Sunday, December 25, 2005

Arse. Bloody keyboard shortcuts ate my England post

I just lost a huge, almost finished post on constitutional reform, the England problem, devolution and other issues. I'd put in links, to my previous posts and elsewhere, and even typed up some definitions from some reference books I'd dug out. Then I accidentally hit ctrl+w instead of shift+w. Firefox, of course, closes the window when you do that.

Bugger

It was turning into quite a good post as well. So, short recap. 'Athelstan'? I looked up the definition of statist in my Oxford Concise. In the words of Inigo Montoya, you keep using that word, but I do not think it means what you think it means. I've made it very clear in the three months blogging here that I'm a decentraliser, an opponent of state control, in favour of individual choices. I utterly oppose the NuLab nanny state centralising statists.

I happen to disagree with you on a solution to a problem that we both recognise. But if instead of engaging in rational debate you want to simply throw insults around, then fine. I'll debate with those you agree with that actually want to engage in a discussion.

To Gareth/JohnJo; the post that got eaten contained a summary of my views on solving the England issue. Not all of them, not fully explained, but the summary was long enough. I also explained a little about the rationale behind the blog and why I can't just concentrate on devolution on it's own, it's all linked to the other problems with the current British constitution, some created by NuLab, others in existence for years.

But, essentially, my main target is the nanny state tendencies of NuLab, and building an anti-Labour coalition to get them out at the next election. That's what I'm primarily always going to blog about.

Yes, the current devolution settlement is anything but a settlement. Yes, Prescott is the worst person in the world to be trying to fix it. Yes, I want to discuss it, I want to put forward ideas. But as part of a larger settlement, a big issue solution. Oppose NuLabour first. Ensure that we don't stop the world and get off second. Sort the constitution out third. I can rage against Labour. I frequently do. I can rant and reason in favour of international engagement and building partnerships and consensus. But constitutional reform?

That requires a more refined approach, a reasoned discussion. I need to be in the mood. Blogging is a hobby, a catharsis. When NuLab makes me angry, I blog easily. When I want to really make a case, I can do it. Today, I was in the mood to explain some of my reasons for looking for a different answer.

Oh yeah; I have problems taking anything at all completely seriously, even things I care passionately about. The name of the blog is part of that sense of humour, I tend to use little-englander as a shortcut for the "disgusted of Tunbridge Wells" type, that doesn't like anything they don't understand. To me, the 'little england' mentality is an island state anti foreigner approach. It's nothing, really, to do with the idea of an English Parliament, although some little englanders are undoubtedly also in favour of english nationalism, of a distinctly non-civic nature. As always, the ranting bigots do 'their' cause more a disservice than any argument against it ever can.

Bloody keyboard shortcuts. Ah well. Another time. G'night all, Happy Yuletide.

4 comments:

ken said...

Good morning and a Merry Christmas, before starting work for the day (some of must) I would like to say that I feel for you over your lost post, extremely annoying for, not only you but those of us who enjoy reading the posts.

In the skeleton of the lost post, you say you want to build a coalition to get NuLabour out, and that you recognise and want to do something about the problem with our constitution.

I agree whole heartedly with you on these points, I find it odd then, that I often disagree with several posts on this blog.

Perhaps that it is because I personally feel I do not see any other political party standing clearly for a British solution to the British constitutional problems, without also bringing in relations with the EU in particular, and feel that talk of returning power to the people, or devolution is so intertwined with the known EU plans for a Union of the Regions rather than a Union of the States.

I am not a supporter of an English parliament for its own sake, in fact I am not a supporter of the idea at all, I much prefer a British Parliament, but I do question the motive of those who argue for the break up of England into the regions already defined by the EU, I would in that case prefer an English Parliament. For me if there is to be devolution then it must be because it will be good for Britian, not because we are following an internationalist agenda or working toward a greater Europe.

I see that many of our constitutional problems are cause by our membership with the EU and the ever increasing unification of the EU states. Whilst other states have had to face the problems of their constitutions and change them to enable greater powers to be passed to the EU, we in Britian have ignored the fact that we have a constitution at all, and have relied on the unwritten rule that parliament is supreme and can do anything it wishes, and that one government can not bind a succeeding parliament, if that were truly the case then not even the EU Constitution could bind.

We are now in the middle of a process of integrating into the EU, breaking Britian up into EU regions, passing more powers to this supra national government and creating a European style of government based on civil law. Perhaps now is not the time to debate a British constitution, or perhaps now is exactly the time we should do so, but as we do, it should be clear that we are not sailing under false colours, that we are in fact calling for an independent United Kingdom.

The first thing on the agenda, to make this point clear, would be the total rejection, nationally of EU citizenship, if we are not citizens of the EU then it has no call on us directly, and can only work through our elected government in Westminster. For as long as we remain EU citizens those in power within the EU will feel they have a duty of care to us, and we owe a duty to the EU. Eventually we will have to face the question of which citizenship is paramount, the way things are moving within the EU there can be no doubt what the answer will be.

beatroot said...

Merry Christmas from Poland and keep up the war against the nannies

MatGB said...

Ken; glad to hear you enjoy reading us; personally, I love getting your comments, but I wonder if you may be better off turning half of them into posts onto your own journal for better exposure for both of us.

Half of them are longer than my posts, and I ramble ;-)

Anyway, to topic...

Confused, utterly. This "Europe of the Regions" plan. Um, completely without foundation, in all my studies on the subject, I've never come across any serious proposal for the destruction of nation states; yes, the regions thing was set up under Treaty of EU (Maastricht), but it's been pretty sidelined in Nice and Amsterdam, the States just aren't interested.

The current regional lins (which I HATE with a passion) were drawn up by Whitehall in the '50s (and if I could source the details online I'd link to it, it's one of those things I read in a dusty old tome in the library). If we left the EU (and while we disagree on that, I respect much more the honesty of someone who says we should leave than the posturing of certain Tories who make a sceptic/phobic persona but in private admit membership is essential (Howard and Hague both guilty of this).

Personally, I'm currently of the opinion significant strengthening of counties with some form of confederation within regions for cross border stuff, within Britain, and with an English Grand Committee to sort out bigger English only issues. But I'm not sold on that, just as I'm not sold on regionalism (which I did prefer until Prescott messed the basic idea up). If we go for Regions, not the current boundaries; I live in the Westcountry, not the "South West", Wiltshire, while a lovely place, isn't Westcountry, neither is N. Gloucestershire.

I'd even, if I had to, accept Wessex alongside Kernow, but, well, I really dislike that border; Devon and Berkshire? No thanks. (don't get me wrong, I'd happily live in Reading, and not just because she's cute, but the culture just isn't the same).

I believe that one of the greatest problems over the course of the 20th Century was the centralism carried out by succssive Govts. Each governing party centralised something, undermined local autonomy, changed boundaries, etc. Sometimes, some of the changes were necessary, but othertimes? Centralism gone bad.

I personally, as you know, am happy to have dual citizenship, it's useful to have rights as a citizen in other EU countries, it's not full citizenship, but it's still useful; employment rights and voting rights if you live there for starters.

Essentially, the devolution debate has nothing to do with Europe one way or another, there are links structurally, but it's got to be a choice taken on its own merit; the "EU Regions" thing is an obfuscation based on misunderstanding and propaganda. Just because the Govt hasn't the guts to stand up and say the real situation and those opposed to their reforms link them all together in different ways (frequently cause becomes effect in arguments, not the other way around).

Ah well. Just got back from parents, 157 spam emails on Xmas day? That's more than I normally get. Ah well...

ken said...

Yes you are of course right, I have recently been very lazy about my own blogs postings, I will try to do better this coming year, a certain sense of the inevitability of the EU and all its works, being a non stop process and the futility of being a little voice in the forest has curtailed my postings, as has the increased pressures of my own work.

Again you are of course quite correct originally the regional ideas were Whitehall based, perhaps informed by the Council of Europe interest, it however has not taken the EU very long to cotton on to the fact that it can serve its purpose. It became clear that the EU was also bent on dissembling national governments by dividing them into regions when in 1965 it issued its 'First Commission Communication on Regional Policy'. This was taken up by the Conservative government in 1969 when it established the Redcliffe-Maude Royal Commission which set the process in train. It should also be noted that the Council of Europe is also an interested party in regional development.

The Maastricht Treaty 1992 gave authority to establish the EU's Committee of the Regions (COR) which came into being in November 1993. Its stated purpose is 'to ensure that the public authorities closest to the citizen are consulted on EU proposals of direct interest to them, especially when they are responsible for implementing these policies after they are adopted' however The Amsterdam Treaty strengthened the status of the Committee of Regions and the Constitution strengthens the status yet again, I would say that to suggest regionalisation has been sidelined is to somewhat overstate the case.

In 1998 the Labour Government launched 'the Democratic Renewable Debate' and in the same year enacted the Regional Development Agencies Act (1998). The Act brought about the establishment of Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) in each of the English Regions. All RDAs have Brussels offices; the idea is that each region will ultimately have two layers of government: an elected assembly and a development agency. Of course the debacle in the North West referendum has put a spanner in the works as far as the elected part goes, at present. Even though the North East has rejected an elected assembly of course the development agency which was supposed to serve the elected body is still in place.

As ever it is far too easy to dismiss the EU involvement in a particular policy, but it can be seen that as the regions gain power at the expense of central government and as over time the regions links with the EU are strengthened the cohesion of England as a unit of Government within the UK will be eroded and the cohesion of Britian as a unit of government within the EU will also be eroded.

The idea of building the Federal Europe presented a few years ago by Joschka Fischer under which the role of the nation-states would be limited or even completely eliminated. The actions of the Brussels administration are also going in this direction, which is aware that it would be easier for them to increase its jurisdiction under the scenario of limiting the role of the nation-sates, all this coincides with the ideas of the fathers of the European Project;

Denis de Rougemont wrote;

“In the Europe of tomorrow, liberated from the tyranny of political and administrative borders imposed on ethnic and economic unities, the division into emerging regions will quickly emerge and consolidate. These regions will be developing according to what is uniting and supplementing them, in accordance with the new reality, which created them, while at the same time going beyond the former national borders. And Europe will be built on these regions, rather than on nations, whose structure to a high extent is not filled with any content anymore. The switch from nations to regions will be the basic phenomenon of Europe at the end of the 20th century”. As Jerzy Chodorowski writes, the basic idea followed by Monnet was “the concept of uniting Europe through the gradual restriction of the national sovereignty in the selected narrow domains of national life”
Already during The Hague Congress in 1948 Monnet stated that “We have to start first with something both practical and very ambitious. The national sovereignty should be attacked stronger in more narrow fronts”.

The EU regionalist take the view that “The borders are the scars of history”. And therefore these should be eliminated. Of course this will facilitate the building of the EU as the central government.

To further complicate matters and to reinforce the EU Commission's intention of destroying nation states it has established Euro-Regions. They link places which have never in recorded history
been united, and they have little in common.
United Kingdom
Kent/Nord-Pas de Calais("Transmanche Region"); East Sussex/Seine-Maritime/Somme ("Rives-Manche Region"); Euroregion Kent/Nord-Pas de Calais/Belgium.
In recent years there has been a steady increase in transfrontier co-operation bodies which are increasingly known by the term "Euroregions", particularly in central and eastern European countries. The name given to a transfrontier co-operation body, "Euroregion", suggests simply a feeling of belonging to Europe and a willingness to participate in the process of European integration and therefore, encourages the frontier local and regional authorities to co-operate for the common good.
Very little about preserving the sovereignty of the Nation State in that!

There has also been and extraordinary grown in these cross border regions since 1988 and this must certainly be related to the launch of EU support schemes dedicated to these initiatives.

The issues of self-governance, decentralisation, relieving the state from excessive duties and citizenship, cannot be separated from the broader external EU context and it state building enterprise.

So even if you have not heard of the Europe of the Regions, others have, and to call the idea “completely without foundation” would be to deny recorded facts. And to support the break up of England, for what ever reason within this present context, is to support the building of the EU state/government, you may of course claim that this is not you intention, however it is the intention of others, and this is the method, so you are supporting their methods, yet deny those are your reasons.

Citizenship; in what way can you claim citizenship of the EU is not full citizenship, we do not yet pay taxes to the EU yet, but that is already under discussion and the Constitution makes the EU responsible for its own funding, that can only mean direct taxes. We already have the basis for a EU passport, and EU Driving licence, we are subject to EU laws, which is superior and over turn our state law.

As I said at some point we will have to face the question as to which citizenship is paramount. Can you show in what way British citizenship will be the deciding factor, rather than EU citizenship.

As I have said I agree totally with your stated aims, I simply do not see that the fine print will lead the realisation of those ambitions. I do not for instance see the reasons for getting rid of NuLabour, if it is replaced by another government with the same basic ideas of control of the people, which also informs its policies from rules and regulation that emanate from the EU, we will end up with the same government. I do not see the reasons for breaking up England into regions when Scotland and Wales are to remain as one political unit within the EU.