Catalonia: The EU’s Secret Shame 184

My very real enthusiasm for the European Union had survived decades of sometimes bruising encounters with reality before being fatally holed by the strong political support given by European Council, Commission and Parliament to the brutal and violent suppression of Catalonia’s independence referendum. Subsequently, while I still view membership of the single market as beyond argument beneficial, I have been an enthusiast for membership of the customs union and EEA/EFTA, but agnostic on full EU membership and the political union.

This was reinforced on Monday with the shameful vote of the European Parliament to strip the legal immunity of those Catalan Members of the European Parliament in exile, to assist Spain in its efforts to extradite them to add to its list of Catalan political prisoners. There are today nine Catalan political leaders already enduring lengthy sentences in Spanish prisons for the “crime” of wishing their nation to be independent and attempting to hold a democratic vote on the idea. These are the EU’s highest profile political prisoners. Not even the much reviled Viktor Orban or Andrzej Duda treat democratic opponents in this way.

None of this has cowed the Catalans. The recent elections to the regional parliament resulted in the largest ever vote for pro-Independence parties, who had a clear majority of votes as well as seats. Part of the democratic expression of Catalan will has of course been the elections to the European Parliament, and nothing could send a clearer message than the decision of Catalan voters to elect three MEPs in exile whom the Spanish state wishes to jail for wanting a free Catalonie, which it calls “sedition”. Those are former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont MEP, former health minister Antoni Comin MEP and former education minister Clara Ponsati MEP, who now lives in Scotland.

The vote of the European Parliament to remove the legal immunity of these MEPs is the more shocking because this is precisely the kind of political circumstance in which the immunity is intended to protect MEPs.

I was interested to see which MEP’s had voted to lift the immunity, but on the European Parliament website I could find only a the result of the votes, with no indication how individual members voted. There were separate votes for each Catalan MEP and the results were all broadly similar to the vote on Carles Puigdemont MEP- 400 for, 248 against and 45 abstentions. I was genuinely shocked to discover that the reason that I could not see who voted which way, was that the vote was in fact secret.

When you are going to do something shameful, then it is best to do it in private. Parliaments do not generally take secret votes, for fundamental reasons of democracy – how can you know whether to vote for an MEP if you do not know how he votes in parliament? Nor is secret voting mandated in the official guide to this procedure for lifting an MEP’s immunity.

We do know that the move to lift immunity was initiated by the Spanish government and actively promoted by the Eastern European far right parties. I do not expect it to have practical effect, as judicial authorities in Belgium and Scotland have to date not accepted Spanish extradition requests on quite other grounds. But this shabby, grubby behaviour of EU parliamentarians in seeking, secretly and furtively, to enable further persecution of the Catalans, is another chapter in a truly shameful history for the EU.


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184 thoughts on “Catalonia: The EU’s Secret Shame

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  • JB

    An point for the Scotland resident party is that the TCA contains a section akin to a mini version of the European Arrest Warrant – a section on “surrender” which is quite similar in design.

    So it will be interesting to see if Spain tries to make use of that and how our courts react. I’m not sure if it is in force yet, given that the EP are yet to ratify the agreement, and hence I’m not sure which bits can be provisionally applied.

  • Julia Gibb

    I have been a staunch supporter of the EU my entire adult life. The treatment of Greece gave my loyalty a hard knock. However this recent vote has changed everything. I would suggest an Independent Scotland take an EFTA type approach for many years and a Referendum after several years.

    They have damaged the standing of the EU for decades to come with that vote.

    • Blissex

      «a staunch supporter of the EU my entire adult life. The treatment of Greece gave my loyalty a hard knock.»

      The UK Conservative government vetoed any EU to Greece, and the USA government refused (like the UK government) to give any help to Greece, and 100% of the help for Greece was provided by EU members, but if you are fooled by USA/UK propaganda you would not realize that.
      The giant propaganda campaign against the EU as a proxy for Germany over Greece was so obviously part of the Nordstream 2 campaign.

      • Julia Gibb

        So why was a company headed by a German minister awarded the hold on Greek assets. I think you need to do more research! I said my faith took a knock. The asset grab still had some whiff.

        • Blissex

          «why was a company headed by a German minister awarded the hold on Greek assets.»

          And here we go again with anti-german smears because it cannot be disputed that the UK and the USA gave 0% and Germany and other EU members gave 100% of the help given to Greece.
          Just as it cannot be disputed (because it was stated by the greek PM in the greek parliament) that 100% of the greek debt was the fruit of colossal (around 20-25% of GDP) accounting fraud.

          • Der kleine Nick

            Ahem. These aren’t anti-German smears.
            And yes, it can be disputed (if you do not have to say why, I don’t have to either).
            And the important question is not who gave how much, but why was the help necessary in the first place? I am sure that the Greek governments of the years before the crisis are to blame for the situation they found themselves in, too, but when the Greek population held them responsible by voting for a new and famously ‘not-yet-corrupt’ party, the EU, and Germany in particular, made life extremely difficult for them.
            As a German who witnessed the anti-Greek furor in ‘Bild’ and other popular news media at the time I do not think it is wrong to say that at the height of the campaign, the average German would probably have voted to let the ‘Pleitegriechen’ starve to death, if it ever came to that.
            And one other thing: Greece was not ‘saved’ by our precious German deutschmarks, I mean euros. Deutsche Bank was saved. BNP Paribas was saved. And as collateral damage, the Greek economy was destroyed by austerity measures.
            I see that the Merkel government is a capable government only in a tactical sense. The chancellor lacks imagination and a sufficiently broad view to steer the ship in the right direction. She has shown more than once that she is willing to make a political about-turn whenever it suits her current needs.
            I think it is not incorrect to say that the German government uses its power in the EU too much for what it sees as Germany’s legitimate interests. I do not believe that Merkel wanted the Greeks to suffer. She just couldn’t let Deutsche Bank et al collapse and the campaign against Greece gave her the political cover to enable her not to nationalise them but blame the Greeks instead. Forcing the Greeks to let Fraport (the owner of Frankfurt Airport) take over most regional airports and other deals like this were just good business after the Greeks had been brought to their knees. I mean – should we let them sell everything off to the Chinese? She (and large parts of the commentariat) cannot see that in the long run this is probably going to hurt Germany and the EU.
            As I see it, the EU is just a vehicle to deflect blame from Germany. Nothing more, nothing less. Merkel is not a true European out of conviction (like Helmut Kohl, for example). She is a European, because and whenever the EU suits her needs. And that EU is really nothing I can support.

          • Deb O'Nair

            “And the important question is not who gave how much, but why was the help necessary in the first place?”

            Goldman Sachs can provide the answer you seek.

          • H.F.

            When the UK left the EU, it was never about wanting to leave a functional multilateral political organism – it was about wanting the EU to be destroyed and dead once and for all. As the EU was an angloamerican Deep State creation from the start, this was not so hard to achieve: From the missconstruction of the Euro to the manufactured financial crisis to the pathetic refugee crisis to the fake virus crisis, this has been the design of con-artists all along.

            My suspicion that disaster would strike imminently arose, when Boris Johnson became Prime Minister. He modells himself explicitly in Winston Churchill (that prototype of a fake saviour, for good reason despiced in his own time for being completely in the pockets of the Zionists). Recently, German newspapers have started calling Russia straightforward the ‘enemy’! So brace for more idiocy to come, and yes, there will be real losses.
            The awkward treatment of Catalunia is just another side show in the controlled demolision of the EU, that once could have been the modell for reasonable international relationships. But for gods sake, if the men behind the curtain wanted sane government, they would have allowed it to develop centuries ago!
            And please forget about the Merkel creature. Germany does not have a government and has not had any since May 8th, 1945. And even the one we had back then was not particularly good.

          • Johny Conspiranoid

            ” Recently, German newspapers have started calling Russia straightforward the ‘enemy’! ” as well as the Navalany nonesense, and yet Nord Stream 2 just keeps rolling on. Smokescreen?

          • H.F.

            Northstream 2 is a follow up of the energy policy that started way back in the 1960s. The Druschba-project did more then anything else to end the Cold War, with Russia providing the gas, the GDR the manpower and Federal Germany the pipeline technology. Back then West Germany was the showcase for a functional democracy, built from the ruins of fascism.
            This is now a long time ago. The angloamerican overlords no longer need Europe to be functional to prove their benevolence. In the end, they did not destroy it in two World Wars to be confronted with a thriving and wealthy Europe that shames their oligarchical world order.
            Sorry to say so, but for anyone who believed in the democracy-la-la-land, it is now time to get real. It’s pretty grim, but better to start living in the real world.
            Regarding Germany, just to repeat it: It does not have a government, apart from the Atlantic Bridge and some British, American and Israeli intelligence staff in the background. Everything EU, the Catalunia affair included, serves to spread the chaos, no more, no less.

          • Piotr+Berman

            This is now a long time ago. The angloamerican overlords no longer need Europe to be functional to prove their benevolence. H.F. March 11, 2021 at 09:56

            This is not exactly the case. For example, it is quite bothersome for the Lords of Atlantic to spend efforts to intimidate and bribe, say, Bulgaria, say, not to allow its territory to be used by South Stream. EU has specialized bureaucracies that do it well. Those functions of EU are needed and supported.

            But if we want to do something more constructive than to intimidate and bribe, EU is increasingly disappointing. But that may be simply the reflection of “post-industrial thinking” and resulting progressive atrophy of economical skills. It is not like “anglosaxons overlords” show an abundance of those skills in their own countries.

      • Kempe

        The EU aid to Greece not only took a long time to agree the EU demanded Greece adopted austerity measures which reduced wages and required Greece to privatise many state-owned businesses such as electricity transmission. Greece was plunged into a lengthy recession as a result with 22% unemployment.

        The main reason Greece got into such a mess in the first place was it’s membership of the Euro. Aside from the fact that the Greek government lied about their deficit in able to join the lower interest rate led to over-borrowing.

        • laguerre

          The Greek problem was due to the Greek (mainly right-wing) governments’ in the plural failure to bother to collect taxes.

          • Blissex

            «The Greek problem was due to the Greek (mainly right-wing) governments’ in the plural failure to bother to collect taxes.»

            That’s one of the usual right-wing myths, because while there is massive tax evasion in Greece by “favoured” categories (business owners, property owners, professionals), tax pressure on the rest was not out of line.

            The problem with Greece was that in 2004-2008 the right-wing greek government borrowed up to 25% of GDP *each year*, and distributing it to their voters (the same categories above), which they in part put in offshore banks, in part spent in imports, so GDP went up by 25%, and the trade deficit went up to 20-25% of GDP, in those four years. How could the greek government borrow so much? Because as the greek prime minister officially said, of massive accounting fraud, hiding the amount they were borrowing is falsified government accounting; the fraud was so gigantic (around 20% of GDP for a few years) that it was hard to hide well, so surely the lenders at least suspected it.

            When that was discovered, two things happened between 2008-2012:

            • GDP fell back to the level it has in 2004, when Greece was considered a prosperous, rich country with a good standard of living, even if not as good as having an extra 25% as imports funded by suckers.
            • Employment fell by 20% the level it has in 2004 (all those people selling imported goodies), as GDP per employed person increased a lot (obviously there had been a lot of unproductive employment in 2004)


        • Piotr+Berman

          I think that the bankruptcy of Greece is closely related to Euro projects. When a government of a smallish country runs persistent deficit, and the residents insufficiently cover it by buying the government bonds, the interest rates shoots up and the currency plunges in some combination. Membership in Euro was giving access to credit at low rates in exchange for fiscal responsibility, and in the long run it could be a good deal.

          But in a short perspective, fiscal responsibility is not attractive, especially in election years. Thus European bank and other bureaucracies were monitoring, warning etc. The way Euro zone was designed, Greece, Italy etc. should never enter a fiscal hole. But they did. In part, because European bank allowed that to happen, “not noticing” de facto huge deficit. Eventually, the bottom of the bucket fell out.

          Why the bank authorities were so passive? Was in ineptitude? A mischief, a plan to create strong dependency or a terrifying example for other countries? Other considerations? I do not know.

  • Blissex

    «Parliaments do not generally take secret votes, for fundamental reasons of democracy – how can you know whether to vote for an MEP if you do not know how he votes in parliament?»

    Such innocence from the north! Many countries have secret votes in parliament *because of democracy*: it is generally assumed in those countries that MPs vote for whatever they are paid to vote, or because of being blackmailed or intimated by their parties or hidden powers, and therefore secret votes for MPs are needed sometimes to allow MPs to vote according to conscience. It is the same rationale for secret voting by citizens. The underlying idea is that people don’t elect delegates, but representatives, who are “trusted” to vote for what they think is best (unless paid or blackmailed etc.),.

    • Julia Gibb

      Talking to people is much more effective than “talking down to people”. You should try it!

  • nevermind

    vote watch EU secretariat just threw me out mid sentence, about to send the decision of the EJC to them and asking for secret votes to be published and what the basis for such vote was….

  • Pigeon English

    Great British expression comes to mind
    Not in my backyard. Most countries have minority issues and far right is very hostile to there demands for autonomy Etc.

  • Wally Jumblatt

    No-one should be surprised at the way the EU Commission works, or their puppets in the Parliament.
    I wouldn’t trust them on anything, and can’t understand why so many in the SNP think they will be our friend before, during or after independence.
    I would far rather we started negotiations with the Commonwealth nations, and hitched our horse far more to them.
    That’s where the Scotish diaspora is, not so much in Europe (what %age of native (?) Scots speak another European language for instance -ah dinnae kan)

    • Little+Bat

      I agree Wally, and there needs to be a revival of the Commonwealth. Good values and good bonds.

      • Dom

        Britain looted $45 Trillion from India between 1765 and 1940. In comparison, the US annual budget is $4 Trillion. Those trains that facilitated the later looting didn’t come for free either. They were paid for by the Indian people while British shareholders pocketed the profits.

  • Blissex

    «enthusiasm for the European Union had survived decades of sometimes bruising encounters with reality before being fatally holed by the strong political support given by European Council, Commission and Parliament to the brutal and violent suppression of Catalonia’s independence referendum.»

    The EU Council (which is both the EU House [primary legislative chamber] and the EU Executive [cabinet]) and Parliament (which is actually the EU Senate [secondary legislative chamber]) are democratic political bodies, and they currently have a right-wing majority, because most EU members have elected right-wing governments, and the EU Commission is just the EU civil service and does whatever the EU Council and Parliament.

    That has nothing to do with the EU as such, just as the Johnson cabinet is not the same thing as the UK, and the Likud is not the same as Israel.

    The EU and its voters are not institutionally right-wing or neoliberal/neocons, and indeed there have been periods in which the EU was called the EUSSR when it had “communist” majorities.

    • fonso

      The EU was founded on neoliberal principles, requiring states to defend open and competitive markets, and is now a constitutionally entrenched neoliberal entity dedicated to enforcing ‘structural reform’, ie privatisations, market deregulation and corporate liberalisation. It is also not uncoincidentally a profoundly undemocratic entity. Throughout the EU it no longer matters very much if you throw out a particular government since it doesnt change the fundamental policies, institutions, laws of the country or direction of the majority of the issues of public policy. Power has been removed and placed in the neoliberal hands of the European commission, the European Central bank and the IMF. The undemocratic forced removal of Papandreou and Berlusconi in 2011 when they attempted to resist draconian EU austerity measures was just the beginning of a now permanent reality. There is an unshakeable conviction among the EU’s neoliberal governing cabal that the greater good is ensured by overriding democracy. Indeed, this was nothing less than the founding principle of the EU.

      • Dave Lawton

        No the EU project was created by fascist spymaster Allen Dulles. Get your facts right and do some real research and you will be shocked at what you will find.The EEC was planned by the Third Reich in 1942 after they had occupied most of Europe.

    • Jimmeh

      “The EU Council (which is both the EU House [primary legislative chamber] and the EU Executive [cabinet]) “

      The European Council has no legislative power. Legislation is initiated by the Commission, and their proposals are subject to revision/approval by the Parliament and the Council of Ministers. The European Council consists of the heads of state of the various member countries (or their ministers; who turns up to a meeting depends on what is to be discussed and what the outcome of national elections has been).

      The Commission, in turn, is populated by political appointees of the member states – usually former national politicians who needed a synecure to get them out of the way. That is: all EU legislation is developed and proposed by a body with zero democratic legitimacy. And where there is no electorate to which legislators are answerable, there is a vacuum that will inevitably be filled by lobbyists and corporations. The Commission also implements legislation that is passed; so it is the executive. So the Commission is not like any institution in US politics. The US model can’t be applied to the EU institutions.

      The Parliament is still largely a talking-shop. A couple of decades ago, the Parliament had exactly one power: to sack the Commission (all of them, or none). They voted to sack the entire Commission over a series of blatant corruption scandals. They now have the power to propose revisions to legislation; their revisions are subject to approval by the Commission and the Council of Europe.

      So we have the Council of Europe (not an EU institution); the Council of the European Union (aka Council of Ministers); and the European Council; It could be argued that Europe has too many Councils.

      I don’t know under what powers the EU Parliament stripped immunity from Catalan MEPs. I suppose it’s something like that the Parliament confers immunity, and so the Parliament can take it away.

      • Blissex

        Legislation is initiated by the Commission

        It is merely *drafted* by the Commission, following directions from the EU Council or suggestions from the EU Parliament, a purely technical step, and the EU Commission cannot vote on it, it can only do the drafting, a civil service function. Only the EU Council and Parliament can vote (more precisely the role of the EU Parliament is mainly one of veto, like most Senates):

        “What does the Council do?
        * negotiates and adopts EU laws, together with the European Parliament * EU ministers meet in public when they discuss or vote on draft legislative acts”

        There is no legislative role for the EU Commission, they can only prepare drafts as directed by the European Council/EU Council (and to a limited extend by the EU Parliament).
        Similarly in the UK 99.9% of legislation is drafted by the civil service, under direction of the cabinet (not MPs), and even private member’s bills are usually drafted by the clerks of the commons. In the case of the EU only the commission is allowed to draft bills because of the multiple languages problem.

        Making a big deal of the EU civil service drafting bills, and using prevarications like “Legislation is initiated by the Commission” is a standard propaganda tactic to insinuate that the “unelected, faceless” EU civil servants are the real oppressor of the member countries, which is particularly ridiculous when it comes from the UK, where the unelected, faceless Whitehall mandarins have far greater power.

        In any case all three EU institutions, European Council, EU Council, EU Parliament, are made entirely of elected and accountable politicians, and are in that respect fully democratic, and only those are involved in setting and approving EU laws.

        The European Council has no legislative power.

        Actually it has, even if the voting happens in the EU Council:
        “What does the European Council do?
        * decides on the EU’s overall direction and political priorities […] * ask the European Commission to make a proposal to address it * pass it on to the Council of the EU to deal with”

        Legislation is initiated by the Commission, and their proposals are subject to revision/approval by the Parliament and the Council of Ministers.

        The EU Council (actually there are several of them, even if formally they are called “configurations”), the primary chamber where the bills proposed by the EU Commission are voted on in the first instance, is in effect the same body as the European Council, even if there is a purely formal distinction between that of prime ministers and those of ministers. Obviously the ministers when attending the EU Council are going to do whatever their prime ministers tell them to do after meeting in the European Council.

        • Jimmeh

          “EU Commission cannot vote on it, it can only do the drafting,”

          No, they can’t vote. But they can reject revisions from the Parliament or the Council (or both). I didn’t want to get lost in the weeds; the closer you look, the more complicated it gets. It’s fractal.

          “the role of the EU Parliament is mainly one of veto, like most Senates”

          As far as I’m aware, the EU Parliament has no general power of veto. If the Commission rejects the Parliament’s revisions, and then the joint revisions of the Parliament and the Council, then they can appeal to the Council of Ministers, who have complete authority.

          There may be special cases in which the EU Parliament still have a veto; historically, they uniquely had the power to veto the appointment of the entire Commission. But I believe that’s the only veto they’ve ever had. In general they have no veto.

          These things are important, unfortunately, even though we’re all now out. Perhaps you are addressing a US audience, and trying to simplify for their benefit; that would be admirable. But you are saying things that simply aren’t true.

          The European system is not even slightly congruent with the US system, nor with the UK system. You’re trying to wedge a US constitutional peg into a European-shaped hole, and in the process you’re distorting facts. I’m therefore reluctant to continue with this thread.

          • Blissex

            «“EU Commission cannot vote on it, it can only do the drafting,”
            No, they can’t vote. But they can reject revisions from the Parliament or the Council (or both). I didn’t want to get lost in the weeds; the closer you look, the more complicated it gets. It’s fractal.»

            Every parliamentary system has complicated and often fractal rules and conventions, the UK one is one of the most bizarelly twisted. My point was that despite warts and twists the EU is under as much political control as any national state, and the EU Commission just do what they are told by the democratically elected politicians, and the Parliament is more like a Senate than a House. That’s not “distorting facts”, it is illustrating them by analogy, which are always imprecise. It is rather more prevaricating to describe the EU commission as a legislative power, instead of a civil service.

            «There may be special cases in which the EU Parliament still have a veto»

            That “still” is a bit inappropriate here, as the changes have gone the other way: it used to have a purely consultative role, but for example its positive vote was needed, most famously and recently, to enact a withdrawal agreement with an exiting state:


            “It has progressed from a purely advisory role to codecision on an equal footing with the Council. […] This put Parliament, in principle, on an equal footing with the Council. If the two institutions agreed, the act was adopted at first or second reading; if they did not agree, it could only be adopted after a successful conciliation. […] more than 40 new policies became subject to this procedure for the first time in the areas of freedom, security and justice, external trade, environmental policy and the common agricultural policy (CAP), for example. […] The consent procedure, formerly known as the ‘assent procedure’, was introduced by the SEA in 1986 […] some new provisions fall under the consent procedure, such as Articles 7, 14, 17, 27, 48 and 50 of the TEU, Articles 19, 83, 86, 218, 223, 311 and 312 of the TFEU and measures to be adopted by the Council when action by the EU is considered necessary and the Treaties do not provide the necessary powers […] Parliament on an equal footing with the Council in the annual budgetary procedure, which now resembles the ordinary legislative procedure.” etc. etc. etc.

        • Colin Smith

          For years the UK in particular, and probably the rest of the continent, used the Commission as a dumping ground either for rogues – useful idiots, troublemakers, golden boys who had the misfortune to be rejected by voters, or party grandees needing bought off with a final sinecure to create vacancies lower down.

          There is a very incestuous relationship between Council and Commission that is far more to do with internecine power pacts and collective guilt keeping a political aristocracy united than establishing good governance for the benefit of 500 million constituents.

    • Jimmeh

      “EU Council (which is both the EU House [primary legislative chamber] and the EU Executive [cabinet])”

      Please stop repeating this nonsense. The European Council is not a primary anything. Legislation is always proposed by the Commission. The EU Council is a revising chamber.

      Nor is the European Council “the Executive”; it doesn’t even have stable membership from one meeting to the next. All of the EU Council’s “members” are ministers from the member governments, and they all have a primary job to do as part of their own government’s executive. They are too busy to run the EU. Implementation of policy is for the Commission.

      The EU constitution is *not* modeled on the US constitution. If you try to force EU institutions into the model of US government institutions, confusion is guaranteed.

  • Johny Conspiranoid

    “reviled Viktor Orban or Andrzej Duda”

    What are they reviled for, again?

    • Wikikettle

      Once again, who needs to read “what the papers say” ? After reading Craig’s article AND the responses from his readership, I have increased my understanding of the issues brought up. Thanks everyone. Would I be right in thinking, that after Brexit, it is in the economic interest of the UK to undermine the EU and try and turn the clock back to just an economic “club” ? Would the UK Security State then turn its resources away from say the “White Helmets” “Navalny ” and Co and onto the French ? Discuss.

      • Jimmeh

        “Would I be right in thinking, that after Brexit, it is in the economic interest of the UK to undermine the EU”

        I don’t see why. The EU remains UK’s most important trading partner. Its members are our allies, whether formally or informally.

        Anyway, the EU doesn’t need the UK’s help; it’s perfectly capable of undermining itself.

      • Count Jimmy Riddle

        Wikikettle – I don’t think so. The following article which I found on Information Clearing House
        is relevant. It seems that the U.S. of A. has the UK by the balls. The article explains why Britain and France had to do what the USA dictated during the Suez crisis.

        From the article: `Essentially, the USA has had a grip on the UK in particular since late in World War II by holding a large reserve of sterling at the Fed. Any time the British have stepped out of line, the US has quietly threatened to dump a large chunk of this reserve cheap on international markets, knowing that it is likely to cause the pound to depreciate and trigger a UK financial crisis. To date, the British have backed down almost every time.’

        So as far as `UK security state’ is concerned, they have to do exactly what the Americans tell them – in or out of the EU doesn’t really make any difference.

        • Wikikettle

          Count Jimmy Riddle. Yes, that makes sense. I was informed of that by Peter Hitchens, he did a good piece on the formation of the EU and US money to its founders. Also hearing Gore Vidal talk about the how Roosevelt wanted to dismantle the British Empire and its colonies and have the US take over the old Empire. Indeed the US was furious over our Suez action. Gore Vidal was well connected and his stories of the American establishment, its families, its founders, its own colonies, are very enlightening.

        • lysias

          Nevertheless, Harold Wilson was able to resist Lyndon Johnson’s pressure to become involved in the Vietnam War.

          • Blissex

            «Harold Wilson was able to resist Lyndon Johnson’s pressure to become involved in the Vietnam War.»

            Similarly France and Germany did not join the “Coalition of the Willing”. In a suzerain empire the protectorates can drag their feet a bit and get away with it.

          • Count Jimmy Riddle

            lysias – the article mentions that – and says that even though the UK didn’t send troops to Vietnam, nevertheless (quoting from the article)

            `…..Although Wilson resisted full involvement, his Government still did not dare to condemn some of the atrocities committed by the US military – including deployment of napalm and CS gas ……. given all the intelligence work, arms shipments, technical aid and propaganda material the British provided to help the USA and South Vietnam, it is still something of an urban myth that Britain “stayed out” of the conflict.’

            I think this is a fair analysis.

            Most of the time, the British Prime Minister is a warmongering nut case, such as Tony Blair, who seems to have dived in on the side of the Americans with enthusiasm. But even in cases such as Vietnam, where the UK were reluctant, they were still obliged to help the Americans to some extent.

          • Squeeth

            Behind the scenes the British state was for the Americans short of war. Not a very neutral neutrality.

        • Sossy Pie

          As the US holds the global reserve currency it has this same hold over all other nations, much as the UK did before them. This was exemplified during the 2007 crash, as very well described by Tooze. The EU, like the UK has been shown to be a US vassal in its political positions re Russia and China, whether this grip remains as the dollar slides is quite exciting.

        • Blissex

          «From the article: `Essentially, the USA has had a grip on the UK in particular since late in World War II by holding a large reserve of sterling at the Fed.»

          That is a ridiculous misdirection, the reality is far simpler: In the 19th century England was a huge economic power, but then in both WW1 and WW2 it went bankrupt, and it was only saved from surrender in both cases by USA loans, and those loans came with strings attached. Pretty much Roosevelt told Churchill “Winnie you can surrender to Adolf or to me, choose wisely! :-)”. To give you and idea of the enormous distance in economic power, in WW2 the USA built and equipped and launched 151 aircraft carriers (of which “only” 60 were full carriers, the other 91 were light ones, a bit like helicopter carriers today). Some relevant quotes:

          JM Keynes: «The financial history of the six months from the end of the summer of 1916 up to the entry of the United States into the war in April, 1917, remains to be written. Very few persons, outside the half-dozen officials of the British Treasury who lived in daily contact with the immense anxieties and impossible financial requirements of those days, can fully realize what stead-fastness and courage were needed, and how entirely hopeless the task would soon have become without the assistance of the United States Treasury.»

          Andrew Marr: «Nonetheless, John Maynard Keynes, the chief economic advisor to the new Labour Government, warned ministers in August 1945 that Britain’s world role was a burden which ‘… there is no reasonable expectation of our being able to carry […] ‘ As he pointed out, the entire British war effort, including all her overseas military commitments, had only been made possible by American subsidies under the Lend-Lease programme.»

          «From as early as August 1941 – just two months after the Nazi invasion of the USSR – American convoy ships supplied the Soviets with what would eventually amount to more than 14,000 airplanes, 44,000 jeeps, 375,000 trucks, 8,000 tractors and 12,000 tanks. Not to mention 1.5 million blankets, 15 million pairs of army boots, 2.6 million tons of petroleum products and 4.4 million tons of food supplies.
          “The Americans gave us so many goods without which we wouldn’t have been able to form our reserves and continue the war”, admitted Georgy Zhukov, one of the Soviet Union’s most famous WWII generals.»
          «”We didn’t have explosives, gunpowder. We didn’t have anything to charge our rifle cartridges with. The Americans really saved us with their gunpowder and explosives. And how much sheet steel they gave us! How could we have produced our tanks without American steel? But now they make it seem as if we had an abundance of all that. Without American trucks we wouldn’t have had anything to pull our artillery with.”»

          Churchill, 1944 (reported by V Bonham Carter):

          ~«When I was at Teheran I realized for the first time what a very small country this is.»

          Tony Benn, 1965:

          «Defence, colour television, Concorde, rocket development – these are all issues raising economic considerations that reveal this country’s basic inability to stay in the big league. We just can’t afford it.
          The real choice is — do we go in with Europe or do we become an American satellite? Without a conscious decision being taken the latter course is being followed everywhere.
          In reality the choice lies between Britain as an island and US protectorate, or Britain as a full member of the Six, followed by a wider European federation.»

          • lysias

            Why did Lord Lansdown go nowhere with his call for a compromise peace on the basis of the status quo ante, first within the Cabinet in late 1916, then publicly in late 1917? Wikipedia says the published Lansdowne Letter made him a pariah.

            A pariah made of Lord Lansdowne, a marquess, a former Governor General of Canada, Viceroy of India, war secretary, and foreign secretary, multimillionaire and big landowner, Tory leader in the House of Lords.

          • laguerre

            All of that was true a long time ago. It is not necessarily the choice today. The US today is more a competitor than an ally.

  • laguerre

    Defending the EU on this blog never goes down well. But here goes.

    The EU has a principle of non-involvement in the internal politics of member countries. It is hard to see how they could have done other than they did. Intervening in the domestic politics of Spain would have been quite wrong.

    It is the same with their attitude towards the independence of Scotland. They will do nothing to encourage Scottish independence. But if it occurs, yes they will welcome Scottish membership of the EU, fast-tracked by France, including Macron, because of the Auld Alliance.

    The idea that the EU is about to turn into a monolithic unitary state is quite false. There are some who support it, but others who don’t. In any case, getting 27 members to agree on such a major change is unlikely. The East Europeans are not about to give up their independence.

    The CU and Single Market have much benefited the European economy. It is difficult to see how that would work without a central control of standards. The non-EU members of the single market do so by conforming to the EU model, but Britain does not want to do that.

    • Count Jimmy Riddle

      laguerre – but we’re not talking about internal politics here, are we? We’re talking about basic human rights.

      It may well be in the EU’s interest to want to maintain a united and stable Spain and they may have very good reasons for this – but this has nothing at all to do with the case. The issue is the basic freedom of people to state a political opinion, engage in peaceful protest and not end up with a criminal record and serving a prison sentence as a result.

      If you want a united Spain, you argue for it – you don’t go incarcerating those advocating for the other side.

      We can also note that the EU have been completely silent about the attempts of James Wolff and the Scottish government to get Craig Murray banged up in jail for the crime of very good journalism and for giving accurate information about the Alex Salmond trial. Whether or not you like Alex Salmond, whether or not you want independence for Scotland has nothing to do with the case – we’re on a very dangerous path when the Crown Office can engage in such malicious prosecutions.

      The EU also seem to have kept absolutely quiet about Julian Assange. Perhaps it is none of their business, but I’d suggest that it should be.

      • laguerre

        So you want outside intervention in a country’s affairs, like Blair in Iraq. That last went well, didn’t it?

        • Count Jimmy Riddle

          laguerre – erm …. no, not at all. There is a huge difference between raising concerns about human rights violations (the malicious prosecution of Craig Murray is a clear case of human rights violation) and military intervention (which is what Blair did in Iraq).

          In Scotland’s case, the EU could quite easily state that an independent Scotland cannot join the EU until they get their judicial system sorted out in a way that the Crown Office does not violate basic human rights (which is what they are doing here).

    • Annie McStravick

      “Defending the EU on this blog never goes down well. But here goes.The EU has a principle of non-involvement in the internal politics of member countries.”

      So do you defend the EU when it adopts resolutions, as it does, interfering in the internal politics of faraway countries, for example, Venezuela?

      “yes they will welcome Scottish membership of the EU”.

      Admitting a new member state can happen only with a unanimous vote by the 27 member states. Spain, vehemently against separatism, would veto a Scottish application to join. France and Belgium have their own independence movements in Corsica and Wallonia and would probably veto it too.

    • Blissex

      «The idea that the EU is about to turn into a monolithic unitary state is quite false. There are some who support it, but others who don’t.»

      For a long time

      «In any case, getting 27 members to agree on such a major change is unlikely. The East Europeans are not about to give up their independence.»

      The countries in east Europe have replaced the UK as the USA moles in the EU. Either because they have even more subornable political classes, or because they have delusions of “sovereignty and independence” and reckon wrongly that being under USA “protection” is giving them more autonomy than under Germany or Russia “protection” because the USA is far away; it is a mistake based on legacy thinking because the USA can afford to much more easily project their power to far away places than previous imperial powers.

  • Squeeth

    Your vestigial idealism is still blinding you to the crypto-fascist nature of C20th-C21st liberalism. I told you so.

    • laguerre

      Liberals are fascists. Quite how does that work according to the commonly accepted definitions?

      • Squeeth

        The commonly accepted definitions accept rhetoric more than behaviour. “Liberal” states always have an exception clause which they mobilise when they are threatened by democracy. C19th Liberalism had three bastard children, Stalinism, fascism and bourgeois liberalism. Which political philosophy was dominant when the British state looked the other way as 800,000 Irish men, women and children died of famine? Which political philosophy was dominant when the British state emulated the nazis and legalised genocide?

  • Goose

    It was mentioned before, that the European parliament isn’t all that progressive. It’s largely stuffed with people who promote neoliberalism and US neocon-influenced, aggressive military posturing. It is also anti-democratic when it comes to denouncing member states’ internal independence struggles, as seen here.

    As to why the European Parliament is so unrepresentative? I think it’s because MEPs don’t have enough power to be really relevant to citizens, so European citizens don’t really know all that much about those they’re electing or take them seriously. They’re mainly failed domestic politicians from the big parties, having a ‘second bite at the cherry’ in Brussels and Strasbourg. The real power seems to be in the unelected Commission and Council (of ministers) and the Commission and Council Presidents.

    Not good at all, is it. And I say that as someone who is well disposed to the EU as a project bringing Europeans together.

    • laguerre

      Or perhaps it is that the EP members don’t want to go against the decisions of one of their member countries. That is what has happened. Should the EU intervene in the internal affairs of Spain? That would be a big leap in EU practice.

      • Goose

        There’s a pattern of voting that suggests the European Parliament is well to the right of European public opinion on lots of things.

          • Goose

            Being against those representing independence movements sends a message that they aren’t remotely progressive or in favour of democracy,… when it doesn’t suit the wider EU.

            This European Parliament often seems to be more in-tune with Washington’s thinking on most issues than that of European citizens. And the appointment of the German CDU’s Ursula von der Leyen as Commission President has just cemented this drift. The President of the ECJ was previously a prominent right-wing French politician,Christine Lagarde too.

            I suppose at least people can change the parliament come elections, though to what ends? The real frustration is with the permanent undemocratic bureaucracy: Commissioners and Commission President and them having the initiative to propose legislation, the European parliament’s role is effectively secondary, acting merely as a rubber stamp. This lacks democratic legitimacy and isn’t sustainable.

          • Goose

            Typo : ECB (European Central Bank) that should be, not ECJ – which is the EU’s top court.

  • Andrew Nichols

    Precedent in the Moreno Regimes stripping of asylum from Assange due to the huge Trump regime bribe

    • Goose

      There are options short of rejoining that Scotland should at least consider: EEA EFTA options.

      Tbh, if the EU continues as it is now I don’t think it’ll last: unelected (but powerful) Commissioners, two unelected (at least non-directly elected) Presidents – appointed Commission & Council President and powerless parliament that can’t even initiate legislation – basically a glorified, expensive talking shop. Though travelling on the ‘gravy train’ to and fro Brussels – Strasbourg must be nice for MEPs.

      • laguerre

        “Tbh, if the EU continues as it is now I don’t think it’ll last:”

        says a Brexiter.

        “unelected (but powerful) Commissioners”, means indirectly elected. Did Lord Frost get elected?

        “powerless parliament that can’t even initiate legislation – basically a glorified, expensive talking shop.”

        How is it that Craig is complaining about their decisions if they are powerless?

        • Goose

          They’re approved by the European parliament in a straight accept/reject vote. Hardly democratic, they’re foisted by powerful govts who lean on their own senior MEPs. AS Cameron showed in pulling his MEPs out of the conservative EPP grouping.

          Q. How is it that Craig is complaining about their decisions if they are powerless?

          Powerless to initiate their own legislation is what I mean, the final votes can be powerful… And consider what sort of people this ‘rubber stamp’ only parliament is attracting? Many Europeans know this of course, and use the elections as a protest vote against domestic parties.

      • laguerre

        TBH, as you say, there is not the slightest question of EU survival. The EU situation is far too interesting for anyone but UK to leave it. Of course there are French nationalist nutters, but they are few. Spanish trucks criss-cross the continent at the beginning of the year to bring fruit, who would want to stop it?

        • Goose

          The EU will probably survive, yes, though it needs to change. I’m not against the EU per se, just its current undemocratic configuration I don’t care for.

          I personally think the UK could end up being humiliated by Brexit. Rejecting an EFTA type relationship or EEA + customs union could come back to bite them in the arse. Pure hubris from the Tories. Although, if we do have to crawl back for a renegotiated ,new deal, you can wager this press will try to spin even that humiliation as some great victory for Johnson and co.

  • Wilfrid Whattam

    I was shocked by your diversion from EU enthusiasm by the issues of Catalonia (which I accept are real and serious). But, how you could have ignored the much more serious mauling of Greece is beyond comprehension. It merely highlights a deep parochialism, and obsession in contrast to genuine humanitarian concern. Mind you, that blindness was common to most, even supposedly Leftwing, Remainers.

      • Wikikettle

        We all have different ideas as to who was and is a “Great Briton”, a “Great American” etc.. it would be interesting to ask who was and is a ” Great European ” ? For me, I cannot see a United States of Europe ever being born. Its various peoples are more and more sidelined, disenfranchised and frustrated.

        • Stevie Boy

          Wasn’t there a second rate architect from Austria who could qualify for the greatest European ? Fourth Reich anyone …

    • Wikikettle

      charming. The answer is when USA decided to spend less and ordered the EU to spend more on weapons and military interventions on the pretext of fighting pirates and terrorists to control shipping and ex colonies in Africa.

  • UWS

    Not even Andrzej Duda? I take you missed last half year of constant women protests (and massive police brutality in response) in Poland after ridiculously stone age total abortion ban was passed? Going far beyond laws of Iran and Saudi Arabia in severity? PiS, member of which Duda is of, is also guilty of persecuting innocent doctor for nearly a decade (‘guilty’ of ‘crime’ of not resurrecting father of one of party bozos, Ziobro), of pushing Barbara Blida, a political opponent, to either suicide or fatal shooting by cop doing blatantly political arrest, of being directly guilty of murder of Paweł Adamowicz after unprecedented campaign of hate – last time I checked, Spain didn’t destroy lives of Catalan activists by trying to murder them one by one.

    I am in full support of Catalonia and/or Scotland gaining independence, but don’t use dishonest argument by whitewashing fundamentalist, fascist government denying nazi crimes and glorifying nazi collaborators, because it won’t do your cause any good when someone checks it. Especially seeing similar movement in Poland, that of Silesian independence/autonomy, was booted by PiS into the ground with brutality Spain never shown in last 20+ years, to the point I bet you never even heard of it.

  • Giyane

    One thing it isn’t is just the EU’s secret shame. It’s the intellectual laziness of human beings. Humans are motivated by greed, the free lunch of acquiring land and resources using advanced -stage flints, sticks and thongs. To acquire that land humans have to ” other ” the existing occupants. No empire is born without better weaponry and racism.

    After a great wringing of hands and shedding of crocodile tears, the Roman empire, in its Pilgrim Fathers form , has suddenly realised that black lives matter. in its British form, that Indian lives matter.. Russia has discovered that Syrian lives matter. Etc.

    But empire cannot fulfil its greed without racism, the zero-worthing of the ” other ” it wants to pinch land from. How do I know this? Primarily and painfully because I find myself in the cross-hairs of another Empire that wants to other me. The cross-hairs of the ‘re-incarnation of the Mughal empire that I encounter because I have reverted to Islam and chose to live among Indians.

    We all know that all human beings are equal, but that doesn’t satisfy our powerful desire for supremacy. It’s impossible to challenge Israeli racist apartheid without incurring the indignant rage of the most recent incarnation of the Zionist Empire. How dare you say that these disgusting ” others ” have rights, feelings humanity and souls???!!! You must be mad or dangerous or criminal or self-hating to date to suggest that the existing owners of the land we covet are anything other than nomadic savages!!!.

    British Empire 2 , which in reality is Roman Empire Mark umpteenth, cannot function without bothering Russia and China, two countries which are incorporated into the fabric of their domestic economies. I’m hope it’s clear I’m not taking a swipe at any particular empire, just taking a swipe at my own , and every other human being’s flawed nature of wanting to pinch my neighbours wife and property, and somehow circumvent the very clear rules sent by God to help us live in peace and tranquillity.

    The Saudi royalty are the custodians of the Qur’an and yet they want to obliterate their brothers and sisters in Yemen to get a pipeline into the Indian Ocean. Doesn’t mention the permissibility of that in their Qur’an.
    The Indian Muslims regularly announce from their pulpits that God wants to give them power in this country, in revenge for the British Raj. The Qur’an tells them to demonstrate in their daily lives the beauty of Islamic life. It says nothing about politics. It says nothing about the fact that the British Raj was only maintained by the treachery of Indian against Indian, by the politics of Divide and Rule.

    So, gie us a break about the terrible EU please. They are only doing what Humans do when they forget to follow the instruction manual for being a human being.

  • joel

    When you look at who the SNP leadership wanted as party president I would not be surprised if their intention is to join the eurozone. Its fiscal rules of permanent austerity would be a big leap toward realizing the dream laid out in Grasping the Thistle.

  • Mac

    If Craig is still reading the comments – what is going on with your court case? Have you been given any explanation for why this is taking so long? The case itself was heard in 90 minutes you said… so how does it take so long. How do you get seven weeks plus out of 90 minutes.

    • Count Jimmy Riddle

      My guess is that Lady Dorrian would like to write a four word judgement, `no case to answer’, but she understands that she’ll get her head in her hands to play with if she does this.

  • DunGroanin

    As a great sage and persecuted prophet once said about the EU – it’s 7/10 good.

    Of course it is not full of people of goodwill – for gawds sake , we sent The Fartage and the Frumpy Maiden Widdecombe to sit in that place and collect a lifetimes pension from the institution they went to bury – cackling all the time like some Punch characters.

    As McCartney suggested to Jude – make it better.

    There are arseholes born of aristocratic and other dynasties who have aimed to subvert the notion of the grand project of the EU and it’s previous iterations, to bend it to their will and break it otherwise.

    As you say – the MEP’s at least can be challenged at the next vote if there are any objectors to their ‘voting’ – and that depends on grassroots as anything else.

    Let’s see if it can be moved up a notch or 2 towards even better.

  • DunGroanin

    And here is the vaccine news I have been waiting for and date I presume so has the EU ( well the non-aligned with big Pharma part of it anyway)

    The Groans auto snideness against any Russia story (unless it’s to do with Russian toadies who are over here buying up everything with their loot) has to admit the Lancet study.

    ‘ deemed the vaccine to be safe and offers about 92% protection against Covid-19.’

    92 PERCENT! That is better than 9/10.

    Better than AZ? Better than most others? And better than the German born Pfizer, because it is stable and safe with trusted vectors , easier to make, transport and administer – and probably at a fraction of the cost.

    Yes, like I been saying for the year – I’ll have a vaccine when it is ubiquitous AND proved and will happily order my Russian/Chinese versions through AliBaba if Amazon gets tricksy, along with my EU vaccine passport – which will return some normality back to some of us who are used to being in a Europe free of nonsensical BrexShittery.

  • Will

    EU laws do not extend to internal member States internal political disputes, the EU never interfered when 34,000 British troops were engaged in war with NI and murdering Catholics , it was regarded by them as an internal matter,

    • nevermind

      Another very internal matter is that breaking the ministerial code seems to be becoming vogue, so fashionable that Johnson mophead does it now every week. I suppose if you are the only arbiter to your despicable lying and behaviour, you can get away with it.

  • Derek

    Catalonia is an integral part of Spain. The politicians inciting insurrection should be held responsible, Puigdemont among them.

    • Annie McStravick

      And Scotland is, at present, an integral part of the UK. Do you think that those promoting Scottish independence (or ‘inciting insurrection’, as you call it) should be prosecuted?

      • Loony

        Oh dear Annie. There is no comparison between Scotland and Catalonia.

        Scotland and England are separate countries who are (for the moment) united by the 1707 Act of Union. Catalonia is part of Spain. Catalonia is not a country. Culturally things are also different.

        For the most part English people are entirely indifferent with regard to Scottish politics. If Scotland wants to be independent then no-one in England much cares. Catalonia cannot become independent because it is part of Spain and Spanish people cannot and will not dissolve themselves.

        If you want to maximise the chances of the Spanish Cvil War 2.0 then carry on on with the manifestly false Scottish – Catalan analogies. In the unfortunate event that “Spanish bombs shatter the hotels” then I trust Scottish nationalists will step up and proudly proclaim that Scotland played its full part in fomenting an internecine conflict about which it knows and cares nothing.

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