Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Libertas isn't EU-sceptic

Libertas launches in the UK this morning and it's going to be interesting to find out whether people understand the basic point about Declan Ganley. He's not against the European Union, far from it. He's very much a supporter of the project, just wishing to change very slightly the direction it's going in, that's all.

There's a rather bewildering assumption that because Declan campaigned so successfully for a No vote in the Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty that he's therefore against further integration, ever closer union and the rest of the federalist claptrap. We in UKIP stood alongside him in that campaign and thoroughly admire what he achieved. However, we're also very much aware that he's in favour of much of what makes up the European Project. It's really just the Lisbon Treaty he doesn't like.

Ganley starts from the same place that I do (and therefore his analysis, at this point, is obviously correct). The European Union is responsible for some 75 per cent of our laws, the aim of the grand project is to move power away from the people and place it firmly in the hands of a technocratic class of bureaucrats and there's very little or no democracy in the way that it functions. We both agree further that something about this needs to change. However, what it is that should change is where we diverge and this is where Declan and Libertas fall into error. Essentially, the same error the Conservative party has itself fallen prey to.

They both believe that, while the current situation is dire, matters can and will be improved by working from the inside, by attempting to change the direction of the juggernaut. Libertas is running on the idea that a few more elections, say an elected European Union president, will solve matters, that the voice of the people will be heard. The Tories seem to think that, well, it's difficult to know what the Tories actually intend to do about anything or, indeed, whether they would do anything if they themselves could make up their minds. We're still waiting for them to leave the EPP, something Cameron promised would happen in months, not years or weeks - that promise being what swung his election to the party leadership.

But however well-meaning this all is, however nice it would be to be able to believe that any of us could change the direction we're being moved in, this simply isn't possible. We're not being offered any choices on how the EU is going to work in the future, how it is going to develop. There are no opportunities to force or insist upon our own blueprints either. The parliament does not have the power to initiate legislation: that stays very firmly with the Commission. We are faced with only two choices. We accept the way the EU is, the way that decisions are made and the drive to creating a federal superstate. Or we reject that vision and decide to leave.

You'll recall that they didn't listen to the French or the Dutch in the referendums on the constitution. Also that they're not listening to the Irish on their referendum on the renamed and repacked constitution (now called the Lisbon treaty). They won't listen to calls for reform, for changes in direction, from inside the parliament either. The basic policy idea of both Libertas and the Tory party is flawed: they are arguing for negotiations with people who will not negotiate.

This is how we get to my and our position in UKIP. These changes that people desire are simply not possible while we remain within the Union. We have to leave and to cooperate where we wish and need to but for the rest of it simply become an independent and sovereign nation once again.

Nigel Farage is the leader of the UK Independence party (UKIP)
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