Ahead of the House of Lords Second Reading Debate, UK EPP seeks equality in the EU Referendum vote.
“This Referendum is about Britain’s long-term future. The young - those aged 16 years and above - therefore have a particular right to vote,” comments 4 Freedoms Party (UK EPP) leader Dirk Hazell.
“Ending selective discrimination against EU nationals would also evidence the Westminster Parliament’s commitment to fairness and law. We of course warmly welcome residents of Gibraltar and nationals of Cyprus, Ireland and Malta being entitled to vote. However - although discrimination between EU citizens on grounds of nationality is forbidden by the Treaties agreed by the British Parliament (Article 18 TFEU) - the Government proposes to disqualify other EU citizens lawfully resident in the UK, the overwhelming majority,” he states.
“We hope all nationals of all EU Member States lawfully resident in the UK will also be allowed to vote in this Referendum in which they have a valid interest. This cannot undo the Government’s unlawful disqualification of an estimated 70% of non-British EU Nationals in the 2014 European election (in breach of Article 20(2)(b) TFEU) or its pressure on the British media to suppress until after that election its presidential character, but it would help to create a level playing field more consistent with the letter and spirit of relevant British and EU law. It would also end the divisive and unacceptable inconsistency of a lawfully elected parliamentarian within the UK being disqualified from voting in the referendum,” he concludes.
20 December 1926 - 9 October 2015
UK EPP notes with respect and sadness the death of Geoffrey Howe and our sympathies are extended to his family.
We particularly note his vital role as Foreign Secretary in persuading the then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, to support essential components of the Single European Act which transformed for the better the lives of hundreds of millions of Europeans.
We here reproduce his great resignation speech of 13 November 1990 which we believe continues to offer relevance and resonance within the Conservative Party, and across the UK and EU:
I find to my astonishment that a quarter of a century has passed since I last spoke from one of the Back Benches. Fortunately, however, it has been my privilege to serve for the past 12 months of that time as Leader of the House of Commons, so I have been reminded quite recently of the traditional generosity and tolerance of this place. I hope that I may count on that today as I offer to the House a statement about my resignation from the Government.
It has been suggested--even, indeed, by some of my right hon. and hon. Friends--that I decided to resign solely because of questions of style and not on matters of substance at all. Indeed, if some of my former colleagues are to be believed, I must be the first Minister in history who has resigned because he was in full agreement with Government policy. The truth is that, in many aspects of politics, style and substance complement each other. Very often, they are two sides of the same coin.
The Prime Minister and I have shared something like 700 meetings of Cabinet or shadow Cabinet during the past 18 years, and some 400 hours alongside each other, at more than 30 international summit meetings. For both of us, I suspect, it is a pretty daunting record. The House might well feel that something more than simple matters of style would be necessary to rupture such a well-tried relationship. It was a privilege to serve as my right hon. Friend's first Chancellor of the Exchequer ; to share in the transformation of our industrial relations scene ; to help launch our free market programme, commencing with the abolition of exchange control ; and, above all, to achieve such substantial success against inflation, getting it down within four years from 22 per cent. to 4 per cent. upon the basis of the strict monetary discipline involved in the medium-term financial strategy. Not one of our economic achievements would have been possible without the courage and leadership of my right hon. Friend--and, if I may say so, they possibly derived some little benefit from the presence of a Chancellor who was not exactly a wet himself.
It was a great honour to serve for six years as Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary and to share with my right hon. Friend in some notable achievements in the European Community--from Fontainebleau to the Single European Act. But it was as we moved on to consider the crucial monetary issues in the European context that I came to feel increasing concern. Some of the reasons for that anxiety were made very clear by my right hon. Friend the Member for Blaby (Mr. Lawson) in his resignation speech just over 12 months ago. Like him, I concluded at least five years ago that the conduct of our policy against inflation could no longer rest solely on attempts to measure and control the domestic money supply. We had no doubt that we should be helped in that battle, and, indeed, in other respects, by joining the exchange rate mechanism of the European monetary system. There was, or should have been, nothing novel about joining the ERM ; it has been a long-standing commitment. For a quarter of a century after the second world war, we found that the very similar Bretton Woods regime did serve as a useful discipline. Now, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister acknowledged two weeks ago, our entry into the ERM can be seen as an "extra discipline for keeping down inflation."--[ Official Report, 30 October 1990 ; Vol. 178, c. 888.]
However, it must be said that that practical conclusion has been achieved only at the cost of substantial damage to her Administration and, more serious still, to its inflation achievements.
As my right hon. Friend the Member for Blaby explained : "The real tragedy is that we did not join the exchange rate mechanism at least five years ago."
As he also made clear,
"That was not for want of trying."--[ Official Report, 23 October 1990 ; Vol. 178, c. 216.]
Indeed, the so-called Madrid conditions came into existence only after the then Chancellor and I, as Foreign Secretary, made it clear that we could not continue in office unless a specific commitment to join the ERM was made.
As the House will no doubt have observed, neither member of that particular partnership now remains in office. Our successor as Chancellor of the Exchequer has, during the past year, had to devote a great deal of his considerable talents to demonstrating exactly how those Madrid conditions have been attained, so as to make it possible to fulfil a commitment whose achievement has long been in the national interest.
It is now, alas, impossible to resist the conclusion that today's higher rates of inflation could well have been avoided had the question of ERM membership been properly considered and resolved at a much earlier stage. There are, I fear, developing grounds for similar anxiety over the handling --not just at and after the Rome summit--of the wider, much more open question of economic and monetary union. Let me first make clear certain important points on which I have no disagreement with my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister. I do not regard the Delors report as some kind of sacred text that has to be accepted, or even rejected, on the nod. But it is an important working document. As I have often made plain, it is seriously deficient in significant respects.
I do not regard the Italian presidency's management of the Rome summit as a model of its kind--far from it. It was much the same, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will recall, in Milan some five years ago.
I do not regard it as in any sense wrong for Britain to make criticisms of that kind plainly and courteously, nor in any sense wrong for us to do so, if necessary, alone. As I have already made clear, I have, like the Prime Minister and other right hon. Friends, fought too many European battles in a minority of one to have any illusions on that score.
But it is crucially important that we should conduct those arguments upon the basis of a clear understanding of the true relationship between this country, the Community and our Community partners. And it is here, I fear, that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister increasingly risks leading herself and others astray in matters of substance as well as of style.
It was the late Lord Stockton, formerly Harold Macmillan, who first put the central point clearly. As long ago as 1962, he argued that we had to place and keep ourselves within the EC. He saw it as essential then, as it is today, not to cut ourselves off from the realities of power ; not to retreat into a ghetto of sentimentality about our past and so diminish our own control over our own destiny in the future.
The pity is that the Macmillan view had not been perceived more clearly a decade before in the 1950s. It would have spared us so many of the struggles of the last 20 years had we been in the Community from the outset ; had we been ready, in the much too simple phrase, to "surrender some sovereignty" at a much earlier stage. If we had been in from the start, as almost everybody now acknowledges, we should have had more, not less, influence over the Europe in which we live today. We should never forget the lesson of that isolation, of being on the outside looking in, for the conduct of today's affairs.
We have done best when we have seen the Community not as a static entity to be resisted and contained, but as an active process which we can shape, often decisively, provided that we allow ourselves to be fully engaged in it, with confidence, with enthusiasm and in good faith.
We must at all costs avoid presenting ourselves yet again with an over- simplified choice, a false antithesis, a bogus dilemma, between one alternative, starkly labelled "co-operation between independent sovereign states" and a second, equally crudely labelled alternative, "centralised, federal super-state", as if there were no middle way in between.
We commit a serious error if we think always in terms of "surrendering" sovereignty and seek to stand pat for all time on a given deal--by proclaiming, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister did two weeks ago, that we have "surrendered enough".
The European enterprise is not and should not be seen like that--as some kind of zero sum game. Sir Winston Churchill put it much more positively 40 years ago, when he said :
"It is also possible and not less agreeable to regard" this sacrifice or merger of national sovereignty "as the gradual assumption by all the nations concerned of that larger sovereignty which can alone protect their diverse and distinctive customs and characteristics and their national traditions."
I have to say that I find Winston Churchill's perception a good deal more convincing, and more encouraging for the interests of our nation, than the nightmare image sometimes conjured up by my right hon. Friend, who seems sometimes to look out upon a continent that is positively teeming with ill- intentioned people, scheming, in her words, to "extinguish democracy", to "dissolve our national identities" and to lead us "through the back-door into a federal Europe".
What kind of vision is that for our business people, who trade there each day, for our financiers, who seek to make London the money capital of Europe or for all the young people of today?
These concerns are especially important as we approach the crucial topic of economic and monetary union. We must be positively and centrally involved in this debate and not fearfully and negatively detached. The costs of disengagement here could be very serious indeed.
There is talk, of course, of a single currency for Europe. I agree that there are many difficulties about the concept--both economic and political. Of course, as I said in my letter of resignation, none of us wants the imposition of a single currency. But that is not the real risk. The 11 others cannot impose their solution on the 12th country against its will, but they can go ahead without us. The risk is not imposition but isolation. The real threat is that of leaving ourselves with no say in the monetary arrangements that the rest of Europe chooses for itself, with Britain once again scrambling to join the club later, after the rules have been set and after the power has been distributed by others to our disadvantage. That would be the worst possible outcome.
It is to avoid just that outcome and to find a compromise both acceptable in the Government and sellable in Europe that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor has put forward his hard ecu proposal. This lays careful emphasis on the possibility that the hard ecu as a common currency could, given time, evolve into a single currency. I have of course supported the hard ecu plan. But after Rome, and after the comments of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister two weeks ago, there is grave danger that the hard ecu proposal is becoming untenable, because two things have happened.
The first is that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has appeared to rule out from the start any compromise at any stage on any of the basic components that all the 11 other countries believe to be a part of EMU--a single currency or a permanently fixed exchange rate, a central bank or common monetary policy. Asked whether we would veto any arrangement that jeopardised the pound sterling, my right hon. Friend replied simply, "Yes." That statement means not that we can block EMU but that they can go ahead without us. Is that a position that is likely to ensure, as I put it in my resignation letter, that "we hold, and retain, a position of influence in this vital debate"? I fear not. Rather, to do so, we must, as I said, take care not to rule in or rule out any one solution absolutely. We must be seen to be part of the same negotiation.
The second thing that happened was, I fear, even more disturbing. Reporting to this House, my right hon. Friend almost casually remarked that she did not think that many people would want to use the hard ecu anyway--even as a common currency, let alone as a single one. It was remarkable--indeed, it was tragic--to hear my right hon. Friend dismissing, with such personalised incredulity, the very idea that the hard ecu proposal might find growing favour amoung the peoples of Europe, just as it was extraordinary to hear her assert that the whole idea of EMU might be open for consideration only by future generations. Those future generations are with us today. How on earth are the Chancellor and the Governor of the Bank of England, commending the hard ecu as they strive to, to be taken as serious participants in the debate against that kind of background noise? I believe that both the Chancellor and the Governor are cricketing enthusiasts, so I hope that there is no monopoly of cricketing metaphors. It is rather like sending your opening batsmen to the crease only for them to find, the moment the first balls are bowled, that their bats have been broken before the game by the team captain.
The point was perhaps more sharply put by a British business man, trading in Brussels and elsewhere, who wrote to me last week, stating : "People throughout Europe see our Prime Minister's finger-wagging and hear her passionate, No, No, No', much more clearly than the content of the carefully worded formal texts." He went on : "It is too easy for them to believe that we all share her attitudes ; for why else has she been our Prime Minister for so long?" My correspondent concluded : "This is a desperately serious situation for our country." And sadly, I have to agree.
The tragedy is--and it is for me personally, for my party, for our whole people and for my right hon. Friend herself, a very real tragedy--that the Prime Minister's perceived attitude towards Europe is running increasingly serious risks for the future of our nation. It risks minimising our influence and maximising our chances of being once again shut out. We have paid heavily in the past for late starts and squandered opportunities in Europe. We dare not let that happen again. If we detach ourselves completely, as a party or a nation, from the middle ground of Europe, the effects will be incalculable and very hard ever to correct.
In my letter of resignation, which I tendered with the utmost sadness and dismay, I said :
"Cabinet Government is all about trying to persuade one another from within".
That was my commitment to Government by persuasion--persuading colleagues and the nation. I have tried to do that as Foreign Secretary and since, but I realise now that the task has become futile : trying to stretch the meaning of words beyond what was credible, and trying to pretend that there was a common policy when every step forward risked being subverted by some casual comment or impulsive answer.
The conflict of loyalty, of loyalty to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister--and, after all, in two decades together that instinct of loyalty is still very real--and of loyalty to what I perceive to be the true interests of the nation, has become all too great. I no longer believe it possible to resolve that conflict from within this Government. That is why I have resigned. In doing so, I have done what I believe to be right for my party and my country. The time has come for others to consider their own response to the tragic conflict of loyalties with which I have myself wrestled for perhaps too long.
This afternoon at New Europeans' public meeting, EU citizens from across London and the UK debated a new deal for a new Europe and Britain’s EU membership.
4 Freedoms (UK EPP) Party leader Dirk Hazell urged: “Europe’s leaders must work together to offer a genuine basis for hope not fear.”
“Mainstream politicians must resist siren populist calls, whilst tackling their underlying causes: two examples where action is needed are the lack of affordable housing and the unacceptable gap between rich and poor. Scandals from football to finance highlight the need for the powerful to become truly accountable. Privilege and top salaries should be matched by real responsibility towards all Europeans. The unique worth of every individual person must again be better respected and as far as possible fulfilled,” Hazell said.
In a few days, on 7 October, President Hollande and Chancellor Merkel will deliver an historic joint address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg. “This Franco-German cross-party move is welcome: Europe united in freedom and solidarity can again lead the world in aligning economic, environmental and social sustainability,” noted Hazell.
Hazell stated: “The EPP Platform for the 2014 European election is a real New Deal for Europe based on opportunity and solidarity. A single digital market worth €1000 per European per year can free the talents of Europe’s youth and SMEs, creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs. People-power not vested interests must prevail so we all benefit from the security of an energy union. And Europeans should, like Americans, benefit from a single capital market finally unleashing the real growth potential of SMEs across Europe.”
“As for EU rule-making, regulation should be as local as practicable but, for example, recent revelations highlight the need for the European Environment Agency to be empowered and required to audit national regulation of EU environmental Directives, with prominent annual reports to the European Parliament. As Europeans we are entitled to know we can trust the word of laws to become deeds,” Hazell asserted.
Hazell stressed: “We must re-build the bridges Cameron so foolishly tore down during his 2005 Conservative Party leadership bid. Pro-EU Tories should return to the mainstream centre right EPP family of Ireland’s Enda Kenny, Spain’s Mariano Rajoy, Poland’s Ewa Kopacz and Germany’s Angela Merkel. The UK needs to recognise opportunities and respect limits, win back friends across Europe and restore declining British influence. It is not too late to correct past mistakes through deft diplomacy ."
Hazell concluded: “We must focus on persuading people that the UK needs to stay united within an ever closer union. Our United Kingdom will better influence the wider World and secure our own prosperity inside our Europe united in diversity.”
Warning of UK Electoral Commission political bias, the 4 Freedoms Party (UK EPP) is calling for the four party-politically appointed Commissioners to be removed. After the unlawful disqualification of the party before the 2015 General Election - and censoring of the “EPP” acronym - Freedom of Information requests exposed alarming levels of Electoral Commission prejudice and discrimination.
“As the regulator of British elections and political parties, the Electoral Commission must be genuinely impartial and transparent. If the forthcoming EU referendum is to go smoothly, there can be no suspicion of malpractice or misconduct. The Electoral Commission’s current construct raises too many questions over competence and partiality,” warned 4 Freedoms Party (UK EPP) leader Dirk Hazell: “Party political appointees must be replaced by neutral judicial and regulatory experts.”
“With British democracy changing, legitimate new parties must be able to trust the Electoral Commission's integrity and reliability: we cannot.” noted Hazell: “After months of opaque conspiracy inside the Commission, our party was discriminatorily and peremptorily banned, with no wrongdoing alleged. This brazen denial of democracy reveals unacceptable levels of internal incompetence and bias.”
“Following Freedom of Information requests, evidence of Government intervention must also now be explained”, Hazell urged: “When the Electoral Commission finally contacted us, their letter proved misleading – with at least five subsequent changes over what was supposed to be done! The Electoral Commission never demonstrated that their conduct was lawful. In fact, our Queen’s Counsel - and, we now know, the Commission’s external legal Counsel - saw no lawful basis for what the Commission did.”
“In tomorrow’s (Mon - 24 Aug) detailed letter to the Electoral Commission Chair we raise more than 20 questions. The invaluable Freedom of Information process helped uncover how the Electoral Commission is failing in its duties as watchdog and regulator. We actively considered litigation, but the Commission’s unlawful action and other delaying tactics in early 2015 had already effectively knocked us out of the General Election”, observed Hazell.
The Electoral Commission’s wider record is mixed, leading to other calls for fundamental reform. “The electoral watchdog’s shockingly muted reaction to administrative mass disqualification of non-British EU voters in the 2014 European election (70% fewer were duly registered than in 2009 according to evidence received by the Select Committee) sends the wrong signal to any future Government tempted to make it harder for other ‘inconvenient’ minorities to register or vote in referendums or elections,” said Hazell.
Hazell concluded: “Fundamental reform of the Electoral Commission - not scrapping - is the answer. We welcome the Law Commission’s current examination of the increasingly complex, fragmented and difficult to use Electoral law in the UK.” - A full text of the Party’s letter to the Electoral Commission with a chronological attachment and links to relevant source material is available via this hyperlink.
CONSEQUENCES OF GENERAL ELECTION FOR BRITAIN'S FUTURE IN EUROPE: SPEECH TO EUROPEAN IDEAS NETWORK/WM CES/EPP GROUP, BRUSSELS, MAY 2015
Today, Mr Cameron’s electoral success may look seductive to EPP governments emerging from recession. However, his new MPs are more hostile to Europe and, as time passes, the divisive populism he used to win is likely to leave an increasingly problematic legacy.
While the UK probably won't break up or leave the EU, the risk exists and has grown. Whatever Mr Cameron wants, and he gave fair warning by leaving the EPP, he is largely responsible for a Conservative Party within which too many are now too relaxed about being the English Nationalist Party outside the EU.
Apart from the fact of a Conservative Government, three big stories on voting in 2015 compared to 2010 may affect Britain's relationship with Europe: the collapse in the Liberal Democrat vote from 23% to 8%, the quadrupling of UKIP’s vote from 3% to 13% and the trebling of the Scottish Nationalist SNP vote from 1.7% to 4.7%, giving them 50% of the vote in Scotland.
Briefly, the impact of these three stories is perhaps as follows:-
the supposedly pro-EU LibDems sustained Britain’s most Eurosceptic government from 2010-15. Since last year they have lost 92% of their MEPs and 86% of their MPs.
With the LibDems gone, Mr Cameron has no opposition within government to reversing the 1998 Human Rights Act which gave the European Convention on Human Rights direct effect in British law. He had already sacked Conservative Ministers supporting the 1998 Act. Depending on its detail, the single replacement new law may prejudice Britain’s relationship with the EU, Scotland’s attachment to the UK and the Belfast Agreement which brought 20 years' peace to Northern Ireland.
with nearly 4 million votes, UKIP secured only one MP. 149 UKIP voters had the same weight as one SNP voter. 113 UKIP voters had the same weight as one Conservative voter.
Some might say Mr Cameron served Britain well by cutting the number of UKIP MPs particularly if Brexit is avoided in the referendum.
However such grotesque distortion arising from our voting system raises questions of legitimacy particularly when Mr Cameron himself made such a populist issue of legitimacy in the election, having so emphatically alleged it would be illegitimate for the SNP to help a Labour government. UKIP is more likely than not to persist as a party of protest, and may now even be energised by manifestly justified grievance and, indeed, defeat in a referendum.
Mr Cameron is more transactional politician than strategic statesman. To damage Labour in Scotland, he effectively made a Faustian pact with the Scottish Nationalists. His rightist English nationalists and the leftist Scottish nationalists cynically motivated each others’ core vote. The SNP now has 56 of the 59 seats in Scotland: 95% of Scotland’s MPs with 50% of Scotland’s votes.
So in Scotland, nationalists have half the votes and virtually all MPs. In Northern Ireland “nationalists” at the two extremes - the DUP and Sinn Fein - together secured just over half the votes. In England, the Conservatives and UKIP together had 55% of the vote.
So the clear winners of this election were nationalists. To win an election that the Conservative Party may, like the 1992 election, come to regret winning, Mr Cameron deliberately made the Conservative Party the populist English Nationalist Party.
I briefly raise five points.
First the referendum.
This referendum is a really high risk strategy, always at the mercy of events, offering either a modest upside or a catastrophic downside.
To ensure the referendum does not become a mid-term protest against an unpopular government, and in the hope that British economic recovery lasts long enough to keep public opinion relatively positive, it may well be that the referendum is brought forward to early 2016. One straw in the wind on early timing is the removal before the General Election of the demand for treaty change by the Fresh Start group of Conservative MPs.
In this referendum, the Conservative message at best will be mixed. No one will listen to LibDems. Labour may or may not be unreliable and volatile. A pro-EU SNP could even antagonise English voters into supporting Brexit.
So the question has to be asked: will a Prime Minister who has always put the short term interest of the Conservative Party first now go into overdrive to project a positive vision of Britain in Europe?
And even if this referendum does not trigger Brexit, it may not provide closure of the issue. There is a ticking neverendum bomb: Treaty change transferring power from the UK to the EU Institutions will require another referendum.
Second, defence policy. When it came to defence, the British were once the best Europeans. It will, for example, be a massive lost opportunity for Europe's defence capacity if the replacement for the UK’s Trident nuclear submarines is not now France and Britain each halving our costs by sharing four submarines.
Third, hard-line anti-EU Conservatives will, in active opposition to EPP parties, use the ECR to project a harder-right eurosceptic narrative in all Member States. Appeasing Dan Hannan's ECR only encourages them. The EPP should respond firmly, urgently, strategically and with enhanced solidarity within the family. And Britain’s forthcoming euro-dramas can, for example in France, help only one political party: Mme Le Pen’s.
Fourth, do you believe the Conservative Party will survive in its current form? In Scotland now the obvious response, which does not mean it will happen, is to weld a separate new party out of the remnants of the Conservatives and LibDems. In England, a referendum and an increasingly unpopular government will lead more Conservatives towards UKIP’s unambiguous clarity. On our side of the Conservative diaspora, I believe the UK EPP will also secure parliamentarians. Even if it can come together again after a referendum, the Conservative Party is strategically badly placed for an emerging new period in politics. Events could lead Mr Cameron and his successor to get a rougher ride even than Mr Major in 1992-7.
Fifth, let me end positively.
The Conservative Party’s decline into Euroscepticism was substantially triggered by Black Wednesday, 16 September 1992, when the UK left the Exchange Rate Mechanism, preventing the Conservative Party from winning a British General Election for a quarter of a century. Without going into detail, today's British economy cannot withstand a bear market in sterling. If Mr Cameron has not by then blundered Britain into Brexit, I believe the British political climate will instantly transform when the Eurozone is seen to be in sustained economic recovery and when a bull market re-emerges in the Euro. The scale and speed of this transformation could astound. So, in a way my friends, it's up to you. Make us good Europeans: get rich and enhance EPP solidarity!
Today (Thurs - 14 May), with British PM David Cameron finalising the list of UK Government Ministers, EU leaders await Britain’s renegotiation demands. In Brussels to assess EU reaction to last week’s (Thurs - 7 May) UK General Election, the 4 Freedoms Party (UK EPP) leader Dirk Hazell urged: “Cameron must come clean with Britain’s EU partners over what the UK really wants from Europe. The five broad themes in the 2013 Bloomberg speech and seven supposed targets outlined last year are more vague than clear. Britain’s friends need and deserve clearer answers.”
“During the 2014 European election campaign one year ago, Cameron failed to admit to the British people who Conservative MEPs would sit with in the European Parliament. Ahead of Britain’s EU referendum, Cameron must stop concealing and start revealing: a renegotiation policy based on smoke and mirrors will alienate allies while not convincing voters. If he is not to be the last Prime Minister of a United Kingdom, Cameron needs to stop appeasing the Conservative Party’s UKIP Militant Tendency”, stated Hazell.
Speaking in Brussels (Tues - 12 May), Hazell warned the mainstream centre right EPP Group’s European Ideas Network (EIN) of continuing divisions and rebellions within Cameron’s Conservative Party over Europe: “Cameron is under pressure from within to get tough with Europe. With backbenchers - and possibly Government Ministers - to be allowed a free vote in the EU referendum, the UKIP Militant Tendency is well prepared for battles ahead. Anti-EU campaigners like the Bruges Group will provide convenient platforms for Conservatives to appear alongside UKIP to argue for Brexit.”
“We must re-build bridges that Cameron tore down during the 2005 Conservative Party leadership bid. Pro-EU Tories should return to the mainstream centre right EPP family of Ireland’s Enda Kenny, Spain’s Mariano Rajoy, Poland’s Ewa Kopacz and Germany’s Angela Merkel. The UK needs to recognise limits, win back friends across Europe and restore declining British influence. It is not too late to correct past mistakes through deft diplomacy”, stated Hazell.
On Britain’s global role, Hazell urged the UK to return to the heart of Europe: “We must reverse the erosion of Britain on the world stage. The Economist is right to warn of the Little Britain risk. One solution is for David Cameron to stop placing the sham of Conservative Party unity over Britain’s national interest in Europe. His must break his addiction of paying ransom to the Conservative’s UKIP Militant Tendency. Sadly, Cameron’s contrived referendum will not be the answer, and risks confining Britain to the margins of Europe.”
“By standing with our allies in the EU and NATO, we can preserve the UK’s prosperity through security. Cameron must urgently reverse the UK’s foreign and defence decline”, Dirk Hazell concluded: “The focus must be on persuading the British people that the UK should stay united within an ever closer union. Our United Kingdom is founded on unity, and we are better together in a Europe united in diversity.”
With voters preparing for the most important British General Election in a generation, 4 Freedoms Party (UK EPP) leader Dirk Hazell warns that the future of British democracy is at stake: “On Thursday (7 May), millions of people will go to the polls as British democracy is tested to breaking point. The British political class should recognise that people want genuine change: the UK needs a new constitutional settlement that accepts regional and local loyalties. We need to return power to people through a fresh electoral system, embracing subsidiarity and bolstering Britain’s role in Europe.”
Presenting the core UK EPP Manifesto policy platform Forward to a new Magna Carta this afternoon (Fri - 1 May), attached below, Hazell said: “The British people are rightly underwhelmed by the choice on offer from the main parties. Instead of ill-judged financial bribes, Britain above all needs a new constitutional deal that underpins freedom: a realistic and uniting prospect of hope, not the divisive politics of fear. This is our Mayday! Call for British democracy.”
The UK EPP’s eight-page Forward to a new Magna Carta calls for widespread and fundamental constitutional reform - emphasising economic, environmental and equal social fairness. Earlier (Fri - 1 May), the ResPublica independent think tank and forecaster Oxford Economics published findings on the positive boost devolution can give to the UK economy. Hazell noted: “Power should flow back to people and places: subsidiarity is the UK’s way forward, with many decisions brought closer to the citizen. In the UK, we need more devolved power - complementing our shared EU sovereignty.”
Assessing Britain’s global role, Hazell urged the UK to return to the heart of Europe: “During this Coalition Government, we have seen the erosion of Britain on the world stage. The Economist is right to warn of Little Britain. David Cameron prefers the sham of Conservative Party unity over preserving the national European interest. He caves in, paying ransom to the Conservative’s UKIP Militant Tendency. Cameron’s contrived referendum offer is not the answer.”
“By working with our allies in the EU and NATO, we ensure the UK’s continued prosperity through security. We should develop hard uses for soft power, whilst maintaining UK defence expenditure at above the 2 per cent threshold. Britain must reverse the UK’s foreign and defence decline. - We must re-build bridges that Cameron tore down since the 2005 Conservative Party leadership bid. Pro-EU Tories should return to the mainstream centre right EPP family of Ireland’s Enda Kenny, Spain’s Mariano Rajoy, Poland’s Ewa Kopacz, and Germany’s Angela Merkel,” stated Hazell.
“Our proposals are constructively radical: the most coherent package of reform to secure Britain’s freedom for present and future generations,” concluded Dirk Hazell: “For too long, the British political class prefers lecturing the rest of Europe about reform - whilst ignoring and resisting calls for change in the UK. We are part of a global village. We can together build a positive plan for the future, whilst tackling the inequalities and iniquities of the present.” ENDS
MANIFESTO: May 2015 General Election
Your 4 Freedoms First:
FORWARD TO A NEW MAGNA CARTA
Introduction: the EPP and our values - re-building freedom
The EPP is Europe’s leading political family - with Enda Kenny’s Fine Gael, Mariano Rajoy’s Partido Popular, Ewa Kopacz’s Civic Platform and Angela Merkel’s CDU included in our European family of freedom.
We believe in and now sustain Britain’s connection within the EPP’s family. The Conservative Party left this family in 2009, preferring instead allies outside the European mainstream such as President Putin’s United Russia and former President Yanukovych’s Party of the Regions in the Ukraine.
The EPP has led the rebuilding of democracy across Europe. Our EPP values are the strongest political hope of renewing and sustaining what the World sees as the best of British virtues.
The May 2015 General Election is a tawdry affair: strident allegation and unfunded financial promises are inadequate substitutes for a transparent contest of ideas with honest disclosure of Britain’s real strategic choices.
We are clear about Britain’s strategic choices: for example, Britain’s best future is as a fully engaged member of the EU. We believe Britain is much better placed to defend liberty at home and abroad as a leading member of the EU.
The EPP has set out an ambitious programme of necessary reform for the EU. However, in many ways, reform is even more urgently needed within the UK.
The British electorate is the World’s most experienced and discerning: and it is right to be underwhelmed by the choice on offer. Britons are now experiencing the long-term consequences of political parties reducing great debates of the day to competing transactional bribes.
Britain deserves much better both at home and abroad. We offer a broader, open outlook.
When it comes to making and spending money, Britain has for some time been characterised, at least for the empowered, by high levels of freedom. However, when politics become overwhelmingly transactional - with politicians re-allocating other people’s money - governments can also take back what they “give”.
A truly free society needs much firmer foundations than is provided by the licence to make and spend money. This central point can be reformulated from many perspectives and we here offer two.
First, a wider basis of society is established in the Abrahamic tradition - “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” - which, with the Enlightenment, informs EPP values.
We all need a strong economy so as many people as possible can be as fulfilled as possible. However, the objective of a fair and fulfilled society also requires the economy to be the servant of humanity and not humanity the servant of the economy.
Our EPP social market economy is neither socialist nor neoliberal. We may not be alone in claiming to balance freedom with fairness but our social market is a political concept, proven over decades to succeed, both safeguarding freedom through development of the market whilst - of equal importance - reconciling market rights with social rights, the public interest and sustainable development.
Our starting point is to regard every person as irreplaceable and unique, with all sharing the same rights and obligations and all participating in the improvement of society. Our values are the dignity of human life at every stage of its existence, freedom and responsibility, equality and justice, truth, solidarity and subsidiarity.
Subsidiarity relates to the second reformulation we here offer of the need for freedom to be about more than money.
WW2 revolutionised the World order. It is manifest fact that since 1945 we have lived in a substantially post-national world with much greater sharing of sovereignty and more globalised distribution of economic activity. National governments retain a great many powers but much of the context in which they must operate is supra-national.
Whatever any British party may assert in this General Election, decisions affecting Britain will continue to be made beyond our frontiers regardless of whether or not we the British participate in those decisions.
Without corrective action, in a World where more decisions are taken beyond national frontiers and so are further removed from directly familiar national institutions, people will naturally see themselves more as passive than active: with public policy seen as something done to people rather than the people’s own creation.
In such a context, sustaining British freedom at home requires more compensating correction than has readily been on offer from the over-centralising and inadequately reformed Westminster/Whitehall behemoth. Indeed, the Conservative Party in the 20th century in Scotland repeated the error it had made in Ireland in the 19th by resisting demands for more local powers and, indeed, exacerbating this by using Scotland as an experimental trial for contentious and ultimately aborted social engineering. There is manifestly a problem of insufficient subsidiarity within Britain: this problem has overwhelmingly been Westminster/Whitehall, not “Brussels”.
In a globalised World, which changes the character of the work of national governments and the parliaments to which they must account, the spirit of freedom - a justifiable and deeply engrained certainty that anyone with sense on their side can “make a difference” to the benefit of all - must offer people far more power over local society and public services.
The instinct of the socialist left inclines to dirigisme but the centre and centre-right of British politics have a particular duty to “trust the people”. This means empowering and trusting people to have much more say over the delivery of precisely those public services, by definition local, they mostly encounter.
It is a sad irony that - in this the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta - the freedom of the British people is more at risk than it has been since the war against fascism.
Too many British politicians project the politics of fear - often as an excuse to move the ratchet another notch away from freedom - rather than build a basis for hope.
Too many Government Ministers have reached for short-term populism - such as dissembling indications of intent to withdraw from the essentially British-authored European Convention on Human Rights - by way of evading their more onerous duty to build and sustain a fair, free and inclusive society at peace with itself.
This Manifesto therefore concentrates exclusively on the first duty of government: to defend the liberty of the people.
Defence of liberty at home
a A new Magna Carta
The British constitution, such as it is, is no longer fit for purpose.
The “Whitehall knows best” model, greatly extended during two World Wars, created a culture of far too much centralisation of power for peacetime: central control grew so tight that the integrity of the United Kingdom itself is still at risk.
Again, in a globalised World, we the people need more not less compensating local power over our daily lives: an assertively federal model of government where as many decisions as possible are taken as locally as possible. We believe in returning power back to the people.
Yes, we do want to take money from Westminster/Whitehall: not, however, for “Brussels” but to restore decisions on its allocation much nearer to Britain’s communities where people live and work.
There are talented and honourable MPs and Peers across the political spectrum.
However, the focus of their work is not always what it should be and the Westminster Parliament has, despite positive reforms like the growth of Select Committees, failed to move with the times and adapt to the evolving duties of national parliamentarians.
For example, the House of Commons has generally failed to do one of its core jobs in the modern period - keeping proper tabs on what Ministers agree in the Council of the EU.
The House of Lords has tended to do a better job of keeping an eye on Ministers in Brussels but its size and character, packed as it is with parties’ donors, can no longer be justified.
And British people are denied the fair votes which our voting patterns increasingly indicate we require. Our votes in recent decades have made it increasingly clear that the British people rightly reject the 20th century control, ultimately the route to tyranny, of party over state. We want a wider range of parties and we want everyone’s vote to count.
We propose the following Constitutional Settlement, a new Magna Carta, including the following changes:
marking the eight hundredth anniversary of the Magna Carta with a written Constitution for the British Federation (embracing Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the English regions)
devolving no less power anywhere in the British Federation than will be devolved to, for example, Scotland: in principle, Londoners and the Northern English should have as much say over their own affairs as do the Scots in the governance of Scotland
creating much more emphasis on ‘bottom up’ - not ‘top down’ - political power, with each of Scotland, Wales Northern Ireland and the English regions responsible for all policy areas not specifically reserved to the British Federal Parliament and Government. This would resemble the successful Land federal structure in Germany
electing representatives at all levels of government - local, regional, British and European - on a territorial basis, with proportionality achieved through top up lists
capping the House of Commons at no more than 500 MPs with a re-focus of MPs’ duties on the modern World: for example, at least matching best practice in other Member States’ national parliaments by holding Ministers to account in advance as well as after meetings of the Council of the European Union
limiting a reformed House of Peers, or Senate, to no more than 150 Peers appointed, following elections, by the British Federation’s countries and regions
closing the Privy Council and creating a British Federal Constitutional Division of the Supreme Court
transparently funding political parties with greater state funding - on a basis fair to rising as well as established parties - and strict and more strictly enforced limits on non-state funding of parties which should, however, attract relief as though it were charitable
strengthening the Human Rights Act by entrenching into the British Constitution the European Convention on Human Rights and the objectives of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
creating a new Council of Isles: representatives of the British Federation, its countries and regions, plus all other jurisdictions within the British Isles should be invited to regular, public meetings - building on the current British-Irish Council - to discuss matters of mutual interest and to promote greater co-operation.
We also believe, for example, that the governance of the Electoral Commission needs to become significantly more effective. Disenfranchisement and fraud in recent elections have been a national disgrace. The Electoral Commission should be charged to GOTV (“get out the vote”).
Such changes could rejuvenate British democracy and restore the British people’s sense of ownership and pride in our shared polity. Relevance could replace indifference. Accessibility of government could replace alienation.
b economic, environmental and social fairness
A sustainably free society must also be a fair society, respectful of all.
The UK has achieved broad equality regardless of ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation and this is a positive outcome.
However, other inequalities in Britain today are unacceptable and they represent a structural threat to the foundations of British freedom.
While most people experienced an acute squeeze of living standards under the Coalition Government, Britain’s billionaires more than doubled their wealth. Britain today is too polarised between billionaires and the destitute, with too much pressure also on those struggling in-between. To offer one example, the minimum wage should progressively rise to the level of the living wage.
Ultimately it is not good even for the billionaires that within a block of the House of Lords people regularly sleep rough on the streets of Westminster, that Trussell Trust food banks have needed to increase by more than twentyfold their emergency three day food allocations under the present government or that more than 4 million children in Britain are below the poverty line.
And our prisons too tell a tale of inequality. Half of prisoners have literacy and numeracy levels below those expected of 11 year olds: in a decent society, prisons would be places not of escalating suicides but of effective rehabilitation. We also suspect prisons represent a privatisation too far.
A great deal has been asserted about migration: those who most bemoan such migration have not always honoured their duty to be at least as noisy about the skills shortages - the failures in our educational system - that have made so much migration so necessary to keystones of British life such as the NHS.
Having presided over Britain’s longest and deepest recession, it beggars belief that, even with ultra loose monetary policies and rock bottom borrowing costs, the Coalition Government has managed to build so little infrastructure with, to give just one example, house-building at pitifully low levels. This is an on-going British disease - even the Heaven-sent oil bonanza of the 1980s left Britain bereft of infrastructure - and it needs correcting.
Every Briton deserves a fair start in life.
Every Briton deserves fair chances in life.
Every Briton deserves fair protection from life’s misfortunes such as chronic ill health.
It is an unhelpful context for such aspirations that the UK today has alarmingly high levels of both public and private sector debt and, despite the now faltering pre-election break from recession, low productivity and a structural balance of payments deficit. Even with falling living standards, we are still living beyond our national means and the inevitable constraints ahead enhance the importance of public policy being and being seen to be fair.
Instead of the narrow transactional bribes too often proffered by the established parties, what Britain instead needs is re-definition of the British deal - as well as a change of economic direction from rampant neo-liberalism towards the social market model.
To offer one example, Britain urgently needs much improved inter-generational justice and we here illustrate this theme in a number of ways.
One essential component of inter-generational justice is for every generation to bequeath successor generations an environment at least as benign as the environment it itself inherited: Britain should be a leader within both the EU and the wider world for greater environmental sustainability. With the energy in our surging seas, to give just one example, we have no excuse for failing to achieve a carbon-neutral energy surplus by 2050. And the existential crisis facing bees - animals on which our civilisation depends - is one of many confirmations of the wisdom of the precautionary principle. The greater the failure to mitigate climate change, the greater the pressures on the World’s poor to migrate. Tomorrow’s people’s future requires today’s political class to protect the environment.
When it comes to educational opportunity, no young person should be left behind. There is a chasm of opportunity between the best of Britain’s private schools and Britain’s normal state schools: most places in Britain’s private schools should as soon as practicable be funded by state scholarships. The internet offers an unprecedented opportunity to help all schools to tailor the best possible individual education for every young person, preparing them for adult life and the most rewarding world of work for that person. And every young person should have the chance to “make a difference” by participating in, for example, properly accredited National Citizen Service and HRH the Prince of Wales’ Step up to Serve.
Young people should have opportunities at least as good as those of their parents and grandparents to their own home: while they are still young. New houses should not be in the Green Belt but equally they should be affordable and in garden cities away from vulnerable areas such as those at high risk of flooding.
Another component of inter-generational justice is our shared public infrastructure. While it is good when new hospitals and schools are built, we do not believe anything like enough attention has been given by the political class to the detailed and sustained critiques in ‘Private Eye’ of the flawed PFI model: use public infrastructure today while compelling your children and grandchildren pay over the odds for decades to come. We welcome the potential of a European capital market to improve cost-effective capital allocation and we also believe in the potential of real “granny bonds” to achieve better inter-generational justice with pensioners safely investing their capital in public infrastructure and securing a fiscally incentivised income in return.
Timely and undistorted dissemination of pertinent information and freedom of expression are essential to a free society.
With so many journalists as defendants in the criminal courts, clearly all is not as it should be within the UK. While journalists who commit crimes should normally face prosecution, we believe that in exceptional circumstances a statutory public interest defence should be available to journalists exposing ills such as corruption in public life. We deplore the Conservative Party’s formal alliance with the governing party of Turkey which has more journalists per person incarcerated in prison than any other country.
We are concerned about the concentration of ownership of British media and about reporting that does not always reflect the real strategic choices facing the British people. Many in Britain did not, for example, know that the 2014 European Parliament election was an election with a heavily presidential component until after that election when the British Prime Minister as noisily as ineffectively objected to the EPP’s nominee for President of the European Commission.
While it is reasonable to review the governance of the BBC to ensure that it is effective and robust for modern times, we believe that, with concentration of media ownership at home and the need for the voice of freedom to be capable of being heard across the World, the BBC’s unique national and global role is as needed now as ever it was.
When its Charter is renewed, the BBC’s independence must continue to be guaranteed. There is a very strong case for enhancing its statutory duty to provide public information and also making it clear that this role includes relevant parameters specified in the Lisbon Treaties.
For example, our experience suggests that British people would like to know more about what the EU does. We believe the British polity would be enhanced by much more transparent rehearsing about what works and does not work so well across Europe in providing services such as schools, hospitals and environmental protection. We regard the BBC as best placed to broadcast this type of public information for which we believe the British people has an unmet demand.
International defence of liberty
However disappointing and regrettable it is, enhanced risk - particularly in Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean and Middle East - requires an adequate and immediate response that has not obviously been met.
It is profoundly disturbing that after five years of the Coalition Government, Britain, a maritime nation, has no maritime surveillance aircraft. Even when HM The Queen was asked to launch the new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, there were on board only plastic replicas of the aircraft it might one day carry.
However, we welcome the statutory recognition in the Armed Forces Act 2011 of the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant.
We believe any responsible British political party should:
commit at least 2% of GDP to defence;
accept renewal of the independent nuclear deterrent with four maritime vessels: as a most urgent priority the British Government should positively pursue the practicality of a joint British deterrent with France;
provide necessary resources to enhance and better coordinate the security services; and
both fully honour the Armed Forces Covenant and stop diminishing the size of our Armed Forces.
To anyone who says this cannot be afforded, we say simply this: if ever Britain’s history teaches a lesson it is that Britain can never afford other than to assure our defence.
This is all essential, but even this is insufficient.
It is Europe’s responsibility, within NATO, to share more of the burden carried by the USA. Europe is at risk but we are no longer the ravaged continent of 1945: the EU is the World’s largest economy and the USA must now focus more than before on the Pacific.
So while we agree with UKIP that 2% of GDP must be committed to defence, we deplore as irresponsibly misleading UKIP’s failure openly to advocate the need also to work within the EU both to ensure that other Member States do indeed contribute their 2% and also to secure sensibly co-ordinated defence. The European whole within NATO can and must be very much greater and more effective than the sum of its national parts.
Complementing this hard power, Europe should project even better than it has our shared soft power.
The 0.7% GDP we commit to overseas aid should focus on areas of greatest need and within our own neighbourhood: the humanitarian crisis in parts of the Middle East and Libya is both desperate and under-reported.
Europeans must help both because it is the right thing to do and also because it makes us safer at home.
REPRODUCTION OF ARTICLE BY GRAHAM BISHOP, WWW.GRAHAMBISHOP.COM, ON IMPACT ON CITY OF HMG'S EU POLICY
Exceptionally, we reproduce Graham Bishop's article published today by the European Movement at http://ymlp.com/zft4k4.
This implies no political affiliation on Mr Bishop's part: simply our own strong - and established - agreement with the points he makes:-
The UK's EU policy: Progressive meltdown epitomised by ECJ rejection of `bankers’ bonus’ case.
by Graham Bishop, EU Political, Financial, Economic and Budgetary policy expert and founder of www.grahambishop.com
The pace of collapse seems to be accelerating – and the commercial consequences for the UK may well intensify correspondingly, especially for the City of London. The timeline of the divergence between the UK's attitude to the EU and mainstream EU opinion stretches back at least a decade.
The enduring characteristic of recent UK policy is a lack of strategic thinking about the longer-run implications. Instead the focus seem to be on the immediate short-run benefits. Key events that have had an effect on the financial services industry included:
1. The Conservatives leave EPP – May 2009 ahead of EP election.
2. Veto a Treaty – December 2011: Subsequently, TSCG was signed on 1 March 2012 and now ratified by 25 EU States
3. Attack on free movement of persons – November 2013 onwards
4. Short–selling - January 2014: action dismissed by ECJ.
5. FTT – April 2014: action dismissed by ECJ
6. Veto Juncker – June 2014 onwards: Juncker is now President of the Commission
7. EU budget surcharge – October 2014: Was it really `halved’?
8. Bankers’ Bonuses - November 2014: action dismissed by ECJ
9. The United Kingdom versus ECB on CCPs – perhaps in May 2015?
For the financial services industry, the real commercial problem is now looming. The Government's habit of resorting to suing the rest of the EU Members in the European Court of Justice (ECJ) is counterproductive and gives the impression (wrongly) that the UK's political clout is minimal. There is plenty of scope for compromise in EU decision-making, before taking one's partners to the ECJ. But by abandoning the route of negotiation and compromise the UK is unable promote its position.
So far the UK has failed in every financial services ECJ case – with its arguments almost entirely rejected. Reading the ECJ decisions, even a layman can understand why the flimsy arguments have been rejected.
However, the most significant ECJ case is yet to come. In September, I explained that the ECJ will pronounce judgment on three cases brought by the UK Government against the ECB on the location of CCPs. (European Court of Justice: The United Kingdom versus ECB on CCPs).
British business now faces an excruciating dilemma: should it support its traditional political ally (the Conservative Party), or the Labour Party, do something entirely different, or sit on its hands?
Ahead of the General Election next May, the UK Government is focussing on the 'sunny uplands’ of economic growth, falling unemployment, and low inflation etc. But the Prime Minster needs to look over his shoulder and see some inky-black clouds rolling over the horizon behind him. The logical consequences of his 'EU policy’ may blot out the sun all too soon.
"The views expressed on the euroblog are those of the authors and not necessarily of the European Movement UK. The European Movement UK is pleased to publish articles on a variety of EU policy areas as a contribution to the debate.”
4 Freedoms Party (UK EPP)
Promoted by M Paterson on behalf of 4 Freedoms Party (UK EPP), both at Office 103, 405 Kings Road, London, SW10 0BB