Friday, January 14, 2005

EU argument explosion?

Following yesterday's decision by the European Parliament to approve the constitution, things are kicking off a bit (even though the parliament's decision actually means very little with all these referenda coming up).

Blogging Labour MEP Richard Corbett, co-rapporteur for the European Parliament's report on the European Constitution, has done a piece for EU Observer trying to convince Eurosceptics to vote for the constitution.

He points out near the end that "If it fails to be adopted, we can look forward to several years of bitter wrangling on the future structure of the enlarged EU." Personally I reckon that could be a very worthwhile exercise - rushing things through tends to lead to mistakes being made, but at the same time I think the point Mr Corbett is trying to make is the old one about "too many cooks".

Eurosceptic EU Serf - I suspect like many of his ideological kin - remains unconvinced by Corbett's arguments, and provides a handy point-by-point demolition job of the article: "So far each treaty we have signed has been a vehicle for further integration. Why should this document be any different? ...The EU seems to work like a bicycle, it needs to continuously go forward. Perhaps we can all now fall off."

North Sea Diaries notes that a quarter of MEPs voted against, while Martin at Ironies, a Eurosceptic blog I only found out about yesterday, points out that a majority of three countries' MEPs voted against the constitution - Britain, the Czech Republic and Poland. The Financial Times article he links to notes that 40 of 70 British MEPs voted against - where were the rest of them for such an historic vote?

Not constitution-specific, per se, at Straight Banana Toby has, as promised, started a series of articles which should be worth a read: Sentimentality (1), Sentimentality (2) - European Parliament vs House of Commons, and Anti Auntie - a discussion of the perrennial Eurosceptic claim that the BBC is biased in favour of the EU.

Perhaps it is the length of these which has prompted EU Referendum's latest attack on Toby - including outing his real-world identity (bad form - and unecessary really, as it's fairly obvious anyway). I am assuming that this must be an example of how "the Eurosceptic sites are dominating the high ground, displaying wit, humour and depth of coverage that is not matched by the Europhiles", as EU Referendum's Richard North claims. Personally, I'd say it's a rather petty jab combined with a generalisation based on, well, not a lot of anything, really.

As I have pointed out in a comment to Lose the Delusion's post on North's latest snipe, it rather appears from his blogroll that North rarely bothers to read pro-EU blogs other than Straight Banana (which I'd say often displays wit and humour, although what with being run by one chap with a full-time job is unsurprisingly not quite so obsessive with its coverage), so quite where he gets this idea from I have no idea... Perhaps he may wish to elaborate at some point, although frankly I'm not too bothered - although North is evidently intelligent and knows his subject well, he has a tendency not so much to argue as to lecture, not so much to refute other arguments as to simply say "that's wrong". It reminds me a bit of my Dad over Christmas lunch...

However, what North's comments do (sort of) point out is that the eurobloggosphere (certainly the Anglophone part of it) does seem to be somewhat dominated by Eurosceptic voices. Of the fairly regular, non-official pro-EU lot who try and focus on the EU more than anything else, there's really only here, Straight Banana and Lose the Delusion that I'm aware of - and until a few months ago Straight Banana was on its own. Anyone know of any more? Who has North been reading to get such a poor impression of the internet's pro-EU voices?

6 Comments:

Blogger Toby said...

Thanks for this! For what it's worth, I've never kept my day job a secret, so I'm not too worried about Dr North "outing" me, though it would have been polite to ask. Besides, the only connection between the day job and the blog is that I sometimes post light-hearted bits which I come across while at work.

Despite the general reaction, though, I don't actually think Dr North's most recent response to me is that bad. At least he sticks (mostly) to the issues rather than going ad hominem, an approach he's previously struggled with.

By the way, you wrote: "The Financial Times article he links to notes that 40 of 70 British MEPs voted against - where were the rest of them for such an historic vote?" - They were there, voting in favour!

1/14/2005 01:06:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

I thought we had 78? Or did I misread it?

As for the other thing, I can't see why your day job's relevant - except in as much as it gives you much better access to pertinent information than some of us. Trying to keep up with it all from an almost totally unrelated job, as I am, puts (to put it mildly) a bit of a strain on things.

Or maybe it's because you're working for a Labour chappie? That could get people's goat, I suppose... But then I worked for a Tory MP, even though I've never been a member of the party and haven't voted for them in years.

As far as I can tell, the only thing that matters is that you're openly pro-EU and know what you're talking about. Just because you work for a particular public figure doesn't mean you're their mouthpiece and share all their views - if it did, when I was at the Commons it would have meant I was an anti-abortion High Church Anglican.

Which, I hasten to add, I am not by a long shot.

1/14/2005 06:37:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Trying to keep up with it all from an almost totally unrelated job, as I am, puts (to put it mildly) a bit of a strain on things"

You got that right.

DVH

1/14/2005 10:57:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cheers for the excellent summary of the current debates. By the way, I think you, me and Toby are indeed the only regular pro-European British/Anglophone bloggers. If there are others, I would certainly like to hear about them. Although, the blogosphere being what it is, I would suspect that we would know about their existence by now. Sadly, I think the three of us are currently alone in this cold universe!

James

1/15/2005 09:27:00 am  
Blogger ken said...

Please don’t think you are not appreciated because you certainly are, it would be a very sterile Blogosphere without differing views.

1/15/2005 11:14:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Aren't you sweet?

As far as I'm concerned, it's nice to get recognition obviously (and I note that since this post appeared EU Referendum has added both Europhobia and Lose the Delusion to its blogroll...), but my main reason for starting this up was really just to explore the issues to work out precisely where I stand and to give myself a chance to think and write about rather more serious things than I can through my day job and most of my freelance work.

It wouldn't really matter to me too much if no one read it - I mean, it's not like I'm making any money out of it... (Actually, even going just by NUJ standard rates I would have earned over four and a half grand by now were this paid!)

Having said that, the fact that people do (and the numbers seem to be steadily growing, which is nice) gives more of an incentive to keep up with it, which means that my primary aim of learning more about the central subject of the EU and delving into current affairs in more depth is being fulfilled more regularly.

It's good stuff, this blogging business - satisfying, interesting, and occasionally fun. More people should try it.

1/16/2005 12:01:00 am  

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