Monthly Archives: May 2012

Ireland Yes, Ireland No – is that really the only option?

(Photo by the Blue-haired lawyer)

Irish voters have a chance to vote between paying more or less for their public debt today, according to their Prime Minister Enda Kenny. Put that way, I can imagine the temptation to vote “yes”.

It’s a pretty rubbish choice.

That Irish citizens have a formal right to express their opinion on EU issues is a great thing, in theory. There’s no such option guaranteed in Britain. The reality, though, is that if Irish voters choose the option politicians don’t want, like when they rejected the Lisbon Treaty, they get asked to vote again.

Ireland’s experience is the clearest sign you could get that the EU project is a busted flush. Nice idea that different countries cooperate – awful implementation. We need root-and-branch reform of the European Union or the project’s scrapping.

I say that as a former europhile, someone who spent five years as a reporter in Brussels following the twists and turns of policy as a freelance and then with Reuters. Having now studied more about what “democracy” is meant to mean, which is government by the people or by representatives of their interests, I can’t help but conclude the EU is a democratic disaster. Our politicians do not represent our interests and we have no way to influence their day-to-day decisions. This is true at the national level and far more so in European policy.

The euro is the most pressing and obvious example of EU failure, there are plenty of others. We must understand these issues better or continue to suffer their fall out. Dismissing it all as too boring is total self-sabotage.

Chapter 2 of my book Fraudcast News tackles the issue with more specific examples. It explains how this issue has nothing to do with the “us and them” of different countries but much more the 1% and 99% of the Occupy movement, the few very rich versus the rest of us. It is one of five chapters that lay out the problems of how bad journalism supports our bogus democracies. You can download it for free or buy a paperback or eBook via the link above.

It has ideas and examples of positive solutions too, built upwards from the local level, meaning this is a work of optimism.

My advice for conflicted Irish voters today, for all my fellow EU citizens in fact, is not to despair or to get lost in anger, as understandable as that is. We need to get active. So grab a copy of the book to find how we can all start doing something about ordinary people’s chronic lack of influence over politics and finance.

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No weddings, no funerals – phone hacking victims lay out case for media reform

Actor Hugh Grant tells a public rally for media reform how press problems go way beyond Murdoch. Photo by Patrick Chalmers

The crimes and misdemeanours of large sections of the British media were aired by their various victims during a public rally for Media Reform at Westminster Central Hall in central London on Thursday evening. The question on people’s lips was what will be their punishment and whether the ongoing Leveson Inquiry will be able to bring meaningful reforms either to British journalism or the political establishment it pretends to watch over.

Marc Barto and I elbowed our way through the crowds to land a series of video interviews with some of them, though Hugh Grant proved adept at dodging our efforts to engage him. No matter with the likes of former Crimewatch presenter Jacqui Hames and others on hand to give first-hand accounts of their thorough maulings by the media.

Rounding off the evening, Labour MP Tom Watson explained how grassroots pressure for reform will be critical once the inquiry reports later this year, when pressure on MPs to water down proposals is likely to be intense.

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