey Tucker’s breakfast group to deal with any broadcasters perceived to be opposed to accession. Far from being an organ of impartiality, the BBC became the main propaganda vehicle used to shift public opinion in these crucial years.

However, the most disturbing revelation in this programme was the funding of the European Movement by the American CIA. Dr Richard Aldrich, a political historian, came across the archived documents of a CIA front organisation which poured millions of dollars into the UK. In typical CIA style, the audit trail had made it difficult to trace the source of the European Movement’s funding, but it seems that even the office cleaners ultimately were being paid by US intelligence!

Heath himself was interviewed in the documentary and he is heard expressing his regret that the job was never fully done. He described the subsequent rise of euroscepticism within the Conservative Party as “the most devastating blow of all.” However, in view of the deceit he encouraged, such a man deserves no sympathy whatsoever. The only person to come out at all well from the programme is Roy Hattersley. Although a pro-European, he was horrified by the tactics being used during this period. He attended one of Tucker’s breakfasts and was so appalled by what he heard that he never went again. In his opinion, the use of spin all those years ago, has prejudiced the argument ever since.

Telling words indeed and vital lessons for supporters of withdrawal as the referendum looms. Already, one has a sense of déja vu as one businessman after another is given air time on the BBC saying how disastrous it would be to leave the EU. Our opponents are not going to play fair, but we cannot allow them to get away with it this time. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Photo by TechnicalFault (formerly Coffee Lover)

The Hidden Costs of EU Membership

Is the European Union (EU) draining our country of the vitality needed to create prosperity for all? Are we losing the means for improving living standards including motivation, ethical standards, resources, funding and efficient resource allocation pathways, which cost us dearly?

There is evidence for the EU’s actual cost being far greater than the figures usually highlighted, such as our annual net contribution (often stated as £55 million per day) or the extra £1.7 billion demanded last year because our economy is apparently ‘thriving’. The problem is that it is easy to slip into the simplification of ignoring items that cannot be easily quantified; the McNamara Fallacy which can have disastrous decision-making consequences.

Our net contribution to the EU (visible and quantifiable) effectively disappears from our economy and boosts economies elsewhere. Obviously this money can no longer help us, and in certain areas of the economy our money could have made a considerable difference, there is a multiplier effect present. For example, ‘EU tax pounds’ (spent on EU bureaucrats and their perks) if used to fund research or retained by businesses and invested in production efficiency could have helped produce scientific breakthroughs, better products, lower prices, more competitive enterprises and higher paid jobs, in turn worth many pounds of return for each pound used (or ‘invested’). So to service the voracious appetite of the EU we have worked hard to raise the money in the first place and then had to forego a considerable benefit (opportunity cost) because we cannot allocate that money more beneficially in ways we choose. This is only the start of where we are losing out.

The EU works hard at devising ever expanding legalistic rules and regulations, which are of a ‘one size fits all’ nature to apply to all member countries. There is always a direct cost for compliance (by the targeted individuals and organisations) and enforcement (by one or more regulatory bodies). And an opportunity cost, if the money could have been better used elsewhere, for example, on research, improving competitiveness, skills and productivity, paying higher wages, or reducing prices. These rules and regulations may also be ill-conceived with harmful effects and resulting opportunity costs, for example, creating other victims, continuing obsolete practices, shrinking the talent pool available of people who could otherwise be more productive, and imposing dis-proportionate burdens on smaller and more innovative enterprises making their existence and growth less likely.

EU social engineering, in particular the destruction of the democratic nation state and heritage, transfer of wealth (and businesses) to the less successful EU nations, uncontrolled mass migration, and forcing authoritarian legalistic regulations upon societies, have costs not just in financial terms or individual quality of life, but in identity, ethical standards and social cohesion. Inevitability a problem created by the EU needs to be managed somehow (if at all possible), and this has costs, and diverts resources that could be more productive elsewhere, again substantial opportunity costs exist.

The opportunity costs identified so far are part of a bigger issue, that of the quality or performance of government. Poor government will inevitably cost more than it should through higher taxation (and associated opportunity costs) than if it was better run or more efficient, and there will be costs and opportunity costs arising from the consequences of its poor policies and mistakes (for example, the destruction our fishing industry or the negative effects of the Euro). The EU is a remote, bureaucratic, ideologically driven and autocratic institution. It is also a centre of corporatism, ruled by the few, for the few; big government, big business; big other organisations. Based on its track record, the EU can be expected to go on delivering an inferior government performance than a much more democratic national government in tune with the people and the Internet Age. There is empirical evidence that countries outside the EU like Norway an Switzerland do better economically than their equivalents inside.

Various writers have plotted the direction of bureaucracies with somewhat similar conclusions regarding their increasing arbitrary unreality and costs, and destructive or inhuman effects, including Franz Kafka, The Castle, C Northcote Parkinson, Parkinson’s Law and The Law and Carroll Quigley, The Evolution of Civilizations. Joseph Schumpeter, the economist and political scientist, has written about corporatism in Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy. The EU has emasculated national parliaments and disenfranchised electorates pretty much in textbook form. Such activities bear direct costs or burdens and much larger opportunity costs; loss of democratic accountability and sovereignty impact our lives in many intangible ways. More tangibly we cannot readily carry out (Schumpeter’s) Creative Destruction to the increasingly obsolete EU in order to facilitate much innovation, wealth creation and improved wellbeing; again a considerable opportunity cost. The EU appears far more interested in seizing and somewhat arbitrarily re-distributing existing wealth than in supporting us all becoming richer through the creation of new wealth, consequently resulting in us all being poorer.

Yet the biggest opportunity cost of all would be the decline and ultimately the collapse of European civilisation, hastened by the actions (or inactivity in the face of crises) of the EU. Parkinson in East and West and Quigley in The Evolution of Civilizations are too close for comfort in their prescient analyses of civilisations. The EU certainly displays characteristics of evolving from something that some years ago may have been useful into an extravagant institution that exists for its own sake, which these authors identify as a prelude to decay (of civilisations) and ultimately invasion. It is hard to see how the sclerotic EU can defy historical precedents and rejuvenate itself or the countries of Europe. Commonly the mainstream (such as the EU) is set in its ways and slow to adapt, progress (paradigm shifts or ‘thinking outside the box’ in particular) coming from the periphery as noted by Thomas Kuhn in relation to science in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

The actual cost of the EU in a competitive, changing world is therefore far greater than the obvious headline monetary figures, which are just the tip of a very large and destructive iceberg. It is an increasingly burdensome and out of date political/bureaucratic experiment. Historically our country, operating on the periphery of Europe, has performed better, often leading in many different fields including intellectual curiosity, philosophy, political thought and democracy, science, technology, education, international trade, financial services and the rule of law. Being held back and down by the institutionalised EU millstone around our collective necks rather than setting an example to everyone makes not just us, but the world poorer.

Photo by StockMonkeys.com

Immigration in Budapest

I visited Budapest on 22nd September 2015 to take part in a debate at the Eotvos University on what were the costs and benefits of immigration.

I last visited Budapest in May before the immigration crisis became serious and, in fact, I used the Kaleti railway station three times and, although there were plenty of backpackers there, I did not see any obvious migrants at that time.

This time I did not visit Kaleti but I was told that, two weeks ago, it was indeed full of migrants sleeping there.

Yet, in central Budapest this time I never saw a single distressed migrant, despite the presence of literally thousands of Chinese, American, Australian and European tourists in the streets, in the restaurants and on the river Danube.

This brings home one important observation. There can be a major crisis going on in a country and, indeed, there are still major migration flows in and around the Hungarian borders, but the central district of politics, culture, fashion and money, can be quite serene. So, in the UK, suburbs of old industrial towns can be demographically transformed while Islington, Hampstead and Kensington are unaware of what’s going on. Thus the political and donor classes are often quite detached.

I had been briefed about the Hungarian character; that it was reclusive, cautious and undemonstrative, at least in politics. This has its roots in the disastrous result of the First World War when the Treaty of Trianon led to the loss of two-thirds of traditional Hungarian territory to Slovakia, Russia, Poland, Serbia and Croatia. It was reinforced by the fairly benign dictatorship of Admiral Horthy following a short-lived ‘Red’ Terror under the government of Bela Kun and Tibor Szamuely and the Arrow Cross-Nazi occupation of 1944/5. Disasters for the Hungarian army on the Eastern Front and the transportation of much of Hungarian Jewry to Auschwitz in 1944 followed.

Then came the Communist tyranny and, finally, the revolt of 1956, after which some 2,000 people were shot and 200,000 Hungarians left the country. All this is chillingly displayed at the ‘House of Terror’, a much visited building which housed the Gestapo and the NKVD and is a must-see for visitors.

Presently, the Hungarian government, led by Viktor Orban, is a nationalist conservative one but it is harried by Jobbik, which can be described as an ethnic nationalist party. Left wing views are still put forward but were, on the whole, muted at the university.

The content of the debate was interesting but hardly novel and was, of course, heavily influenced by the current migration crisis. I was paired with an excellent German Professor, Dr. Weede, who was highly critical of Mrs. Merkel and opposed by two Hungarian professors.

As everybody else on the platform was a professor I was also called professor and did not contradict those who used this term!

Yes, Hungarians in this audience were restrained, cautious and undemonstrative. They were concerned about immigration from Asia and Africa, although it was not visible to the casual observer. There was certainly no enthusiasm for the EU and Dr. Weede was scathing about the behaviour of Merkel, leaving the Eastern European states to carry much of the cost for her ‘virtue-signalling’.

Yet, like the other Eastern and Southern European states, the Hungarians do get benefits from the EU and they don’t want to lose the economic benefits of EU membership and the ability to travel and migrate for work offered by Schengen, (Hungary is not in the euro) and the EU Treaties.

However, there is no enthusiasm for the EU. It is a ‘transactional’ relationship. Few seem to want any migrants but most Hungarians have still not been confronted by the actuality of mass migration. Certainly, the real nature of EU membership is now being noticed.

Reflections on my spell in the lions’ den

Over the years, I have undertaken quite a few speaking engagements, including addressing several political meetings. Last Thursday, however, was the first time I had spoken in a debate about the European Union. CIB was invited to send a speaker to represent the “leave” side by the Southampton University Debating Society and I ended up being the person thrown into the lion’s den.

Why do I say this? Because I knew right from the start I would be addressing a meeting where the vast majority of the audience would disagree with me about withdrawal. The student generation in general is predominantly pro-EU and the members of Southampton University Debating Society are overwhelmingly so – even more than I had anticipated. The usual straw poll taken at the start of the debate indicated that only a tiny minority of those in attendance supported withdrawal. Still, at least this meant that I was aware from the outset what I was up against.

The debate followed the usual format of two speakers for and two speakers against the motion. One speaker from either side was a student. I had Jonathan, a law student, as my fellow-supporter of independence and he acquitted himself well. The guest speaker for the opposition was Peter Wilding of British Influence. All four of us were given seven minutes to put across our respective points of view – quite a challenge. It seemed like barely had I begun to build up a head of steam before the chairman’s gavel warned me that I only had one minute left!

The initial presentations were followed by a lively question and answer session after which all four speakers were given three minutes to sum up. The outcome? I’d love to say that the “leave” side carried the day so convincingly that we had to restrain the newly-awakened audience from lynching the speakers who supported EU membership, but unfortunately, that is the stuff of pipe dreams. The pro-EU cause still carried the day overwhelmingly, but Jonathan and I had managed to shift opinion slightly in our favour, so I left with at least some crumbs of comfort.

I also left with plenty to mull over and I hope that my reflections on the evening’s events may be of help to anyone else finding themselves in a similar position. Countless debates and discussions are likely to be held on this subject over the next two years and if any of us find ourselves asked to take part, it is advisable to be as prepared as possible.

My first thought concerns the speakers put forward by the opposition. Pro-EU groups are well-funded and thus able to field experienced speakers used to the cut and thrust of debate. These people will look to exploit any mistakes made by our side, to seek to control the terms of the debate and even if they cannot refute some of the more damaging accusations made about the EU, they are very good at creating suitable “mood music” – playing to the emotions of the audience.

My most glaring mistake was to claim that Winston Churchill never back-tracked from his famous comment that “Each time Britain must choose between Europe and the open sea, we shall always choose the open sea.” Apparently, in 1961 Churchill wrote a letter to his Constituency Chairman stating that “I think that the Government are right to apply to join the European Economic Community.” (and this claim is supported by at least one article  on the internet.) Oh well, we live and learn. At least Churchill was sufficiently cautious about the project to ensure we stayed out in those formative years, but I’ll be a lot more careful if I mention his name again. Still, I did have one chance to get my own back. Mr Wilding mentioned that the Norwegian Foreign Minister had strongly urged us not to go for the same relationship as his country enjoyed with the EU. Although he didn’t mention the famous “fax diplomacy” phrase, it was sufficient for me to be able to explain that the Norwegian government still wants to join the EU, even if most Norwegian voters don’t. I was able to say that other Norwegian politicians like Anne Tvinnereim paint a very different picture and that the reason Norwegian government ministers do not want to let us know how good their relationship is with Brussels is because if we take this on board and vote to leave, it will scupper their hopes of membership for ever. Touché!

In future, I will also do my best to avoid using the word “back” – for instance as in “we can go back to being a sovereign, independent country.” Mr Wilding was pretty merciless when I used this phrase. “He’s looking to the past, not the future” – or words to that effect. Thankfully, again in my closing summary, I was able to qualify my statement along the lines of “If you know you are heading down a blind alley, you have to go back first before you can truly move forward,” but I wouldn’t recommend using “back”, “revert”, “return” or similar. The opposition is well-trained to latch onto anything which will enable them to score points. It’s not good to let them put us on the defensive.

Another observation is that trade, jobs and exit routes hardly featured in the question and answer session. I had anticipated this and had not said much about them in my opening presentation except to mention that there was an escape strategy which would preserve our trade with the EU and our jobs too. I had also come prepared to talk about the refugee issue, which I had expected to feature prominently, but it hardly got a mention. I did try to frame the debate in terms of building a new kind of politics – of my sympathy for people who voted for Jeremy Corbyn because they were fed up with managerial, top-down politicians, pointing out that the EU project was designed by – and is still run by – exactly these sort of people who are so contemptuous of the electorate and democracy in general. I also made sure that issues like associate membership and the location of the real top tables were given a mention. I reckon that with a more level playing field – in other words, if the audience had consisted of 100 assorted people from my village or the nearest town rather than 100 students – I would have given Mr Wilding a good run for his money and could have won the debate. Nonetheless, even though I know I would be most unlikely to carry the floor, I would be quite happy to debate the issue with students again.

The fact that the audience swayed slightly away from supporting the EU is very interesting and encouraging. This is how an unstoppable momentum for withdrawal will be achieved – little by little, a few at a time. External events may work in our favour, but for example, one must not place much, if any, importance on media reports that the migration crisis is shifting public opinion towards withdrawal. We must hope, both for the sake of these unfortunate people themselves as well as for the countries of Europe, that this will be a non-issue well before the referendum takes place. Rather, we must present a well-argued, balanced argument for the political advantages of independence and make clear our enthusiasm for it. After all, would we be working so hard to secure a “leave” vote if we didn’t believe life will be a lot better as a sovereign state?

One further thought which crossed my mind is that to speak to a lecture room full of students who are engaged with political issues is only to reach a tiny number of people. Debates enable us to reach some individuals but only a small minority. The “little by little” approach is a battle that must be fought on several fronts – debates, leaflets, the internet, social media, letters to newspapers and indeed, casual conversations with friends and acquaintances. Winning people over also requires repeated exposure to our arguments. I would love to know how many people who voted to stay in at the start at the meeting and voted the same way at the end were perhaps just a little less convinced of their position at the end of the debate, having heard what was (I hope) a passionate and well-argued case for independence for perhaps the first time. You can’t expect to change many strongly-held opinions in the space of just one brief exposure to an alternative position. To prove the point, eighteen months or so ago, I was distinctly unconvinced by arguments that the EEA/EFTA route was the only viable escape strategy from the EU. I am very grateful to Robert Oulds of the Bruges Group for clarifying my thinking here, but it took extensive perusal of both his writings and those of Dr. Richard North over a period of several months to change my mind on this subject. “Soft” supporters of EU membership and the undecided can likewise be won over to support withdrawal, but it won’t happen overnight. It will require persistence on our part.

My final word to anyone else contemplating the cut and thrust of debating our EU membership is simply this:- enjoy it! We may be dealing with the most important political decision our country will face in our lifetime and we all feel passionately about the subject, but let’s make the most of the experience. Mr. Wilding thanked me at the end for a lively debate and in spite of our profound differences on this key issue, yes, we would both agree that it was a good, fascinating, well-fought battle. I did enjoy it, even though I didn’t carry many of the audience with me and, somewhat wiser from my trip to the lions’ den, I’m looking forward to the next time.

Photo by David Paul Ohmer

Business as usual

During the four months since the General Election, the Liberal Democrat party seemed to have vanished from everyone’s radar following its drubbing at the polls. This week, however, the party has held its annual conference and so for the first time in ages, we were treated to the mellifluous tones of outgoing leader Nick Clegg on the BBC’s World at One.

It was really like putting the clock back. Here was Cleggie still on his high horse, full of the same old apocalyptic scare stories about leaving the EU – very much business as usual, in other words. We would be “isolated”, “cut off from the world”, “wholly irrelevant” and so on. Real vintage Clegg twaddle. If the UK was some tiny atoll populated by 200 inhabitants stuck out in the ocean three thousand miles from our nearest neighbour speaking a language incomprehensible to the rest of the world, there might be some truth in his remarks.

In reality, leaving the EU would give us more clout; we could regain our seat on the world’s top tables – the ones that really count like the WTO and UNECE. We would not be under the thumb of the European Court of Justice and, of course, we would still be an influential member of NATO, we would still have our seat at the UN, we would still be one of the world’s top 10 economies, Dover would still be only 21 miles from Calais and our native tongue, English, would remain the official language of more countries in the world than any other. Hardly an irrelevant country in most people’s books

This speech was in keeping with a Lib Dem tradition of giving recently departed leaders a platform at the party conference. Is it to be his swansong? Hard to say, but even if it is, his successor Tim Farron seems set to carry on the great Clegg tradition. In fact, he improved on it. We would become an “impoverished backwater” if we left the EU. Oh yes, Mr Farron, like those poor countries Norway and Switzerland. There would be massive unemployment, he went on to say. Well fine, let’s go the whole hog and join the Euro; maybe our unemployment figures might then end up like Greece’s instead of a mere 5.6% – the fourth lowest in the 28-nation bloc.

We’ve heard this rubbish time after time and rebuttal isn’t really that difficult. The only new string to the Lib Dem bow is they are now claiming that the UK would split up if we left as Scotland would want to remain in the EU. This scare story will doubtless be repeated ad infinitum as the older ones are beginning to sound a bit hollow – almost laughably so. Can it too be knocked on the head?

First of all, it has to be admitted that a higher percentage of Scots are in favour of remaining in the EU than Englishmen and the SNP leadership is particularly keen. On the other hand, a contact within Scotland has informed us that many rank-and-file supporters of Scottish independence also favour independence from the EU.

In other words, the clamour for Scottish independence may not be affected by a “leave” vote in the forthcoming referendum. Furthermore, the prospect of a weak and divided Labour party being trounced by the Conservatives at the 2020 General Election would lead to a call for another independence referendum even if the UK voted to stay in. The Scots, it seems, have become incurably allergic to Conservatives and if they are likely to be in power for a further decade in Westminster, this will further strengthen the SNP’s hand come what may.

Another factor to consider is that we are a long way from the formal referendum campaign. We do not know how Cameron is going to play it, nor what his “renegotiation” will claim to have achieved, although some form of associate membership – permanent second class status within the EU – is a distinct possibility. Opinion polls, whose credibility has taken a further knock recently after getting the results of Sunday’s Greek election wrong, are no guide to how people will vote in two years’ time when the landscape could be very different.

Ironically, a “leave” vote may actually benefit the Union. If we vote out in 2017 and our Article 50 period expires in 2019, it is most likely going to be a further two years at least before a further referendum will be held in Scotland. With the EEA/EFTA independence route likely to be economically neutral at first and with only two years to have begun the massive process of reviewing the laws on our statute books and repealing or revising those not in our national interest, there will be no economic bonanza in this period, but it will be long enough for everyone both sides of the border to realise that the sky hasn’t fallen in and that the fears stoked up by Clegg, Farron and co were groundless.

Independence will give us all a spring in our step, just like the nations of Eastern Europe in the period after 1989. The joy in the “leave” camp will be infectious. Add to this a few hints that one of the top policy priorities for the newly-independent UK will be the replacement of the Common Fisheries Policy and who knows, the Scots, who are fiercely proud of their fishing industry, may come to realise where their bread is really buttered.

Meanwhile in their parallel universe, Messrs Clegg and Farron will continue to warn of the forthcoming armageddon………

Lies and more lies

The European Movement claims that we knew perfectly well what we were doing in joining the European Project. In other words, both our Parliament when it signed the Accession Treaty and the electorate when it voted to remain member of the EEC as it then was in Harold Wilson’s 1975 referendum, were aware that we had signed up to more than just free trade.

In a recent e-mail, the European Movement featured the following article:

Today’s Porky: We only Voted for Free Trade

We thought we were only joining a free trade zone”

Not true. We were never hoodwinked. We actually left a free trade zone (EFTA) to join the EU, specifically because we felt free trade was not enough. The government, setting out its reasons for applying in 1967, stressed that “Europe is now faced with the opportunity of a great move forward in political unity and we can — and indeed we must — play our full part in it”. And before the referendum in 1975, national newspapers on both left and right were clear that political, not just economic, integration was proposed and would be a positive outcome.

Somehow, the European Movement seems to be suffering from selective amnesia. The mid-1960s was a rare period of honesty about the real nature of the European project. On 17th November 1966, Edward Heath had said, “We should frankly recognise this surrender of sovereignty and its purpose.” Four years earlier, however, the Labour leader Hugh Gaitskell had observed that “The Tories have been indulging in their usual double talk. When they go to Brussels they show the greatest enthusiasm for political union. When they speak in the House of Commons they are most anxious to aver that there is no commitment whatever to any political union.”

One of the earliest pro-EU Tory MPs, Peter Thorneycroft, had stated that “no government dependent on a democratic vote could possibly agree in advance to the sacrifices which any adequate plan for European Union must involve. The people must be led slowly and unconsciously into the abandonment of their traditional economic defences, not asked.”

Heath’s determination to shackle us to the European project at any price meant that, when it subsequently became apparent that support for membership was so low, pro-EU Tories reverted to type and honesty once again went by the board. When the White Paper, The United Kingdom and the European Communities, was published in 1971, no mention was made of plans for economic or monetary union, nor the loss of sovereignty.

Even after our Parliament had signed the Accession Treaty, Heath said, “There are some in this country who fear that in going into Europe, we shall in some way sacrifice our independence and sovereignty. These fears, I need hardly say, are completely unjustified.” Heath had not allowed Parliament to read the full text of the Accession Treaty for he knew it would never have been passed if they did. He had to lie not only to the country but to his fellow MPs in order that they would, in effect, sign a blank cheque.

As for the coverage of the 1975 referendum by the Press, the national newspapers were anything but clear about the political nature of the project. Perhaps the many voters who have subsequently said “I voted to stay in because I thought it was just about trade with a Common Market” did not read the articles fully, but the tone of the “remain” campaign in 1975 focussed on the negatives of leaving: – how isolated we would be; how few friends we would have. The Government leaflet A New Deal in Europe did say “we cannot go it alone in the modern world,” but the focus on all the publicity was on how much of our independence would be preserved, not how much of it was to be surrendered.

In conclusion, it is the European Movement which is telling porkies, not its critics. In the 1960s and 1970s, the rank and file never understood the political nature of the European project – in fact, some people still don’t forty years later.

NB:- the European Movement regularly features so-called “porkies” which, on close examination, usually prove to be correct. Anyone wishing to produce further rebuttals of articles by the European Movement should contact [email protected]. The European Movement’s website is http://euromove.org.uk/

(With thanks to the Boiling Frog website and The Great Deception by Richard North and Christopher Booker – always a useful ready-at-hand source of information for rebutting europhiles)

Photo by Kai Hendry