Tuesday 19 May 2009

Gravy train stops at Westminster (European elections)

Once upon a time, Carlo Levi wrote a moving account of how Christ stopped at Eboli.

For the British, with their keen sense of irony, it must be another kind of revelation to see how the Brussels gravy train they have been fed by Eurotoxic tabloids during the last decades has come to a stop at Westminster.


Why not use the opportunity to think about the challenges for Europe in a turbulent world, and to vote wisely in the European elections?

Ralf Grahn


  1. Very ironic indeed. A sort of post-imperial national inferiority complex resulting in a backward-looking chauvinism has made Britain into an navel-gazing ‘Insel der Ahnungslosen’ - desperately clinging onto a set of national sacred cows, seeking scapegoats in Europe, while denying the reality that they - like the rest of us - are now really living in the 21st century (and I say that as one of the most Anglophile people you’ll find).
    I doubt this scandal will be the start of real improvements, since those would need a change in the attitudes of British society as a whole, not just politics. But a good start would be if the British resist the temptation to kick the nearest available item, and instead try to make the best possible judgement in the upcoming elections.

    There is something deeply perverse about the probable fallout of this scandal. First, this is purely a Westminster matter; the EP - whatever its ills - is not in any way involved (plus, this makes the EP look almost squeeky clean in comparison). Yet, the fallout will come in the upcoming EP elections, during which MEPs will be taking the blows for what their Westminster colleagues have been up to. Despite the current righteous outrage among the UK public, in the next general elections they’ll happily vote the same lot in again.
    Secondly, which parties are set to gain from the scandal in the EP elections? A look at the sleaze-o-meter tells me that the number one and two most tainted parties in Britain are UKIP and the Conservatives. And guess which parties are doing well in the polls? Yep, you’ve guessed it! Still, at least the toxic BNP and Libertas seem to have failed to capitalize on the issue so far...

  2. Vic van Rumpt,

    One of the ironic presuppositions of this metaphor was the existence of the Channel Tunnel (or as The Economist has called it, Chunnel).

    Without it the gravy train could not have been bi-directional, stopping at Westminster.

    But Britain is interconnected with the European Union in a number of ways. Crudely put, it is shortsighted stupidity to partly reverse European integration and partly sabotage the progress of others.

    I would be a bit more cautious about the openness and accountability of the European Parliament. Its internal procedures are opaque and its handling of expenses (including audit reports) has been lamentable, despite some reforms entering into force after the June 2009 European elections.

    Sadly, I expect the next UK government to be the (un)witting fool for more or less neo-con foreign policy and the Eurotoxic atmosphere to punish constructive British MEPs on 4 June 2009.


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