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?

A spectacular future

If any backbench MP or minor businessman says that withdrawal from the EU would be a disaster, you can bet your life that their comments will be splashed all over the press the following day. However, a recent gathering of heavyweight academics, politicians and figures from industry sending out a very different message seems to have received precious little coverage in the media.

The Conservative MEP David Campbell Bannerman was the moving sprit behinds last week’s conference entitled “Alternatives to EU Membership: What are the UK’s options?” Among the speakers was Owen Paterson MP, the former Environment minister. He did not mince his words. “We have to leave”, he said, adding, “I see a huge optimistic vision for this country, a really spectacular future, but to do it and to get there, we have to leave.”

John Mills, a CIB Committee member and Chairman of the Labour Euro Safeguards Committee, delivered a stark warning to his party leader: “If Ed Miliband becomes Prime Minister in May and renegotiates without committing to a referendum, he will inevitably weaken the UK’s bargaining position. Minds in Brussels are much more likely to take renegotiation seriously if they know that there is a substantial risk that the UK will leave the EU if there is not a satisfactory deal on the table to persuade the UK to stay in”, he added.

Another Tory MP, Bill Cash, finally answered a question has kept many supporters of withdrawal guessing for years:- does he support withdrawal or not? We finally received the answer. “There is no alternative except moving to exit”, he told the gathering. “There is more nationalism now. There is chaos, less peace, less democracy. There are riots, protests, economic instability. Implosion is imminent, or the alternative is irresponsible coercion of the kind being imposed on the Greeks now.”

Another myth was shattered. Not all senior figures in the American political scene want us to stay in. Dr Nile Gardiner, a former aide to Margaret Thatcher who is now based at the Heritage Foundation think tank in Washington DC addressed the conference using a video link. “The biggest threat to the Special Relationship is the European project itself, exemplified by the grandiose dreams of a European super-state”, he said. “Nothing could be worse for America than a Britain that is unable to act independently, straight-jacketed by a forced common foreign and security policy.”

The same day as the conference was staged, a detailed rebuttal of the “three million jobs would be lost if we left” myth was published by Global Britain and the Democracy Movement. Far from worrying about job losses on independence, the report expressed concern about the jobs that would be lost by not leaving. Stuart Coster, the Democracy Movement’s campaign director said: “This report demolishes once and for all the EU lobby’s scaremongering about jobs should Britain choose to leave the EU and reveals reality as the opposite of their claims.” (The full report can be downloaded here)

Such a shame that a day of great hope for our country’s future was largely ignored by most of the daily papers. Apart from the Daily Express, from which some of this information was gleaned, the only other coverage of the Bannerman conference came in the shape of a rather sneering report in The Independent Well, let them sneer. The speakers at the conference were promising, in Mr Bannerman’s words, a “far better, freer and more prosperous future outside the EU”. Anyone who turns their noses up at such an exciting prospect and continues to support our country’s bondage to this club of failures is worthy only of contempt.