Bill Carmichael: Inconvenient truths for EU

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IF you are ever lucky enough to venture into the belly of the beast at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, you will probably be struck, as I was, by the number of young, very smart and talented people who work there.

They are sharp as a tack, each speak four or five languages and have degrees from the likes of Insead, Harvard and the Sorbonne.

I always think that if they decided to do something creative with their lives, like starting a business, instead of propping up the rotting bureaucracy of a doomed and dying regime, they could be world beaters.

But they are to a man and woman European zealots. They believe the elite that runs the European Commission knows what’s best for the ordinary citizens of Europe, whether we like it or not.

They will talk with animation of the way Europe was torn apart twice by world wars in the last century, and tell you with a messianic gleam in their eyes that the EU’s mission is to make sure it never happens again.

Much of this is admirable. Where it falls down is in the utter contempt in which they hold the views of the common folk.

They believe that citizens are simply too stupid to know what is good for them and their views can therefore be safely ignored.

Ask about the emphatic ballots in France and the Netherlands rejecting the EU constitution, and they wave away the question in irritation and deny it was a vote against closer European integration.

They treat the European Parliament with ill-disguised disdain, but tolerate it as it gives them the patina of democratic respectability. But everyone knows that the real power lies in the unelected and unaccountable European Commission.

So a democratic deficit has opened up – the gap between what people want and what the bureaucrats want to give us.

Currently there is much talk of attempting to solve the Eurozone crisis by creating a fiscal union – in other words a single treasury dictating taxes and spending across 17 countries, dominated by Germany.

Such a drastic move should be put to the people of the member states in referendums, or at the very least ratified by the national parliaments. But the Eurocrats don’t want that, because they know the idea will be rejected.

We’ve seen similar desperate evasiveness in UK. Each of the main political parties promised us a referendum on Europe, but in this week’s Parliamentary debate they combined to try to stifle the discussion.

It won’t work. More than 100,000 people signed a petition asking for the debate on a referendum and polls show that an astonishing 70 per cent of the population would welcome a chance to vote.

Politicians and bureaucrats will eventually learn that they can’t go on forever running scared from the will of the people.

Part-time protest

Footage from thermal imaging cameras showed this week that nine out of 10 of the tents pitched by anti-capitalist protesters outside St Paul’s Cathedral are left empty overnight.

Apparently the posh anarchists who’ve forced the closure of the Cathedral go home to mum every evening or check into nearby hotels.

One of the organisers of the Occupy London movement, Catherine Gerrity, explained that protesters were encouraged to “have a rest, take a day off”.

Eh? How do you take a day off from doing nothing? And is loafing about really such hard work that you need a rest from it?

In recent weeks we’ve had the “travellers” at Dale Farm who refused to travel, and now we’ve the “occupiers” in London who refuse to occupy.

Which reminds me – I must dig out my Idle Working Men’s Club t-shirt.