Monday, June 20, 2016

Arlene Corwin writes

It started out as EEC –
A simple trade community
Devoted to the trade in Europe.
Now a union, (one-to-be)
A wannabee?  Will it be?

Two thousand fourteen, month of May. 
The people went to vote today.

It seems folk don’t feel like uniting.
Left to right: the fight’s between
Inclusion and exclusion,
Expansion and contraction;
Force-fed rules and force-fed roles;
Poles apart
With no shared historicity;
Their hearts dissimilarity.

 England football fans


  1. The Lisbon Treaty on European Union went into effect in 2009, giving the European Parliament the power to endorse or veto the appointment of the president of the European Commission on the basis of the European Council’s proposal, but should take into account of Parliamentary election results, beginning in 2014. Jean-Claude Juncker , the candidate of the pan-European EPPP (European People's Party), the largest party in the Parliament, won the election to the post, though afterwards the United Kingdon and Hungary continued to appose his selection. As a candidate, Juncker set out his priorities: economic and employment growth, energy policy reform, a trade agreement with the United States and increased cooperation with other nations (especially in North Africa), reform of the Economic and Monetary Union (particularly over the European Central Bank’s management of the Eurozone), implementation of the Common European Asylum System, the securing of Europe’s borders, and strengthened central control over defense and foreign affairs. The ongoing Eurozone crisis, brought on by the Great Recession, had begun a few months after the last elections in 2009, and harsh austerity measures had significantly affected public approval of EU leadership. Majorities in only four of the 27 member countries approved of it, while support in Greece dropped from 32% in 2010 to 19% in 2013, and in Spain, from 59% in 2008 to 27% in 2013. Voter turnout (43.09%) was at an all-time low. The EPP continued to be the largest party in the new Parliament, though it lost seats, and the pro-federalist parties in general lost ground to left-wing, nationalist, and eurosceptic parties. In the United Kingdom, Denmark, and France, rightist groups opposed to the European Union won unprecedented victories. They scrapped the Europe of Freedom and Democracy bloc in favor of a new Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) group, nut four months later it lost its official status when one of its Latvian members defected, thus depriving it of the requisite seven-nation quorum, but quickly reconstituted itself by recruiting a member from Poland.

  2. The 2016 British referendum on remaining in or leaving the European Union was the result of Conservative prime minister David Cameron’s promise to allow that vote in his 2015 re-election bid. The UK Independence Party (UKIP) is a rightwing Eurosceptic party that has drawn its support largely from Conservative defectors and has exerted an outsized influence on British politics, considering that it only has one member in the House of Commons and three in the House of Lords. It only has 22 members in the European Parliament, but it is the largest British party there. The Anti-Federalist League was founded in 1991 by the historian Alan Sked in opposition to the Maastricht Treaty. Sked was a professor at the London School of Economics and former Liberal Party candidate; he ran again in 1992 but only garnered 0.02% of the vote. The following year the party changed its name to UKIP. In 1994, with only 1& of the European vote, it became the 5th largest party in the European Parliament, though it refused to take its seats. In the British elections in 1997 it fielded 194 candidates but only secured 0.3% of the vote, although Nigel Farage was able to get his deposit returned by getting over 5% of the vote; Sked was replaced as party leader by Michael Holmes, who took the party in a more rightwing direction but also reversed Sked’s refusal to take any seats the party won in the European Parliament, decided to use those seats to push an anti-EU agenda (but not to vote on most other EU issues). In the 1999 European Parliament elections (the first UK election to use proportional representation), UKIP got 7% of the vote and three seats (Holmes, Farage, and Jeffrey Titford). Together with Eurosceptic parties from other nations, they formed a new European parliamentary group called Europe of Democracies and Diversities (EDD). After Holmes called for giving the European Parliament more authority over the executive European Commission he was deposed in favor of Titford. In the 2001 British elections, UKIP’s 428 candidates got 1.5% of the vote; only 6 of its candidates retained their deposits. In 2002, a former Conservative MP, Roger Knapman, was elected UKIP leader; in 2004, he reorganized the party as a private company and led it in that year’s European Parliament elections, securing 2.6 million votes (16.1%) and winning 12 seats; 37 MEPs from the UK, Poland, Denmark, and Sweden founded a new European Parliamentary group, Independence and Democracy (IND/DEM) as a successor to the EDD group. But in the 2005 British elections its 496 candidates only got 2.2% of the vote, though 40 candidates got their deposits returned.

  3. In 2006, Farage was elected UKIP leader and introduced an array of socially conservative policies, including reducing immigration, cutting taxes, and resisting the notion of climate change. In the 2009 European Parliament election, UKIP obtained 2.5 million votes (16.5%), resulting in 13 MEPs; they joined a new right-wing grouping called Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD) comprising Euroskeptic, radical right, nationalist, national-conservative, and other political factions to replace IND/DEM. However, Farage resigned as leader and was succeeded by Lord Pearson. In the 2010 British elections, UKIP’s 558 candidates received 3.1% of the vote (919,471), making it the largest party in the country with no seats in Parliament. UKIP fielded candidates in the Scottish Parliament elections in 2011, advocating the retention of a separate Scottish Parliament but replacing the separately-elected Members of the Scottish Parliament with the Members of the House of Commons elected in Scotland, but none of them won. Farage returned to party leadership and refocused electoral strategy; in the 2012 local council elections, the 691 UKIP candidates got 13% of the vote, and 23% the following year and increased its number of councilors from 4 to 47, and in 2014 raised that number to 163, but did not take control of any council. In the 2014 European elections, UKIP got 27.49% of the vote, making it the largest British party in the European Parliament. And in by-elections in October and November, it picked up its first seats in the British Parliament, won by two former Conservatives. In 2015 the party rook control of its first district council and got 13% of the vote in the general election after issuing a "Christian manifesto" which opposed same-sex marriage and offered legal protection for religious opponents of it. In 2016 the party almost tripled its vote in the National Assembly for Wales elections, from 4.7% to 12.5%, and won seven seats. In recent years, it has promised to restore “Britishness” and oppose the "Islamification" of Britain, the "pseudo-nationalisms" of Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, and the multi-cultural policies promoted by "the cultural left," and claims the nation’s three largest parties (Conservatives, Labour, and Liberal Democrats) as being essentially identical ("LibLabCon"). But its core issue has always been opposition to the UK's continued membership in the European Union and to continued immigration, seeking to admit only 50,000 skilled migrants a year. However, Farage has said that Gibraltar and all other British Overseas Territories should get seats in the House of Commons.

    Arlene's commentary after the 2014 EU elections was prescient, but this is what John Donne wrote in Meditation XVII in his "Devotions upon Emergent Occasions" in 1624: "No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."


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