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Name me two organisations who having called a vote then ignore the outcome, bully and threaten the voters into having a second vote, and keep doing so until they get the “right” result. 

You’ve got it – these two bastions of democracy: the Government of Zimbabwe and the European Union.

People who know me are well aware that I’ve never been keen on the European Union, even when it was called the European Economic Community, and we were being told that it was just a trading group. Prime Minister Edward Heath and his cronies consistently claimed that there was no plan for the EEC to be anything more. I had read the Treaty of Rome and knew that this was a lie and I said so to Heath’s face on live television. He denied it then but years later he admitted that he knew perfectly well that he was not telling the truth. Shock, Horror! Politician lies!! Well back then it was pretty shocking. These were the days when MPs resigned over the slightest thing like being caught speeding, or being drunk in public. What a change, nowadays they hang on for grim death.

Anyway, what can I say about the latest debacle?

Having been unable to get the new European Constitution passed – thanks to the French and the Dutch – the EU simply made a few changes and hey presto (roll of drums) – “ladies and gentlemen we proudly present The Lisbon Treaty (tarraaa…)

Having promised a referendum vote on the Constitution in their manifesto for the 2005 General Election Blair and Brown refuse to hold a referendum on the grounds that the Treaty isn’t the same as the Constitution which is not what everyone else thinks. OK – there are some minor differences but the overall aim and thrust is simply the same and whilst a really smart barrister could probably justify the claim that they are not technically the same, the fact is that in substance, morally they are identical.

But don’t take my word for it. After all Francois Mitterrand  (former French President and the author of the Constitution) has said the two are the same. Gisela Stewart (German born MP for Birmingham Edgbaston and the UK representative on the drafting group) has also stated that the Lisbon Treaty and the EU Constitution are one and the same thing and she has pressed Blair and Brown to hold a referendum. Probably get deselected for that next time round. Be that as it may Brown and Blair say otherwise – so they must be right then, mustn’t they?

Now the existing EU law says that all 27 member countries must ratify the Lisbon Treaty otherwise it cannot come into effect. So having had their fingers burnt when they last tried to foist the Constitution on us 26 of the 27 countries decided not to ask their citizens for their opinion but to ratify the treaty in their own parliament, where of course the can use the party “whipping” system to get their own way.

That left little Ireland, whose own constitution forces a referendum in these cases and after a lot of arguing the dear people of Ireland delivered a resounding NO to the treaty, defeating it by 54% to 46% – not even a close result.

God bless the Irish!

Now, I’m not going to go into the arguments for or against the Treaty/Constitution. What I want to discuss is the insult to the democratic process that the EU itself and most of the other members have delivered. For whilst the law clearly says that now Ireland has said no the Treaty cannot be implemented, the EU and other countries are just sailing on regardless and trying to find some way to ignore or overturn the result. EU foreign ministers closed ranks on Monday to insist that the treaty was still alive.

It looks as if Dublin’s 26 partners are not going to take “No” for an answer. All of them, perhaps excepting the wavering Czechs, say ratification should continue elsewhere in the bloc and Britain has affirmed it will defy Eurosceptic pressure and pursue its endorsement plans. Which is has now done – though the House of Lords may overturn that decision.

So what message does this send out to the world? Well Robert Mugabe didn’t get the result he wanted in the recent Zimbabwe election – so he is running it again. How different is that to the EU attitude – and it isn’t the first time that the EU has run elections time after time until it got the “right” answer.

The simple fact is that while trumpeting the need for third world countries to embrace democracy the EU is quite simply undemocratic. MEPs have little power. Unelected “civil servants” take decisions that affect millions of European citizens and they are never held to account.

It’s disgusting and it must stop. It is time for the citizens of Europe to take a stand and reclaim their democratic rights.

Lest I be accused of being “anti European” or a “little Englander” I’d point out that (a) I’m Scottish, and (b) I went to university in Portugal long before the UK or Portugal were members of the EU, and I spent the best part of 25 years publishing, editing and translating European writers. I love the multi cultural lives we now lead and revel in the food, culture and presence of so many other nationalities in my daily life. I am not anti European I am just anti EU. They are not the same.

And yes, it must be said that I’ve managed to opt out. I live in the Isle of Man, the only part of the British Isles that is not in the European Union. If you can’t beat ‘em, leave ‘em!  Despite my objections to Britains membership I did serve 7 years on the European Union Objective 2 and Objective 3 Programme Monitoring Committees overseeing the spending of the Structural and Social Funds in the UK so I do actually have a lot of “inside information” and so you can draw your own conclusions from the fact that I don’t live in the EU any longer!

But I still care about what is happening in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and what is happening in the wider community of European nations. The EU needs to change.

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