Thursday, March 06, 2003

A few bizarre Europhobe rumours from that pamphlet. The great thing is how most of them are so damn petty and patently ridiculous, and would hardly make any difference to the so-called British way of life even if they were implemented:

20) Brussels bureaucrats are going to introduce a standard Euro-condom of insufficient size to house British assets

25) Brussels tried to torpedo "lethal" PVC bathtime ducks

31) Brussels plans to harmonise size of coffins

32) Brussels has banned English Oaks

34) British seesaws are banned by EU bureaucrats for breaching European Union safety regulations

38) MEPs discriminate against ferrets

62) Local sweet shops will be forced to close due to Brussels regulations banning them from selling unwrapped sweets

64) Eurocrats to ban English apples over 55mm across

65) Curved bananas are to be banned - the infamous one, and a load of bollocks

67) Brandy butter is to be renamed "brandy spreadable fat"

73) Information about nuts must now be put in Latin instead of English

74) Cucumbers will be banned by Brussels unless they are straight and must not arch more than 10mm for every 10mm of their length

76) Square gin bottles are to be compulsorily replaced by round bottles to ensure a level playing field under the single market

79) Traditional pizza sizes in inches are to be outlawed

83) Brussels plans banning mushy peas

88) Brussels bureaucrats want to ban British milk bottles

97) The European Court of Justice has ruled that it is illegal to criticise the European Union

99) EU plans to criminalise journalists

132) British lollipop ladies are having to bow to Brussels' relentless drive for harmonisation by getting new harmonised sign designs

173) Britain never chose to be in Europe, it was imposed on us - utter nonsense - excellent!

181) America is worried that the European Rapid Reaction Force will undermine NATO - America worried about undermining NATO? Ha!

It's interesting stuff, this Europe business. There's a hell of a lot of information out there - it's going to take a fair while to wade through it all. I'll try and stick it out for the long-haul, if only so I've got loads of facts and figures to chuck at people who make stupid claims like those above...

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

This is interesting. (Note: if you download it it might be necessary to change the filetype to .pdf to open it, and you'll need a copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader to view it).

Its impressive claim is to debunk 201 Eurosceptic myths. They're not always very effectively disproved as it's trying to do it too rapidly and the footnotes are often fairly vague, but worth a flick through nonetheless.

However, a few here bother me, as my old Euroscepticism surfaces again. For example, number 16 is the myth that decimalisation was forced on Britain by Europe. The response is that the Decimal Currency Act was passed in 1969, before we joined the EEC, and before the Heath government that took us in came to power. But what about the 1961 application to sign the Treaty of Rome by the Macmillan government? This initiated a decade of attempts to get closer to Europe as the realisation slowly dawned that, post-Suez, Britain was no longer the power she once was. I'm pretty certain it could be argued quite effectively that decimalisation was at least partially an attempt to curry favour with Europe in preparation for future applications for membership. Similar arguments appear for numer 18, about metric measures, which were introduced with the 1963 Weights and Measures Act - again after Britain's first application for membership.

If we're going to argue against anti-European myths we really ought to do it without leaving any openings for counter-arguments. I may add more about things from this document later - have a flick through though, it's quite funny to see some of the things that have been claimed about the EU's meddling ways...

This blog will contain the musings of a one-time Eurosceptic turned pro-European. Turned largely by the inanity of the innumerable Eurosceptic rantings. However, there will be few cases of rampant Europhilia - the zeal of the convert has not overwhelmed me. The arguments will be mostly balanced, and stupid claims from both sides will be equally vilified.

It all started here, with a particularly irritating article by Peter Oborne, a product of the same educational institution that tried to imbue a sense of moral superiority into me over the course of five years. In this article, published in The Spectator back in July 2002, Oborne's raving Euroscepticism finally convinced me I no longer wanted to be considered guilty by association.

Looking at the article again now, after a few months, I can't quite see exactly what it was that irritated me so much about it. Perhaps it's because the Referendum has been pushed back after all, and no catastrophic implosion of the "Yes" campaign has taken place, as Oborne predicted. I think it was probably the attempt at arguing that the "No" campaign is so well thought out and has no links with the Tories that really did it for me. It's so blatantly only a half-truth. An attempt at making the whole thing seem more respectable by a Conservative apologist. (For the record, I've never voted Labour, voted Tory once for reasons too boring to explain, voted for the Greens and Red Ken in the London Mayoral elections, and voted Lib Dem at the last General Election - I have no real party affiliations).

Either way, Oborne's article pushed me much further into the European camp than I had previously been, although for the previous few years I had been drifting in that direction. A Eurosceptic's attempts to suggest (to the largely sympathetic audience of The Spectator) that the opposition was about to experience a catastrophic collapse managed to convert someone who, a few years previously, would have been entirely sympathetic to his viewpoint.

This all started to convince me that it might be an interesting exercise to explore both camps more fully, and examine some of their claims and more zealous rhetoric in more detail. The trouble is, I'm a bit lazy, was too busy, and then kept getting distracted by computer games, books, comics and timewasting websites. But now I’ve started I’ll try and give it a go.

About this blog

This blog is primarily devoted to international relations from an Anglo-European perspective.

Other than that, do not leap to conclusions. That's all I ask.

September 2005 addition: This section is probably due for an update, but it mostly still stands. I'll get round to it when I have a spare moment. For now, this post gives a brief overview of the development of the place, and may be of interest.

The EU:

Yes, I know the strapline to this blog blathers on about "The musings of a non-partisan one-time Eurosceptic turned pro-European". This does not mean that I am an unthinking, uncritical loyalist drone of the Brussels machine. It does not mean that I cannot see that the European Union has major flaws.

I have retained a number of my Eurosceptic views; I have just come to the conclusion that the EU will be Britain's best bet in the long run. (Please note, this doesn't necessarily mean the EU in its current form, current aims, or current structures - and no, I am not a "federalist" in the way it is generally understood).

Feel free to disagree. Feel free to try to convince me otherwise. But - and no offence here, mind - it is unlikely you will succeed. I grew up in a staunchly and vocally Eurosceptic family. I bought the whole anti-EU case for years. I know it inside out.

I have also known - very well - one of this country's leading Eurosceptic voices (someone you will almost certainly have read and agreed with if you are strongly anti-EU) for my entire life. If anyone is going to convert me back, it will likely be him, not you. He hasn't succeeded yet.

I changed my mind. It may change back, it may not. Having changed it once, I am not arrogant enough to assume that I now have all the answers.

Political Stance:

Only one of the contributors to this blog is a member of a political party, and we all take the piss out of them for it permanantly. The rest of us are fairly vehemently nonpartisan. I, for one, despise the very concept of the party system of government, and wish it could be abolished without causing abject chaos.

This blog has usually been accused of being left-wing. Most of the contributors would describe themselves as liberals - but in the British, not American sense of the word. I would describe myself as a liberal internationalist one nation Tory royalist European with a hint of Whig and Benthamite utilitarian. (I'm a pretentious arse like that).

Things to remember are that we're all changing our minds on all the various issues all the time, and that many of the posts on here are written either for rhetorical/stylistic effect (we are all professional writers, after all, and like to experiment with ideas) or to work out our own views on particular matters. No post - in isolation - will provide you adequate information to work out our political views on all issues.

For Americans:

None of the contributors to this blog likes President Bush. At all. That does not, however, mean we don't like America. Accusations of America-bashing on here will be given short shrift - because it's lazy and it's tedious, and because we aren't really that interested. Bush is President, we have to live with it, that's fine.

And for all those who seem to care, here - for the record - is Nosemonkey's stance on Iraq:

Meh... What's done is done. That doesn't make it right, but nor does it mean that I care enough to enter into debate about it.

Blog History

This blog was started on 5th March 2003 in a spare moment, then languished for a year or so, then languished some more. I started contributing to it properly at the end of August 2004.

September 2005 addition: This section is probably due for an update, but it mostly still stands. I'll get round to it when I have a spare moment. For now, this post gives a brief overview of the development of the place, and may be of interest.

Initial Blog Purpose:

I initially set it up to help prompt some actual brain usage after a period of particularly unstimulating jobs, during a time when I was planning on doing a PhD and so regular brain usage was somewhat necessary to prevent what little academic power I had from stagnating.

I had no idea what might provide enough mental strain to counter my otherwise mindless existence, so opted for the most insanely complex thing I was aware of - the European Union.

The subject might well explain why I gave up so quickly... The EU is, it must be said, mind-numbingly dull.

Blog Revival:

After a couple of attempted revivals in April and May 2004, I decided to start the blog up on a whim while in a quiet period at work, loosely thanks to a few chats with Manic of Bloggerheads on the b3ta messageboards, where I was then spending far too much time. I wanted to look busy while sitting at my desk, remembered I'd started the thing up, found the password, and just started typing one day. This post explains a bit more.

So far, I've kept it up fairly successfully, and am rather pleased at%20my committement to the thing - even though it's a complete waste of time.

Since the Revival:

It’s been doing fairly well. A couple of award nominations (and a respectable showing in the voting), some nice words from other bloggers, and a steadily growing readership. Nothing spectacular, but respectable.

If you are so inclined, you can find out who links to this blog here, here or here. None of these are comprehensive, but they’ll give you an idea, and may lead you to some good blogs.

Comments policy

Feel free to question anything on here – I usually (time permitting) welcome a bit of a challenge, as the whole point of this thing is to test the few opinions I do have and to prompt me to form opinions about those areas I haven’t yet considered. (Don’t always expect a response, however - I have a stupidly bad memory, and often forget.)

Generally speaking, no comments will be deleted unless I get official complaints or they're spam.

The comments section to this post attracted a rather odious BNP supporter. I indulged him for a while until I got bored. He wasn’t deleted, because he was on topic. Sort of.

This should be ample proof that I couldn't care less if you disagree with either my actual opinions or what you believe to be my views, and will usually let you state what you think in the comments even if I disagree with you utterly and find your views offensive.

I do, however, tend to get a bit pissed off if you start attacking me for things I haven't said, or go off on a tangent to the post in which you are commenting to try and get a response on some other issue. I may even start swearing at you. Childish, I know - but it's my blog and I'll do what I cunting want with it.

Repeated off-topic postings and unrelated rants about my views (actual or perceived) on other subjects may be subject to deletion – partially to tidy the place up, but largely because these things bore me.

If you want to challenge me on a particular topic or a particular opinion you think I may hold, wait until I post about it. If you’re really keen, email me and ask me to post about it so that we can have an argument. I may indulge you - I like to try and keep readers involved, and generally try to take part in discussions in the comments boxes once they kick off.

Main request?

Be civil. Especially if it’s your first post, be polite – otherwise you’ll probably end up being told to fuck off and then ignored.

In any case, if you have the desire to be rude to me after reading one post, it's almost certain that you've either missed the point or haven't quite grasped the concept that just because the majority of the internet is filled with abusive morons doesn't mean it ALL has to be.

But mainly - check out some of the rest of the blog before leaping to conclusions. Cheers.

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