Friday, October 19, 2007

2014: You Can't Stand As a Conservative!

On Vox Politix last night, UKIP Deputy Leader David Campbell-Bannerman made an astonishing claim. He reckons that, under a little noticed clause in the new EU Constitution Reform Treaty, British political parties will not be able to put up their own candidates at the 2014 European Parliamentary Elections. Instead, they will have to go under their European Group banners. So assuming Tory MEPs are part of a Movement for European Reform group by then, that's what they will have to stand as - not Conservatives. My ghast is well and truly flabbered. David insisted it was true and has promised to send me the evidence. But I'm an impatient kind of guy, so if anyone out there can any shed any light on this I'd be grateful. Is UKIP spreading one of these EU myths that we hear so much about or are they telling it as it is? As Sir John Junor used to say, I think we should be told!


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a good idea to me actually.

AndyR said...

If this is true, it might be a good idea after all. People would have to take an interest in what the European parliament actually does, to figure out who to vote for, and not just vote the way they do at home. Of course they might just think it's too much work, and not bother at all.

I've been living in the Netherlands for a few years, which has proportional representation, and they have so many parties here that nobody can keep track of all the manifestos and proposals.

So there is a website, supported by all the parties, which asks you a series of questions and then tells you which party is most in tune with your thinking. I have read that in the last general election, over 50% of those who voted made their choice by using this website.

In an age where there don't seem to be any more big policy conflicts, and the political parties are increasingly indistinguishable, I wonder if this is the future of democracy?

peter said...

I've heard from various sources that this is coming in. It is designed to "foster European unity". Parties organised on a pan-european basis will get funding; those which aren't won't.

It's designed to disadvantage political movements which prefer to organise themselves at national or regional level.
I can't see it happening though. Even more unlikely than the conservatives standing as European Reformists, can you imagine Labour standing as the Party of European Socialists? They'd barely get a single vote.

Chris Paul said...

About as kosher as a straight banana.

Liam Murray said...

Is it wise to help them 'spread the myth' before you've determined whether or not it is Iain?

Gavin Whenman said...

Here's what the treaty has to say on political parties (based on the latest October draft available):

"Article 8a
4. Political parties at European level contribute to forming European political awareness and to expressing the will of citizens of the Union.
Article 9a.
2. The European Parliament shall be composed of representatives of the Union's citizens. They shall not exceed seven hundred and fifty in number. Representation of citizens shall be degressively proportional, with a minimum threshold of six members per Member State. No Member State shall be allocated more than ninety-six seats.
3. The members of the European Parliament shall be elected for a term of five years by direct universal suffrage in a free and secret ballot."

Nothing about having to stand as a Europe wide party.

Anonymous said...

It has looked like this for some time to me - I'm sure a fudge will be worked out nearer the time.

Personally though I'd be delighted if I were a Tory. Not many votes in being the "Party of European Socialists". Probably the most unpopular banner since "Pro-Euro Conservative Party" (remember them?)

Anonymous said...

The Tory partys lurch to the right is now complete. This is a nonsense EU myths put out by the fruit cakes. And here we have Camerons modern Tory party nodding in unison with the people he labelled friut cakes

Old BE said...

I think it makes sense. MEPs don't vote and act as Conservatives, Labour or whatever they vote along their party lines, EPP, ESP etc.

If we are going to have an EU nation it should be at least transparent and democratic.

Anonymous said...

By 2014, many of you won't be around any more (Hague, aged 16 and a halF)

Anonymous said...

European Citizens, since when did I or the Belgians, or the Dutch or Danes for that matter start to live in a republic. No one ever told me that that I am no longer a British Subject - still says that in passports - albeit mine is now 8 yrs old.

David Boothroyd said...

I think either you or David Campbell Bannerman has become confused between the Reform Treaty and the 27 June proposals by the Commission for regulating activities of European political parties. (See official announcement)

This proposal allows European Political parties (the groups in the EP, essentially) to take part in elections. It does not restrict participation by national parties. Even the UKIP is part of a European Political Party - the Independence and Democracy Group.

Anonymous said...

Iain, this is somewhat academic.

By 2014 Westminster will be just a town council, so terms like 'Labour' or 'Conservative' will be redundant.

EU politics are shrouded in secrecy and avoided democratic votes for a reason. If people knew what was happening, and could vote on it, they would put a stop to it, and thousands of 'Eurocrats' would be out of a job.

Tapestry said...

European Law does not work like British law, where the role of the judge is to apply the words of the statute.

The judge has to work out what the lawmaker intended, and does not need specific words authorising particular measures as British Law does.

The vague sounding words in the Treaty can be used to abolish/ignore any parties that are not european wide, or which openly campaign against european integration.

They will not qualify for funding (all funding must be from the state. private donations are illegal.) They will not be allowed to take part in elections. QED.

They could even be abolished for substantially criticising the European Union (already a crime in the EU - Donnolly Case), or for holding xenophobic views.

You don't need any clear cut words of the kind which would convince iain dale or any reasonably minded Englishman.

Anonymous said...

Tory frothing at the mouth about Europe is going to be a big positive for Labour. It's like immigration last time - you've already got all the votes you can on being anti-European and so every time you open your mouths about this you will remind all the waiverers why you are not to be trusted.

TaxCutter said...

Hopefully, you won't be able to stand as a Conservative in the 2014 European elections because Britain won't be in the EU by then!

Anonymous said...

The "EU myths" have seldom been wrong in my experience.

Anonymous said...

Do you think Eton Dave will have honoured his EPP pledge by then?
Or will he be a half page in books?

strapworld said...

Tapestry is - as usual spot on. David Boothroyd in his typical manner refuses to do proper research.

When people say that signing this 'treaty' is ending our Democracy as we know it. They are not talking through the tops of their heads.

The Anonymous contributions at 1157 and 1238 are written by complete idiots or they are working in Number 10 propaganda department.

I really do fear for the future. And, as I said before, I would not want to be in Brown's or Milliband's boots when the truth dawns on the people.

The Tories MUST promise a referendum on the EU issue IN or OUT!

Anonymous said...

Time to leave. What more evidence do you want?

Anonymous said...

A lot of of the correspondents here are working for some-one, especially the fruit-cakes.

It's sometimes difficult to work out whether they're here to galvanise like-minded nutters, or to win over moderates to the "other" side.

You, I suspect, are acting on behalf of Labour when you call for an "IN or OUT" referendum - the Tories would lose that one in that it would split them down the middle again.

Tapestry throws up flack by dicussing the vagaries of language, and is wrong to say that Judges make interpretations here on the basis of anything other than the arguments of reasonable people.

Gawain Towler said...

Oddly enough you are wrong, neither the Tories nor UKIP are members of European Political parties, they both argued that as a demos is required for democracy and there is no such things as an European demos, the European political parties were an anathema.
As it stands bboth parties refused to joinm anmy ofthe crowd of European Political Parties. They remain in their political groups, but those are different beasts, alliances allowing a different election manifesto. The point about the parties is that they will stand at the next (2009) election on a common manifesto. That and they are yet another machine for the federalist elites to siphon taxpayers money into their opwn pockets. ON DCB's substantive point. Well there has been a lot of noise on this, much of it pushing for such a hard line, but it is not, as far as I am aware yet law.

Anonymous said...

The ZANULAB Trolls are a bit desperate these days arnt they? Are they having nightmares about P45s and dole queues?
75% of the british people want a referendum at least and the trolls are trying to say that the Tories would lose a GE on that basis? Oh dear, the Labrats must be very nervous now that their deep thinking glorious leader has sold the UK down the river without the promised referendum! Perhaps the Smith Institute will give you all jobs?

Mike Wood said...

David Boothroyd seems to be confused between European Parliamentary Groups and European Political Parties.

The Labour Party is a member of the Party of European Socialists (and, I understand, has in the past stood on a PES manifesto).

The Conservative Party is not a member of the European People's Party and I don't think that the Ind-Dem Group has ever registered as a European political party and so UKIP aren't a member of any European political party.

The European Parliament (and Commission) certainly wants European Parties to contest European elections on pan-European lists but there isn't anything in the constitution to make this compulsory. European Parties will just be automatically registered in each country in the EU.

Tapestry said...

The technical word for the way European law works is teleological, I was told by a Lecturer of Law who writes on CH occasionally.

The EU only needs broadbrush phrases which indicate their intention, without defining any specific measures. These can be worked out, interpreted and applied later, as the oportunity permits.

People who search through Treaties looking for clearcut proposals to get upset about or challenge will be disappointed.

The intentions of the EU are clear enough.

It's a great system for confusing the Brits, as our legal system requires specific words before anything has the force of law.

Anonymous said...

75% want a referendum on the treaty? Or on membership?

Poohbear, are you hoping to be given extra honey by Labour strategists by trying to couch the debate in terms of "In or OUT"?

Do you know the likely out-come of an "IN or OUT" referendum? Any figures? Or just wrong figures designed to split the Tories?

Anonymous said...

You've been confused by your lecturer, who was possible jaded by experience by his reference to the "broad brush".

All British legal decisions use reasonablesness as their basis. Reference to the "intention" or "original purpose" as a component of that doesn't preclude clear definitions.

People who draft leases, for instance, expect that future unforeseen events will be taken care of in future court cases by the application of reason, which includes reference to "probable intention" of an original clause. That doesn't lead them to inserting vague language with the thought that it will be interpretted favourably (to one side or the other) by a Judge in future.

There's no relevant difference in European Law. You suggest that there would be no recourse should a perverse interpretation be slipped through later. That isn't realistic.

Anonymous said...

It is of course absolute rubbish.

A classic Euromyth.

Next they will be making up stories about the queen being taken off our passport.

Astro-Turf Lawnmower said...

If I want to stand for a decidedly non-Europewide party, "Little England" or "London First" or whatever, who the hell are the EU to tell me I can't?

Call me old-fashioned, but I rather like the traditional system where people stand under whatever banner they please and then the electorate picks which they like best. What's wrong with that?

Newmania said...

Good god every stone you turn over has another foul infestation breeding under it. I can see why Brown cannot have a referendum, its the information that comes out , for example:

ID cards.

As you know, these are unpopular in the UK, and we haven't had them since WWII. The EU has decided that all EU citizens MUST have ID cards. therefore Britain will be forced to introduce them. The Labour government, realising the difficulty of forcing a FOREIGN ID card system on its own people against the wishes of the British people, decided that the best solution was to pre-empt the EU directive and come up with its own ID Card scheme crafted in its own image.
Many EU laws now forced onto us under Maastricht are effectively "covered-up" by the government pre-emptively introducing its own legislation on the same issues - which is a key reason why Labour have introduced so many new laws.

That explains an awful lot for me .

On this Party matter if Tapestry says it is so that’s good enough for me . He is always reasonable and not by any means an extremist. Every time the truth emerges it is worse than you ever dreamt it could be , what is a reasonable and balanced person supposed to do ?

Its interesting that Labout still reagrd concern over the EU and immigraton as an electoral defacit
It no longer is

Mountjoy said...

It is true and we must stop the iniqituous European Constitution.

Anonymous said...

Dear tigger,

I love honey but not that much! I care nothing for what the ZANULAB muppets may do to muddy the waters!
All I want is the democratic chance to decide whether I am an EU citizen or a British subject and I will, like everybody else' listen to both sides and then make my informed choice! Trust the people and trust in democracy brcause its better than the alternative!

PS Hmmm HONEY? now wheres that pot gone?

Anonymous said...

Astro-turf lawnmower - nothing wrong with that in the slightest. Which is precisely why it's not being changed...

It really is remarkable how quick people are to believe these things.

A statement about the EU's intentions coming from the Commission or other EU body? Shouts of bias are cacophonous.

A statement about the EU coming from a political party set up purely to oppose EU membership? Instantly believed as Gospel truth.

Scepticism is a healthy state in which to live - especially when it comes to politics and politicians. So how come so few Eurosceptics are actually sceptical?

Yak40 said...

No matter, this is the last British government anyway.

Tapestry said...

anonymous, a British or common law judge has to apply the exact words of the statute to the circumstances before him. He cannot ignore them, or override them.

A European judge can. By saying that the creators of the original law intended the law to bring about certain results, he can interpret the law on the basis that it achieves the intended results.

A British judge could not disqualify a political party from entering into an election, if voters wanted to vote for it. A European judge could do so, by stating that 'it is the role of the political parties to promote the role of the EU to the European people' - approximately the words in the Treaties that will permit ECJ judges to prevent the Conservatives or Labour or anyone else who is not operating at European level, from taking part in EU elections.

David Lindsay said...

At least it would be honest. And your lot would have to stand for the EPP-ED, because that is what they are, and always will be.

Yours is, after all, the party of the Treaty of Rome, the Single European Act and the Maastricht Treaty; so your only problem with the EPP-ED is that it is not quite federalist enough for you.

People who don't want to be in a party like that should leave the Tories. And people who want to be in a serious party at all should not join UKIP.

Mulligan said...

So if this ceding of more and more power to the EU is just nasty Eurosceptic myth, how come our Westminster MPs now get three months holiday a year because "We are just not doing anything at the moment" ?

Anonymous said...

I too have heard this story. If true (and I have no doubt that it is), it is yet another nail in the coffin of being independent and British.

The Tories, of course, have nothing positive to say on it, nor can they do anything about it, because they are powerless and suck up to Europe anyway. Remember who first took us in, and remember who signed up to Maastricht. The good old Conservative party.

Roger Thornhill said...

I have heard of this for a long time. At some stage "national" parties will not be eligible to stand.

Further, parties not supporting the principles of the EU will not be able to stand in these or ANY elections IIRC as such parties will be declared illegal.

If it is not due to be law, can you imagine the EU NOT wanting it?

Anonymous said...

anonymous, a British or common law judge has to apply the exact words of the statute to the circumstances before him. He cannot ignore them, or override them.

Err, no. Firstly there is no "British" law. There is the law of England and Wales and the law of Northern Ireland - both Common Law jurisdictions where the judges are bound to precedent (but may reinterpret precedent)

Then there is Scotland where Roman law applies and judges are bound to interpret the exact words of statute law. Though, of course, words may mean different things and so the law can evolve.

Tapestry - you are talking rubbish.

Newmania said...

anon isn`t that sophistry? You are saying that judges apply law by reference to precedent but thats because the law confronts the infinite variables of life and it is the effort to dicover what law is applicable.
The effort surely , is to discover the right law ,not to imagine what you think those who wrote it might have meant but did not write.

I may be wrong butI am not convinced there is not a distinction here if there is ,it is exceedingly important. I have just watched Millipede slithering out of questions before the parliamentary Scrutiny Commitee. If words might be made to appear less important than they are it is quite clear he would use that fact

Anonymous said...

I think we have to be a bit more clear here on the matter of parties and groups in the EP. For example, the British Labour Party is a member of the Party of European Socialists, and it would be fair enough to include this information in European elections. The Conservative Party on the other hand is NOT a member of an European party, the EPP-ED being a "grouping" of parties, not a party in itself.

Tapestry said...

there is the law of Parliament - Statute Law - of which the judges are compelled to apply. They cannot 'reinterpret' but only apply.

and there is the common law, which applies where there are no relevant statutes.

the common law is judge-created law, where judges are bound by the decisions of their predecessors. They can find that the case before them has different circumstances and so the old cases need applying to different circumstances.

european law is not the same as either statute or common law systems. It is teleological. as i described.

Anonymous said...

Whether it's true or not, it highlights perfectly the old catch-22 for many anti-Europeans.

One of the main problems with the European Union is its lack of true democratic legitimacy. Partly this is related to the fact that most people (certainly in the UK) don't vote on the policies and views of the proposed MEPs but on their opinions of the UK politics situation at the time.

Divorcing the national parties from the European parties are the most obvious solution to that problem. Let people know what they're really voting for.

But of course any such moves in this direction undermine a plank of the anti-European argument so will never be favoured by anti-Europeans (as opposed, potentially, to simple Eurosceptics).

Anonymous said...


I'm a bit lost as to where you stand re the Treaty - you seem to be suggesting our red-lines are even stronger than we thought.

The "teleological" nature of EU law (I still think judges back home have a "teleological" streak aka common sense) surely is a further defence of Brown's "red lines", since any future dispute over, for instance one of our opt-outs would end up before EU Judges. If they were "teleological"they would refer to the "original purpose behind" the "opt-out", and find therefore in our favour, since it is obvious that the "opt-out" was intended to protect our national interest.

As long as this type of scrutiny and debate doesn't fade, I think the beaurocrats might well be held in check, so, sensible intelligent Euro-sceptics should in my view carry on banging on! (Leave the rascist element out, though, for everyone's sake)

Anonymous said...

There's nothing in the Reform Treaty about banning candidates standing under UK party names.

As for judges, interpretation and all that: there is a clear difference of approach, although in my experience there is a tendency to exaggerate it, made worse by committed eurosceptics talking it up for effect.

It's very simplistic to suggest that judges in England are "simply bound to apply the literal words of legislation". It's absolutely true that statutory interpretation here starts from the words of statute themselves as the only evidence of Parliament's intention. In that sense it's a literal textual exercise. But applying written laws always, inevitably, involves some kind of interpretative exercise, simply because no legislator can ever imagine every possible set of facts that comes before the courts. Over the years judges have developed a series of interpretative techniques for resolving disputes about how legislation applies to the case before them - they avoid literalism to the point of absurdity, for instance, consider the "mischief" the legislation is aimed at, and recently have developed a technique in effect preventing ministers from misleading Parliament about how departments will apply laws (Pepper v Hart).

The European Court of Justice has obviously had to develop its own interpretative techniques, like every other court. It's adopted a less literal approach than UK courts for the obvious reason that the legislation it's applying doesn't exist in one language version. Literalism really would be impossible. On top of that, EU legislation isn't (as here) drafted by experts in an attempt to achieve ministers' exact instructions, but is cobbled together in negotiations. Nor is it any good looking for anyone's "intention", since the negotiators may well have had diverse, conflicting intentions.

The approach it's adopted is "purposive" interpretation, long established in international law, whereby you work out what the underlying purpose of a law is and then interpret it in a way that meets that purpose. It's sometimes called a "teleological" approach but frankly I think that makes it sound much more part of some grand federalist design than it actually is.

A good example of purposive interpretation is the French fish case in which the word "or" was in effect read as "and/or".

Anonymous said...


Sorry I borrowed the pot because EU-yore and REU and two-jags piglet wanted to re-distribute its contents (the dirty leftists!)

You may have it back soon to stick on your head, where it's normally kept!