Alphen, Netherlands. 23 June. They called it “Wipers”. Tens of thousands of British and Commonwealth troops died in the three battles of Ypres in the fight against tyranny. 54, 389 of them have their names inscribed on the famous Menin Gate, one of four such memorials across the Ypres Salient. Each evening the local fire brigade dutifully and honourably play Britain’s homage to its fallen “The Last Post”. On Thursday and Friday this week EU Heads of State and Government will meet to rubber-stamp a German-imposed anti-British federalist fanatic Jean Claude Juncker as President of the ever-more-powerful European Commission. It could well be the Fourth Battle of Ypres… and it will be short.
British Prime Minister David “less Europe, more member-state” Cameron understands the huge political significance of this watershed moment and has fought an honourable battle to stop “more Europe at any cost” Juncker. Cameron also understands that failure means he is political toast. For once rather than listen to supine advisers who always say Britain must accept the unacceptable “to avoid isolation” Cameron is taking a stand. And. for the first time Cameron will try to force a vote on Juncker (it is normally decided by consensus) to make his fellow European leaders justify their decision. Unusually, Cameron is also backed by all the main British political parties, and he is right. Too often national European leaders concede long-term strategic principle for the sake of a short-term political fix. Sadly, in time they will all pay (or rather their respective peoples will pay) for this appalling decision.
Sadly, Cameron will be out-voted in Ypres by weak-willed, sycophantic national leaders who do not see the bigger federalist picture. Naturally, they will do all they can to avoid a vote because none of them want their fingerprints on this absurd appointment. However, they are voting for Juncker because Queen Angela wants it and she in turn is concerned more by the German Press and its obsession with imposing Spitzenkandidaten than the future of Europe (see this week’s edition of The Economist on an ever-more unprincipled German Press, “An Unwelcome Nexus”).
The tragedy for the European people is that many leaders privately share Cameron’s concerns about Juncker, even Merkel. Instead of standing on principle they are instead tying to cover their sorry political backsides by claiming Juncker is precisely what the European voter asked for knowing full well they are hijacking my vote and that of millions of other Europeans. It is the EU at its very undemocratic worst.
The most spectacular piece of political dissembling came from the Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski. Now, I rate Sikorski but he can stretch credulity to its limits at times. In an attempt to tell BBC listeners that Juncker’s appointment is democratic he suggested the Polish voter knew a vote for his party in the 22 May European Parliamentary elections was a vote for Juncker. With a straight face he said there had been “billboards”, implying the smiling face of Juncker was plastered all over Poland in the run-up to the elections. If any of my Polish friends can confirm the existence of such billboards I stand to be corrected. However, a recent opinion poll suggested 90% of Europeans had never even heard of Juncker prior to this piece of EU political shenanigans.
This is a power struggle between true democratic legitimacy which is at the national level and the pretend legitimacy of the almost-elected European Parliament. It is yet another case of successful federalist 'interpretation' (manipulation) of the disastrous Lisbon Treaty. The very first time I voted was in the inaugural elections to the 1979 European Parliament. At the time one sage commentator warned there would come a day when this new Parliament would challenge the sovereignty of the Mother of Parliaments. “Not in my lifetime”, I thought. And yet that day has come. A day when a faction in a barely elected parliament claims the political legitimacy from my vote to demand more power than elected national heads of state and government most of whom were elected by their peoples on far stronger mandates. As political precedents go this is just about as dangerous as it gets and federalist fanatics like Juncker know it. Indeed, such events are precisely how and why the EU is slipping towards federalism.
True to form this past week Juncker has been making secret, backroom deals to consolidate his hold on the Commission presidency. These are the anti-transparency deals for which he is infamous and which will mark his Presidency. For Juncker the people are the enemy. We are too ignorant to see his ‘vision’ and must therefore be forced to accept deeper European integration. Suddenly we the citizens will wake up one day to find we ‘agreed’ to a more Europe something about which we were never informed or to which we never gave our consent.
Juncker like all fanatics is a believer in totalitarianism-lite masked in the empty rhetoric of empty liberty. Totalitarianism is a political system where a state holds total, distant authority, believes it is always right irrespective of the views of the people, sees all disagreement as dissent and seeks to control all aspects of public and private life. It hides its real political objectives behind mantras such as ‘efficiency’ and ‘solidarity’ whilst talking endlessly of ‘the people’ it despises. For Juncker and his like the only way to create the European Government in which they believe is to defeat the member-states by whatever means possible. It is a long-term project and Britain must and should have no part of it.
The first indicator of bureaucratic totalitarianism-lite is when elites begin to manipulate the vote. On 22 May millions of voters across Europe voted for reform whether they voted for radical or moderate parties. That was certainly my intention when I cast my moderate vote. And yet a “business as usual” man who is the very essence of EU uber-elite insider-ism, anti-reform and anti-transparency is to be imposed on me as President of the European Commission.
Sadly, my last hope that balance could be restored between the insatiable appetite of Brussels for power, the nation-state and the will of the people will be smashed come the end of this week. That hope was that David Cameron’s sensible reform proposals could have provided a basis for an EU reform agenda that all could rally round – both those in the German empire, sorry Eurozone, and those without.
Power to flow away from Brussels not towards it, national parliaments to be given the power to work together to block unwanted legislation, businesses to be liberated from federalist red tape designed not to enhance efficiency but integration for integration’s sake, managed mass movements of peoples, and an end to the presumption of ever closer union. Had I seen such an agenda overseen by a reformer I would have campaigned for Britain to stay in the EU. With Juncker’s appointment I will instead campaign for Britain to leave. Juncker represents a threat to both my country and democracy.
There will of course be a ‘reform agenda’ agreed at Ypres if only to offer Cameron a political straw to clutch. However, it will be as usual a lie, a pretend ‘reform’ agenda. And, of course, Juncker will work in the political darkness using the considerable power of the Commission to initiate legislation together the false political legitimacy he will claim from the European Parliament to block any reform that prevents “more Europe”. They very man who will be responsible for implementing “Ypres” will be the very man determined to destroy it; Jean Claude Juncker,
The EU is not the Soviet Union and I would not betray the people who had to live under that awful regime by suggesting it is. However, if not checked by national legislatures the EU will continue down a path that eventually leads to the enforcement of conformism. The fanatics will of course laugh this off. That is how they dismiss all and any dissent but they know I am right. And, as per usual the federalists will talk much about ‘the people’ whilst completely ignoring their views every time they disagree with ‘The Project’. Yes, elections will go on but they will become ever more like Soviet ‘elections’ – pre-ordained and irrelevant. In time people will not bother voting anymore because it simply will not be worth it.
I was witness to the fanaticism of the federalists at a recent dinner party at which I was the guest speaker. I will not say whom or where because the senior EU official was speaking in a personal capacity and I would not wish to embarrass my hosts. However, as I made my reasoned concerns about the EU clear I was suddenly met with a torrent of federalist rhetoric that lightly-masked real anger that I could possibly voice such concerns. She even had the gall to suggest she represents me. As I patiently de-constructed her arguments on European political and monetary union and, of course, that old federalist favourite a European Army she was left to simply repeat the federalist mantra; “more Europe is better Europe”. She was so extreme French and German officials in the room sided with me.
One of my favourite philosophers is the seventeenth century English writer John Locke. Locke challenged the then idea of patriarchy. To Locke power did not come from God but from the people. With the appointment of Juncker we are witnessing a new form of patriarchy, a new Leviathan whereby distant power claims power not in the name of God but the manipulated name of the very people who did not vote for them.
So what will happen? By appointing Juncker power will shift markedly from the member-states to the Commission and the Parliament. The federalists will use this political precedent to push for ever greater control over all appointments at the expense of the member-states. In so doing they will not only dilute further national sovereignty but seek to shift the centre of ‘democratic’ gravity from the national parliaments they do not control to the European Parliament that they do.
Worse, the voice of the citizen will be lost. In most national parliamentary elections 50,000 citizens vote on average for one deputy or MP (and in the case of Britain someone who acts directly on behalf of each citizen), in the almost-elected European Parliament the European voter ‘elects’ one Member of European Parliament for every 450,000 to 500,000 of us. A clearer dilution of democracy one will never find as the link between power and the people is steadily broken in the EU. Henceforth the federalists will be free to use an unaccountable and undemocratic executive overseen by an almost-elected rubber-stamping Parliament to drive untrammelled over democracy and liberty confident that national leaders will be unable to stop them. And all of this because Chancellor Merkel has a little local difficulty with her local Press.
UKIP and their like? They are so much froth and foment who will make a lot of noise, spend too much time disagreeing with each other about how bad the EU is whilst they sit on the side-lines of real power. Indeed, they will afford Juncker and his allies a strange form of legitimacy as they will give the impression of checks and balances that simply do not exist.
Germans should also be careful what they wish for. Queen Angela thinks Juncker will be her man in Brussels and that he will help consolidate the Eurozone as a German Zollverein. If Juncker gets his way Germany end up like the rest of us; reduced in time to a ‘lande’ or province in the United States of Europe of which he dreams. Talk about turkeys voting for Christmas!
For Cameron and Britain the Fourth Battle of Ypres will mark the end of any pretence that Britain or the British people have any influence over the EU. Wipers will thus mark the place and the time when Britain faced a choice; free state or EU province?
The Ypres European Council meeting was meant to mark reconciliation between Britain and Germany one hundred years after the outbreak of World War One. The three battles of Ypres a century or so ago were part of a huge violent struggle about who runs Europe. Make no mistake, although thankfully far more peaceful and civilised the Fourth Battle of Ypres this coming Thursday and Friday will also be about who runs Europe. Or, to be more exact, who runs European countries; the people we know we elect or those distant people like Jean Claude Juncker who pretend we elect them but only tell us afterwards.
As the firemen gather to play “The Last Post” on Friday night they could well be lamenting not only Britain’s fallen but the slide of Europe away from democracy towards a new form of bureaucratic totalitarianism and the EU super-state which Jean-Claude Juncker is determined will prevail.
Democracy? Wipers indeed!