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

Comic Relief?

It’s not difficult for a good tradesman to find work. I’ve come across some that don’t even need to advertise. Likewise, if you invent something of immense benefit to mankind, you don’t need to spend millions telling everyone how good your invention is; it soon becomes self-evident. Ask Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the internet. How much of his hard-earned cash has been spent on promotional material praising his clever idea to all and sundry?

Not as much as the EU spends on promoting itself, that’s for sure. A recent article in the Daily Mail claims that Brussels has spent over half a billion pounds on propaganda, with the UK’s contribution (the sum total of our money being frittered away in other words) amounting to £357 million.

It is quite clear that the EU is engaged in a desperate no-holds-barred battle to shore up its failing credibility as it targets the UK’s schools. The Mail reproduces quotes extracted from Dennis-the Menace-style cartoons which are both biased and banal. Unfortunately, badly-written and sickening as this claptrap is, circumstantial evidence suggests that it is having its desired effect and poisoning our children’s minds. Anyone questioning the EU project is depicted as narrow-minded. Edward Spalton, CIB’s President and a veteran of school debates on the EU, used to win every debate. A couple of years back, he found himself on the losing side and it was nothing to do with his performance. Other speakers have also found the going much tougher.

As the article points out, this garbage is not getting into our classrooms behind the backs of the UK government, but with its full connivance. It suggests that Tory MPs supportive of withdrawal may well use the recently-published report from which the above statistics were taken to put pressure on the government to ensure a level playing field in the period immediately before the referendum and not to use public funds to promote the EU.

While CIB is grateful that papers like the Daily Mail publish these EU-critical articles, we are greatly saddened that the paper shrinks back from the obvious conclusion that should be drawn from them – namely that we should leave the EU. On 26th October 2011, it stated quite specifically “This paper has no desire for Britain to pull out of Europe.” and the editor at the time, Paul Dacre, remains in the post today. It should not come as a surprise, therefore, when the referendum campaign gets under way, that we will find ourselves with few, if any allies in the media. Still, with friends like your average press baron and the all too many ill-informed journalists who cover EU matters, who needs enemies?

Countering EU Spin, Fear and Negative Campaigning

The use of spin, (hyperbole, selective information, dubious comparisons, endless simplistic repetition etc.) and deceit to mislead, and negative political campaigning, that almost exclusively attacks opponents to induce fear or distract the electorate, says a great deal about the perpetrators. In particular such behaviour shows that they have contempt for truth, voters, and democracy which exist only to be manipulated to serve their own ends. It also demonstrates intellectual laziness and a lack of competence at delivering high standards of performance for the People; results usually speak louder than empty or shallow words. They have also ignored or discounted the effects of such behaviour on performance of government and enterprise both of which work better and more efficiently if elements of professional integrity, trust, honesty, and self-imposed restraint are present.

Unfortunately, in the forthcoming referendum on membership of the EU there is a high probability the staying IN the EU camp, with its plentiful political and ruling class representation, will make extensive use of these methods. After all, these techniques have been shown to work in politics and can cover up the weak case for continuing EU membership, with its obvious and painful disadvantages, by resorting to shallow fallacies, misleading the electorate and spreading concocted fear of leaving. The following are suggested as the basis for specific and more detailed countermeasures that could be available to the more poorly financed and resourced OUT campaign:

Verification and Logical Analysis – The use of spin, deceit and negative campaigning can only work if they are accepted as being true or reliable, that the electorate can have confidence in them, probably through impartial verification from elsewhere, experience etc. Where this empirical verification does not exist, or can be challenged, then use of such tactics will undermine their proponents, especially where they have a previous record of similar less than reputable methods.

Spin by its very nature is superficial. Analysis, drilling down into the detail, comparison with a wider view or actual evidence can reveal its shortcomings, contradictions and unreality.

Real raison d’être – Where the ends are thought to justify the less than reputable means, it would be helpful to understand and expose the real motives or reasons; vested interests in particular. For the professional politician it could be a case of putting ideology, party, promotion and power before principles and people. For Big Business, especially those of the ruling establishment, it could be a case of taking a very narrow, even monopolistic, self-interested or historical, perspective which does not consider effects on the whole economy or wider national interest; underlying feelings of patriotism, national identity and unique heritage may also be weak in an internationalised ‘Power Set’.

Spin side-effects – Spin negates the need to deliver actual results and restricts the ability to analyse and to think outside the ‘spin-box’; sloppy, vague and confusing language undermines clear, logical thought and rational ideas. George Orwell in Politics and the English Language wrote about political language being used to deceive, conceal the true horror and give substance to pure wind. He also pointed out its limiting or negative effect on ideas ‘English …… becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.’ The side effects can be serious although the connection to spin etc. is subtle.

Fear mitigation – The positive case of leaving the moribund EU is strongly advantageous and as a sovereign country we would be better placed to mitigate problems and risks as they arise, in some cases in voluntary co-operation with others. Remaining within the EU is the riskier and constraining proposal. Over the years the EU’s institutions, Eurocrats and political actors have shown repeatedly that they are unable to act quickly and appropriately in our interests, for example, on economic, security and migration issues; it is all a slow, cumbersome, disjointed, secretive and attenuating process. They have also created serious otherwise avoidable problems, such as the common currency, the Euro and bureaucracy. Giving the EU carte blanche over us is ‘throwing caution to the EU wind’.

Sham and Distraction Alert – Expose the reality, exaggerations, unsupported claims, misrepresentations and other efforts to create something of substance out of nothing more than spin. Great claims for renegotiation success are likely to be nothing more than shams of little worth. Distractions are likely to be used to divert attention from the positive case for leaving, continuing EU crises and the really important issues facing our country and us individually.

The EU Dream (and nightmare) – The ‘devil is in the detail’ of any holistic EU-centric vision of the future, in particular the practicalities of delivery and its supposed benefits. The detail from Europhiles could display ‘pie in the sky’ naïve emptiness, cliché and muddled, narrow thinking. How will an EU-future facilitate individual liberty, democracy, justice (including the rule of law and social justice) and free enterprise based prosperity? So far the EU hasn’t changed its ‘dead hand’ ways, which are holding back our traditionally hugely talented and dynamic country.

The Positive Leaving Case – The most powerful antidote to negative fear-inducing spin is, probably, cogent presentation of the positive case for leaving the EU and the status quo, for example Selling the Dream – the Case for Leaving the EU now and A Simple Approach for Considering EU Membership.

Olive Branch – Conversions from the fanatical or fantasist IN camp are more likely and easier when treated with magnanimity and acceptance. Reconciliation will obviously strengthen our country’s capabilities in the years ahead and there are many causes that can unite our diverse opinions and backgrounds.

Our country deserves much better than cynical machinations and manipulations by our rulers determined to retain EU membership. It is a truly worthy cause to help liberate the aspirations and great potential of a free, sovereign, democratically governed people.

Photo by russellstreet

Spreading Alarm and Despondency amongst British Expats

Whilst we know that politicians are not on oath to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, they are not entitled to misinform people either recklessly or deliberately. This is particularly true for those who speak from a position of apparent experience or authority which lends weight to their views.

You would expect a lawyer and former Crown Law Officer to be aware of this responsibility. Yet Dominic Grieve, the former Attorney General and a practising barrister did not live up to this standard.

In the run-up to the election, the Guardian reported him saying that 2 million UK citizens working in the EU would become illegal immigrants overnight if Britain were to leave the EU. This is a massive untruth. People who have acquired rights of residence will still have those rights even if the EU treaties cease.

They are known as “acquired rights”, “executed rights” or “vested rights”. They are so firmly established that they have acquired the status of “customary law” which means that they stand as a fundamental principle of international law, not needing a specific treaty to confirm them. There is even a parliamentary briefing note about it, so Mr. Grieve has no excuse.

On 26 May I was surprised to see a report on RT (Russia Today) giving credence to this scare in a report about worried British expatriates living in France. Now RT is generally a far more sceptical reporter of EU affairs than the BBC but they seemed to have swallowed the British government story hook, line and sinker. There were some very distressed people with established businesses, fearful that they would be forced to leave and preparing to put their homes on the market.

We can expect much more of this style of panic mongering from the British government as the date for the British EU referendum approaches and it was surprising that RT had unwittingly stoked up unnecessary distress for these people.

There is a perfectly feasible way for the UK to leave the political structure of the EU and retain its trading and other relationships without any significant disruption. You can read it here and can listen to a half hour introduction it here

Photo by James O’Gorman

Everything to play for

With a few recent opinion polls suggesting support for withdrawal from the EU has fallen in the last few months, a report in the Independent summarising a recent poll by Survation offers some hope. Some 70% of the electorate have yet to make up their minds and the enthusiasm of Tony Blair to play a prominent role in the “yes” or “in” campaign is likely to be a great boost to his opponents as he is seen as so untrustworthy in matters relating to the EU (is he trustworthy about anything at all? Well, that is another question!)

This does mean that the barrage of horror stories about the dangers of withdrawal, with one chief executive after another being wheeled out in support of staying in, have not convinced over 2/3 of UK voters. The tactics of fear, uncertainly and doubt have so far not been as effective as the “in” camp have hoped. Our fellow-countrymen (and women) are obviously still open to a well-presented, bullet-proof argument in favour of withdrawal. In short, there is everything to play for, even though time is short. To quote Dr Richard North, we have to present the EU as a problem, offer the solution and paint a glowing picture of the outcome. If we can do this, our opponents will have few arguments with which to beat us down

Photo by The hills are alive*

Peer highlights fear tactics used in 1975 referendum on 40th anniversary

Don’t be influenced by the “lies and fear” tactics used in 1975 and being used again
 
The independent Labour Peer, Lord Stoddart of Swindon has commemorated the 40th anniversary of the original referendum on British membership of the Common Market with some strongly worded comments on the tactics used in 1975 and suggested that similar tactics are already being used to frighten voters in the forthcoming referendum.
Lord Stoddart, who has campaigned against membership of the Common Market/EU since the 1960s, said:  “It is forty years since the original referendum on Common Market membership but the memories are still fresh.  The British people were coerced into remaining in what was, in truth, a budding new country called ‘Europe’.  Lies and fear were the weapons used 40 years ago and we should not be fooled again. We were even told in a Government leaflet that the threat of a single currency had been removed!  Never in the history of British politics have so many lies been told for so little purpose.
“The very same sort of siren voices we listened to then are, even now, already at work attempting to frighten voters into thinking that Britain would be badly damaged by leaving. The truth is that we would thrive outside of the backward, corporatist and failing organisation that is now called the European Union.  It is the only Continent suffering from a continuous decline in trade.  
“We need to free ourselves from its suffocating red tape, regain control of our own borders and take back the right to negotiate our own trade agreements across the world and in the process save ourselves £20 billion gross (£13.5 billion net), per annum.  This would leave us free to invest in the NHS, British agriculture and many other things this country badly needs.
“In the interests of reclaiming our democracy and to ensure a decent economic future for our children and grandchildren, we must throw off the yoke of Brussels and vote to leave the EU in the next referendum. To do anything else is to wave the white flag and surrender our country.”