This evening, as you are watching the news with a friend after the Dutch have voted No to the European Constitution, why not play “Ostrich” Bingo? Take a grid each, listen to the politicians’ excuses, and see who’s the first to get a line across in any direction. When you’ve got one, shout “House of Cards!”.
|higher prices||Turkey||social model|
But if I were you, I wouldn’t play with this grid. You might be there all night…
(Sidenote: MT isn’t very good at letting you add entry-specific style. I’ve had to put <style> tags in the <body>, which is not allowed, to style my tables. Sigh.)
I had a go with the BBC’s version of this on election night. Whichever one you play it’s better than bloody Su Doku
Heh, this is funny =D
I liked the report on ‘Channel 4 News’ last night that described how “France is still reeling from” the rejection of the EU constitution. Um, surely the majority of the voters in France were against the constitution, and therefore “France is still celebrating” would’ve been a better choice of words?
Oh, did I say “liked”? I meant “dismayed by”.
Hello? Shall we get back to reality here?
I would like to remind you that there are many people in Europe (maybe not in the UK, but I don’t really care about that: the UK has always been snobbish when it comes to the EU) that do want greater integration and that were in favour of the constitution. The referendum in Spain showed a clear majority for the yes camp, albeit with low turnout, and you can’t write off the French vote as an overwhelming rejection, since, whatever you say, 45% of the votes were yes, and 45/55 is pretty close to an even split in my book.
I do believe that the vote in France was at least partially a protest on the sitting government, a stagnant economy, and high prices.
Oh, and regarding the UK: why doesn’t it just take its ball and go home? It’s not part of Schengen (shame!), it’s not part of the Euro, and all it seems to do is hinder integration between other EU nations. Why doesn’t someone propose a referendum to pull out of the EU, if the British electorate is so convinced that the EU is useless? I’m sure they’d get high turnout and a clear “yes” vote.
I’ll tell you why: because it would be suicide for the UK. The UK needs harmonization of rules and regulations with the rest of Europe, and is in no way strong enough to go it alone on the world stage. The sun set on the British empire a long time ago, it’s just that the British electorate still hasn’t realized that yet…
Lor, it is totally useless to discuss European politics with a Brit. They are Europe-averse just out of tradition. This is mainly because they live on an island and do not see the benefits of European integration as much as those of us, who live in the heart of Europe.
While I find it sad, that the French (and probably the Dutch as well) voted “No” it will bring some good: information. Over here in Germany I estimate that 70-80% of the population have never heard of the European constitution or have heard about it, but don’t know what it is about. You have to communicate the benefits to get the people on board.
To get more on topic again: Exactly the same happened in the Mozilla universe. We had a great product (the Suite), which was far better than its major competitor (Internet Explorer) but the market share only grew in very small amounts because only insiders knew about the suite. With Firefox and the marketing campaigns on SFX that changed and now tens of millions of people use it world-wide and even more know the benefits of using Firefox.
So the bottomline for every European politician is:
Talk to your people, tell them what the European constitution is about, what its benefits are and what problems it solves. Information is the key. Informed people do not fall prey to liars from the extreme-left or extreme-right easily.
“I’ll tell you why: because it would be suicide for the UK. The UK needs harmonization of rules and regulations with the rest of Europe, and is in no way strong enough to go it alone on the world stage. The sun set on the British empire a long time ago, it’s just that the British electorate still hasn’t realized that yet…”
Indeed. Which is why there hasn’t been a seriously anti-EU government here since we joined. The fact that the populous tends to disagree with the government is largely a result of xenophobia and a misguided sense of self-importance, coupled with a lack of understanding of economic issues. That said, the EU beauracracy seems to be dense and, frankly, near incomprehensible. It bears all the hallmarks of design by committee (worse, design by committee of lawyers). If people had a clear idea of who was in charge, the reason for policies and how policies affect them, there might be less mistrust of the “European Project” in general and the constitution in particular.
Why does “harmonisation of rules and regulations” have to come in one big lump? Free and increased trade – good. Laws about the bendiness of bananas – bad. Cross-border police co-operation and limited sentence harmonisation – good. Single defence or foreign policy – bad.
Simon: the Firefox success was not just down to marketing, it was also down to giving people what that actually wanted. And that’s precisely the issue with Europe. Brits are generally in favour of cooperation on things like cross-border law enforcement, free trade, and general good-neighbourliness. We just don’t see why that means we should have to give up sovereignty over our immigration and defence policies, for example. If the Mozilla Suite is the EU now, we’d happily take the stripped-down, souped up Firefox version.
The further the people are from the rulers, the more opportunity for corruption. The EU adds several extra layers, without very much benefit. Note, in a similar vein, the general English reticence to have regional assemblies. It’s just another layer of talking politicians.
jgraham: it’s interesting that you can sum up one of the major problems with the EU quite well, and yet put down the British people’s aversion to it as “xenophobia, self-importance and lack of understanding of economics”. You don’t think just a few of them might be put off by the “near-incomprehensible bureaucracy”?
A few? Sure. But, in my experience, that’s not the reason that most people give – I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say “I’d be all for the EU if only it were run slightly differently”. Instead they say something more like “we don’t need bloody foreigners telling us what to do”.
That example is massively overused. True it’s a bad law but it’s not the worst (the laws preventing the sale of certian types of seed are more inexplicable). It’s certianly no worse than a huge number of Westminster-derived laws but few people have suggested leaving the country because of, say, ID cards.
Why? On a related note, what about human rights laws that our government were very reluctant to allow through?
Except that, in principle, regional assemblies are closer to the people than the central government. The idea seems to have had a positive impact in Scotland and Wales.
Just to put to bed that one on bananas, a European Commission page on the subject. From the article:
The European Commission was asked by national agriculture ministers and the industry to draft legislation in this area. Following extensive consultation with the industry, the proposed quality standards were adopted by national ministers in Council in 1994.
In other words, the EU is reacting to the needs of business in the pursuit of common trading standards in the single market. Furthermore, it was legislation passed by the member states, including Britain. Sounds like sensible lawmaking to me.
> They are Europe-averse just out of tradition.
Please don’t tar us all with this brush. Some of us (probably more than common wisdom would suggest) are instinctively pro-Europe.
Despite being an ardent pro-European, I’d probably vote against the constitution (though I doubt I’ll get the chance). Not because I’m against Europe, but because the constitution as currently drafted is bad for Europe.
A constitution should set out precisely and simply:
(i) the bodies in which delegated power resides;
(ii) the powers (or alternatively the limits of powers) of said bodies;
(iii) the separation of powers between those bodies;
(iv) the methods by which bodies are elected/appointed and replaced;
(v) the means by which the constitution may be amended, which are presumably more onerous than those for passing mere laws.
All this needs to be as simple and as concise as possible (doubly so if it needs to be translated into many languages).
The current constitution adds lots of baggage over and above this, that shouldn’t be promoted above the level of normal law. Given that the separation of powers is poorly worked out (there is still no adequate way to hold the Council of Ministers to account), our politicians would be well advised to dust off their Constitutional Law text books (they did study this stuff…) and produce a clear, simple and minimal constitution. (A separate treaty to re-enact the provisions of Rome, Maastricht, etc. to get us back to the status quo may also be necessary).
Such a constitution might get the Tory party in a lather about a “United States of Europe”, but that’s a battle for another day.
We can do more about ID cards because the people trying to impose them are somewhat more accountable to us (join the No2ID campaign!). And the entire point of rejecting outside interference is that there would be hopefully less need to leave the country.
You’d need to be more specific. A law is not automatically good merely because it’s labelled a “human rights law”.
Devolution != regional assemblies.
I’m not surprised “the industry” asked for it – it has the effect of freezing Caribbean banana growers (whose bananas are smaller and more curly) out of the market, which is great for the big South American firms. Anyway, I don’t give a stuff if the Queen of Sheba asked for the regulation – if I’m a greengrocer, I want to import bananas of whatever shape I please.
This may be a bit off topic, but I think that banana law is a bit silly. Bananas come in all shapes, sizes, and colors (some bananas are ripe when there green). Some grow to about almost foot and some only 3 or 4 inches (usually, the smaller ones taste better though). Some are for cooking, and some are for regular eating. IMHO, a law that discriminates banana sizes or shapes is complete nonsense, and as Gerv said, just has the effect of freezing certain markets.
Just the opinion of someone who grew up in Asia.