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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  • Roderick Russell

    “But party discipline is precisely what is wrong with Westminster”. Yes, that and the lack of a free press, and too much “behind the scenes” involvement by power-elites and their spy agencies.
    It’s only a decade ago that Hugo Young, former Chief at the Guardian, said that MI6 “are not afraid to announce their central role in government.” There was time in Britain, not so long ago, when spies and agent provocateurs were regarded as distasteful; today these unelected secret agencies and their friends in the power-elites are at the very centre of government. The fact is that we don’t have representative democracy anymore. It’s been made impossible for an MP to represent us. Their boss is the party leadership not the electorate; if they spoke out, the press is unlikely to report them honestly, if at all; and all sorts of slanders and smears would suddenly appear from nowhere.
    The democracy is broken, and needs to be reinvented. The problem with a system like ours that’s become based on privilege and not the rule of law as it once was, is not just that it’s not democratic but that it’s also incompetent – It’s who you know, not what you know that that is appointed to the top. That’s why the electorate is so sceptical about government – because they sense that it doesn’t work for the people anymore.

  • nevermind

    Jives, take it easy with old shed life, she/he’s a little slow on the uptake.

  • nevermind

    well said Roderick, that is why UKIP has gained so much support, preying on the fears and disaffection of those not listened to.

    last nights debate organised by Radio Norfolk showed exactly how much controlled these institutions and parties are. A heavily selected audience was acutely aware that those party politicians sitting on the panel, with Independent candidates sat in the audience, the them and us format, had no answers to their questions.

    That the BBC perpetuates this dilemma is most likely down to the same forces you are talking about.
    Never did I have a better chance of getting elected, my inbox is full of questions and case work already and people are concerned about their localities, but

    as you say, their needs and wishes are largely ignored. bring on May2nd I say.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    @ Jives :

    “So the Libor rate-fixing scandal was legal was it?”

    (A good try at playing with words, but you have to stay with the original expressions; the old lady quoted used the word “crooks” and asked why no-one had been “jailed”.)

    Deplorable, certainly, but criminal? Remind me if there were criminal prosecutions in that affair, please.

    Thank you.

  • Mark Golding - Children of Conflict

    To appreciate the ‘life is good’ mantra requires some shallow thought.

    ‘Don’t worry be happy’ reminds me of the response I received from Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor when I questioned his eminence on Mr Blair’s acceptance of the advice of his press secretary that “We don’t do God,” cutting a reference to the Almighty from a prime ministerial broadcast on the eve of the Iraq war.

    Those wise among us of course realize even happiness isn’t even a foolproof strategy for the good life.

    Sure, technically your life might be really good if you’re happy, but it could still be shallow with a prevalence towards style rather than worth, reason and meaning. That’s because the ‘life is good’ persona these days is actually just selfishness from people who spend their time making sure all their needs are met but are not affected or worried about others.

    Meanwhile, the other people with more meaningful lives have more stress and more worry, and actively seek out meaning/excellence even when they know it will cause less happiness.

    If we tend to believe the present social system must fail and consider an alternative such as a resource economy or a paradigm without the pressure of debt or working to remain solvent, we realise being really engaged in a task or pursuit or passion is a way that will produce optimal experience, simply because we would concentrate on our strengths and expertise in a more meaningful way, i.e. to help the planet or others.

    To the discerning, the astute, the intelligent and the perceptive ‘life is good’ only if we can understand what drives our will to live — purpose/meaning.

    Meaning that can come of course through great suffering…

  • April Showers

    Jives is right. In July last year, the following Barclays directors resigned. The AGM covered the previous financial year.

    Ricci Rich has left with a huge payout and ‘since 2010, Ricci has been handed shares worth £70m or so from long-term plans dating back five years – on top of a salary of around £700,000 – and will have taken out millions more in preceding years. The 2011 Sunday Times Rich List estimated he had a £54m fortune.’ Guardian. Lots of racehorses too including FatCatInTheHat.

    “A scandal over interest-rate manipulation reached the upper echelons of British banking and government, as the chief executive of Barclays PLC resigned and the bank released documents that threaten to drag Bank of England and U.K. government officials into the affair.

    Robert Diamond, the American CEO of Barclays, stepped down from his post a day after the bank’s chairman, Marcus Agius, resigned. A top deputy to Mr. Diamond, Chief Operating Officer Jerry del Missier, also stepped down.”

    HSBC’s record is no better with money laundering for drug dealers, offshore tax swindles and even involvement in financing cluster bomb manufacture. Their ex chairman Green is a CoE priest and a Cameron peer. 3,000 of their staff are now being ‘demised’ or put in English, sacked.

    HSBC coins corporate-ease term as staff learn jobs have demised

    I don’t know about being ‘demised’ but the banker high ups are certainly despised.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    In line with the cheerful (or not) irrelevance which is traditional on this blog, I thought I’d share the following as a kind of “good night” to you all.

    Firstly, a headline from today’s Mail Online :

    “Well, that didn’t last long! April showers return across UK…”

    And secondly, an abbreviated version of the Wikipedia entry :

    “April showers is a popular song with music written by Louis Silvers….First published in 1921, it is one of many popular sings whose lyrics use a “Bluebird of happiness” as a symbol of cheer…The song was introduced in the 1921 Broadway musical “Bombo”, where it was performed by Al Jolson…Spike Jones and Doodles Weever produced a parody that began with the lyrics “When April showers, she never closes the curtain…”.


    To be pondered…

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    Doug Scorgie (14h19) again plays fast and loose with words :

    “Why celebrate the centenary of the outbreak of WW1, that horrendous waste of life?”

    Please check the wording of the newspaper article cited in the post : it is going to be a commemeoration and not a celebration as you claim.

    Rather different and perfectly legitimate.

  • Herbie

    The fact that bankers have not been personally prosecuted for their crimes, manifests an even deeper level of criminality and malaise within the system.

    Their crimes are currently treated as corporate crimes and in the US these corporate entities have been fined, without admitting further liability.

    This is because these corporate entities and the government and its agencies are now one and the same.


    On Syria.

    It’s fairly straightforward.

    There’s no evidence of Syria having used chemical weapons, other than the word of proven and habitual liars, who themselves have repeatedly been shown to place no value on any form of life, human or otherwise.

    Their project in Syria is the same as it was in Iraq and every other place they’ve destroyed for gain.

  • guano

    Roderick Russell

    ‘There was time in Britain, not so long ago, when spies and agent provocateurs were regarded as distasteful’

    The present coalition of political Islam and this Tory government, manifested in the pathetic facade of trying to pretend to get rid of Abu Qatada, whom they need for future use in the neo-colonisation of Jordan, is an Etonian jolly comprising aristocratic Tories and autocratic Tora Boras with the dashing theme of lying, spying and false-flagification for the 21st century.

    Sheikh William Hague and Muftis Fox and Werrity confident in their commonality of purpose with the Muslim world to destroy the welfare state and establish Dictatorial espionage as the norm for our society. Wot? Rule by counting bits of paper and telling the truth. Yes we Brits are completely insane, come and join in the fun at mocking us for our utter political naivety.
    The jokes on us. Please enjoy the laugh-in.

  • nevermind

    Where were the accusing siren voices of Cameron and Obama when illegal chemical weapons, such as white phosphorus, rained down on Gaza, just at the time when the mornings tranche of children exchanged places with the second tranche?
    Why are events in Syria heralded as ‘war crimes’, by war mongers and torturers, when no such thing would be levelled at Israel for their heinous and despicable targeting of children in Gaza and the west bank?

    Since yesterday was Anzac day and it is closely linked to new Zealand’s commemorative efforts, I shall take the opportunity to honour the Maori battalion rubbed up at Gallipoli and in the Somme.

    lest we forget….


  • Cryptonym

    The BBC in Scotland have surpassed event their routine Britnat propaganda with constant scaremongering over independence, this last week; the main news stories have been, Osborne and Sterling, yesterday we were told we would need to have a new coronation ceremony for the existing monarch, today it is apparently the case, according to them, that pensions, public and private will not be paid out if people vote yes. Something needs to be done and quickly the BBC is so out of control that they’ll have to be taken off the air for the sake of maintaining the illusion of democracy, it is plain for all to see now that the BBC is self-destructing messily. They have gone so far that there can be no possibility of this institution remaining in any, never mind its present form after the independence referendum.

    Good riddance to them and in time to the monarchy, NATO and the ‘plummet’ -aka the pund.

  • Cryptonym

    CM: “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.”

    I don’t see how you can hold the view that this is capable of remedy, when the example of Westminster shows that even with the trappings of illusory democracy it cannot. The UK/English Parliament at Westminster not only cannot do this either, it has no credible will to do so and never will legislate its own demise or minor reduction in their power, and yet you would probably be keen for the European Parliament to have the theoretical ability to introduce law instead of rubber-stamping the diktat of the Commision, as if a lone MEP could introduce legislation successfuly on its merit, as a lone Westminster MP could theoretically do, but they don’t and in practice cannot, where it conflicts with governing party dogma or selfish interests. The EU at present, with all its lack of democratic input, the lack of consent from the people governed, is about as good as it can ever be, it can only get worse, the same disconnected decision making with some democratic window-dressing tacked on, is no improvement whatsoever. The obvious model for such a over-large polity is the US, with its limited notions of state’s rights, historical hangover fictions kept on life support and simultaeously denigrated as anti-deluvian, its adherents and believers ridiculed and demonised, versus the centralised Federal government, only a relatively recent phenomenon but which is comparable to the inner power circles of the EU which trump and trample nation states, as US states’ people’s true and best interests.

    The Guardian is not the issue, no-one reads it. The dissenting contributors, permissible pet rebels – the Seamus Milnes and Glenn Greenwalds – are just straw in the wind.

    It is the BBC where the fight is in terms of influence, wielded for bad and ill ends.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    @ Crpytonym :

    “The EU at present, with all its lack of democratic input, the lack of consent from the people governed, is about as good as it can ever be, it can only get worse, the same disconnected decision making with some democratic window-dressing tacked on, is no improvement whatsoever.”

    Well, various improvements have been proposed during the various Treaty revision conferences and this process will no doubt continue.

    But I suspect that nothing that might take place would be capable of satisfying you and that you would continue to bemoan ‘disconnected decision making’ and characterise any improvements as mere ‘democratic window-dressing’.

    This is because you don’t appear to think much of parliamentary democracy as presently constituted and practised. I wonder what you would put in its place?
    Or, like Corporal Fraser, do you believe ‘ we are all doomed’?

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    @ Nevermind :

    “Since yesterday was Anzac day and it is closely linked to new Zealand’s commemorative efforts, I shall take the opportunity to honour the Maori battalion rubbed up at Gallipoli and in the Somme.”

    Indefatigable in my efforts to understand people’s comments and thus to obtain maximum benefit from following this blog : NZ’s contribution in troops in WW1 was substantial and impressive. Many NZ battalions were took heavy casualties in the various battles and it is fitting that this should be remembered. I was just wondering if there was any particular reason why you referred specifically to a Maori battalion, given that Maori troops were in a considerable minority among the NZ troops sent to fight?

  • Sophie Habercake

    Dad hasn’t left the shed for two days. Mum says we’re to leave him alone and let the madness work it’s way through so I crept up quietly and posted a note with written on it. Ten minutes later there I heard muffled swearing about “….bloody buddhist smartarses….” comming from the bottom of the garden so I guess he got it.

    I read the last chapter of “Newspeak in the 21st Century” last night. They talk about happiness arising from an attitude of Awareness, Compassion and Truth Telling but Dad seems to thinks it comes from making superior comments and insulting people.

    And I don’t think Komodo loves me any more and I’m sorry I killed the “Ludicrous Claims “ thread.

  • April Showers

    Thank you Brian Fujisan. I am partial to a bit of rock surprising that it might be. I had not heard of that and found the words. Excellent.

    I read the other day that the Israelis have decided not to use white phosphorus again, a true chemical weapon used on Gaza under the pretence of making a smokescreen.

    PS I like the sticks of ‘rock’ that you can get at the seaside.

  • April Showers

    Were there any (old) bats in the Belfry flat at Scotney Castle?

    I like the sound of the bulletproof headboard. I thought that the hairdo served that purpose.

    On Christopher Hussey’s death in 1970 the estate was left to the National Trust. Several apartments in the castle and on the estate were let out by the Trust, with tenants including Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher who rented the Belfry flat for a time during the 1970s and 1980s, when it served as a weekend escape for her from Westminster life.[2] Wikipedia Scotney Castle

    It must have been a nice ‘escape’ for her at the weekends when her weekdays had been spent grinding down her subjects and enriching her cronies.

    Latterly the ownership of her Belgravia home was in three tax havens. One rule for them, another for us etc.

  • Exexpat

    Habbabkuk (La Vita È Bella!)
    26 Apr, 2013 – 10:32 pm

    Thank you so much to the poster who posted the script to block it. Life is definitely good well at least better 🙂
    Please post the script again and maybe Mary might be tempted to come back?

  • Sophie Habercake

    He already has April but where he’s broken out into is Craig’s blog and he’s stalking you. So remember as the poison drips from his posts there’s only one Dad and there’s lots of us who love you and are better informed because of people like you.

    And Komodo really IS a lizard cos he’s ignoring me.

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