Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

EU blogs and EU elections

Just like busses, you wait ages for some promising new EU-focussed bloggers, and then 81 turn up at once… (And, judging from their photos, they aren’t all youngsters, as I was expecting, and there are even some GIRLS! Shocking! Though once again there appears to be a definite under-representation of non-white faces among their number, which is a shame…)

At any rate, there certainly seems to be a fair amount of enthusiasm for this year’s EU elections on the interweb (see also the promising-looking EU Debate 2009 blog from Cafe Babel) – but will there be any in the real world? And what are these elections going to be all about anyway? Will the economy be on the mend by the summer? It’s doubtful. And in tough economic times, aspirations of working with people in other countries generally take a back seat to knee-jerk protectionism, as is currently being witnessed in the UK with the Lindsay Oil Refinery dispute (after all, there wasn’t so much outrage over the influx of Polish builders at the height of the property boom a couple of years back, was there?).

Convincing sceptical voters of the benefits of European co-operation can be tough even in the good times, so ready do people seem to be to believe the worst. In the bad?

24 Comments

  1. Hmm, What isn`t “knee jerk ” to you, actions that you or the EU elite approve of ?
    I like the link about Polish builders. Actually there was quite a lot of comment about them, but you may have missed it because the EU loving BBC didn`t report that much on it.
    Are you saying the protestors outside the Lincoln refineries were employing Polish builders before ?

  2. There are plenty of things that aren’t knee-jerk – but the dispute over the Italian workers is not one of them, as far as I can tell. The reason it’s a big story is because of the current economic circumstances – the press likes to leap on emotive, populist issues at such times, and “they come over here, stealing our jobs” is always a favourite populist cry in tough economic times.

    I have no idea what you mean in your last sentence, I’m afraid. However, although there was famously a lot of fuss about Polish plumbers in France, prior to Poland joining the EU, that’s France – they’re always complaining about labour issues there. In the UK there was very little outcry.

    Still don’t think it’s a knee-jerk reaction? Bear in mind that the current spat is over just 300 Italian workers. Between 2004 and 2006, around 600,000 workers from the new EU member states came to the UK for work, and despite the best efforts of the Daily Mail we had nothing like the levels of uproar there’s been over the last week or so.

  3. NM, there was a lot of fuss about the Polish builders–remember when Knapman got in trouble for using a team to do up his Devon ‘residence’? Sure, it wasn’t up to wildcat strikes, but some of the tabloids were all over it constantly; even the bloody Beeb bought into the (false) story about 3/4 of new jobs being taken by immigrants at the end of last year.

    All of that has been building up to the current climate, although I’ve seen some analysis saying that the media is reporting selectively: it’s not that they’re foreign, but that they’re being kept apart from the normal workforce and being treated separately. Combine that with stuf about the way the contract was awarded, etc and you’ve got a media hysteria stoking wildcats none of which is really contributing to solving the initial problem.

    Which, frankyl, I could care less about, I grew up on Auf Weidersien after all. Free movement of goods, services and people must mean that. At the same time, corporate employers could do with being a bit more transparent and open.

  4. Bugger, forgot to tick the subsribe thing–don’t suppose you could default that to on?

  5. Nosemonkey,
    You linked the the issue of Polish workers to the strikes at Killingholme, as though those protesters there had personnally benefitted from employing Polish workers in the past.
    Secondly the huge influx of foreign workers was foisted on us by the EU and British government. You cant say “well we forced that on you so you cant complain if this is forced on you” to people who had never expressed a desire for that policy.
    thirdly there were complaints about the new arrivals from NMS but the likes of the BBC would never report it, because that feather nested corpotion doesn`t need or want to show issues on the front line.

    Do you want or need to see an “uproar” before anyissue is debated ?

  6. Mat – I don’t recall much fuss, it must be said. I do remember the Knapman thing – but that was news purely because he was anti-immigration and employing immigrants. Then again, this may be because I was expecting a LOT of fuss, and was pleasantly surprised at how little everyone went mental, and how quickly the new immigrants seemed to be welcomed as friendly, hard-working, valuable members of society.

    (Not sure if I can put the comments subscription thing on automatically, by the way… Will look into it. Imagine it might piss a few people off though…)

    Robin – I linked the issue of Polish workers to the strikes because the strikes are also about foreign workers. There was no implication of any direct link between the protesters and Polish workers – you’ve misread what I’ve written.

    I’m not entirely sure where your “the BBC would never report it” thing comes from. As Mat mentioned above, the BBC did report specifically about Polish workers – and indeed came under fire last year for potentially stirring up anti-immigrant sentiment by carrying so many stories about new migrant workers.

    As for needing an uproar before debating issues, you’re joking, right? I’ve been running a blog focussing on and trying to foster debate about EU politics for nearly six years. A subject practically no one cares about.

    (As an irrelevant, largely rhetorical aside, why is it that people who profess to be British patriots so often hate the BBC, despite it being by far the best, most internationally-respected thing this country produces these days?)

  7. Nosemonkey,
    British patriots and others hate the BBC for its bias, its monopolising the market and the enforced paying to it.We see the other side of it.

    You mentioned the Polish workers as if the protesters shouldn`t strike just because we`ve had a huge influx of foreign workers before. That`s how your article will be read.
    The BBC have done 1 or 2 articles,and I would suspect they would rather not but cannot always keep out relevant topics.
    I hope you dont have that sneering attitude to “populist” and anyone that makes such an appeal . If populism is measures that the people want,surely it`s the right thing in a democracy ?

  8. hate the BBC for its bias, its monopolising the market and the enforced paying to

    The latter two are fair points in a way, I’m not happy with the way the BBC leverages its position to brak into new markets and destroy startups, etc, and what’s going on over Lonely Planet is just wrong. But that’s specific points of bad management easily solved by a tighter remit.

    But bias? It’s bias is centrist/centre right, corporatist and status quo. Most on the left, whether liberal or statist, find it too biased against them in many respects. But they don’t whinge about it the way some on the right do, because they recognise it for what it is—an attempt at impartiality wrapped around a basically centrist/status quo position.

    The BBC have done 1 or 2 articles

    Trans: Robin is aware of one or two articles, hasn’t bothered watching the huge amount of stuff they’ve broadcast in political and news slots, and is making suppositions based on irrational prejudice.

    I get most of my news from the BBC, Radio 4 is on most of the time, I sometimes watch Newsnight, Question Time and This Week. Yet I’m aware of stories and controveries over immigration issues since the open borders policy of accession. It’s been discussed on Question Time several times FFS.

    The BBC is covering it (and is covering the current strikes very badly as well). So stop tilting at windmills, you are wrong.

    The problem with populism is that it doesn’t do what’s right, or try to explain the actual options, it just does what people think they want. The point of a representative democracy is that we elect people to make judgements on our behalf, because it makes more economic sense to pay someoen than it does to obsess about every minutae on every issue.

    I want to pay no taxes, work as little as possible and get all my food provided for me. A populist could make a good case for providing this. That wouldn’t make it a sensible policy, we need to balance lots of issues, which is why simplistic populism is wrong.

    I’ll happily debate the issues though, and put forward proper policies, and campaign to get people elected on those policies. That’s what it’s all about.

    NM, there was fuss. So much fuss it Marcus Brigstocke did a routine on it for The Now Show (—”coming over here, taking our jobs” -“No. DOING your jobs.”—it was basically a paen to the polish building firm he’d had do some work, and got a huge laugh because it was good, it’ll be on YouTube I reckon).

    The fuss was possibly bigger in different parts of the media and world, it definitely had some coverage in Devon where I was, there was a bit of tension, and I read about it in other areas; the bloody awful way the Govt applies the funding settlement didn’t help, and Migration Watch issued many many press releases trying to say how horrible it all was, Timmy did a great debunking of one of them.

  9. Robin – “Populist” and “Popular” are not the same thing. Populism is a type of political rhetoric used to rile up the people – usually in opposition to something, most often a group accused of going against the “interests” of the people in times of economic hardship – usually by oversimplifying complex situations to gain support and political advantage.

    Things that are popular? That’s what democracy is all about. Populism, on the other hand, is all about making things artificially popular through deception, and thus a distortion of democracy. Hitler and Lenin were two of the most successful populists of the 20th century, one scapegoating the Jews, the other the bourgeoisie and aristocracy – both had massive popular support, and both were sociopathic mass-murderers. Populism is not, therefore, a type of politics to be supported – it is dishonest, underhand and dangerous for the very foundation of democratic societies.

    Mat – sounds like that all passed me by. Must pay more attention, it seems. Just like being back in school…

  10. Nosemonkey,

    So who is riling up the masses, and what are their reasons ?
    What deceptions are being used and what simplifications (I do see some from the likes of Mandleson).
    Sorry but I see too mush of one side, usually the Left and BBC types, who think those that are in disagreement with them are “populist”. It`s just as dangerous to have an “elite” who know what`s better for us proles running affaira as it is to have demaguoges agitating (And I dont beleive we will ever see the likes of Hitler or Stalin or even pale imitations of them ever getting near power here ).

  11. Mat GB,

    Most who look at the BBC closely see its bias as a left/liberal affair that gives subtle advantages to certian creeds, like Global Warming, the EU, Prison reform and not jailing offenders and other issues.
    There is a website, Biased BBC.com and a few others that disect its output almost daily.
    You`ll be right if you think I dont watch or listen to too much BBC. One reason is I give up on it, another is I dont have a television now and dont pay their enfoced payment.

    That Marcus Brigstoke piece (if it`s the one I,m remembering) is an example of the subtle blinkered,we know best BBC attitude.
    So Polish workers work on a bank holiday- does the BBC think that we shouldn`t have bank holidays ? And have you ever been an immigrant in another country ? If so you`ll know the special days of that country mean less to you than to its inhabitants. Those two points wil not be aired by the BBC Now Show.
    When I was an International haulier I was often parked up in different countries because they forbid lorries travelling at weekends and public holidays. I didn`t want to stop work. was it because I was better than all the rest ?
    The Poles are said to be hardworking (and many of you castigate the British, but I suppose if we stereotype others- Blacks are lazy, Jews are shifty etc) but when I did poland in the good old days under their communist leadership they weren`t hard workers. They hold the old Eastern Bloc saying “They pretend to pay us and we pretend to work “. cant blame them myself. Motivation is a good thing in an economy.

  12. Robin, in this specific case of the wildcat strikes, it’s the BNP. The website organising the strikes elsewhere was yesterday exposed as a BNP front operation.

    So these strikes are being organised by our own pale imitation of Hitler.

    Specifically, the initial strike had a good reason, pay and conditions not being shared, and overseas labour being kept away from local workers in seperate conditions, etc. That’s been now replaced, and reported, as being a “british jobs for british workers” issue, in other words the BNP has managed to displace a legitimate dispute with management over conditions of employment into an anti foreigner campaign.

    It’s not the bosses fault, it’s those nasty foreigners. It’s populist trash to get them support, and stops work on the real issue, that of the legislation guaranteeing pay and conditions having massive loopholes.

    I think that answers your questions at a fundamental level, have I missed anything?

  13. Robin – re: the BNP link to the strikes, here’s an in-depth explanation, with more details at politics.co.uk. Otherwise I largely agree with Mat’s last comment.

  14. Most who look at the BBC closely see its bias as a left/liberal affair

    Is that why the political editor is a close friend of the Tory leader and used to chair his Conservative association, and the most significant daily politics show as well as one of the weekly round up shows are fronted by that notorious lefty that set up Fox News in the US for Murdoch?

    You delude youresle.

    that gives subtle advantages to certian creeds, like Global Warming, the EU

    Backing up my point here—the mainstream consensus opinion of status quo: find me a mainstream politician on the front bench of any of the big three parties that’s denying scientific consensus or wants to leave the EU. All three main parties favour these issues to some extent or other.

    I’m very aware that many others don’t, but please, be aware that electorally you are perceived by both politicians and media as a very vocal but very small minority. I’m not denying your right to an opinion, but the “bias” you highlight is that towards what is perceived as that of the overwhelming majority.

    As a radical reformist on EU issues, for example, I find the BBC biased in favour of the confederational status quo. You find it biased one way, I find it biased the other. It’s actually somewhere in between us.

    And I mentioned the Brigstocke piece just because it was relevant to the whole “it was an issue” thing that a mainstream comedian did a sketch on it. Brigstocke is biased one way, but Clarkson is biased in a different way, both present comedy/entertainment shows, neither is proof of overall bias.

    And yes, I’m aware of “biased BBC”. I submitted an article once, they rejected it, I was complaining about the right wing bias of the overall reportage. I was, obviously, taking the piss, but a bunch of extreme right wingers complaining that something that’s palpably in the middle is horribly left wing is laughable, sorry. It’s more left wing than you. Turn off the groupthink and look at the majority position for once.

  15. I just had a look at Min of Truth web and the Bearfacts web. If it is set up by the BNP they`ve sho themselves in the foot,from the little I saw (I search engined BNP on it ).The comments were hostile towards them.
    The Links section showed the unions but no political party.
    In summary even if it was set up by a BNP person, the BNP seem to have had very little influence on the strikers.

  16. MatGB,

    The political editor may be one individual, and there may be others, that is conservative leaning (or wet conservative leaning)and freinds with a high ranking Tory, but most are not. Is it true that the BBC tends to put its job applications mainly in the Guardian ?

    You say I delude myself. Why would I want to do that ?. Do you and your ilk never ask yourself why people such as me dont like the BBC or the EU ?
    do you think we wake up and say “I think I`ll be anti BBC, because its so pleasant to pay taxes towards it and seeits domineering position in the media being against me” ??

    The BBC is deciding the mainstream ,and stultifying other ideas that are not what it considers should be given prominence. What is the mainstream in the BBCs eyes is not always mainstream in the general populace. Thus we get a report; “The Government is making policy X in the court system BUT this will mean more people will go to jail ” That actually was their reporting. Why the ? Why not .? because the BBC has its own agenda again.And as with many issues, the BBC is out of kilter with the majority.
    Thus on the EU it was the BBCs effort to show the debate as for more EU as stands, some reform of the EU, or standstill for now about the EU. The issue of leaving the EU has to be considered as just a minority of “swivel eyed loons” who are “populist” or reactionary, racist, stupid, nasty,or anything that insults them. It`s not “in the middle”. It`s pro EU.

    Brigstoke and his mates get more air time than Clarkson, who is more a token lovable rogue in the BBCs eyes, not to be taken seriously.

    I`m sorry about your experience on the Biased BBC website, but that was only one try (I have urged civility to opposing views there and this will be shown in the future) .I know how it feels to go to a website to test your views, to see if you are in the right, only to have abuse instead of polite discussion thrown at you.Why you think it`s more left wing than me I cant fathom, unless you are intimating I am a far right extremist. In that case it shows what extremism and politics YOU have.

  17. Robin, I know you’re never going to be convinced of this, but it is all a matter of perception. If you think the BBC’s poltical coverage fails to relfect your views, fine. It doesn’t particularly reflect mine either. Nor Mat’s, I’m guessing. It is attacked for bias by both left and right because it is pretty much in the centre – which is precisely where it should be. Want properly left-leaning news for comparison? Try Channel 4.

    You see it as being pro-EU, I see it rarely even mentioning the EU (and when it does, it almost without exception brings in a withdrawalist from UKIP or similar to make the case for the antis). You see left-wing presenters everywhere, I can point to the openly Tory Andrew Neil heading their flagship political show and the current political editor Nick Robinson as being a former national chairman of the Young Conservatives from the height of Thatcherism.

    I can understand you objecting on principle to the license fee and the concept of a state-funded broadcaster, I really can. But don’t try to back it up by claiming that the BBC’s biased and that it should be scrapped on political grounds. Argue instead that it shouldn’t be wasting our money on crap like BBC3, Andrew Lloyd Weber promotions, brainless gameshows and other forms of silly entertainment that can be provided perfectly adequately by the private sector. Argue that it shouldn’t be using license fee-funded resources to help its commercial wing BBC Worldwide and so compete directly against private companies with an unfair advantage. Argue that it shouldn’t spend so much on big-name stars and presenters. But with such a tiny, tiny proportion of the license fee going on news and politics (the Today Programme, if I recall, has an annual budget of just £4 million, despite turning out more than 800 hours of programming a year) to complain about the BBC’s perceived political bias seems rather like an art critic concentrating on the artist’s signature while ignoring the painting as a whole.

    (Oh, and the BBC doesn’t advertise in the Guardian much, by the way. It doesn’t advertise jobs much at all, in fact – trust me, I’ve been trying to get a job there for years, and have only seen a handful of adverts. The Guardian may be where media companies tend to advertise, but that’s not thanks to the paper’s politics – more thanks to it having gained an unassailable lead in the media job ad market some years ago.)

  18. I disagree with you of course but I will leave that for now as a side issue.
    Nosemonkey and MatGB,

    Can you give me your thoughts on;

    1:Margaret Thatcher

    2:Communities

    3:Workers Rights

    4:Stakeholder Society

    5:The Miners Strike

    6:British leyland and the closure of Rover.

    ?

  19. Why?

    Specifically, the miners strike happened when I was at primary school, I decided not to teach history for a living.

    Besides, this is now so completely off topic it’s not worth continuing. I’m more left wing than NM who is a centrist by any sane definition, and you’re more right wing. What do my thoughts on that list matter when we acknowledge the positions we’re in?

  20. Ditto Mat. This is getting silly – this thread was already wildly off-topic, and now you want us to give our opinions on issues from three decades ago? I don’t even HAVE opinions on most of that list.

  21. OK I`ll tell you why I asked.
    Most on the left have talked about communities destryed By Mrs Thatcher, especially during the miners strike, then the Labour talked about a Stakeholder society, which is one reason to keep Rover open.
    I see now that, because of the EU, the talk by Mandleson, typical of the left, is that workers not only leave their locality,their community, but actually leave the country as well.
    I should have put the question direct, to keep it linked as it is germane to this issue.
    Do you believe that we should not worry about the communities being put under pressure, and workers forced to move overseas for employment ?

  22. Robin, it was obvious WHY you asked. But as I am not a leftie – and especially as this post was about EU blogs rather than labour relations – I rather fail to see the point. It’s just not relevant. And I STILL don’t have an opinion on what you’re asking about.

  23. I’ll unsub from this thread after posting this, but regarding the movement of construction workers througout Europe, already covered above. One thing I do know about was that during the early 80s recession, a bunch of British workers went overseas, specifically to Germany, in order to get work, so much so that there was a TV series about it.

    And that wasn’t a move ‘typical of the left’, it was something promoted by Thatcher and enshrined as a right by Major.

    Free movement of peoples is a bloody good principle, ensuring all those competing for work do so on a level playing field is also a bloody good principle.

  24. Nosemonkey,
    I thought one idea of blog comments was to see a train of thoughts about the subject (which you mentioned in your blog).

    MatGB will not participate but we know about Margaret Thatchers policies and that is no excuse for anyone to adhere to a particular line because “Thatcher did it”.

    there will be no level playing field in the EU for Britain.Our functionaries are incapable of attaining one.