Wednesday, October 03, 2012

"Reform sir ? Aren't things bad enough as they are ?" Lord Eldon, Lord Chancellor said in the 1820s.  Birkdale Focus reminds us of Paddy's wonderful speech on foreign affairs at a conference fringe, full of poetry and history but sadly no substitute for the lack of foreign policy debate on the floor of conference.   For the full speech see here.

Paddy was somewhat disparaging about the EU, saying rightly that it does not connect with the citizen and then calling vaguely for institutional reform.  As I pointed out in my question to him on the day, he doesn't say how he wants the EU institutions reformed !  This is dangerous.  Usually the Tory eurosceptics call for EU reform but they have always opposed any reform which would improve things.  Small example: everyone moans about the European Parliament working on three sites and the cost of decamping to Strasbourg once a month.  Why does it happen ?  Because the power to decide the question rests with a unanimous vote of the European Council, i.e. there's a national veto involved.   Solution: remove the veto and let the EP decide on its own location.

I don't believe that the answer to UKIP is to say "Reform the institutions".  It's to proclaim what the institutions have achieved.  "Reform the institutions" is a defensive response, conceding half the eurosceptic case.

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