Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

Mandelson and the art of selective quotation

Mandelson in “words distorted” shocker. Yep, Mandy’s said something vaguely sensible about the scrapped EU constitution only to find himself selectively quoted to make it look like he’s a delusional nutjob. (Which he normally is, it must be admitted…)

Blair’s dodgy buddy (who at least had the decency to resign after organising suspect loans from wealthy friends), the EU’s Commissioner for Trade, has admitted that

“the present constitutional treaty in the eyes of many does not provide a solution. It was a very good basis and in many respects it has ideas proposed that we should not lose sight of.”But I don’t think people are ready to adopt, let alone rush to embrace, at this stage.”

Unfortunately, Mandy also had a bit of a poor choice of words when attempting to explain that a union of 25 states necessitates a reworking of the (in any case outdated) rules and regulations that govered the EU of 15. (Which, as I’ve said many times, should all have been sorted out a decade ago, as the possibility of expansion started to become more of a reality – but everyone was still smarting from Maastricht and the ERM debacle, so rational debate about the future of the EU was hardly on the agenda. And that’s hardly Mandy’s fault – it wasn’t his watch back then.)

Anyway, sadly, Mandelson got a bit muddled, stating “we have to create rules, we have to create institutions that accommodate a growing population and a growing number of member states” in a rather blunt manner without, apparently, offering any wider explanation or contextualisation.

Unsurprisingly, the “rules” bit has been jumped on by a Tory MEP from the East Midlands, desperately trying to stave off the heavy UKIP threat in his region, where euroscepticism is so rife they even elected Robert Kilroy-Silk. (There are some local elections coming up, you see, and the Tories are a bit worried about the ex-Conservative lunatic fringe – hence the recent spat between David Cameron and the UKIP lot. Who aren’t at all racist, oh no…)

So we have our faithful Tory trying to regain the eurosceptic vote by launching an attack on Mandy (a fairly easy target, it must be said), asking

“‘What part of “no” does Peter Mandelson not understand? Mr Mandelson’s calls for more rules, regulations and expensive institutions just goes to show how much more out of touch he has become since moving to Brussels…”‘Most people in Britain want the European Union to be doing less, not more.'”

Which rather ignores the fact that Mandelson was acknowledging that the constitution has been rejected, but pointing out that aspects of it are still worth keeping (very true – a lot of it was rubbish, but there were some genuine, democratic improvements in there which it would be foolish to jettison entirely).

It also misses the point that it’s not necessarily MORE rules, regulations and institutions that Mandy’s calling for, merely new ones. Which considering the immense changes that have affected the EU over the last few years is really only sensible – and as Mandy doesn’t specify what these new rules and institutions would do, it’s a bit silly to reject such hypotheticals before even listening to what’s being proposed. Hell, it may even be a reduction and rationalisation of the current bureaucracy and red tape that is the cause of so much eurosceptic anger…

No one in the EU hierarchy knows what the hell’s going on, and even if a few of them have plans, these plans are nowhere near finalised – because they have to make sure that whatever they propose will be acceptable to all 25 member states. As two member states rejected the thing (for whatever reasons), and there remains a good chance that at least a couple of others would have followed suit had they gone down the referendum route, they need to at the very least rework the constitution before trying to progress with the much-needed reforms of the EU that Mandy was rightly saying will have to happen at some point (relatively) soon.

In other words, let’s not leap to conclusions, even if the person speaking IS an erstwhile Labour stooge.