Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch ‘Party For Freedom’ (PVV), presented a new document yesterday, which he argued shows the Netherlands should leave the EU and the Euro currency. ‘We must become boss of our own money, our own budget, our own borders, and our own future again,’ he announced at the Hague. Continue reading…
Two prominent, divisive Europeans tried to visit Britain this year: Gábor Vona and Dieudonné M’bala M’bala. Both aroused outrage and protest. Both were considered by the Home Office. Only one visitor, arguably the more dangerous, was allowed entry.
Vona, leader of ‘Jobbik Magyarországért Mozgalom’, came to London on 26 January, the day before Holocaust Memorial Day. Jobbik describe themselves as ‘radical right’ and exhibit populist ethno-nationalist traits. With the slogan ‘Hungary for the Hungarians’, Jobbik is now the third largest Hungarian party, with 16.7% of the 2010 vote, behind Fidesz and the Socialists.
Jobbik has links to the outlawed ‘Hungarian Guard’, a neo-fascist paramilitary movement compared to the 1930s ‘brownshirts’ (Sturmabteilung) which Vona himself founded. They held marches against Hungarian Roma, accusing them of criminality. Jobbik agitates for Hungary’s 1914 borders, including parts of Romania, Ukraine, Serbia and Slovakia. Its members spoke to the British National Party at Nick Griffin’s invitation, and Griffin addressed Jobbik in 2008. Party leaders have made numerous anti-Semitic statements, notably the party’s deputy leader demanding a list of Jews in government and parliament, as they ‘pose a national security risk to Hungary’.
In the Burns Night spirit, let’s assume Scotland votes for independence. Let’s assume further – despite warnings to the contrary – that Scotland joins the EU painlessly. To Westminster, the Scots are now ‘foreigners’. Continue reading…
Removing the right to peaceful demonstrations in Kiev has removed the last constraint that held back Ukrainian opposition activists. Now damned if they do, damned if they don’t, the level of hostility and destruction in Ukraine’s capital has escalated severely. Continue reading…
This weekend has seen so many EU stories that I felt I couldn’t focus on just one, but did not want to cram comment on several into a few hundred words. Instead, I’ve used the latests pronouncements from William Hague, Chris Grayling and Ken Clarke to plot a very rough table of Tories’ stances towards the European Union.
Michael Gove has a plan so cunning it might be appointed Minister of State for Cunning in the next reshuffle. The plan is to write an essay for the Daily Mail criticising a broad mass of Leftists historians for their interpretation of the First World War. Gove asserts that they advance ‘myths’ such as the war’s futility and poor leadership, which undermines the courage and patriotism of the British Tommies who died fighting for ‘Britain’s special tradition of liberty’. He argues that history is taught badly in schools, relying on Blackadder videos, ‘misunderstandings and misrepresentations’. Continue reading…
In late November I dissected David Cameron’s plans for restricting EU migrant benefits and rights, calling them ‘old, wrong or useless’. Over 70 Conservatives have signed a proposal defying European law to retain migration controls. This led the government to delay the Immigration Bill so rebels cannot humiliate the government or raise anti-Romanian/Bulgarian amendments before January. A Home Office document leaked to the Sunday Times suggests the Tories are proactive, not running scared.
Prostitution has always been a complicated topic in politics and law. The issues are more complex now than ever due to the intersecting scourges of trafficking and modern slavery. Britain is bound by the 2011 Anti-Trafficking Directive which insists governments reduce demand for exploitation and abuse.
France has just passed, and Ireland is considering, the ‘Nordic Model’ of prostitution regulation which outright criminalises those who purchase sex. Women’s relative safety in Norway and Sweden, and lower gender-based migrant exploitation, have led a coalition of MEPs and women’s groups (e.g. Equality Now) fronted by Mary Honeyball MEP to pressure Britain to follow Scandinavia’s example.
Prince Grigory Potemkin-Tavricheski was a favourite of Empress Catherine, the Russian leader who brought about the golden age of expansion in the eighteenth century. After the annexation of Ukraine and the Crimea, Catherine appointed Grigory as governor-general of the new provinces with orders to modernise and rebuild the war-torn region. Unfortunately Grigory wasn’t very good at rebuilding the land, being primarily a military man, so when the Empress visited he simply erected fake villages along her route to give the impression of progress. Rumour has it, he even employed cheerful, healthy actors to play happy peasants along the Dnieper River.
The term ‘Potemkin Village’ has entered the English language as a hollow or false construct. The people of Ukraine would do well to remember its origins in their homeland. Protests in Kiev have entered their third week, with over 500,000 occupying Independence Square and City Hall, agitating for the resignation of the Azarov-Yanukovych government, the freedom of jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, and closer ties with the European Union. As a symbolic rejection of Russian power they toppled a longstanding statue of Vladimir Lenin, encouraged by ‘Dr Ironfist’ Vitali Klitschko, boxing champion, PhD and opposition MP.
Tory backbenchers and MEPs are attempting to rouse No.10 into action. It’s been ten months since Cameron’s ‘Bloomberg Speech’ promised renegotiation and referendum, yet the strategic contents of that new deal haven’t been fleshed out in the slightest.
The EU Fresh Start group, led by Andrea Leadsom, George Eustice, Chris Heaton-Harris, has the implicit support of William Hague. He wrote the foreword to their January 2013 Green Paper, ‘A Manifesto for Reform’.
The new mandate aims to establish ‘clearly and precisely how the EU must be reformed’. It opens with a mournful picture: ‘[T]he EU has reached a crunch point of sink or swim. Europe simply cannot afford, economically, to continue doing what we have always done, because Europe cannot afford financially to get what we have always got.’ It goes on to propose reforms under three sections: Competitiveness, Flexibility and Democratic Accountability.