Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

We Need to Talk about Europe

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 25th October, 2011

The parliamentary debate on a call for an EU referendum last night was not the most edifying of spectacles. What struck me most was the disturbing ignorance amongst many MPs — notably the Tories supporting the referendum motion — about what the EU actually is and what it does. In that, of course, they are sadly typical of their electorates, as Euro-ignorance is endemic in this country. Things are not helped by the rabidly Euro-sceptic Press (with some noble exceptions such as the Guardian, Independent and Financial Times) which peddles anti-European prejudice and often outright lies. If the EU were an individual, rather than an institution, newspapers such as the Daily Mail, Daily Express and Sunday Telegraph would repeatedly find themselves in the Courts facing libel charges. There is a desperate need  for objective public education about the European Union. Some might argue that such an educational programme could be part of any EU Referendum campaign, and I respect the opinion of those MPs who voted for a Referendum not because they loathe the EU but because they feel the issue needs to be publicly debated. In the meantime, I understand the frustration felt by French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the UK Conservative Party’s carping from the sidelines about policies in the eurozone. Now, I wonder just how many Brits could say clearly what the eurozone is, let alone be able to list its member countries?!


7 Responses to “We Need to Talk about Europe”

  1. Edis Bevan said

    But the map you show (tagged EU map) is a map of geographical Europe not of the European Union – so anyone as ignorant as the Tory Mps you mention will be additionally confused…

  2. jonathanfryer said

    Well spotted, Edis. Different map duly inserted to avoid further confusing the British public…

  3. neilcraig said

    So does that mean you arer in favour of the “LibDems” keeping their repeated Manifesto Promise (the single most serious promise an MP can make) to allow us a referendum on it?

    Do you feel that the fact that your party have demonstrated the very highest standard of honesty to which they ever aspire by repeatedly breaking their most solemn promises to be a good thing or a bad thing.

    Can you confirm that you will never, ever, undera nay circumstances, advise any voter that they should ever believe a word your party says. Go on – talk about it.

    • Tom King said

      The Lib Dem ‘promise’ (not that manifestos are promises, but rather wishlists for government) was not for an in/out referendum in all circumstances.

      Rather, our position was, and I quote: “Liberal Democrats therefore remain committed to an in/out referendum the next time a British government signs up for fundamental change in the relationship between the UK and the EU.” As that does not describe the current situation, this was not a situation in which Lib Dem MPs should have felt at all bound to vote for a referendum.

      • neilcraig said

        Manifestos ARE promises. They are the most solemn promises any party can make.

        Are you denying that we are expected to pass a treaty change to legalise the bail outs?

        Are you denying that the Pseudoiberals broke their previouis Manifesto promise to have a referendum over Lisbon?

        Are you denying that when the party broke that promise the fig leaf they used was a promise that they would support an in/out referendum?

        Are you denying that these promises repreasent the very highest standard of honesty to which the party ever aspires? If not when did they publicly say it wasn’t?

  4. […] European Union, eurozone, Nicolas Sarkozy. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own […]

  5. Sue said

    The approval this Parliament gives to EU institutions on the management of taxpayers´money, the so called discharge procedure, has become a joke.

    This morning the European Parliament in Strasbourg debated the discharge – or approval in layman’s terms – of the 2009 European Council accounts. Just now it failed to approve the Council accounts in a vote.

    We were elected to scrutinise and protect our People’s interests. Yet year after year the biggest part of the budget – the European Commission’s – is riddled with irregularities. Yet this parliament is happy to grant discharge to it.

    Yet when it comes to the European Council, the Parliament refuses discharge even if the auditors make no criticism at all about this institution’s financial management.

    Why? Power Games! The Parliament thinks not granting discharge is a way of flexing its muscles. In reality it is an act of total disrespect to the taxpayers it is supposed to serve.
    However, even more disrespectfully, this house will not to allow any other institution, but itself, to approve its own financial management. This is a total conflict of interest!

    The reports for the years 2007, 2008, 2009 by the Internal Auditor of this Parliament which finally, after years of obfuscation, came to light last week, show this house is far from meriting a clean bill of health.

    I voted against discharging the Commission, I voted against discharging the Parliament and I will vote against discharging the Council. I cannot be certain that the funds have been properly spent. Someone here has to take their job as a scrutiniser seriously.

    THE LIBERAL DEMOCRATS OUGHT TO RENAME THEMSELVES THE NEW COMMUNIST PARTY. What on earth do you all have against democracy?

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