No To Europe Logo The Union Flag
EU Constitution really dead? French & Dutch 'No' Federalists whitewash vote Luxembourg scrapes a 'Yes' Constitution - the truth slips out
EU Presidency limericks EU ID cards exposed Britain's phoney election FCO wastes our money How to save billions

 What's New in 2005...



"A man of great integrity" was Tony Blair's tribute to his predecessor, Ted Heath, who died on 17 July. Momentarily he forgot his observation from 1983 that the EEC had destroyed British jobs and drained our natural resources. Heath was a "political leader of great stature and significance".

Fighting for 'another country'

Douglas Evans chronicled Britain's EEC entry in While Britain Slept (Gollancz, 1975) which painted a different picture.

In an unguarded moment at Lancaster House, Heath revealed that "The leaders of the Community expect the Government to use its majority in the Commons to carry it through. This was the only basis that the Six were prepared to negotiate" (Financial Times, 13.07.70)

Evans claims that this was a far cry from Heath's claims that his sole commitment was to "negotiate no more and no less", and his often-repeated assurances to MPs that they would be free to make up their own minds.

In practice, the 'free vote' was granted only after a barrage of 'unparalleled' psychological pressure on Conservative MPs. Pressure was applied at constituency level against MPs such as Neil Marten, who had come out against membership in their election manifesto. Evans noted the block on the promotion of anti-Marketeers, as well as regular junket trips to soften up doubters and lobbying by the EEC's propaganda arm (European Commission Information Service, ECIS).


European Commissioner Ralf Dahrendorf let it slip that if the real issues at stake had been placed within the negotiations and made clear to the British people, there is not much doubt that Britain would never have joined. Evans notes that after prices, the EEC was the issue most mentioned on doorsteps in the 1970 General Election. It was mentioned in only 3% of Heath's speeches, though.

As for the 'negotiations', the French demanded an unconditional acceptance of the EEC as it stood - as they'd always done. The only concessions were on marginal issues, mostly coming under the transitional period (i.e. only temporary arrangements).

Professor Nicholas Kaldor noted that the Government's 1971 White Paper on entry had so many unsubstantiated claims that it would have been considered fraudulent if it had been a company prospectus.


The 1970 Conservative manifesto promised higher standards of living through a larger home market. This was basically fallacious, as the recent Kennedy Round of GATT talks had reduced industrial tariffs to insignificant levels.

The manifesto was full of glowing imagery of higher standards of living, so a boom had to be created to coincide with entry - the money supply was increased by an average of just under 30% in the early years of the Heath administration. This was described as inflationary and 'monetary irresponsibility'.

The manifesto also promised that as negotiations proceeded, the Government would report regularly through Parliament to the country. Geoffrey Rippon became Heath's minister in charge of negotiations. His reports to Parliament dismayed the pro-Market Times so much that it described his manner as "bordering on the contemptuous... Mr Rippon's approach seems almost as though he has something to hide".

Labour pro-Marketeers had to lobby Commons leader Willie Whitelaw for a more conciliatory tone, without which they would be unable to defect to the Government side in the crucial vote.

Others have commented on Heath's humble origins and tried to portray him as 'a man of the people'. Columnist W F Deedes (a former MP) seemed to differ: "Sir Edward had an unattractive tenderness for anti-democratic systems, whether in Beijing, Baghdad or Brussels. The same disdain for others' opinions that made him unpopular with colleagues drew him to bureaucratic schemes that had almost no public support, such as the abolition of England's historic counties." (D. Telegraph, 18.7.05)

Evans noted that, between July-October 1971, the Government unleashed a flood of speeches about 'Europe' so that there was always a glossy interpretation of events available for public consumption. (An early inspiration for New Labour?)


At a time of increasing debate on alternatives to today's EU, it is interesting to note that Evans effectively pointed out that there were several alternatives to the EEC for international cooperation. These were basically inter-governmental rather than supranational in nature:

EEC entry was undemocratic


Winston Churchill's 'Council of Europe' (COE) for political co-operation,


NATO for defence (and the WEU, founded in 1954, arguably did more for
reconciliation than the Schuman Plan or the EEC),


GATT, EFTA, OECD for trade,


Nuclear Energy Agency,


OECD's Energy Action Group (from 1974).

Is the EU Constitution dead? "THE CONSTITUTION IS DEAD?"
What are we to make of the European Council meeting of 16/17 June? According to the BBC the ratification deadline for the EU Constitution has been extended past November 2006, to enable a period of reflection. (NB For Blair, this is conveniently past the UK Presidency of the EU).

The Swedish PM, Mr Persson, says he won't attempt ratification unless the French and Dutch hold fresh referendums (saving himself embarrassing pressure for a referendum). Germany's ratification is on hold pending an appeal to its constitutional court.

In spite of the media reports, Estonian PM Ansip is pushing on with ratification and Luxembourg will have its referendum on 10 July. Its PM, Juncker, has threatened to resign if he loses the vote, which looks like being another 'No'. (This is quite incredible, as he's attributed by the Guardian, 17.6.05, as saying "I really believe the French and Dutch did not vote no to the constitutional treaty"!!!)

Meanwhile, Tony Blair is quoted as advising: "Letıs get the politics right first and then the Constitution." (Sun, 17.6.05). He hoped to use the pause for reflection to "regain the confidence of citizens." (Times, 17.6.05). This implies some massaging of public opinion.

A monster being created

Far from being totally dead, about 90% of the Constitution can be found in the current Treaty of Nice. This body of European law is not only alive but kicking in the corridors of power.

The EU's leaders who unanimously approved the Constitution on 29.10.04 will be trying to graft some more body parts to this Treaty. (They have already agreed the accession of Rumania and Bulgaria, and want to bring to life bits of the Constitution)

Keen readers of horror fiction will bait their breath to see what rises from the slab, and if the monster so created will be the downfall of its creators.

Footnote: These notes were written months before incoming German Chancellor Angela Merkel made an appointment to her Foreign Ministry post - Frank Walter Steinmeier. No doubt a total coincidence, but you couldn't make it up.

Luxembourg votes

Tiny Luxembourg's national pastimes have been described as banking and sleeping. Many people have woken up over Europe, as on 10 July, nearly 44% voted 'No' to the EU Constitution. (In October 2004, the 'No' vote was only 19%).

The vast majority of Luxembourg's politicians, media and urban elite campaigned for a 'Yes' vote. However, rallies organised by the 'No' camp were well attended, while the major political parties - which backed a 'Yes' vote - struggled to attract big crowds.

Although Luxembourg is Europe's richest nation and receives more money per head from the EU than any other, there is unease about the future. Many now worry about cross-border crime, immigration and an unemployment rate which is low but growing.

Some voters complained about feeling blackmailed by their PM Juncker's threat to resign in the case of a 'No' vote. (Amazing how federalists always scream that people are really voting on a different issue when they lose the vote, but turned a blind eye here).

Others claim that the PM's high profile (if unsuccessful) attempts to negotiate a deal on the EU budget at the June summit won him sympathy.

|For later 2005 news stories|

|For earlier 2005 news stories|

|Join us and help fight back|

|For the New Alliance Index Page|

|Back to New Alliance Home Page|

This page updated: 19 July 2005

No To Euro Logo No to Europe Logo