Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

Plastic Politicians: Commission chaos and the destruction of the British constitution

This is genius. How better to revive the reputation of the European Commission in the eyes of a sceptical public than fashion a statue of the new Commission President out of Lego?

“To mark the many changes in Europe in 2004 and to present the newly elected members of the European Commission and the President of the European Parliament in an innovative way, the exhibition �A Face for Europe� will be organised for charity at the Biblioth�que Solvay in Brussels, on 23 and 24 November, by PlasticsEurope.

The exhibition will feature the busts made from LEGO bricks of European Commission President Jos� Barroso and European Parliament President Josep Borrell”.

Fantastic. I am especially looking forward to the Lego Peter Mandelson…

But will it serve to help heal any of the rifts which have supposedly been opening between the European Parliament and the Commission? Barroso is trying to let the past be the past, but not only would it be foolish not to address the issues the Buttiglione affair raised to smooth over current tensions, it is highly likely that a similar situation may arise in the future. Why must the commissioners be an “all or nothing” affair? Why shouldn’t Parliament veto just one or two of them?

It is not a good idea for one part of European machine to be pissed off at the other. Parliament and the Commission need to work together. Could this create yet more problems? Perhaps the Lego busts will sort it all out…

Then again, we’re likely to have the same thing in Britain if the Commons forces through the Hunting Ban today against the wishes of the Lords.

I mean, who cares that the Parliament Act makes a mockery of a two chamber system, eh? Who cares that today the carefully set up checks and balances of the British parliamentary system are going to be thrown out simply so that we can stop a bunch of toffs from having their fun?

Who cares about the precedent this sets – especially for as long as the Lords remains the highest court in the land, who cares that this means that the Commons could overturn that court?

It’s a bloody travesty – we’re going to need some Lego statuettes to sort this mess out and all…


  1. It's what's sad about democracy in this country: We have no real opposition to anything the Government brings in. The Tories will never be the opposition until they waken up and realise that they're not living in Victorian England, the Lib-Dems have got stop going for the jokey "Oooh look I appeared on Have I Got News For You" routine that they have going, and the SNP should actually start campaigning for something, instead of the petty sniping that forms their debates in the Scottish Parliament.

  2. There's a lot of things wrong with democracy in this country (like the house of lords), but the parliament act is not one of them. Whatever you personally think about a fox-hunting ban, it was in the government's 1997 manifesto; it is supported by a majority of the population; and it is supported by a majority of the ELECTED chamber, in defiance of the government. Now what could be less democratic than a house full of lords (mostly upper-class tory and labour cronies) being able to override the will of the commons for a third time, despite their amendments having already been rejected twice by the elected house?

  3. My problem with the Parliament Act is simply that it makes a mockery of the current parliamentary system of this country. The House of Lords is currently a joke – more so than it was when it was wholly unrepresentative and full of hereditary peers and appointees, because at least then it had a specifically-defined place within this country's political system. Now it has no such well-defined role, which means the Commons effectively has no check on it. While this may technically be more democratic, as the Commons is directly elected, in the current climate – where there is no proper opposition and the party of government has a huge majority which it will retain for the forseeable future – this is precisely the time when we need there to be checks on the Commons. That is the whole point of a two chamber system.

    By the same logic of stating a majority are against fox hunting (even though this majority is largely unaffected by hunting continuing) so the ban should go ahead I could point out that a majority are against gay marriage (even though this majority is equally unaffected by what people get up to in the privacy of their own homes) so we should stop that from ever happening. Equally, if you believe the Daily Mail, The Sun and the like, a majority are against asylum seekers having any rights, and think that black people are all criminals. Do we let them have their way, just because they're a majority? Democracy can produce tyranny as well, even if it is the tyranny of the majority.

    As some wag once said (I forget the precise quote), democracy is not the best political system, it's just the best one we have.

    (Oh, and one final thing – although most of the supporters of the ban seem to think it is, fox hunting is not the sole preserve of the upper and upper-middle classes. Many working-class people hunt, and a fair few jobs rely on it in the few parts of the countryside that still maintain the practice (most of which are severely depressed areas). Personally I have no interest in going on a hunt, and find the idea of a fox being torn limb from limb highly unpleasant. But then I have also seen chickens massacred by a fox, and seen a sheep with its throat torn out by one, so know they need to be controlled. I have also seen a fox dying from a seeping, gangrenous wound after being shot, and I have seen pictures of foxes caught in snares and dying of poison. Those are the alternatives. A quick death is, I believe, preferable – and being caught by a pack of hounds is the quickest guaranteed death you can give. And that's not even to mention the fact that most of the time they get away.)

  4. I don't really want to get into a debate on the pros and cons of hunting with dogs, (although you forget to mention the foxes that escape immediate death, only to suffer a slower death later from exhaustion, stress and injury sustained). I am broadly against it, but not particularly passionately. It's not even so much the comparative suffering of the animal compared to other methods, but the fact that sport is made out of killing something. I know hunters will tell you they only do it to stop a great chicken "massacre", but they are at least partly (and probably mainly) motivated by the enjoyment of it. The hunters and the dogs are killing for fun, which is precisely the charge they level at the fox! (Who incidently, if undisturbed, will usually come back to collect the uneaten chickens and store them for later consumption.)

    I take your point about the tyranny of the majority, but come on, we're talking about the riding around with dogs chasing foxes here. It's hardly basic human rights stuff! Nobody is being tyrranised. Some jobs will be lost, but parliament makes such decisions all the time.

    Besides, your points about the Labour majority and the lack of a credible opposition would be better applied to the Iraq war, top-up fees, foundation hospitals, identity cards, identity cards, anti-terrorist legislation etc. It hardly applies here, because Labour MPs have a free vote, and the vast majority actually disagree with the government. This is not some big idea imposed on the party by Blair and co., it's grassroots stuff.

  5. I don't much like hunting folk either. Mostly pompous arses from the ones I've come across. And yep, it's a minor issue. It just worries me when things like the Parliament Act start getting used on little things. Reminds me of that poem: "First they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew…" Where does it lead?

    And yep, it was a free vote. But still a free vote in a House of Commons where one party has a huge majority. I'd be far happier if we had a more evenly balanced system is all…

  6. Underblog, the 1997 manifesto for the Labour Party also promised to tackle Education and Health. I've seen scant evidence of either actually happening, beyond Hospitals deterioating and Students now facing a debt crisis.

  7. Hey, I'm not a fan of this government! I totally agree. It's a pity labour backbenchers don't stand up to the government a bit more often, rather than doing as they're told.
    For once they're actually (reluctantly) doing exactly what they said they would, seven years late. It's a shame it doesn't happen more often.