GRASSROOTS Tory Party members in Wales say they feel betrayed and bruised by this week's events.
Members of the Conservative Associations, many of whom heavily backed Iain Duncan Smith, have been reacting in fury to the vote on Wednesday night.
Nick Hacket Pain, chairman of Monmouth Conservative Association, spent yesterday fielding calls from people who felt betrayed. "I have never seen such anger," he said. "I have got branches who are threatening to down tools over this and I think the politicians need to realise the levels of the fury."
Mr Hacket Pain questioned why the eight votes in Westminster should have more sway than the members who supported Mr Duncan Smith.
The formal announcement that Michael Howard is to stand for the leadership has been met with varied opinion.
Mr Hacket Pain said, "Another thing that is worrying people with Michael Howard putting his name into the ring as the unity candidate - what has he been up to to become that in the past six weeks?"
Now the President of the Conservative Board is proposing a postal ballot of members may go ahead, even if there is only one candidate, according to this report from Ananova Howard will still face party ballot.
It appears the cash strapped party will happily throw money away on such absurd exercises, which will convince nobody regarding their democratic or consultative credentials. It is as if having given up fighting the EU, which let us not be under any illusion is what this entire fiasco is all about, they are now determined to waste what funds they have so that they can be as ineffective as possible in the real battle now facing the nation!
Here is a report from Croydon of one Tory MP, Richard Ottaway, refusing to state how he voted in the Leadership ballot. A good rule of thumb would seem to be if they won't say then deselect. When twenty five are suitably replaced it will then be possible to seek appropriate revenge in Parliament!
The day before his departure we finally hear the truth from Wim:-
Duisenberg warns of 'disaster' for Europe ahead of stormy meeting
The full report can be read from this link to EUobserver:
Splits in the Council
In theory, breaking the Pact can lead to fines of billions of euro, but finance ministers are split on how France should be treated.
Germany, for example, which is also currently in breach of the euro rules, wants a soft approach to be taken. It is mindful that any action taken against France will probably be applied to its own situation in the near future.
According to the BBC's 'World at One' Programme the sell out by Howard on the EU takes the following form:-
Howard will not allow "his own Euroscepticism to lead him to be intolerant of the views of others."
Clarke stated that he believed that Howard will end the obsession with Europe. His advice is to get back to the centre ground.
Following the Clarke interview it was announced that John Redwood has also now ruled himself out. The Tories are now therefore finished as an anti-EU alternative for all British voters.
Sir Albert McQuarrie also on the programme added to his letter quoted below that some calling to account was required, preferably by a deselection of the 90 MPs who voted against IDS.
A Conservative Board spokesman was also trying to manufacture some form of pretence that in the event of no ballot the voluntary members would be given the chance to indicate their support. A completely ludicrous situation.
The BBC radio also reports that Ladbrokes was paying out on bets placed on Howard winning. A very unusual decision.
The following letter appeared in today's The Herald:-
155,000 grassroots members versus 90 MPs
THE rejection of Iain Duncan Smith by the 90 MPs should not be taken lightly by the 155,000 grassroots members of the Conservative Party who elected him leader after a straightforward campaign. Who do these 90 dissidents think they are? If the party rules allow a minuscule number of members who just happen to be MPs to override the wishes of the party members, then the rules must be changed at once. What is the point in one man one vote if any result, like this, can be disregarded?
Two decisions must be taken at once. The Conservative board should be forced to cancel the result of this confidence vote on the grounds that those who elected the leader were given no opportunity to decide whether he should remain or not. Secondly, every constituency association made aware that its member was a party to disgraceful betrayal should immediately deselect that member for the next general election. Disloyal MPs will at all costs try to suggest they voted for Iain Duncan Smith knowing that the secret of how they voted lies within the walls of Committee Room 14. If the Conservative board does not decide to meet as a matter of urgency to deal with this matter, there should be an uprising of local party members with a demand that if the no confidence vote is accepted, the rules should be changed to ensure that only the party members can vote for a new leader no matter who the MPs attempt to put forward. The dissidents have put a further nail in the coffin of this great party. There is no confidence in their ability to dictate to us who we should have as a leader.
With friends like these at Westminster, who needs enemies? Blair and Kennedy must be rubbing their hands in glee as any hope of a Conservative government in the future has been wiped out by this disgusting act by people who have the effrontery to call themselves Conservatives.
Sir Albert McQuarrie, Kintara House, Mintlaw, Aberdeenshire.
Kenneth Clarke, Michael Howard's last heavyweight rival for the Tory leadership, has ruled himself out of the race.
Mr Clarke spoke after meeting the leader-in-waiting to discuss the direction he intends to take the party.
The nation's interests have clearly been already sold down the river if this report is true and now we are facing a return to the days of eu-deceit and eu-treachery from these ex-Major ministers. I presume they can already taste the eu-ministerial lifestyle returning!
The question will now be one for the constituency members as their treacherous MPs return for the weekend. The full list of 90 Tory supporters of the clearly electorally doomed Michael Howard can be read from this BBC Link
As a party member put it on Radio 4 yesterday evening the first question he has after the week's events is: "What makes the MPs think that 8 of their number should have that much more say than 150,000 ordinary party members?"
Now the second and even more important question must surely be in what department does Michael Howard, who came bottom of the MPs' leadership poll shortly after leaving government, now seem so much preferable to his two immediate predecessors given the fact that his age is now an even greater disadvantage.
Has anyone in the Tory Party hierarchy who seem intent on rushing towards this disaster thought of getting YouGov or some other reputable polling organisation to do a snap poll of what the voters might be thinking? If they did, in my view, they would be in for one hell of a shock!
The vague amusement invoked by Hague and bemusement at IDS from my impression becomes one of almost actual dislike for Michael Howard. The BBC have already started replaying his Confernce Speech about "6 more prisons and promises of them not being Butlins" on the air....how much more of that do the Conservatives reallly want.
A question occurs from his launch speech "What is it that his government is going to 'trust patients' to do?"
Chirac's meetings with the political parties (other than Le Pen's) were apparently inconclusive on the EU Constitutional referendum question. The withdrawal of the UN from Iraq compounds the obvious absurdity of recent French Foreign policy which continued to stress the importance of that body in a rapid restoration of sovereignty only this week. The Government has already come under fire in Paris for its recent volte face of the legality of the Iraqi ruling council etc in the security council.
Foreign Minister de Villepin gave a typically slick and slippery performance on France 2 'Open Question' slot yesterday evening providing no clues as to a direction for French Foreign Policy other than over the Israel/Palestine problems. Cleverly communicated incoherence!
France and Germany have announced they will act in tandem over the matter of penalties for the excessive French deficits under the Growth and Stability pact, effectively informing their partners 'you will be shafted but what can you do about it'.
Meantime on Saturday another result of a Franco/German stitch-up takes place when Jean-Claude Trichet takes over from Wim Duisenberg at the ECB, years before schedule. The Frenchman who was heavily involved with the Credit Lyonnais scandal, and whose takeover was deferred pending the outcome of his trial, is 'expected to be a good communicator' according to a CNN report this morning. Like Dominique de Villepin I wonder?
Kenneth Clarke reserving his position regarding a possible run against Howard makes things more interesting. If Howard tempers his (already only 'supposed' in my view) euroscepticism to get Clarke not to stand, then a more red-blooded challenge from somebody such as John Redwood will be most definitely required. If Clarke does mount a challenge against Howard then the calculation becomes more difficult.
Hopefully as the days pass it will begin to sink in to the heads of the half-wits, who now appear to be running the Tory party, that both arguments they are putting forward in support of Michael Howard are fatally flawed. The first, that he is a better parliamentarian than IDS is practically meaningless as it counts for little in the country and in any event he is not better than William Hague, who excelled in that area, although it proved irrelevant. The second that he looks better than either of them is rubbish. He looks considerably older than either Hague or IDS and he comes across far worse. The Conservative Party is dicing with extermination before our eyes and I am amazed that more people do not seem to realise it. Howard could even lose his own seat in Folkestone if he gets enough extra TV exposure and the resulting ridicule all Tory Leaders (especially virtual OAPs) should now expect.
The Herald carries an encouraging item indicating that the best possible contender for the leadership is still giving the matter his careful consideration :-
Rumours abounded at Westminster that Theresa May, party chairman, and John Redwood, ex-Welsh secretary, were discreetly canvassing opinion on whether they should stand.
John Redwood must remember that only a handful of votes from MPs could still do the trick as long as there are sufficient to put him in second place and let the party members make a choice using their ordinary common sense, which seems to have gone AWOL from Westminster at present.
Plunging four places from 11th to 15th Britain now comes behind its EU competitors Germany in the tables of international competitiveness, marking yet another failure for the incompetent Blair administration. Further details can be read from this link.
Unbelievably it appears that the Tories are set to make their leadership favourite an individual who appears even worse on television than the previous three such office holders. Not only that he plans to lead 'from the centre' and stated that he was heading straight over to see Ken Clarke when his Press Conference in the old County Hall was finished. A fitting statement by this Majorly-Marred Candidate. Any chance of Heseltine making a come-back too?
While the Tory Party in London prepare to crown the still undeclared Michael Howard, evidence of the damage done to the party in the wider country begins to arrive in the form of local newspaper reports. This is Gloucestershire reports the general dismay felt by local MPs while the 'Halifax Courier has similar reactions in Yorkshire.
A general reaction amongst the Conservatives to shy away from more open controversy could leave them with the worst of all possible worlds. An irritated general membership whose own popularly elected candidate had been thrown out by the MPs with their untelegenic and Major-marred placeman failing to attract new voters.
Michael Howard as portrayed in the press this morning would be telegenically incapable of winning an election. I was recently at an anti-EU rally in Bath where John Redwood appeared fighting fit and ready to take the real battle forward.
All Eurorealists are urged to make John Redwood know of their strong support for his candidature.
Schroeder said Wednesday: "The demands of Slovakia are not so difficult that they put the Convention at risk", and stressed that Germany enjoyed "very friendly" relations with the former communist state.
But he stood firm on the thorny issue of whether favorable voting rights secured by Spain and Poland under a treaty signed in Nice in 2000 should be scaled back.
This always appeared likely to be the first item to be conceded. Interesting that Germany feels able to as good as announce the change unilaterally! Contrary to what the Chancellor impies above, in reality Nice is the backstop on everything.
In 2004, the budget for common EU foreign and security policy is only 52.6 million euro. A number of common operations are financed directly by the participating member states, of which Germany can be expected to contribute a considerable amount due to its size.
German foreign minister Joschka Fischer has said that a German contribution to the rebuilding of Iraq was not possible due to German budgetary problems.
Member states MUST remember that the EU is a corrupt and sick organisation existing solely to inflate the egos and pocketbooks of those who move within its ambit. To the extent that it gives the impression of being involved in administration or government then such areas become neglected. Member states falling for the illusion suffer the consequences, Britain with its fisheries, Germany and France their economies and Greece so incapacitated that it seems unlikely to be ready to host the Olympics. A fitting statement on today's European Union.
"The EU is impoverishing the Continent" would have been a fitting title for Solbes Autumn Economic Statement, (see following post).
Pedro Solbes Economics Commissioner, who should long since have resigned over the Eurostat scandal , painted a picture of almost unmitigated gloom for the EU economy in his Autumn statement. Predicting some countries still not meeting deficit targets even in 2006, no improvement in labour markets, gowth of half a per cent this year - 1.8 per cent next and only 2.2 the year after; this should be considered an official declaration that the Euro and the EU have failed.
Proving beyond any shadow of doubt their total subservience to the Blair Administration the House of Lords has issued a report contradicting the 24 other countries negotiating the EU Constitution. The report agrees with the LIES of Blair and Straw that the EU constitution is no threat, say peers as can be read from the link.
Startling proof of the fear that Blair has been able to instil in Britain's Upper Legislative Chamber by his brutal, arbitrary and far from democratic earlier reforms. Shame on their Lordships!
German Defence Minister Peter Struck Struck has now said for the first time that no separate headquarters is necessary and that a planning staff for eventual operations under solely European auspices should be attached to NATO.
This largely tracks with the position of Britain. Radically reversing field after months of objections, the Blair government was characterized in late September, after a British-German-French summit meeting in Berlin, as understanding the need for a European headquarters and ‘‘structured cooperation,’’ a phrase designating participation in a vanguard military group of EU countries.
But a high British official said two weeks ago that France (and Germany at the time) had given up only on Tervuren, not on the concept of an independent EU headquarters. Comparing French and German attitudes, he said the Germans were genuinely concerned about the future of NATO.
A British government official, asked on Sunday to address the similarity, replied only that Blair had made clear to his counterparts that Britain would veto any proposed aspect of the constitution’s wording that could appear anti-American.
But the headquarters issue was not the only American concern. A U.S. official said earlier that he well understood Britain’s interest in playing the leading role in European defense, an area where it could be pre-eminent. At the same time, he said, asserting leadership in structured cooperation, a spearhead defense group of limited membership, could deflect Britain’s engagement in NATO and take on a divisive life of its own.
Blair clearly continues to play personal poilitics with the nations defences. Disgraceful!
The required 25 letters have been received by Sir Michael Spicer and the Confidence Vote on the leadership of Iain Duncan Smith of the British Conservative Party will now proceed. He now needs to keep his nerve!
Shadow Defence Secretary Bernard Jenkin also warned a new EU constitution would drive a wedge between Britain and Nato and must be vetoed.
The article ends with this quotation, which is exactly the clear, unambiguous statement that has been need for over a month. Thank goodness it has at last appeared!:-
The EU constitution would pull Britain away from its North American allies and Nato, Mr Jenkin said.
He continued: “The Prime Minister has either unwittingly walked into a trap of his own making, or he is deliberately deceiving the British people about his real intention to divide the EU from Nato.
“The only way to protect Nato is to veto any such constitution and to insist that foreign, security and defence policy remain a matter of intergovernmental cooperation, not central co-ordination, completely separate from any institutions for the making or interpreting of laws
Ominously coverage of the debate elsewhere in the mainstream and English media is hard to find!
Two reports from EU Business the first row erupts report of the IGC, concerns parliamentary or finace ministers control of the budget. Other difficulties are those that existed from the opening day. The present meeting apparently ended what seems the regular statement of the Italian Foreign Minister:-
If there is no deal by December, "the Irish presidency will inherit a crisis and I doubt that kind of situation can be resolved", Frattini warned last week.
The second EUBusiness report appears to offer real chance of progress in a meeting to be held between Spain and Germany. These are the heavyweights on the question of voting percentages for the future all-important qualified majority votes under which the citizens of Europe are set to lose their remaining democratic freedoms and individual rights. Germany hopes to bludgeon Spain away from its favourable NiceTreaty position by use of the budgetary cudgel. The meeting is set for next week.
Another country that contributed a big fat zero to Iraq reconstruction at last weeks donor conference in Madrid, in addition to France which is mentioned in the post below for other reasons, was of course Germany. Their press finds the rocket attack on Paul Wolfowitz Ironic according to this press summary from State Broadcaster Deutsche Welle :-
It was not without a certain degree of irony, that of all people, Rumsfeld’s deputy Wolfowitz -- who wanted to use his Baghdad visit to stress the progress made in security Iraq -- had been the target of an attack, Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten wrote.
Am I alone in finding the attitude of our EU partners somewhat bizarre. Read the extraordinary French comments at the attack on the Red Crescent this morning. Colin Powell went out of his way today to stress that these two countries are still US allies....at this rate he is going to have to keep repeating it long and often!
The French have been given a one month extension to the deadline over the huge out of court settlement over the Execuitive Life scandal according to this Guardian Report.
Separately they made these statements regarding the most recent Baghdad bombings:-
France condemned the attacks and said a key to combatting such violence was to restore sovereignty to the country.
"In the face of such acts of violence, it is more urgent than ever to embark on a political process, based on the restoration of Iraqi sovereignty, mobilizing all energy toward the country's reconstruction," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Herve Ladsous.
He said France "condemns with the utmost firmness" the wave of car bombings across Baghdad on Monday and a rocket attack Sunday on a hotel full of U.S. occupation officials. Monday's attacks struck the international Red Cross office and four police stations.
We suggest those wishing to retain a Eurosceptic at the head of the Conservative Party should quickly and instantaneously show their support for IDS by signing the Petition for a Referendum on the EU Constitution at Conservative Central Office, where the numbers signing-up will be immediately seen.
Jacob Soderman the former EU Ombudsman, the only official of the giant bureaucracy charged with the citizen's interest, has declared that the new EU Constitution will fundamentally change the nature of the Union (Jack Straw please note).
Soderman writes in the newspaper Kaleva, that the constitution would turn the EU into a judicial authority. This would mean that it would have the power to create laws for the whole union, and these laws would take precedence over national and constitutional laws.
Monday's talks will notably cover who should chair EU ministerial meetings and the scope of qualified-majority voting, which the draft constitution would expand into several new areas that previously required unanimous decisions.
Those wishing to follow the negotiating detail and procedures can read the various National positions on a new facility offered by EUobserver from this link IGC Watch.
Many contentious issues come up from tomorrow and the negotiating looks as though it will finally begin in earnest. The article ends with the following note of hope:-
"If on the other hand certain countries take on the responsibility of vetoing an agreement, the Irish presidency will inherit a crisis and I doubt that kind of situation can be resolved," he warned.
Hi Pakistan has no difficulty in seeing the impossibility of Blairs position on EU Defence. In this item filed today from Brussels it points out:
Despite the reassuring words, however, European diplomats make clear that like the introduction of the euro, moves towards creating an autonomous EU defence cannot be stopped. Also, whether the US likes it or not, Britain, with its huge army and post-Iraq war hopes of joining the EU mainstream, will be pressed by its partners to become part of the European plans. As French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin put it, "there will be no Europe without European defence - and no European defence without Britain."
The article ends with this uncomfortable plain common sense for Blair:-
But Blair now finds himself in the unfortunate position of being publicly reprimanded by US officials for trying to draw closer to France and Germany. Seeking to calm tempers in Washington, Blair has vowed that he will never put Nato at risk. "Nato is the basis and the cornerstone of our defence," the British premier insisted at last week's EU summit.
Making no secret of the fact that he is torn between Washington and Europe, Blair forcefully underlined he was "a staunch ally and friend of the US" but also wanted to be "strong in Europe." There was nothing wrong with the EU developing its own military planning capacity for operations that Washington did not wish to undertake, Blair argued. But the EU must not set up separate military command structures.
France and Germany, however, are unlikely to take 'no' for an answer from London. And they - along with Belgium and Luxembourg - also have no intention of giving up on their own defence ambitions. Diplomats in Brussels argue that an EU anxious to play a global role must have a defence arm if it is to be taken seriously. And while that does not mean competing with Nato, it does mean acting independently of the alliance - both in Europe and abroad.
The people of Britain must make it clear to their Prime Minister that the French and Germans must be told NO. If Blair cannot see the Defence imperative, then either he or the nation is lost!
We are grateful for having been sent the following:-
14.2.84 page 1-309/80 Mr Faure (MEP) -----" Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, we are parliamentarians. The word 'parliament' comes from the verb parler, to speak, and we must speak frankly. We must call a spade a spade. We must not disguise resolute intentions and precise facts behind euphemisms or circumlocutions."
"The text on which we are going to vote today is not an act of thanksgiving as we approach the end of our term; it is not a votive offering that we are piously laying to rest in a crypt".
"The European Union means political union, and political union of course means a federal structure, in other words the United States of Europe. Like the United States of America? Just so."
Although it is a timid document it is the birth certificate of the United States of Europe that we can and must authenticate today with our vetoes. Since I have only a few minutes at my disposal', I shall give just two demonstrations or, if you prefer, two illustrations." "The first is concerned with currency. If economic Europe is to subsist, there must be a common European currency, in the full sense of the term. We have seen enough of the mishaps of monetary comensatory amounts to appreciate that. Only if it has a European currency, with no national fluctuations, will economic Europe be able not only to subsist but to succeed. For fifteen years, economic Europe has dealt with the problems that have presented themselves to it. Others have arisen. Michel Albert and Albert Ball have demonstrated in a splendid report how much non- Europe has to answer for. The Community is slipping into backwardness and balkanisation. Only unified effort, based on the federal structure, with its monetary symbol, will enable us to recapture the position we occupied for so long and still deserve to occupy in technological progress and its concomitant economic development and in the social progress and improvements which depend on these two factors."
"As the currency is the essential fuel of the economy, so a nuclear strike force is the supreme guarantee of security. A proper European defence entity should have a single decision-maker for this ultimate weapon, in other words a President of the United States of Europe. It is unthinkable that control over nuclear weapons should be shared among twelve countries and entrusted to twelve key-holders. It is no less unthinkable that the countries which are most advanced in these technologies, of which my own country is one, should jealously guard a monopoly of them, thereby arrogating to themselves a suzerainty totally out of keeping with the spirit of a community of free and fraternal peoples: fratres consanguinei,” etc, etc.
Page 1-309/88 Mr Estgen ----- " There is another consideration which should not be overlooked. Until such time as we have created the United States of Europe, it will be impossible not to take account, in one way or another, of certain needs, certain national imperatives". etc -----
"Europe's future is now at the crossroads both in the national parliaments and in this Chamber. Let us therefore have the humility and frankness to recognise this, and let us show our colleagues in the national parliaments that we are worthy of the title that the President of the Commission, Gaston Thorn, conferred on us one day in this Chamber, when he called us the 'true missionaries of Europe'. Let us therefore go out and preach our faith and convince those not yet converted of the need for a united Europe".
"I am firmly convinced that, with today's vote, this Parliament will have borne Witness, before the electorate and for prosperity, that it is not content to take us in a parody of European democracy but is genuinely determined to create a new consciousness of the political necessity of a united Europe".
"The challenge is enormous. We must show that we measure up to it. The first step is being taken today but in this case, contrary to received wisdom, it is not so much the first step that is difficult as the second, and we are determined to move on to that next stage"
According to this from EUPolitix the Crisis Continues NATO’s secretary general will travel to Warsaw on Monday to garner Polish support following recent heated exchanges over the future of EU defence policy.
With US concerns that plans to establish a separate EU military HQ will undermine NATO, Lord Robertson will be currying favour with Poland, known for its strong Atlanticist tendencies.
"US Justice 'For Sale' says French Finance Minister"
The following is the latest strange twist in the Executive Life scandal where the French State faces criminal charges if the final deadline for an out of court settlement is allowed to slip by on Monday.
As we reported earlier and again from this in Expatica.com the French Finance Minister, Francis Mer, is planning to meet US Treasury Secretary John Snow in a side meeting in Mexico on Sunday. It says:-
If a new settlement is not reached by Monday, the French state and Credit Lyonnais could face US criminal charges. In addition Credit Lyonnais - which is now a unit of Credit Agricole - could lose its US banking licence.
"In the United States we have the impression the only result that matters is money," Mer was quoted Thursday in International Herald Tribune as telling a conference Wednesday of Anglo-American journalists here.
"After all, with money you can buy everything, including an innocent or guilty" verdict, he was reported as adding.
Calling into doubt the impartiality of the US Justice system seems hardly the best way to go about reaching a negotiated settlement.
Jean-Claude Trichet, next ECB President, who was inimately involved with the running of Credit Lyonnais during the period when the Executive Life scandal took place had his replacement at the Bank of France announced on Tuesday of this week as reported in another Channel News Asia report. Christian Noyer, new governor of the Bank of France has recently worked under Finance Minister Francis Mer on a special mission concerning state-supervised savings.
We rarely print entire articles, but this from yesterday's EUobserver, following on from the 'Telegraph' article linked earlier, is a necessary exception:-
We will oppose any defence plans threatening the supremacy of NATO, Prime Minister Tony Blair told journalists in London.
Germany is pushing for the creation of a fully-fledged Euro-army, according to plans obtained by the Conservative Party in Britain, writes the Telegraph. This revelation is likely to send ripples of concern through Britain, one of the more sceptical member states - over close military co-operation in Europe.
The memorandum, written by senior Germany army officials on the future of European defence, allegedly suggests that a European army should have joint structures that go beyond the ones already in place.
The document adds, "The army would report to the EU government and to the EU Parliament. Through a deployment law Parliament should decide if deploying troops is an option or not."
There are also suggestions that the EU's nuclear capabilities should also be "integrated within the European defence system". At present, Britain and France are the only EU countries with a nuclear deterrent. (Emphasis added - ed.).
The memorandum acknowledges the need to define the future relationship with NATO, saying that "a decision should be made about possible collaborations of the EU army with the UN, the Security Council or with NATO itself".
The Tories have wasted no time in using the document for political gain, saying that it conclusively shows the deceit of the current Labour government, who have for a long time insisted that there are no plans to create an EU military army.
At his monthly press conference on October 24, the Prime Minister continued to insist that his government would not support plans for an independent European defence headquarters and would oppose any defence plans threatening the supremacy of NATO. "We don't want duplication and we certainly don't want competition with NATO," he said.
The plans also have the backing of France and Belgium, according to the Telegraph.
To quote directly from the Daily Telegraph on the nuclear issue, the paper stated:-
Addressing the sensitive issue of nuclear capabilities, it says these should also be "integrated within the European defence system". Britain and France are the only EU countries with a nuclear deterrent.
In connection with this extremely important matter now hitting the headlines of the mainstream media, we reproduce this article from 'Free Nations'.
Report by the German Journalists of www.german-foreign-policy.com
Date of original report 28 July 2003
Translated by Edward Spalton 2 August 2003 for www.freenations.freeuk.com
POTSDAM near Berlin may well become headquarters for worldwide military
operations under EU leadership within the facility of the German
"Operational Leadership Command" . This location is a symbol of Prussian
militarism and of Germany's climb to the status of a Great European Power.
The "Operational Leadership Command" has been established in Potsdam-Geltow
near Berlin since July 2001. It plans and controls operations of all German
fighting forces, whether national or international, and so corresponds to
the earlier German "General Staff"(*1). Amongst other things it houses the
German-Dutch Operations and Coordination Centre for the International
Protection Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.
According to the wish of the German military, the Headquarters of the future
EU Rapid Reaction Force would be in the old buildings of the Operational
Leadership Command and the Bundeswehr would have a more modern operational
centre. There are current EU operations in Macedonia and the Congo. Next
year the EU will take over in Bosnia Herzogovina and military operations in
Moldova are presently under consideration.
The likely site of the future EU military Headquarters is a symbol of
Prussian and German militarism. After the "Wars of Liberation"(*2) at the
beginning of the 19th century and the "Reich Unification War" of 1870/71
(*3), the Potsdam garrison church received the dedicated war trophies of the
Prussian army (amongst them some 200 French, Danish and Austrian standards
and regimental colours(*4)) and so was developed into a sort of "Valhalla"
of the Prussian-German ascent to world power status. In 1914 the garrison
church became the symbolic point of farewell for the departing troops.
Because of the Prussian myth of Potsdam it was chosen as the place for the
founding of the Third Reich. The Nazis used the "spirit of Potsdam" to place
their movement within the Prussian tradition and those of middle class
(*1) After the First World War, Germany was forbidden to have the "Great
General Staff" which had been so potent in aggressive militarism. Its
functions were disguised under the name "Truppenamt" - literally "Troops'
Office". The new title appears to be in this tradition.
(*2) Against the French under Napoleon Bonaparte.
(*3) Known outside Germany as the Franco-Prussian War
(*4) Whilst old regimental colours are often laid up in British churches,
they are not places for the display of captured enemy colours.
This shows the difference in tradition.
(On www.german-foreign-policy.com in German)
Erstmals nach 1945: Deutscher Generalstab in Aktion (First time since 1945:
German General Staff in Action)*
EU Stratgie "Preventivkriege" weltweit (EU Strategy "Preventive Wars"
Testlauf fuer europaeische Militaermacht (Test run for EU Military Power)*
Bundeswehr: Beteiligung am Kongo-Einsatz (Bundeswehr participation in Congo
Berlin uebernimmt taktische Fuehrung der Afghanistan- Schutztruppe (berlin
takes over tactical command of Afghanistan Protection Force)*
Deutscher Diplomat fordert Ausweitung des Mandats (German diplomat demands
widening of mandate)*
Denkmal fuer Preussiche Militaers;" Die Baende des Vorurtiels loesen "
(Memorial for Prussian Military: dissolving the bands of prejudice)*
GELTOW UNDER CONSIDERATION AS EU HEADQUARTERS; Maerkische Allgemeine
Recent reports from the EU have suggested that the proposed headquarters might be in Holland or France. For the moment, following last Monday's emergency Nato meeting, the four European Countries pushing hardest for an EU army (supported by Blair!) have publicly stopped talking about a Command Centre.
The Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Quentin Davies, this evening on BBC Radio Four 'Any Questions', directly accused the Prime Minister of lying to the House of Commons last Wednesday when he stated that he had received a prior briefing from Disarmament chief for Northern Ireland, retired Canadian General John de Chastelain, regarding the IRA disarmament exercise. He stated that he had checked Hansard and de Chastelain's statements and the evidence was clear.
Today Blair repeated his view that the Northern Ireland public would be impressed by the latest IRA move if they could be told the volume and type of weaponry offered - information that the British leader suggests de Chastelain told him in private.
Here is a picture of the sun taken a very short while ago by satellite and downloaded onto my blog just now. It shows the huge solar storm that is causing the precautionary shut-down of other such satellites.
I might not be able to fly supersonic across the Atlantic any more, but on the other hand, I never would have dreamt I might one day be able to do this!
Jürgen Michels, an economist at Citigroup, said he was expecting a deficit of more than 4 per cent of GDP next year, partly due to the planned tax cuts, followed by a renewed breach of the pact in 2005
As suggested previously, the only way France, Germany and Italy are going to be able to avoid the Maastricht penalties in the end is for Maastricht to be scrapped. Which is exactly what the EU Constitution is being so indecently pushed to do. Wake-up the other 22!
The Italian General Strike that was reported to be 95 per cent effective in the transport sector by AGI in Rome highlights another huge hole in the Eurozones economic calculations. This report from EU business concentrates on the Italian situation which is replicated in other large European basket economies. Italian strike highlights pensions 'time-bomb' facing EU
'The finances of the 12-nation euro zone are already under strain as countries such as France and Germany breach a ceiling on public deficits.
Pedro Solbes, the commissioner for economic and monetary affairs, has repeatedly warned France as well as Italy that they must remedy their finances, not least to get them in shape for a bulging pensions bill.'
For those who have not been following our coverage of this growing but dated scandal, the following link provides a brief, somewhat dated overview in English France denies US extraditions over Executive Life. The Economist also has an article this week titled 'French Follies'.
Meantime from Le Figaro we learn that a frantic weekend of discussions is scheduled as Monday's Californian deadline approaches. A phone call from Chirac to Bush has apparently not been ruled out a true guage of the gravity of the situation. Francis Mer the French Finance meinister is hoping to buttonhole Treasury Secretary John Snow when both are expected to be in Mexico on Sunday afternoon and Dominque Perben is expected to raise the matter with his oppo John Ashcroft on Tuesday, but by then the wheels of justice will once again be grinding in California.
Regular updates will continue to be given on this blog!
Also in the French Paper a rather gloating item on Germany's spending deficit now being expected to reach 44 billion rather than the19 billion level originally forecasrt for this year. Also not allowed to pass without somewhat sarcastic mention is the fact that for the third year running Germany will breach the Maastricht limits...best seen in its original:-
Ce que tout le monde savait depuis des mois est devenu, hier, officiel : Hans Eichel a admis que l'Allemagne sera en 2004, et ce pour la troisième année consécutive, en violation du pacte de stabilité européen. Berlin affichera en effet un déficit budgétaire «supérieur à 4%» du PIB, contre un maximum de 3% autorisé par le traité de Maastricht.
Most European and US media seem to have avoided this headline, but fact it is, as it was also announced on CNBC yesterday. This report that Germany the EU's largest economy will remain in recession for the remainder of this year and only struggle to grow at a very lowly rate next, bears out all we have been saying on the economic ravages now being wreaked on the people of Europe by the Euro. Italy's General Strike today seems worthe mentioning here in passing, as is my experience of personal calls to France finding economic morale very low!
MENAFN - 24/10/2003 The German government has cut its economic growth to zero this year and expects the German economy to grow by 1.5-2.0-percent next year.
The six leading economic research institutes in Germany predicted that the German deficit ratio would surge to as much as 4.0 percent this year and fall only slightly to 3.5 percent in 2004.
Under the terms of the European Stability and Growth Pact, euro-zone countries are not allowed to run up deficits in excess of 3.0 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).
However, Germany and France were in breach of that limit last year and expect to remain so again this year.
The German military high command wants to create a fully fledged European army that would report to a European Union government and be financed by the European Parliament, documents obtained by the Tories show.
They claimed last night that a memorandum written by senior Germany army officials on the future of European defence proved that Tony Blair was deceiving the British people by claiming there were no plans to create a unified EU military force.
If its predictive comment on the EU you seek, you now know where to look!
"France is perfectly aware that the IGC is a place for discussion, it's an open discussion, ... and that a compromise is necessary in the form of consensus," Noelle Lenoir French Minister for European Affairs is reported to have said following a meeting with her Finnish counterpart, according to this report in EU Business France and Finland
This is of course a major advance, recalling that France, Germany and Italy (Blair as usual in tow) started the IGC procedures trying to insist changes would not be acceptable! Look at this summary from the Finns:-
"We have some points were we differ, but we are united in our common understanding that we need to find compromises, but things need still to be discussed," Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja said a joint press conference with Lenoir.
Among the contentious items named are defence and the number of Commissioners, but the countries report they are agreed on about 90 per cent of matters. So that's all right then!
After fumbling his way through his interview with John Humphries on the Today programme this morning over the (still non-) referendum on the EU Constitution, the Foreign Secreatry tonight heads for Chester where he reportedly plans to drum up some pro-European fervour.
The BBC also reports on the proposed talk, but with an even tougher headline Straw defends EU direction. Now that would be an interesting achievement. How could anybody defend such a dreadful and abominable institution which has never done the slightest bit of good for anybody anywhere, but sucks up and squanders at a rate now exceeding a billion euros a year.
This item reported in EU Business this afternoon quotes Blair as follows:-
"We don't want duplication but we don't competition," Blair said, adding that Europe had no intention of developing a European force in competition with NATO. "We will never do that," he said.
But he added: "It's important to carry on with European defence. I'm not giving up the ability of Europe to have a proper defence capability in circumstances when NATO or America wish not to be engaged."
The item below from an official IGC document illustrates the extremely dangerous line Blair is treading in his determination to sell out his country, its people and now its staunchest and only dependable allied defence arrangement apparantly in the sole reckless pursuit of his burning European ambitions. If these risks were being taken with the advice of other ministers in proper formal treaty negotiations with the outcome being put to the entire voting population in a referendum, that would be one thing; but of course they are not. The defence row was started remember, as a result of a 'luncheon promise' Blair made on his own to Chirac and Schroeder. The advantage of that arrangement of course now being that with Blair looking dodgy healthwise, in addition to that caused by his standard lack of moral compass, one more nasty shock or bit of stress and whatever private promises he once made will be of no more relevance!
Quote from Conference of the representatives of the Governments of the Member States "Brussels, 2 October 2003, CIG 2/03
SubjectIGC 2003 - The Union Minister for Foreign Affairs: main points
From Page 2
The role of the Minister: Common Foreign and Security Policy (including CSDP) 8 On CFSP.....
9. The provisions of CFSP, stating that the Minister is not bound by Commission procedures, apply a fortori to the Common Security and Defence policy (which is considered to be an integral part of the CFSP).
There you have it as clear as day: EU Defence is planned to be an integral part of the Common Foreign and Security policy (intended to be) administered by the Foreign Minister
Another treat found when reviewing the IGC papers to date was this from 10th October, a new paragraph for inclusion in the Preamble :
"Determined to continue in a new Union the process of European integration begun by the Treaties establishing the European Communities and the Treaty on European Union, by ensuring the continuity of the Community acquis."
Just when I had believed the Convention had at least rid Europe of the dreadful never-ending commitment to 'ever close union' they come up with this.....surely a very.very, sick no disgustingly retchingly evil joke.
The acquis of course is the golden unwritten rule of the EU, or it was until now, that any power or authority once gained shall never, ever, EVER be given back to the nations from which it came. Hence my hope this amendment is a lawyer's joke that entered the public domain as some kind of dreadful mistake. (It will be useful in the referendum Tony is eventually going to have to give us though!)
The attitude of France and Germany, who are only planning low level representation in Madrid today, is again beginning to appear petty and petulant; especially after the unanimous vote in the UN Security Council last week. USS Clueless has a blog on 'real friends' today, something that Tony Blair in particular should ponder upon as he watches the present performance of his recent luncheon hosts in Berlin of four weeks ago next saturday. With friends like those who needs........?
Following a live television interview on CNN International at 3:30 pm CET this afternoon, Chris Patten the EU's external Relations Commissioner can also be included in the list of those now looking foolish and less than competent, let alone generous in his case, over the monies for the re-building of Iraq. To boast that Europe was good at delivering clean water was crass in any circumstance but considered against the plight of many Iraqies and the 200 million total EU contibution to date it went beyond even that.
It is always somwhat sickening to see overwieght and self-important people, when speaking of large aid budgets, constantly using the personal pronoun when discusing the amounts and destinations of the funds disbursed. I counted several in one sentence from Patten, who similultaneously managed to give the impression that he had been forced to rush through lunch in order to make the interview and was consequently suffering some ill side-effects as a result.
Reproduced is a letter from the 22nd October Yorkshire Post:-
> From: Mike Hughes, Mill Dam, Clifford, Wetherby.
Further to the letters from Nick Martinek (October 20) and David Bowes MEP (September 25), I wonder how the Prime Minister can sign up to the EU constitution without a referendum when the constitution clearly provides that: "Before the date of entry into force of the treaty on the constitution, each member shall make a solemn declaration confirming the resolve of its people to continue to belong to the European Union."
"If any member state cannot provide that assurance that state shall leave the Union, "with the option of continuing to to be a contracting party to the agreement on the European Economic Area".
The very fact that the EU constitution allows EU law to have primacy over the laws of this ountry is a momentous decision which in the name of democracy calls for a referendum to be held.
"Is the U.S. winning or losing the global war on terrorism?" Rumsfeld asked his deputies in the first sentence of the memo.
"Is our current situation such that 'the harder we work, the behinder we get?'
More gravely he also asks and explains in a subsequent press conference:-
"How many young people are being taught to go out as suicide bombers and to kill people, that's the question," Rumsfeld told reporters. "How many are there, and how does that inflow of terrorists in the world get reduced so that the number of people getting captured or killed is greater than the ones being produced? There isn't anyone who knows a metric to that ... but elevating that issue I think forces people to think about it in the broadest possible context, which is why I did so."
According to this report in the Daily Telegraph Umberto Bossi leader of Italy's Northern League and according to the paper 'reform' minister in the Berlusconi Government doesn't mince words over the EU:-
He described the elite as "filthy pigs" who wanted to "make paedophilia as easy as possible".
Mr Bossi, leader of the Northern League, said Brussels was "transforming vices into virtues" and "advancing the cause of atheism every day". He denounced the European arrest warrant as a step towards "dictatorship, deportation, and terror, instilling fear in the people, a crime in itself". It would lead to a Stalinist regime "multiplied by 25".......He added that the euro was a "total flop", its inflationary effects costing ordinary people "a fortune" in lost purchasing power.
The Tories have launched their National Petition calling for a Referendum on the EU Constitution. Clicking this link and typing your name and address will take but a moment and you will have done something to save Democracy for today!
According to Le Figaro the Californian justices have now given France until next Monday to reach a new settlement in the above case. See Link in French. Co-incidentally this was also the day on which Jean-Claude Trichet's (who had some responsibilities for Credit Lyonnais at the time of the problems) successor at the Bank of France (from the ECB) was also announced.
The problem — which the EUnuchs are incapable of addressing — is that when you combine many weak militaries the same result obtains as when you combine weak economies without addressing the basic problems.
EU DEFENCE: MARTINO, CONCRETE FINANCING NEEDED
(AGI) - Rome, Italy, Oct. 21 - In 2010, the European defence forces will be functional, but it will not be an alternative to NATO. It will be complementary to the Alliance. The umbrella under which a given military force can be chosen each time, both for EU and for NATO. The force will not have an operational command but can count on five already existing commands. In order to start working fully, however, concrete financing is needed and because of this Defence Minister Antonio Martino is thinking of launching an appeal to EU governments to that they will guarantee the funds for the new commitment. Italy, in fact, gives 218 per capita for defence, compared to 430 in France and 640 euro in Great Britain. And even this year the budget diminished the share for the armed forces. "Often, we forget the advantages of being all together: if Italy was not part of NATO, it would have to use 2.5 pct of its GDP for military spending.
And since post-WWII until now, we have saved a lot of money, which we have been able to use for health and social spending," said Martino to journalists. (AGI)
The NATO chief further upbraided so-called “Old Europe”, reminding European capitals recently gripped by anti-war protests why new EU member states from Eastern Europe maintain a strong Atlanticist outlook.
“You do not often hear the chant ‘Yanks go home’ from the peoples in Central and Eastern Europe who owe today’s freedom to the United States’ long-standing commitment to a Europe whole and free,” he said.
Threatening Poland and Spain with financial penalties in the next budgetary round is the latest German bullying to endeavour to get the totalitarian and autocratic EU Constitution approved in its present form. Read the report in EUobserver from this link:Schr?der threatens to block future EU financing. Amongst much else it says:-
For the two countries providing the most difficulties in the negotiations on the new Constitution - Poland and Spain - the battle over future financing of the Union is of particular interest.
There are some invaluable links provided from this article on the topic of EU Financing from which we have taken this pie chart:-
The above is the headline from a Guardian article of today which quotes from various other journals, all on the subject of the grave danger Blair is now bringing to the bedrock institution of European Security:-
Daily Mail Editorial, October 21
"When Britain suddenly caved in last month to Franco-German demands for a European army under EU command ... [Tony Blair] wanted to show he was a good European. He wanted to persuade France and Germany to offer more help over Iraq. He wanted concessions on the EU constitution. So now we have the worst of all worlds. The Americans are incensed. The [Nato] alliance is in danger of unravelling. And for what? Despite their pretensions, the EU nations spend pitifully little on defence. Their 'army' essentially exists only on paper. Their ability to protect Europe is slight. Their reliability in times of crisis is non-existent."
Wall Street Journal Editorial, October 20
"Nobody should have any doubts that [the] plan to set up an independent European defence organisation... aims to effect a transatlantic break-up...
Gavin Esler Scotsman, October 21
"Nato, [the US] insists publicly, is vital to the defence of our common values and a powerful shared forum between transatlantic nations. Anything that puts this relationship in jeopardy is dangerous
Francesco Venturini Corriere della Sera, Italy, October 18
"It is all very well to speak of a Maastricht treaty for defence, and its attendant minimal criteria, but the fact that at the same time Germany and Italy are cutting back on defence spending escapes no one.
John O'Sullivan Chicago Sun-Times, October 21
"Mr Blair wanted to demonstrate his 'commitment' to European unity at a time when he was unwilling to risk the politically unpopular step of taking Britain into the euro... That now looks like a colossal misjudgment... Mr Blair... blathers on about not being forced to choose between Europe and America even as he does exactly that by default - and, what is more, chooses Europe."
Times Editorial, October 21
"Mr Blair can afford no more ambiguity. This is an issue that could be more damaging by far than Nato's 'near-death experience' on Iraq - all for the sake of a 'European army' that is incapable of deploying more than 3% of its forces."
We have yet to find evidence that the trailered Nato press conference actually took place. Nor have we found reports as to why it may not have done. We continue to search for news on this crucial transatlantic rift!
EU Business reports that there was to be a press conference after the Tuesday evening meeting, the details of which are in this subsequent report NATO chief swipes at "gang of four" over defence row which dispels the spin of harmony and light being pushed out by Jamie Shea yesterday morning. Lord Robertson the Nato chief said:-
Referring to a landmark NATO-EU accord giving the EU access to Alliance resources, he said it allowed "countries like Belgium (to) invest in the usable capabilities we desperately need for multinational operations of all kinds .. rather than wasting money on duplicating in the EU expensive assets and headquarters which already exist in NATO," according to a text of the speech distributed to reporters in advance.
The report adds this item towards the end:-
To make matters worse for Washington, Britain has been sending out confusing signals over its stance on the plans, fueling US concerns that London is softening its opposition.
To expand on that side of things the statement from 10 Downing Street can be read from this link:-
Straw's Statement from which this is summary of the Governments non-position on the defence of the Nation its most important responsibility:-
The Government believes in a strong Europe and a strong NATO. Our leading role in European Security and Defence Policy has been based on these twin commitments. They are widely shared across the enlarging European Union and the Atlantic Alliance. They will be at the heart of the development of European Security and Defence Policy in the Inter Governmental Conference and beyond.
This is a nonsense the EU is not strong nor will ite ever be so. With a populace and politicians wedded to collectivism and state provision of everything, there will never be the funds for adequate defence!
Germany, France and Britain now 'The EU' from Deutsche Welle
The German State Broadcaster has the following headlines in its report from Iran:-
"Iran Agrees to Inspections after EU Talks
The foreign ministers of Europe's big three -- Great Britain, France and Germany -- breathed a sigh of relief when Iranian officials agreed to nuclear inspections after a tense day of talks."
I trust all the smaller European Nations are happy about being so discounted. Britain will shortly have to get used to again being disregarded as well, once the other two have duped Blair into ditching Nato and all our other arrangements that have served to protect us so well and for so long from Continental interference.
During the first phase from June 1 next year, each country will be able to choose whether to include photographs, fingerprints and biometric data, such as eye measurements, on the "national" side of the card. Britain is opting for a minimalist version.
Nationalised health provision is the excuse being used for this worst ever encroachment of the EU conglomerstate into every aspect of the private lives of those caught up in its ever expanding zone of control.
The final version will be introduced by 2008 and according to the demented individuals plotting this:-
The European Commission said yesterday that the final phase in 2008 would add a "smart chip" containing a range of data, including health files and records of treatment received. "The ultimate objective is to have an electronic chip on the card, as the technology improves," said a spokesman.
Radio Free Europe provides a reasonable summary of the present state of play, of which the following seem the salient points:-
NATO officials yesterday sought to downplay media reports ......
....there have been no reports to suggest that either France or Germany are ready to give up their plans for autonomous EU operational planning facilities. Neither has Britain conclusively ruled out its participation in any EU defense cooperation, beyond saying it must not threaten NATO's role as the preeminent security guarantor in Europe.
More can be expected from the meeting between the U.S. secretary of state, Colin Powell, and his EU counterparts in Brussels on 18 November
France gets another year. Euro looks increasingly Mickey Mouse!
From ForbesBRUSSELS, Oct 21 (Reuters) - The European Commission on Tuesday told France to cut its structural deficit next year by more than planned but gave it an extra year, until 2005, to comply with EU budget rules.EUpolitix carries a similar piece
What is the point of comment? We leave it to OUR title!
A relevant quote taken from the body of the paper (and referring to the Iraq situation), given here to provide a flavour:
Now that the smoke has cleared, we can see that the U.S. acted rightly to secure its interests in the region and that those interests really are different from the interests of France and Germany. The alliance that held our four countries together was an alliance forged by a common threat--which was the military might and ideological frenzy of the Soviet Union. That threat has gone and, unsurprisingly, the alliance has begun to fall apart. The ambition of France and Germany to build a European military force and a common foreign policy will hasten its disintegration, and within a few years NATO will have ceased to exist as an effective voice in the world.
Also worthy of quoting for those too pressed to use the link, but perhaps tempt their return, are the final two paragraphs:-
A strong case could therefore be made for its (UN -ed) abolition. Multilateral treaties agreed between individual states, securing areas of the globe against war, and guaranteeing mutual aid in times of crisis might be far more effective at doing the work for which the U.N. was designed.
It is certainly true that nothing has more effectively kept the peace in Europe than NATO; and even if NATO is now destined for destruction, it is probably a healthier state of affairs when alliances and treaties can both live and die in response to the shifting interests of the nations than when a treaty is immortalized and inoculated against change, like the Charter and Conventions of the U.N.
The paper is a worthy counter to the nonsense (including the unattainable concept of world democracy) put forward by the French Foreign Minister Mr de Villepin in his Dimblelby Lecture of last Sunday, the link for which can be found below.
.... also found "systematic and flagrant incompetence within the committee" and evidence a private company had received contracts from through manipulated bidding procedures.
Chris Heaton-Harris, a British Conservative member of the European parliament (MEP), who has read the report, yesterday cited a passage from the document accusing the body of an "endemic culture of unprofessionalism and improvisation" where opacity was preferred to openness.
Profound Implications of EU Constitution from The Independent
Peers warn of 'profound effects' of EU constitution
By Marie Woolf, Chief Political Correspondent
21 October 2003
A European constitutional treaty would have profound implications for the UK and "raise issues of principal" for Britain's constitution, a Lords report concluded yesterday.
The report identified 15 areas where the draft EU treaty would pose "constitutional concerns for the UK", including the future sovereignty of Parliament.
The select committee report said there would be an impact on Britain's criminal justice system because the treaty would increase the EU's powers "in the criminal law field", with a European public prosecutor. Foreign policy could also be affected by the creation of an EU foreign minister.
The findings of the House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution will be seized on by Eurosceptics and those calling for a referendum on the treaty. Yesterday Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, faced renewed calls in the House of Commons for a referendum from both the Tories and Liberal Democrats. But Mr Straw, who attended last week's EU summit with the Prime Minister where the draft EU constitution was discussed, defended his decision not to put the issue to the public.
Menzies Campbell, the Lib Dem foreign affairs spokesman, said: "This report simply confirms the view which the Liberal Democrats have formed that, in spite of what the Government says, there are constitutional issues at stake in the proposed treaty. The case for a referendum is overwhelming."
The report includes submissions from experts on the effects of the draft treaty which will reorganise the provisions governing the EU.
The peers concluded that it will "change the structure of the EU" and the way it works, including its relations with member states.
It highlights constitutional concerns such as the ability of British bodies to influence the EU after the introduction of further qualified majority votes. It also raises the future status of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and "whether continuing development in the European Union will have material effects upon the constitutional doctrine of the sovereignty of Parliament".
The peers warn that the treaty could have implications for government in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. They said they wanted to study these issues in greater detail and draw them to the attention of those negotiating the treaty.
Coup d'etat on Europe
Tuesday October 21, 2003
In your leader on the EU constitution (October 20), you come out against a referendum on the grounds that "this is a proper course of action for a prime minister to take in a parliamentary system".
Yet it is precisely because we have a parliamentary system that the people must agree to any constitutional changes that would erode their right to elect and remove those who make the laws under which they are governed and which they have a duty to obey.
The electors, when they vote, only lend their sovereign powers to the MPs, who must then return them, at the end of a parliament, to those to whom they belong, and MPs have no moral right to hand those powers over to others, since it is a fundamental principle of parliamentary democracy that no parliament can bind its successors.
The real issue is what sort of Europe do we want? One run by bankers and commissioners, or one working through close cooperation between the democratically elected parliaments of the member states.
Those who hold the second view - as I do - are democrats and not Eurosceptics, and if the cabinet, the Commons, and the unelected Lords impose the new EU constitution without popular endorsement in a referendum, they will be carrying out a coup d'etat against parliamentary democracy itself.
The European Commission meets today to supposedly give final deadlines for France to remedy its deficit or face fines. All expectations are that this will be avoided. Indeed Finance Commissioner, Pedro Solbes, (who should by now have resigned over the Eurostat corruption scandal) is actually on record as saying in an interview in the French newspaper, Le Monde on 11th October, that ,'I will do my best so that sanctions aren't imposed".
Will not the floodgates for all the other Eurozone countries not then open? If there are to be no penalties for France and Germany, both of which economies are now almost everywhere forecast to remain in deficit through 2004, what is to stop all the other one-,time nations who have been given their own Euro printing presses, getting them cranked up and then spending like crazy? After all, if there are to be no curbs or penalties on countries who spend recklessly, the inevitable result will be currency value erosion, which must result in a race to spend the most the soonest!
We will report on the outcome of the Commission meeting later, but we expect nothing but further fudge.
Jamie Shea, the official Nato Spokesman, blustered his way through a CNN Internetional interview at 0815 CET this morning trying to give the pretence that all was well between the US and European members of Nato. Shrugging off yesterday's emergency closed door meeting of Ambassadors to the Alliance and and another meeting apparently likewise called at short notice for this evening, he convinced neither the interviewer Hala Gorani, nor this viewer, that matters were in any way 'normal'. This was particularly the case when asked towards the end of the interview, whether he had personally confirmed with the US representatives that they were as happy with the situation as he'd indicated, to which question he was unable to directly reply.
We will be watching for reactions on the other side of the Atlantic, but tight lips seem the order of the day on all sides for the moment!
If this reported trip on Wireservice is to be believed the mission is all a simple matter of Iran's nuclear programme. If hints start to appear during or following the visit of Iran pricing its oil in Euros then you can be sure this is one more sign that the Blair Government is on course to shift our main alliance away from the US and towards the EU.
As the Americans, for all their occasional bellicosity and what are seen as other superpower failings, still believe in individual freedom and democracy, this would be a disastrous move for our country. Let's hope my suspicions prove groundless.
Another gift from the EU, or how about Grey Mullet and Chips or Ling and Chips. These are the complacently given suggestions of a fisheries expert Mathew Fort given on the BBC's PM programme a few minutes ago! He was followed by Ben Bradshaw, who pretends to be responsible for Britain's fisheries, who, then voiced further platitudes as if he had some say over anything that now takes place in what were once OUR surrounding seas!
Deutsche Welle has a fairly detailed report on today's meeting on their web site which can be read from this link Crisis Meeting to Iron Out EU-NATO Rift. To illustrate their article they use a photograph of the tiny mission to the Congo which numbered a few French troops, plus one or two others, hastily renamed as an EU force just before their deployment, which as far as we can recall lasted a mere month or so and could hardly be considered either significant or a success.
For an American view we have this report from the Atlanta Journal which can be read here.
Standing in for the apparently still sickening PM, Jack Straw stated:-
“The draft constitutional treaty is designed to improve the way the EU works after enlargement by reform, clarification and consolidation,” he insisted.
“The claims made by the Opposition and others that the treaty would undermine Britain’s independence are frankly absurd.
As has already been demonstarted in our series of posts "Jack Straw's Facts Flaws" he is one of the few, if not the only one, of Europe's Foreign Ministers who believes this Constitution is not of absolutely fundamental significance to the whole of Europe.
The midday Press Releases from Brussels today include this confirmation of how they have almost totally destroyed Britains fishery stocks and future. (Remember this has been accomplished with the connivance of several British Governments; mainly Conservative) :-
The first indications from the scientific advice released by the independent International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) confirm the need for the recovery measures proposed by the European Commission to ensure the rebuilding of a number of endangered fish stocks. ICES advice is rather stark for a number of stocks including cod in the North Sea, Skagerrak, Eastern Channel, Irish Sea and West of Scotland for which ICES advises zero catch. Its advice is the same for whiting in the Irish Sea. In the case of hake from Ireland down to Portugal, ICES recommends rebuilding plans and zero catch for the southern hake stock. Rebuilding plans are also advised for plaice in the North Sea, cod and plaice in the Celtic Sea and sole in the western Channel and Bay of Biscay. It is not all bad news, however. Some stocks such as North Sea haddock, mackerel and saithe are, according to ICES, in a more healthy condition. The issues that the Commission will discuss with the fisheries sector at the end of October will include ways of allowing continued fisheries on stocks that are in a more healthy state but that are caught along with endangered ones. One example is North Sea haddock whose catches include by-catches of cod which is currently an endangered stock. The advice can be found on the internet at http://www.ices.dk