The Corner

Patten, Yet Again

European civil servant Chris Patten has a bizarre piece in this week’s issue of the London Spectator. It’s whiny, intellectually dishonest, over-stuffed and self-congratulatory, much like the man himself. A couple of points need highlighting:

“I hate referendums, which the late and great Julian Critchley used to call the form of plebiscitary democracy favoured by Hitler and Mussolini. Referendums on national issues are offered by governments out of weakness.”

That’s an interesting point, Commissioner Patten. Why don’t you go and make it in all those EU (or potential EU) countries that are holding referenda, either on Diamond Giscard’s ‘constitution’ or on the decision (Poland is voting this weekend) whether to join the EU?

Referenda are, Patten sneers, “popular with unelected newspaper editors.”

Ah yes, unelected newspaper editors, a so much inferior species than, ahem, unelected EU Commissioners, eh, Chris?

Then Patten asks whether the UK wishes to “enjoy the notional independence of staying outside the eurozone and excluding [itself] from the decisions that will determine the development of [its] most important market? If anyone thinks that that represents a defence of real sovereignty, they should talk to the Norwegians.”

Indeed they should. The Norwegians seem quite happy with the existing state of arrangements (Norway has an association agreement – the EEA – with the EU, but is not a member). They should also chat to the Canadians. Our friends up North show few signs of wishing to adopt the currency used in their most important market. They must like that “notional” independence of theirs.

I don’t claim to know which party Patten really favors, but whichever it is – he disgraces it.

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