Guardian Channel Thatcher on Europe 119

I have arrived back in the UK from Ghana, and catching up on an unforgivably tendentious series of articles on Europe and governance in the Guardian. They are predicated on a Eurobarometer poll that showed, according to the Guardian, that:

Public confidence in the European Union has fallen to historically low levels in the six biggest EU countries, raising fundamental questions about its democratic legitimacy more than three years into the union’s worst ever crisis, new data shows.

That is not an unfair characterisation. In the UK, for example, 69% of the population disagreed with the proposition that they trust the EU as am institution. What is totally and tendentiously unfair, given the construct the Guardian puts on this information in a whole series of articles. is that the same poll shows that in the UK, 77% of the population disagreed with the proposition that they trust the UK government as an institution.

So the Guardian would have been on even stronger ground to assert:

Public confidence in the Westminster government has fallen to historically low levels, raising fundamental questions about its democratic legitimacy more than three years into the coalition, new data shows.

But it didn’t assert that, because it seeks to reassure us that the answer to our woes is to bring in Ed Balls and the red neo-cons who bailed out the banks, introduced tuition fees in England and Wales and started privatising the NHS, rather than George Osborne and the blue neo-cons who continued the process. In fact Westminster is not the answer to any question, in the eyes of the public.

Simon Jenkins article on the subject appears directly to be channelling the spirit of Thatcher. I can’t see a phrase here which could not have been penned by Thatcher, especially where he gets all sonorous:

“Treaties are not for ever, but nation states are”

The modern concept of a nation state accepted as the worldwide standard unit of government is essentially a nineteenth century construct, and a great many states have fallen apart recently. Besides which, Mr Jenkins is not keen on Scotland, which arguably was the nation which first articulated many of the properties of the modern idea of a nation state in the Declaration of Arbroath. He doesn’t want Scotland to prove him right about nation states being forever and thus irrepressible. He actually doesn’t believe what he writes himself. But I divert.

Jenkins’ ultra-conservative view is best summed up by his assertion that a major problem of the European Parliament is that it has “no governing party discipline and reflects no identifiable interest”. In other words, it is not like Westminster.

But party discipline is precisely what is wrong with Westminster. MPs are “whipped” – a most appropriate word, into voting in favour of the commercial interests, which are overwhelmingly, in the UK, City of London financial interests with the only major competition being arms industry interests, which support their party structures and promote the leadership of their parties. It makes no difference at all which party gets elected. If a party leader emerges who might actually make any difference, Murdoch and the establishment can be relied on to destroy him, witness Michael Foot and Charlie Kennedy, the two most decent – and talented – men to lead parties in my lifetime.

Jenkins thinks the problem with the European Parliament is the lack of this systematic domination of darkness. In truth, the problem of the European Parliament is that it lacks the power to bring the European Union under democratic control, but that is a defect capable of remedy.

Here are some more details of the Eurobarometer poll the Guardian omitted in its total misrepresentation. 70% wish to see a stronger EU role in regulating the financial services industry (p.28) and on the same page, 76% want to see stronger EU coordination of economic policy.

Large majorities across Europe support:
the introduction of a tax on financial transactions (71%)
tighter rules for credit rating agencies (79%)
a tax on profits made by banks (83%)
tighter rules on tax avoidance and tax havens (61%)

These are all areas where the Tory government has been among those blocking effective EU action, against the will of the people of the EU.

85% agreed that the EU would have to work close together as a result of the economic crisis, and 53% agreed the EU would emerge from it stronger in the long run. (p. 40).

The European public are Keynesian. Tellingly only 39% of the population believe that reducing public deficits and debt are the answer to the economic crisis (p. 25). Which shows what kind of place a truly democratic Europe would be.

The final nail in the Rusbridger/Jenkins/Thatcher argument is that 23% believe the European Union is the most important body for dealing with the economic crisis, as opposed to 20% who thought their national government or 13% who thought the IMF (p.17).

Rusbridger and Jenkins each accepts a salary many times that of the Prime Minister from the Guardian Trust, at the same time the Guardian is making strong cuts in staff numbers to reduce costs and reorienting its online content to the preferences and prejudices of a US audience to try and improve its online revenue stream. I presume they produce this UKIP friendly bilge because its popular with the very right wing audience that, judging by their comments sections, they have succeeded in attracting to click and boost those advertising counters.

It was once a good newspaper. As Rusbridger, war criminal cheerleader Michael White, super-rich Simon Jenkins and the others all seem determined to go on as long as Mugabe, I expect soon very few will remember the days when the Guardian was a good newspaper.

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119 thoughts on “Guardian Channel Thatcher on Europe

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  • Komodo

    Tried that, MJ, didn’t work for me. But the message is clear from numerous other sources.

  • guano

    The problem is that the centre of politics has disappeared a couple of miles to the right and the Guardian remains a left of centre rag. Today we were told that British troops will not be on the ground in Syria after Israel has probably released some chemical weapons as a pretext for air strikes on Assad. This means that large numbers of our troops are already there and it is none of our stupid business.

    Those of us who lived through the Thatcher years understand that when the Tories threaten to leave the European Court of Human Rights, they have a daily people-wind-up quota to meet and a journalist’s job is to increase tension by ignoring the obvious injustice. All journalists are tool-shills of the current establishment by not speaking about what government has classified and not speaking against the government wind-up list.

    The lesson that I learned from the last Tory reign is that after the rabid wind-up period, first of all the Tory wets got rid of Thatcher and then I found Islam, the religion of our time for truth and justice. After the current coalition of money-printing Tories, promise-breaking LibDems and Al Qaida Muslims, I am expecting the traditional elements of UK politics and traditional Islam to react.

  • Mark Golding - Children of Conflict

    I love the verb ‘tend’ from the Latin meaning ‘to stretch’ or ‘to heed’ and the adjective ‘tendentious’ used by Craig to describe a series of articles by the Guardian is fitting.

    The Guardian has regularly ‘stretched’ the truth and one must take ‘heed’ affording little TLC towards a media that sustains government lies esp. in the light of a lack of public trust as cited in the poll Craig touched on.

  • Komodo

    PS – the Greenstock memo makes it apparent that the agreed story would be WMD’s, not regime change…and hints, therefore, that the real reason was regime change and not WMD’s.

    Looks like Trader Media was overleveraged, even for Apax:

    (You’ll probably have to answer a silly question to read this.)

    With Apax disengaging from print, it would certainly make sense to grab the rest of (now mainly digital) TMG – which would distance it from GMG and the print Guardian. TMG seems to be back on the rails after dropping most of its print business, and it may be that the opportunity will be repeated.

  • Jives

    Yet another cracking post Craig.

    You’re in a rich vein of blog form at the moment.

    Long may it continue.

  • nevermind

    Excellent piece Craig, top form. This weak piece today by the EDP on an Independent Royal charter of chums. They just can’t stomach the truth, why else would they wriggle so hard.

    The current drive against anything EU strikes me like somebody already hanging on a rope, trying to cut their wrists.

    I say it again, if Britain does not stop pissing into the tent, they must not be surprised if they loose their easy access to the EU markets.

    Financial control over offshore havens is now one of the most talked about issues. EU citizens just can’t stomach that their economies nosedive, whilst the rich are leaving with their loot to farther shore’s.

    Skewing the figures to suit their aims is APAX’s entry into the tabloid market.

  • Herbie

    Seems that US/UK/Israel are stepping up their claims of a Syrian use of chemical weapons.

    We have these “foaming at the mouth” pictures in The Times and a small number of other outlets, The Australian, both Murdoch, and a number of French outlets:…0.0…1ac.2.V0uWa1qy_ZY

    Notice that Google says there are 828 stories, but when you click on that you only get 3.

    But still, Obomber and Cameron are talking this up.

    The we have an article in The Guardian which interviews experts who aren’t convinced by the “foamings”. Obviously it wouldn’t be too hard to fake that:

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    @ Craig :

    “Treaties are not for ever, but nation states are.”

    You accuse Simon Jenkins of getting “all sonorous” when he came out with the above phrase, which you say could have been penned by Margaret Thatcher.

    Or, indeed, by General De Gaulle, a person you presumably approve of more than you do of Jenkins or Thatcher.

    And who also once said : “Treaties are like virgins and roses, they last while they last”.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    @ Komodo, Guano, Herbie , etc…

    I realise that commenting on the substance of Craig’s lead-in post requires some knowledge, reflection and even a certain originality, and is therefore more difficult than sounding off about Israel and Syria yet again, but could you not make an effort to stay on-topic just for once?

    BTW, the Eminences’ default position is to pour scorn on claims that Assad the Son might have used chemical weapons. But the family firm does have form when it comes to unpleasant actions (in much less challenging times) as I seem to remember that Assad the Father engaged in the odd massacre or two (nothing big, of course, just a couple of tens of thousands).

  • Herbie

    I think Habbakuk will find that the UK, France, Belgium and the US, to name but four, have form when it comes to unpleasant actions including the odd massacre or two (nothing big, of course, just a couple of tens of thousands).

    Your point?

  • John Goss

    Komodo at 2.15 p.m. That declassified Blair to Powell minute is revealing.

    “He kills his opponents, has wrecked his country’s economy and is a source of instability and danger in the regions.”

    Blair has killed more opponents who were not UK opponents until Blair made them opponents. Iraq was never unstable like it is today, post Blair. And then that last paragraph about Oil. The purpose was already in the war-criminal’s mind.

  • nevermind

    Foaming at the mouth indeed. Ilan pappe on why Simon Peres is wrong to speak of an empty barren land.

    A construct at best, re writing history comes easy to those who have abused the Balfour declaration and they will stop at nothing.
    With Assad advancing on the western trained mercenaries, the Al-Nusra front and our friendly Al Quaeda forces, who, surprise, surprise are keener at killing their Muslim brothers than attacking their stated arch enemy Israel, all on the back foot.

    Will the Guardian get near the reality, will they even try?

    Hey, who has been let out of the shed? time for the spring conjugal entertainment?

  • Mark Golding - Children of Conflict

    Thatcherism was of course partly responsible for accelerating a mistrust thread or lack of confidence in those representing us, the British people. In dismantling the belts and braces of old school economics and further ring-fencing the city of London, the last Conservative government sowed the seed of ambiguity and fear of investment, funding and filthy lucre dealing.

    According to ComRes and BRMB just one in ten (10%) trust bankers to tell the truth, while four in five (78%) do not and 12% aren’t sure.

    Politicians or the slaves of corporates and their fiat banking system come a close second in the trust stakes – 77% of the population do not trust them to tell the truth and just 10% do.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    @ Herbie (17h56) :

    I should have thought that my point was fairly obvious to anyone with a reasonable grasp of English, but I’m happy to spell it out for you.

    It is that one should not automatically rule out the possibility that Assad the Son has used chemical weapons just because it is the US , UK and France who are claiming (or suggesting) that he did/might have done. It is also that if Assad the Father was capable of masssacring tens of thousands of Syrians on a couple of occasions in the past (and at a time when the régime was in far less trouble than it is now)then it is not inconceivable that Assad the Son could also engage in similar action by using chemical weapons.

    I hope that was clear enough for you.

    Perhaps you could, in turn, now tell me what your point was when you informed us that the UK, USA and France also had form when it comes to the odd massacre or two?

    Thank you.

  • April Showers

    Three cheers for this lady with spirit and backbone.

    Friday, April 26, 2013

    Lincolnshire pensioner Joan Woolard slams Barclays directors at bank’s AGM as a ‘bunch of crooks’

    A Spalding pensioner was met with a round of applause at the Barclays Bank AGM when she called its board a ‘bunch of crooks’.

    Widow Joan Woolard, 75, travelled down to the annual meeting in London to condemn the City’s bonus culture.
    She slammed the bank’s directors for handing out seven figure bonuses and demanded to know why nobody had been jailed.

    Mocking the new Barclays motto – ‘the go-to bank’ – she added: ‘Go-to? Go to hell Barclays! A lot of people regard Barclays and its board as a bunch of crooks.

    ‘My income is £726 a month. I live quite well on that – I don’t understand why anyone needs a million, even to live in London.

    ‘Anyone who asks for more than that is a greedy bastard – pardon my French.

    ‘Banks have brought us down – brought the entire global economy down. Yet none of you have gone to jail.

    ‘I don’t understand how you can sleep at night.’

    Her emotional outburst was greeted by a round of applause from her fellow shareholders at the meeting.

    Sir David Walker, who took over last year as chairman to help restore the bank’s reputation, responded to Mrs Woolard.

    He said: ‘It’s important to – with humility and modesty – recognise the extent to which those comments were recognised and approved of by others in the audience. I readily agree that Barclays overpaid in the past – it’s not going there again.’

  • April Showers

    Clegg is finally laying down some calcium within his vertebrae to strengthen them.

    Nick Clegg blocks Tory plans for a ‘snoopers’ charter’
    Innocent people should not have their communications over the internet stored by the security services, Nick Clegg says today, as he blocked plans for a Government “snoopers’ charter”.

    Mrs May will not be amused.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    From Mark Golding :

    “Thatcherism was of course partly responsible for accelerating a mistrust thread or lack of confidence in those representing us, the British people. In dismantling the belts and braces of old school economics and further ring-fencing the city of London, the last Conservative government sowed the seed of ambiguity and fear of investment, funding and filthy lucre dealing.”

    I believe that George Orwell wrote an essay or two on this type of writing and style.

    He would, I’m sure, have singled out the following :

    – “accelerating a mistrust thread”
    – “dismantling the belts and braces of old school economics”
    – “sowed the seed of ambiguity”
    – “filthy lucre dealing”.

    If you must write tripe, I really wish you’d at least write it in a more elegant, less wooden manner.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    Re new poster “April Showers” – interesting choice of subjects and an even more interesting…style.

    Both seem…..vaguely familiar.

    Further linguistic/stylistic examination needed, I think.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    “April Showers” quotes this old lady with seeming approval :

    “A Spalding pensioner was met with a round of applause at the Barclays Bank AGM when she called its board a ‘bunch of crooks’.

    Widow Joan Woolard, 75, travelled down to the annual meeting in London to condemn the City’s bonus culture.
    She slammed the bank’s directors for handing out seven figure bonuses and demanded to know why nobody had been jailed.”


    I wonder whether the old lady could explain which laws have been broken to justify the appelation “crooks” (=criminals) and the call for jail sentences.

    Or perhaps “April Showers” could.

  • Lord Palmerston

    Some dark humour in those poll results. The People aren’t very happy with the enormously larger and more intrusive governments they’ve been voting into power for decades. Their solution – more regulations and more taxes, please!

    The only remaining doubt about the catastrophic experiment with Democracy is what form its ultimate failure will take. Will our stagnation just go on gently worsening? Or will there be enough discontent to put a ‘strong leader’ into power?

    One thing there’s no doubt about any more is that the People are fools, and dangerous fools too. How thinking people can still fail to see that is mysterious.

  • Mark Golding - Children of Conflict

    Stupefied by triviality it seems Craig. Our education system has to take a measure of responsibility and is of great concern for me.

    My QA sessions at local +16 centers (where sponsoring has enabled their creation) illustrate a dearth of recent history. Not one student could explain the rationale for the Iraq War, the Korean war or the Vietnam war.

    Eyes rolled when I pressed for an opinion on the ethical criteria for “preemptive war” especially in the context of the global war on terrorism.

  • Neil Saunders

    Like you, Craig, I detest Thatcher and almost all (make that 99.9 recurring per cent) of her works, detest both the EU and what remains of national government in that increasingly fractious and incoherent territory latterly designated the UK (a soporifically bland label for a vague and flimsy notion), and find the mainstream political parties distinguishable only – if at all – in their presentational style of Neoconservatism (with its simpering military predatoriness) and Friedmanite Casino Capitalism.

    I do wonder, though, whether you are correct in asserting that the nation-state, tout court, is a recently concocted “construct”. This might be true of our Continental neighbours (think of the upheavals in Germany, France, Spain, Italy), not to mention those parts of the world where national borders were the administrative fictions of colonialists, but we can trace the more or less continuous misrule of our elites (with a couple of notable blips in the 17th century) in Britain at least as far back as William of Normandy, if not figures such as Alfred the Great and Aethelstan.

    In any case, forms of government (or, more plausibly, modes of misrule) may come and go (the “-state” end of the pantomime horse), but the concept of “nation” (even if, like most human institutions, it is a kind of voluntary collective hallucination) surely depends upon more enduring sentiments. Otherwise, who are “we”?

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