Monday, June 26, 2006

Nosemonkey and Spam

Good lord!

Nosemonkey looks at SpamCam's pledge to bring in a Bill of Rights and rightly points out that it will be a load of old horseshit. And then procedes to propose something which I find even more extraordinary.
Sadly, however, Cameron is not yet in a position to propose the one route that would allow the UK to come closer than it ever has to giving its citizens inviolable rights (something no British subject has ever really had) - because that route is via binding international treaties, and most easily achievable through the European Union, adding an EU layer on top of the Council of Europe's European Convention on Human Rights.

Or you could just invite the French to invade; it would amount to the same thing.

Jesus, as I have said so many fucking times before, I don't want any Rights guaranteed by the fucking EU. There are several reasons for this:
  1. I believe that their justice system is inferior to ours. In this country—despite Blair's posturing—one is still innocent until proven guilty, and the onus is on the state to prove that guilt. Under, for instance, the French system, the burden of proof is on you, i.e. you have to prove your innocence.

    In this country, you cannot be held indefinitely until the police have time to trump up some charges against you; again, unlike the French system (Private Eye, passim ad nauseam).

    All of the things that people are complaining about, the reason that people are saying that we need a binding Constitution are triggered by attacks on these liberties that our Continental cousins do not share. So, what the fuck is the point in signing up to their shitty legal systems (which is what allowing our Rights to be governed by the EU would entail).

  2. The EU would love it. Fuck me, they've been pushing for more "harmonisation" in judicial matters for years. And the French would be absolutely fucking delighted; can you imagine Chirac licking his chops as he realises that he has got his hands on the British legal system?

  3. As democratic deficits go, the EU has one of the largest. In this country, whilst Blair might be destroying our rights willy-nilly, we do at least have some recourse to elections, and the possibility that some party will reinstate those rights; this is not the case with the EU.

  4. I dislike the defeatist attitude whereby Britons feel that their government is so awful and incompetent that we need a bunch of foreigners to come and save us. Fuck me, haven't we got over the Orange Revolution yet?

  5. What the cunting fuck?

Seriously, Nosemonkey: do you really think that we have come to the point that we can no longer be trusted to rule ourselves? And you believe this to the extent that you believe that we should let a foreign, unelected body rule over us? Oh, sorry, yes, of course, I'd forgotten that you are pro-EU, so of course you do. Sorry.
But, aside from the generally anti-EU stance of most Conservatives,...

And, indeed, the rest of the country and, frankly, not without good reason. Yes, yes, we all know that everyone who is anti-EU is actually a Frog- and Kraut-hating xenophobe without any reason for being anti-EU apart from a fading sense of our own self-importance, and that only the liberal elite know best, but that is precisely the sort of attitude that the screaming, arrogant cunts in the EU display. Not to mention, of course, the fucking intellectual dregs of humanity that pass for politicians.

Which is why everybody hates them.
... the likelihood of Cameron being able to achieve anything in Europe if he continues with his apparent plan to move Tory MEPs out of the European Parliament's largest grouping is minimal to say the least.

Well, given that our chances of changing fuck-all amongst the creme-de-la-creme of the most corrupt and useless from every country in the union is precisely fucking zero, I think that withdrawing from a grouping who are Europhilic to the core is the best thing to do.

I mean, it's common sense; if you are allied to a group who are totally up for further integration, and you aren't, then all you are going to achieve is nothing that you want. I would have thought that that was pretty simple.

And so, remind me again: now that the economic case for the EU has been comprehensively exploded; given that we know that its laws are worse than ours; given that their environmental policies are actively damaging; given that it has had no impact on peace in Europe; given that it is not democratic; given that we can place the deaths of millions at the door of the EU; given all of this can someone please explain to me why anyone except a knave or a fool would possibly argue for our membership of this organisation, let alone argue that it should be given more power over us?

15 comments:

Blognor Regis said...

And if the government of the European Region of British Englandisterre were to pick on one in contravention of said "rights" what are they going to be able to about it? Send in the Belgian commandos?

Serf said...

The only thing that stops me throwing myself of the nearest tall building in despair at our ruling elite is to look across the channel. As wankers go, Tony is quite a small one compared to Chirac, Zapatero or Prodi(Not to mention Juncker). Which is a feature of our political system, I am sure.

Nosemonkey said...

"do you really think that we have come to the point that we can no longer be trusted to rule ourselves?"

We're certainly dangerously close. Blair's been setting all kinds of dangerous precedents over the last nine years that could easily be taken advantage of by future governments. Remember the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill?

Lacking any real check on the power of the Commons now that the Lords have been neutered by half-arsed reform and Blair's willingness to use the Parliament Act, lacking electoral reform to prevent large parliamentary majorities without the votes to justify it, lacking a constitution as sacrosanct and binding as that of the US to prevent abuse of power, any government with a sufficient majority can wipe out anything and everything we hold dear.

You know all too well that though I like the idea of the EU I know that the reality is significantly less than perfect. The reason for suggesting it as a solution here is purely because it has the ability to hit the government where it hurts - economically.

Currently a British government with a sufficient majority in the Commons could abolish elections as well as habeas corpus, and the worst that would happen is that we'd get booted out of the Council of Europe (as happened to Belarus). With the EU able to impose severe restrictions on trade, damaging the flow of revenue into the government's sizable pockets, having rights set down in an EU treaty would be far more of a restriction on any government's willingness to abolish rights than we have ever had before.

With a government increasingly willing to attack judges and mess with the law to get its own way, giving the people recourse to courts outside the nation state to gain redress when their rights are violated by the state is essential. It can be the only way to gain some measure of justice against a corrupt government, whether you like it or not, yet the UK is not currently bound to hold to the European Convention on Human Rights - Blair has already suspended it, after all - so the right to seek help from the European Court of Human Rights is not guaranteed. Such a guarantee of extra-national justice is, I reckon, one of the few ways in which we can ensure individual rights against that of the state.

(I won't go into the whole "different legal systems" thing, as it's insanely complicated and would take forever, but suffice to say that when it comes to a statement of principles of the rights of man I very much doubt it would get in the way - just as the different legal systems of Scotland and England/Wales haven't caused many problems when it comes to human rights cases in recent years. Equally the "guilty until proven innocent thing" - though actually that hasn't been the case since at least 1950, as the European Convention on Human Rights states that "innocent until proven guilty" is an inviolable assumption - would actually be an advantage for any plaintiff against an abusive governmental machine...)

Devil's Kitchen said...

NM,

You make a good case, and I partially accept your contention that we are dangerously close to not being able to rule ourselves. However, my argument about the ballot box still holds water, where the EU argument doesn't.

The reason for suggesting it as a solution here is purely because it has the ability to hit the government where it hurts - economically.

This won't hit the government where it hurts: it'll hit taxpayers where the government hurts. It is a little futile fining a body that has no money other than what it extorts from others. All that will happen is that the EU will fine the government and the government will raise taxes (or cut money to public services) in order to pay the fine.

DK

Nosemonkey said...

True - but in the absence of an international body with the ability to invade to protect civil liberties (an invasion that would, almost inevitably, end in the loss of innocent lives), it's the best we've got.

This is my major fear - that there may be NOTHING that can be done to prevent a descent into totalitarianism. Thanks to the nature of our constitution, Britain has far fewer checks and balances than pretty much any other country. The fact that even elections could easily be abolished with few real ramifications terrifies me.

If having a bunch of foreign johnnies standing on the sidelines going "hang on, chaps, that's a bit rum" and taking away our pocket money can help prevent or even just delay any government from making bullshit excuses that desperate times call for desperate measures, as Blair's doing now with his lauding of summary justice, then huzzah for friends across the water, that's what I say.

Devil's Kitchen said...

NM,

Granted, and I too feel a shiver of fear when I contemplate the situation. However, even with this lack of safeguards, we seem to have done OK up till now; I guess I'm just wildly optimistic...!

DK

Nosemonkey said...

We've done OK until now because the English/British constitution runs on honour - some things are simply not done even when technically they could be. That sense of honour seems to have been slipping in recent years - almost to the extent that the precedents of the old honour system have been utterly replaced by a system of whatever you can get away with goes. We're not quite there yet - but if we do get there, it'll be too late to do anything about it.

Mr Eugenides said...

I hope that we are not yet at the point where we rely on the Italians and Greeks (!) to safeguard our democratic liberties. I don't think we are.

I think that getting the EU to keep an eye on our constitution because we don't trust our own lot to do it is rather throwing the baby out with the bathwater - it's kind of like asking Richard and Judy to babysit because you're worried about the paedophile scare. Your kids may be fine when you get back, but the cupboards will have been cleared of baked beans and booze.

Blognor Regis said...

If we need to join a foreign federation to protect us from ourselves then why don't we apply to become the 51st to 54th states of the United States of America? It'd certainly be a better fitting join.

Anonymous said...

Just two observations

1. We already have a Bill of Rights which was promulgated in 1689 - it goes with the Act of Settlement.

2. You can put what you like into a new bill of rights. For instance Stalin stuffed his constitution of 1936(?) to the gills with rights. However, as with Stalin's constitution, a bill of rights is meaningless unless our elected representatives not only believe in it, practice its spirit and, vitally, re-assert their power over the executive.

Katy Newton said...

I know that Greece reverses the burden of proof but I didn't realise that the French did it as well.

Unity said...

Couple of points worth noting.

First, the idea that EHCR is somehow 'European' and therefore alien to the UK is a load of bollocks - ECHR was written by a group of British barristers and adopted by the Council of Europe (it was actually Churchill who played a key role in pushing it forward to adoption) and much of its content is based on principles derived from English common law.

Second, the 1689 Bill of Rights actually confers very few rights on British subject, being primarily concerned with the rights of Parliament as against those of the crown. As constitutional law goes, the Scots got a better deal out of the Act of Union than the English did out of the Bill of Rights.

Finally, if anyone is genuinely interested in the real story of how our political rights, in particular, developed, then they really should read Paul Foot's final book, 'The Vote' which tell the real story, which is some considerable way different from the kind of history that's usually presented.

To give a couple of examples of where historical figures developed feet of clay...

1) John Stuart Mill, while a Member of Parliament, both spoke and voted against the extension of the franchise to ordinary working men - in fact the universal male franchise for men aged 21 and over did not come about until 1918. What Mill actually favoured was a limited franchise based on education which, had he got his was, would have been little different from the Jim Crow laws found in many southern US States after the endof the Civil War.

2) Likewise, the 'sainted' Pankhursts - other than Sylvia - dropped their campaign for women's sufferage like a hot brick in 1914 and spent the war years actively promoting the war effort, effectively feeding Britian's young men into hell holes like the Somme and Ypres. When women's sufferage actually came it was fuck all to do with them - what actually got women the vote was, to a large extent, the unionisation of women working in Britain's factories during the First War coupled with the fear, in government circles, that a refusal to extend the franchise after the war might spark of a revolution after the fashion of the Russian Revolution of 1917.

The real history of citizen's rights in Britain is one of concessions unwillingly made in the face of the threat of insurrection - all the stuff that's generally taught in schools about the influence of 'liberal reformers' is mostly a load of bollocks.

I understand your apprehension about the possibilty of a descent into totalitarianism, but what we seem to have forgotten as a nation is that the British way of dealing with such threats, as laid down in history, has nothing to do with Europe or the courts - in such situations we've always relied on a very basic and direct form of democracy, the kind that involves a lot of people brandishing 12-foot pikes until the fuckers at the top back down.

Anonymous said...

Oh yes we can all learn about real democracy from Paul Foot who was a member, I believe, of the International Socialists (forerunners of the SWP) and a happy employee of Robert Maxwell.

Just three examples of the extension of democracy and restriction of the powers of the executive which didn't require the participation of the TUC:

The Somerset case (1772) which outlawed slavery in the UK - a decision by Lord Mansfield in an English court

Decision by Lord Camden (1763) - again in an English court - outlawing the issue of general warrants (effectively reversed by the present Parliament)

The great Reform Acts of the 19th century were not passed at the point of a gun although there was a great deal of (mostly peaceful) agitation and campaigning.

BTW unity is correct in his/her view of the 1689 bill of rights except that, in those days, Parliament was seen - and actually functioned - to control the executive: sadly not true today.

Unity said...

>>> Oh yes we can all learn about real democracy from Paul Foot who was a member, I believe, of the International Socialists (forerunners of the SWP) and a happy employee of Robert Maxwell.

Foot was certainly a member of Socialist International and remained active in Left-wing politics until his death - whether he was a 'happy' employee of Maxwell is another matter entirely.

However, none of that has any real bearing on his work in 'The Vote' which manages to be both passionate about the subject - which is democracy, by the way - and objective in his presentation of the historical events which led to the franchise he had today.

While you may not agree with the underlying thesis of the latter part of his book, which deals in the main with the Labour Party since 1945 and the conflict between political and economic power during that period, his presentation of the history of the struggle for the franchise from The Civil War and the Levellers, through the reforms of the 19th Century, the Chartists, the Reform League and other, right through to the end of the First War more than stands up to scrutiny, being well researched and referenced.

It also paints a rather different picture of the forces that were driving demand for reform during the 19th Century in particular - the agitation was not always so peaceful as most assume and at times the threat of outright insurrection was all too real and palpable, not least because of the very real fear that events on the continent such as Paris Commune, might provide the spark to ignite the simmering tensions that surfaced periodically during that period.

Umbongo, you really shouldn't dismiss Foot's work solely on the basis of assumptions about his political views based solely on his political affiliations - that's just not a valid line of argument anymore than it would be if I were to dismiss the work of Fukiyama outright just because he's a Neo-con (albeit something of a faintly repentant one these days).

If you want to criticise Foot's analysis, feel free, but do so having read his work and from a position in which you can assess it on its merits. If you can't manage that then at least read Franci Wheen's review in the Graun - http://politics.guardian.co.uk/bookshelf/story/0,,1425958,00.html - which should at least give a bit of a flavour of the book and perhaps dispell some of your more obvious preconcptions.

Anonymous said...

unity

I admit that I have never read "The Vote" and I'm willing to admit that Foot diligently worked through a lot of interesting source documetation. However, call me old-fashioned or even prejudiced, but I wouldn't take lessons in democracy from anyone who was a member of Socialist International (or who is a member of SWP or a legion of left-wing head banging organisations).

I will further admit that sometimes (but extremely rarely) extremists get their facts and commentary right: (trusting this is not a Godwin's Law remark but) the most obvious I recall is the Katyn Forest massacre revealed to an unbelieving world by none other than Goebbels. I am not equating Foot and Goebbels, by the way, except that in their own very different ways they both exemplify end-of-spectrum extremism. However, setting aside the obvious personal affection he inspired in many otherwise rational commentators, the views Foot espoused - as evidenced by the organisations he supported or joined - disqualifies him as somebody whose political opinions or analysis merit any consideration whatsoever.

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