Monday, 18 July 2011

We're Too Stupid?

Autonomous Mind has an excellent piece highlighting an article in the Guardian which illustrates neatly the patronising arguments that pro-EU supporters deploy:
There’s lots of reasons why the people haven’t bought into our Guardian-BBC pro-EU agenda. But chief among them is the great satan, Rupert Murdoch.

Forget what the people think and what the people don’t like, we at the Guardian know Murdoch actively turned people against the EU and it was only because it suited his business interests.

But now we have managed to taint Murdoch with the smears about phone hacking, even though we still continued to associate ourselves with Rebekah Wade after she told Parliament her paper had paid the police for information, the biggest obstacle to us presenting the British people with completely biased, selective and distorted pro-EU news and information is about to be removed.
Naturally, as AM sardonically puts it, the argument runs that the EU is a marvelous thing and those that oppose it are brainwashed, idiots and "Little Englanders". I had experience of this during the Lisbon Treaty debates in 2008 when for the first time I wrote to most of the members of the Lords imploring them to force the members of the Commons to uphold their manifesto promises. I quoted in my letter the fifth Marquess of Salisbury:
“I have always believed it is the function of your Lordships’ House not so much to interpret the will of the people as to give the people an opportunity of expressing their own views.”
Unsurprisingly I received few replies, and of those few replies half contained the same patronising sentiments, basically any referendum is unwise because it would be "hijacked" by the popular press. Here's a perfect example from Lord Bradshaw (scanned, click to enlarge):

Note the words (my emphasis):
"The Treaty of Lisbon is a very long document of several hundred pages. I have never supported a referendum on a narrow issue, which would be distorted by the popular press, most of which are owned by tax exiles".
In other words let "the experts deal with it, it's all too much for your silly heads".

That there is great inaccuracy about EU affairs is true, but the common complaint which emanates from Europhiles is that we would all love the EU if only we understand it more - an argument which is nonsense on stilts. The reverse is actually true.

It's not newspapers that reinforces anti-EU opinion but real life - perhaps Guardian journalists (and the BBC) should try a taste of it. I hate the EU because I have to live with its regulations which I can't influence via the ballot box, because it affects every aspect of my life and because on 16th Spetember 1992 my family came within a whisker of losing our home due to the high interest rates as a result of our country stupidly following the ERM.

The Greeks are not rioting because they've read some made up story about the EU in a News International paper. They're rioting because membership of the EU is a disaster. They know it and so do we.

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