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A few thoughts about Europe by Fredric Forsyth..

(35 Posts)
ProfessorPreciseaBug Mon 16-May-16 07:45:12

FW: Frederick Forsyth's analysis of the EU

A long time ago a very wise old man advised me thus: “If ever you are confronted by a highly complex situation and a decision cannot be avoided, never rush to an early emotional judgment. Subject the subject to the four-pronged ARID. It stands for Analyse, Research, Identify, Decide.

We all now face the decision: should we continue as obedient members of the EU or should we sever the link? Let me try to apply the old man’s advice.
Any country other than a shambolic anarchy must have a government. That said, most governmental systems end with the five-letter “cracy” derived from the Greek for “rule”. There are about 10. We know about autocracy, rule by a single tyrant. There is theocracy, rule by the priestly caste, such as Iran. Add stratocracy, rule by the army (Egypt) and plutocracy (by the very rich). We have seen gerontocracy, with the reins of power in the hands of the extremely old - the Soviet politburo in its last days. And aristocracy, rule by the nobles, long gone. But two are with us and visible. One is bureaucracy, government by the officials, the constant competitor for power with rule by the “demos”: the people. Democracy. It is by far the hardest to establish. It is the most fragile, the easiest to fake with rigged elections, meaningless ceremonies and elaborate charades. I estimate about 100 phoney democracies worldwide. But ours is parliamentary democracy so let’s give it a glance. Of course it is indirect. We cannot expect the electorate to go to the polls for every tiny decision. So we divide the country into 650 constituencies with one MP for each. The party with the most MPs in Westminster governs for five years. At the pinnacle is the Cabinet and, with encircling junior ministers, forms the Government, which I will call the power. But there is more. The power is held to account, not five-yearly, not annually or monthly but every day. Doing this is the official Opposition but also the backbench MPs even of the government party. This “holding to account” is vital. Assisting these critics is hopefully a free and unafraid press.

I have travelled very widely, seen the good, the bad and the very ugly and have come firmly to the view that with all its flaws the British parliamentary form of democracy is the best in the world. Not for those in power but for the people who between elections still have a voice. It is against this template that we can judge the system of the EU.

After the war a group of men, politicians, thinkers, intellectuals and theorists, formed around Frenchman Jean Monnet, became kconvinced that what they had witnessed at close quarters - the utter destruction of their continent in a vicious war - must never, ever, happen again. It was not a bad view-point, indeed it was a noble one. They then analysed the problem and came up with two solutions. The first was that the various and disparate nations of Europe west of the Iron Curtain must somehow be unified into one under a single government. They accepted that this might take two, even three generations but must be done. This was not an ignoble vision. It was their second conclusion to which I take exception. The whole group was mesmerised by one fact. In 1933 the Germans, seized by rabid nationalism, voted Adolf Hitler into power. Their conclusion: the people, any people, were too obtuse, too gullible, and too dim ever to be safely entrusted with the power to elect their government. People’s democracy was flawed and should never be permitted to decide government again if war was to be avoided. Real power would have to be confined to a non-elective body of enlightened minds like theirs.

In the 70 years since, the theory has never changed. It remains exactly the same today. The British Cabinet has power and may delegate that power to a wide range of civil servants: police chiefs, generals, bureaucrats. But it itself remains elective. The people can change it via the polling booth. Not so in the EU. The difference is absolutely fundamental. They realised, those founders, that there would have to be façades erected to persuade the gullible that democracy had not been abolished in the new utopia. There is indeed a European Parliament - but with a difference. In London it is the Commons that is the law-giver; the Upper House is the vetting and endorsing chamber. In Brussels the EU Parliament has no lower house, it is the endorsing chamber. It ratifies what the real power, the non-elective European Commission, has decided. The broad masses would also have to be convinced that the purpose of the Monnet utopia was economic and thus about prosperity. This untruth has prevailed to this day and is the main plank of the establishment propaganda in our present British decision-making. In fact the final destination of the EU is entirely political. It is the complete political, legal and constitutional unification of the continent of Europe into a single entity: the State of Europe. This clearly cannot make war against itself, thus guaranteeing peace. Albeit without democracy.

It is amazing how many intelligent people have fallen for this fiction. Thus David Cameron can tell us with a straight face that he repudiates the three pillars of the EU - the doctrine of even closer union, a single external border but no internal ones (Schengen) and a single currency (Eurozone) - but still thinks we will sit at the top table. He believes the EU is about trade and tariffs. No, that’s what we thought we joined.

Back in the 1960s one British premier (Macmillan) after another (Heath) came to the view that with the empire departing into independence and the USA becoming more protectionist our economic days were numbered. If the world beyond the oceans was not communist it was Third World, meaning impoverished. Both premiers became convinced the future lay east across the Channel. Back then the union was six countries: Germany, France, Italy, plus minnows Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg. Wealthy, especially Germany, booming. Just the trading partners we needed. So under Heath we joined the Common Market. As a trading nation for centuries we were delighted to do so. Then the lies began. It would never go further, we were told. The Six became the Nine but all in Western Europe. Heath lied to us. He said there would never be any question of “transfer of significant sovereignty”. He had read the whole Treaty of Rome. No one else had. He knew this was just the tip of the iceberg.

Then in 1992 came the Maastricht Treaty. We were told it was just tidying up loose ends. More lies. It was transformational. It created the European Union. Slowly, decree by decree, rule by rule, law by law, our ancient right to govern ourselves the way we wanted to be governed and by whom was transferred from London to Brussels. Today 60% of all laws are framed in Brussels, not London. The lies multiplied. The entire establishment, much espoused of power without accountability, has become hugely enamoured of the new governmental system. Less and less need to consult those wretched people, the voters. It is no coincidence that the five professions that worship power - politicians, bureaucrats, diplomats, quangocrats and lawyers, plus the two that lust for money, bankers/ financiers and tycoons - today constitute almost the whole of the stay-in campaign. Almost to a man. And the lies proliferate. “There is no intention to proceed to a superstate.” Really? Read the Treaty of Rome. That is the whole point of the EU. What is not said is that in a unified continent there can be no place for the independent, autonomous, self-governing sovereign nation/state. The two are a contradiction in terms. Only here in the UK is that denied. In Brussels it is accepted as wholly obvious. “The end of nation” is regarded as a work in progress. Endgame is foreseen as a decade, maybe two.

The referendum decision of June 23 will be the last ever, the decision permanent. So this is your choice. This is about the country in which we will spend the rest of our lives, the land we will pass on to our children and grandchildren. What kind of a country, what kind of a governmental system? People’s democracy or officialdom’s empire? Our right to hold power to account or just two duties: to pay and obey? For me it is simple and takes just five words. I want my country back.

lljkk Mon 16-May-16 08:15:10

FF is politically somewhere right of Atilla the Hun.

mollie123 Mon 16-May-16 08:24:40

correction lljkk - FF is RIGHT
that is an excellent analysis based on fact rather than rhetoric.
Being right of centre does not automatically make someone wrong in their views - similarly being left of centre does not make that person wrong.
If more people thought about what being in the EU now means (and will only get worse in the future) they would realise this is not left or right politics but how we want our country to evolve hmm

lljkk Mon 16-May-16 08:32:02

The really annoying thing is that the Outs have promised, if they lose this referendum, not to STFU. They have promised to switch to campaigning for another referendum. If you are sick of this debate, the best thing is to resoundingly vote Remain or they Outs will feel justified in rabble-rowsing forever.

OTheHugeManatee Mon 16-May-16 08:33:32

So what if he's right wing?

It's not the fault of the right that the left has given up on democracy hmm

ProfessorPreciseaBug Mon 16-May-16 11:02:27

The problem is that the PM has also given up on democracy.. but some say he is really a Labour PM..

RortyCrankle Mon 16-May-16 13:56:36

I'm no fan of FF but makes perfect sense to me.

scaryteacher Mon 16-May-16 14:20:23

lljk I don't think those of us who want out can be classed as rabble rousers, just because we don't agree with you.

If you are sooo sanguine about voting to remain, can you tell me where we will be in 10 years time? Will we have been forced into the EZ? Will we be on the hook for bailing out Greece (answer is yes, according to forthcoming legislation in the EP); will the EU honour the concessions they threw DC?

I can see no valid reason whatsoever for remaining in.

NotCitrus Mon 16-May-16 14:26:59

I was in sixth form when Maastricht was drafted and signed, and it was clearly a new, more integrated union to us, making a more united Europe that could be a world player to rival the USA and the ex-USSR. FF would have read many more newspapers and articles on the subject than I had!

The Commission is there to propose measures that further the aims of the union - so goes round asking for input from each country! The Council represent the EU countries and the Parliament represent the EU electorate, and it's they who decide whether to take forward or implement any Commission proposals - the fact that they usually do is because the Commission have drafted proposals in response to what member states see as problems to solve! It's like complaining that UK Secretaries of State have rubber-stamped legislation written by civil servants! And of course a proportion of the Commission's staff are from the UK.

One could argue the difference between the federation hoped for by the Treaty of Rome versus a superstate, but given how different the politics are now in Europe (old east-west divide superseded by the north-south one), it's not much of a guide as to what the EU will be in future.

ProfessorPreciseaBug Mon 16-May-16 14:59:40

I have a simple question..

When did anyone here vote for an EU commissioner?

RortyCrankle Mon 16-May-16 20:26:25

lljk I don't think those of us who want out can be classed as rabble rousers, just because we don't agree with you.

I totally agree but then a lot of 'Remainers' have an unwarranted superiority complex and think that 'Outers' are ill-educated, their decisions ill-considered, that they are just wrong because a 'Remainer' knows best so rebel-rousing is the least of it. grin

Winterbiscuit Mon 16-May-16 21:46:07

I don't see the EU Commission as particularly equivalent to the Civil Service. Our civil service don't propose laws like the unelected EU Commission. It's our elected MPs who propose legislation, whereas the elected MEPs can't even propose legislation themselves.

Meanwhile, big business constantly lobbies the EU to get the laws made in their own interests, discouraging entrepeneurs and small/medium businesses. Money talks loudest it seems. There's also the problem of "trilogues" where closed-door decision-making takes place.

STIDW Mon 16-May-16 23:29:09

For someone who worked for MI6 & advocates research FF seems to have difficulty with facts & evidence.

1) Newspaper & film archives during the 1960s & 1970s make it clear that joining the EEC/EU involved much more than trade & tariffs. Leaflets send to every household during the EEC referendum 1975 discussed sharing sovereignty, defence & working together politically.

2) The conclusion "the people, any people, were too obtuse, too gullible, and too dim ever to be safely entrusted with the power to elect their government" is based on an alleged quote from a letter Jean Monnet wrote but there is no evidence of such a letter.

3) Heath wasn't lying when he said significant sovereignty wouldn't be lost by joining the EEC. Originally there was the veto which was compromised later. However we still retain the core aspects of sovereignty to remain an independent country.

3) The Treaty of Rome & subsequent treaties enshrine the "ever closer union of people," not states.

STIDW Mon 16-May-16 23:37:08

I don't see the EU Commission as particularly equivalent to the Civil Service.

The EU Commission & UK Civil service are both executive bodies with commissioners & top civil servants being appointed rather than elected. EU Council
(democratically elected heads of EU states) set the EU agenda & the UK government set the agenda here.

howabout Tue 17-May-16 08:34:30

STIDW your points 1 and 3 appear to contradict each other hmm

Your point 4 (or 3 v2) talks about "ever closer union of people" which implies abolition of individual states to me shock

The EU Commission is not the same as the UK Civil Service as the civil service does not have Executive powers. If your analysis were correct then UK politicians, even those within government, would be largely powerless to change government policy.

Most commentators seem to be ignoring the overriding supremacy of the individual government appointed EU Council in all this.- it is they rather than the EU Commission or Parliament who negotiate opt outs etc with UK and why it was Germany via AM who held sway in the negotiation with DC rather than any EU view.

claig Tue 17-May-16 08:38:37

'The conclusion "the people, any people, were too obtuse, too gullible, and too dim ever to be safely entrusted with the power to elect their government" is based on an alleged quote from a letter Jean Monnet wrote but there is no evidence of such a letter. '

Could that be because the Remain side shredded it?

claig Tue 17-May-16 08:50:42

'EU Council
(democratically elected heads of EU states) set the EU agenda & the UK government set the agenda here.'

But the EU agenda overrides a large portion of the UK agenda with commentators saying that Westminster just "rubber stamps" a lot of what they are told to implement from Brussels.

The Mayor of London was democratically elected but we don't expect him to set the agenda for Birmingham, so why should Merkel and Hollande set the agenda for the UK.

We have no vote in choosing or removing Merkel, we can only vote the Remain side out, so why should Merkel work with them to set the agenda for us? Why should our taxes be sent by the Remain side to Merkel? What is going on and when will it end? I have heard about gravy trains, but someone is stuffing themselves at public expense while the people go hungry.

HappydaysArehere Tue 17-May-16 09:29:01

Boris Johnson as PM and in charge of our country!! Oh! No. I am IN.

Winterbiscuit Tue 17-May-16 09:44:53

Who says it would be Boris? It isn't a foregone conclusion at all. And what will the EU be like in 5 years, 10 years, 50 years?

We can vote for a change of government every few years, but is it going to be another 41 years until the next EU referendum?

OTheHugeManatee Tue 17-May-16 10:43:54

Boris Johnson as PM and in charge of our country!! Oh! No. I am IN.

So you're happy to sign up for the relentless ratchet towards the UK being absorbed into a European superstate without adequate democratic accountability, simply because you don't like a particular politician?

Good to see you've got your priorities straight.

grimbletart Tue 17-May-16 15:05:14

As someone who voted in the 1975 referendum (and stupidly voted in) the thing that strikes me most is how different the current EU is from the EEC in 1975. It is an entirely different beast.

Now project forward a similar amount of time from 2016 and imagine what the EU will be like in 30 or 40 years time. Again, it will be a vastly different beast from that of today.

If you want a United States of Europe with national governments reduced to having the sort of decision-making powers that county and borough councils currently have, vote in. If you want to keep decision-making powers over the important things that govern out lives now, vote out.

STIDW Wed 18-May-16 14:32:26

'The conclusion "the people, any people, were too obtuse, too gullible, and too dim ever to be safely entrusted with the power to elect their government" is based on an alleged quote from a letter Jean Monnet wrote but there is no evidence of such a letter. '

Could that be because the Remain side shredded it?

Or, as some people claim, the quote could have been made up by a newspaper paraphrasing a Conservative MP. Either way an opinion or conclusion formed on the basis of incomplete information is conjecture or fantasy.

Monnet gave a speech which is evidence countering the claim he wanted a superstate & didn't trust the people to elect government. Haven't got the link to hand just now but if anyone is interested I will post the details later.

KateInKorea Fri 20-May-16 07:09:30

I think at this stage the UK will exit and will have to live with it.

His analysis is rather poor for me... If you look at at really financially successful country e.g. Switzerland (a) the people are very close to democracy (b) wasting public money is a much more serious offence than it is here and there is a culture of not accepting it (c) there is support for manufacturing high class products and (d) the education system is quite flat so that there is a job for everyone. The Swiss are also quite good at attracting good quality immigrants, partially because of (a)-(d). If you look at good economies you would bet against the UK doing well after leaving, and I think it is going to be seen on June 24th when sterling falls.

And I also disagree with his Hitler/people are too thick for democracy argument.

Turbinaria Fri 20-May-16 21:28:15

If we leave DC will resign and the new conservative leader will have to call a general election pretty soon afterwards to legitimise his premiership so if Boris does win he may not be PM for very long

claig Fri 20-May-16 21:56:14

Do you think there will have to be an election? When Gordon Bennett took over from Blair, there was no election.

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