Wednesday, 21 November 2012


The main reason I like the 6 demands of the Harrogate Agenda is that it addresses the issue of power and who it belongs to and who controls it. In principle as a so-called democracy we should have the rule of law, but in practice law is only words on a sheet of paper. It only means something, and is only as good, as its enforcement. Without enforcement it means diddly squat. And that comes down to the stark reality of politics - power. This is the vacuum that the Harrogate Agenda hopes to address.

This neatly leads me onto our membership of the EU. One of frustrations with the Eurosceptic movement is the Lernaean Hydra tendency to claim to be part of the same cause but only as a disguise to promote vested interests. It leads to a continuously failed campaign because of the lack of appreciation of the 'united we stand, divided we fall' factor.

It's on the basis of this that much is made that our membership, on the Eurosceptic front for example, of the EU is illegal, politicians are traitors, the Queen should have said no and that the Parliamentary oath has been broken.

So what? Who will uphold the law in that case? The proven europhile Judiciary? What can we do in the event of blatant corruption by judges who make up the law as they go along. Nothing.

Upholding the constitution or indeed any other part of law requires power. Currently that resides with an establishment whose vested interests is to remain within the EU so it's in their interest to ignore. So regardless of how we may jump up and down in protest, they will simply make it up to protect their own interest. In light of that - now what?

The brutal truth is our written, yet famously uncodified, constitution failed. It came across the ultimate test in defence of our country in 1972 and was found badly wanting. It lost, it got chucked out of the competition, it gave up the ghost, it got dicked 6-0 on aggregate, it woke up, looked over the duvet cover and decided it was too cold outside and went back to sleep. It failed...which is precisely why I was born into the EEC and still remain, against my will, an EU Citizen (like the Queen) nearly 40 years later. So upholding the rule of law requires power which we currently don't have. Hopefully Harrogate fills that vacumn.

The other common objection is that we just repeal the ECA of 1972, leave and just stick a couple of fingers up at the EU...but we can't. The ECA is not a giant red reset button which we can just press and revert back to 1971 and forget it all happened. We have had 40 years of international agreements as part of our membership. They apply to us as well as the EU who as they do have to abide by international law.

Therefore countries exiting international organizations are covered by the Vienna Convention on the Law on Treaties. Article 56(1) states:
1. A treaty which contains no provision regarding its termination and which does not provide for denunciation or withdrawal is not subject to denunciation or withdrawal unless: a) it is established that the parties intended to admit the possibility of denunciation or withdrawal; or b) a right of denunciation or withdrawal may be implied by the nature of the treaty. 
The Lisbon Treaty does have a provision for exit via Article 50: Therefore it's covered by Article 54 of the Vienna Convention on the Law on Treaties (my emphasis):
The termination of a treaty or the withdrawal of a party may take place:
(a) in conformity with the provisions of the treaty; or
(b) at any time by consent of all the parties after consultation with the other contracting States.
We are bound therefore by international law to follow the method laid out in 'Lisbon'. Simply repealing the ECA 1972 is not enough and to do so and pretend we're no longer members would breach international law.

Not only that we've had 40 years of the EU's tentacles stretching absolutely everywhere. This, almost amusingly, creates two contradictory positions with those who oppose and support our membership:
It probably goes without saying, that in contrary to both 'positions' above - using simple logic - if the EU doesn't rule us and doesn't make most of our laws, leaving is easy. Conversely if we admit that the EU does make most of our rules, is our supreme government, is in control then leaving, by logical conclusion, is hard and so as a consquence requires protracted negotiations. You can't have it both ways.

Thus for Eurosceptics given that the EU is our actual government then protracted negoations are a necessary reality. Richard North says:
… while some of the europhile claims are indeed nonsense, for a variety of technical reasons, our manufacturing output could be hard hit if we failed to negotiate a sound exit agreement.
This is why, of course, it is vital to promote a negotiated exit based on an Article 50 settlement, tied in with membership of the EEA and the nationalisation of all unadopted EU law and secondary treaties. That way, we can affirm that the day after leaving the EU nothing will have changed.
The main effect our departure would (and should) be to allow us to commence the careful process of transition from being an EU member to full independence – and also to work towards more democratic governance in the UK.
Thus, if the europhiles are going to work on the fear factor, we have all the answers. Given a hearing, we can reassure people that there is no down-side to leaving.
I do often wonder on occasions whether some Eurosepctics think staying in the EU is worth it if they could further themselves a tiny bit in their own political circles as a consequence. The question always comes down to power.

By leaving the EU there's no point substituting one bunch of unelected morons (EU) for essentially another (UK). The only reason we're in the EU is because we have never been a democracy in the first place. No country can call themselves that when up to 1928 they refused half the population from the vote. No democratic country would have entered the then EEC in the first place.Ted Heath had no electorate mandate to enter after the 1970 election - the 'Common Market' was virtually ignored as an election issue in 1970 - yet within weeks Heath began Britain's negotiations for entry.

The Harrogate Agenda though by giving power back to us, makes our membership untenable, and it does so by, the first time in our history, giving power to us - the people.


  1. Wfw, absolutely true. Pragmatism - deal with the problem asit is and not as we'd like it to be. I hope the Harrogate Agenda is embraced by sufficient people who are in a position to give it Life.

  2. Some days are worth getting up, others are not.

    this post makes today a good day to b a part, oh yeah i had to get up for work too, but forget that, this still rocks.

  3. For the life of me, I do not understand why we cannot have a simple situation where the UK withdraws, but its agreed that we would become like Norway and Switzerland, with a free trade relationship with the EU but none of the other garbage. Everyone crapsd on Heath, but I believe he really just sincerely believed he was joining a simple free trade market like the Yanks have with Canada, and I don't see why Germany et. al would not allow the whole situation to revert to the original intent. Thoughts from anyone?

  4. succint; simple; and a bullseye to boot!

    this ought to be repeated again and again for those who believe otherwise until.......

    any one thinking a different position who is not swayed by such an argument NEVER will be, lets save our energy for those who can be reasoned out of an opinion because they were reasoned into it in the first place.

  5. @JiC Spot on, we have to play cards we're dealt.

    @Jim & Thank you both for your kind comments

    @alternative investment funds Heath absolutely knew what the project was about from the start.

    In his biography he attempts to justify Britain's position in a 'unified Europe'. Besides, the notorious FCO 30/1048 document (quoted in my side bar) made clear the consequences to him in 1971.

    Towards the end of his life he admitted he lied

    And yes you're right, we can have a trading agreement with the EU but to achieve that will take time to negotiate

  6. Nice post Boiling Frog. I had a great day In Leamington Spa where we ratified the 6 Demands. The day went so quickly that when it was time to go home I felt short changed. But I have to say the day held my attention absolutely, like no other day for many a long year. For I can say without fear of contradiction everyone in the room was of a single mind of the need to fix our democracy.

    A few years ago I was of the same opinion of @alternative investment funds; why can’t we just leave the EU and to hell with them? Once out everything will be fixed. I think this is the initial position of everyone who finally becomes a Eurosceptic. But if you follow through you find it is not Europe that is our problem but ourselves. We have continued to support the vested interests that currently run the country. But for everyone there comes a point when enough is enough. There comes a point where you either get involved or you give up. For many in the UK the time is right, we have spun to the limits of endurance and now want the substance.

    Many people have given up because they have nothing to grasp and say “this is what we need” The Harrogate agenda is for me the thing to grasp, something to rally around, something to focus the conversation at diner on, something to pass on when as you often do now hear other complaining in despair about their lot, something that is coherent and makes practical sense.

    None of the political parties offer a slither of what the Harrogate Agenda offers. All they offer is a continuation of the status quo. This is illustrated by the current government’s inability to control spending. They know where the money is going and yet can’t bring themselves to cut the haemorrhaging.

    @alternative investment funds you should pick up a copy of the Great Deception by Booker and North. It’s a huge book, in some ways a hard read, but you will never say again what you have just written above once you have read it.