Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Does Duff support 'Britishness' and the British in East of England EU election and Parliament... I don't think so!

I was going to be voting for the LibDems in this week's Euro Elections... but now I'm not so sure. One thing I AM sure of... I won't be voting for the 'old Duffer'!!

As my regular readers will be aware, I have been supporting the efforts of Gibraltarian Jonathan Stagnetto, who is standing for election, under the Liberal Democrats list in Thursday's vote for the European Parliament in the Gibraltar, the Scilly Isles and South West England Region constituency.

But I actually don't live in that constituency. My constituency, since I live in the wilds of East Anglia, on the Suffolk / Norfolk borders, is in fact the East of England, a constituency which, I am delighted to say, is yet another where the Liberal Democrats are in a good position to gain a second seat in the European Parliament at the election this Thursday! For this long standing LibDem supporter, that's good news!

The door-to-door campaigning is intensifing across the region and I recently duly received my expected leaflet from our LibDems and our incumbent MEP, Andrew Duff, who is as it happens, also Leader of the Liberal Democrat European Parliamentary Party.

Now, I have to admit, while I follow UK politics quite closely, when it comes to Europe, like many of us, I'm afraid I find myself yawning regularly and getting quite irritated, not to say concerned, by the way we are relentlessly relinquishing our (Britain's) legislative powers, now about 75%, to the European Parliament.

In short, I'm afraid to say, I find myself more and more in two minds about the whole issue of our participation in the European Union.

In principle, I'm all for a free trade market, as the old EC was intended, which I voted for in 1973. As far as peace, security and stability is concerned, I do believe the European Union, by and large, gives Europe a better chance for this to prevail... than otherwise would be the case.

But I do have a problem with the way the EU is slowly being pushed more towards a 'Federal Europe'. I do also have a problem, as I already said, in the way Britain is relinquishing it's own legislative powers and I definitely have a problem as to how much it all costs.

Now you might wonder, since I feel like this, the party I should be voting for is UKIP right? Wrong!! For me, UKIP are a single issue party. I rather like old Nigel Farage. He is a very persuasive speaker... though I do wish he would stop interrupting people constantly on Question Time!! But Farage is just about all UKIP have going for them.

Over the years, the Liberal Democrats' passionate support for the European Union and the single currency has not exactly seduced British voters.... myself included. But... as the LibDem Euro Election manifesto says, Stronger Together, Poorer Apart - On balance, I have to agree! I think Britain does benefit from membership of the European Union, as do we as European citizens... but there are many things I would like to see changed and reformed, not least many aspects of the Lisbon Treaty, which I must say I have a great deal of respect for Ireland, for having kicked it into touch. I probably would have voted the same... if only we had been given a referendum as promised! I still live in hope, but since we haven't been given the chance, what I am saying is, that we have to remain in the game, but change some of the rules!

Now... getting back to the East of England and my incumbent MEP Andrew Duff. Here, I have another quandary!

This business of us voting in Euro Elections get murkier and more complicated by the second... as if things, issues, weren't complicated enough already!

I like much of what Andrew Duff says. For instance, he highlights the anger we all feel about the Westminster expenses scandal and says this "is turning into a more serious effort to engage with the political reform agenda that Liberal Democrats have advanced for years", and I would agree, that's good.

He also says the "huge challenges posed by the financial turmoil, economic crash, climate change and international insecurity make a powerful case for a stronger and better European Union"... and I'm with him on all that too.

"Liberal Democrats believe that Britain has a choice between being stronger together in Europe, or poorer apart"... Yep, I said so myself earlier!

I also agree with this, from Mr Duff:

"We are well known for getting things done in our county councils, and for providing real opposition at Westminster. As leader of the Lib Dems in the European Parliament, I am helping to ensure that Europe delivers benefits for our region, our country and the wider world.

Voters would be wise to avoid single issue parties which have no answers to the big political agenda.

I hope that the nationalists and isolationists are heavily defeated in the East of England. It is frankly a disgrace that we have had two UKIP MEPs for the last five years who have been either useless or embroiled in corruption scandals.

As people react against failing Labour and avoid a Tory vote that would further marginalise the UK in Europe, they are turning to the Lib Dems.

Engaging with the electorate we find encouraging support."

Yes, well all good so far.... Mr Duff was more or less guaranteed my support... until I started delving further and I came across this little rant by my LibDem candidate for Europe... denigrating my homeland of Gibraltar!

Andrew Duff's Affront to Gibraltar

It seems that our Mr Duff's "serenity" was impaired during a week's holiday in Andalucia back in 2004, "by a series of front page press photos of Geoff Hoon".

Mr Hoon was, at the time, the UK's defence minister, and the picture that so discomfited Mr Duff was of Mr Hoon "looking as smug as can be, seated next to an over-dressed senior naval commander", at a military parade during Gibraltar's Tricentenary celebrations, which included a visit of support by Princess Anne.

Well, I don't mind Mr Duff having a go at Geoff Hoon... but I do mind and I take great offence at the tone of the rest of what he wrote and had published in the Liberal Democrat News on Fri 13th Aug 2004, particularly, his very disparaging and insulting remarks aimed at the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar:

The jolly occasion was mounted to celebrate the seizure of the fort by an Anglo-Dutch fleet on 4 August 1704 - a relatively minor incident in the War of the Spanish Succession (between the Habsburgs and the Bourbons). Ten years later, at the Treaty of Utrecht the Rock was assigned to Great Britain.

Both the War and the Peace were controversial. The reaction of William Penn, the English Quaker, was to campaign for the convening of a 'sovereign or imperial Diet, a Parliament or State of Europe' in which rulers would bury their differences and arbitrate disputes. Yet even today, despite the vindication of the Enlightenment in the constitution of the European Union, Gibraltar is left behind as the last colony in mainland Europe.

Nobody would deny Gibraltarians a party. But the smugness of Mr Hoon, the military nature of the event, and the tawdry nationalism that pervaded the event have caused the Spanish, who are a courteous and anti-militaristic people, to seethe. Spain well knows how the genius of European integration works on the side of liberty, democracy and human rights. The Spanish are right to castigate a British government which completely failed to use the Gibraltar anniversary as an opportunity to advance the social, economic and cultural integration of Gibraltar with its Spanish hinterland. It is bad enough that the nationalists have defeated Foreign Office attempts to open up the question of sovereignty. It is worse to learn that this government will not accept the request of the new Spanish government to use the EU to soften their border dispute. It is shameful to see 21st century Britain celebrate the military occupation of the territory of an EU partner. Down with Hoon! Up with Penn!

Well... I'll tell you what you insulting 'old Duffer'... what is shameful is to see a British LibDem MEP supporting Spain against the wishes of 30,000 British people in Gibraltar!!!

Up with British Gibraltar! Down with stupid old Duff!

Gibraltar is left behind as the last colony in mainland Europe? Hmmmm!! Well I hope Mr Duff did not miss the news of the referendum approving Gibraltar's new Constitution in 2006, which de facto, by an act of self determination, decolonised Gibraltar.. even though the UN is having some difficulty coming round to that realisation!

"Tawdry nationalism that pervaded the event" that caused the Spanish, "who are a courteous and anti-militaristic people, to seethe"??? ha ha!! Courteous and Anti militaristic? Yeah... just as they are showing with their recent transgressions of Gibraltar's British sovereign territorial waters! Great courtesy that!! Don't make me laugh Mr Duff!!!

How about this one... it really takes the biscuit!

"The Spanish are right to castigate a British government which completely failed to use the Gibraltar anniversary as an opportunity to advance the social, economic and cultural integration of Gibraltar with its Spanish hinterland. "

So... Duff... you clearly do not believe in democracy eh? I mean, why take into account the freely and democratically expressed wishes of the huge majority of Gibraltarians, who in at least three referendums (referenda if you like) since 1967, have consistently and unequivocally expressed the wish to remain British! Nothing to do with the UK Foreign Office! Gibraltar says so... that's the freely expressed wishes of 30,000 European British citizens... which you are rudely brushing aside... as if they don't matter. Why... just to have a go at Hoon? Hmmmm!!

Mr Duff... your experience of the Spanish... clearly does not extend as far as mine does (or indeed of Gibraltarians who know the Spanish for what they really are)! Your view is obviously formed and restricted to nice holidays sunning yourself in Spain or from the diplomatic confines of a sterilised and hypocritical European Parliament who is continually sucking up to Spain... while they mug us for all it!s worth, for endless EU funded projects... which no doubt Mr Duff you helped to approve!

I wonder if in the intervening years, since he wrote that in 2004, has Mr Duff reflected on his rather anti Gibraltarian (if not anti British) views?? I would suspect not!

So Mr Duff... one simple question... what's wrong with being British?

Here's another, when it comes to supporting Britain in Europe... or other European countries such as Spain... who can the electorate look forward to you supporting... that of the British interest or Spain's??

So now what? Who to vote for?

Well, after I discovered this little gem from our great European... who finds a problem with being British... and with democracy, there's no way I'm going to give him my vote!

Trouble is... Duff or no Duff... I still want to support the Liberal Democrats as I've always done. What a quandary!

Oh... but hold on... Linda Jack is also standing for the LibDems and she has a good chance of becoming our second MEP in this week's elections in the East of England. Hmmmm... I wonder where SHE stands on being British and on democracy!??

It appears that the Lib Dems need only a 3% swing on the 2004 result to win two seats in the European Parliament this time around. Well, I'll have to check her out now before I decide who I give my vote to... as I'm damn sure I'm not ever going to vote for this old Duffer again!

But Mr Duff... really needs to state clearly where he stands on being British! Does this 'old Duffer' support Britain and Britishness... in the EU... or not?? The East of England electorate... should really be told!!

As for me... I am even more confused than ever! I've written to Linda Jack, asking her to answer the same questions I've posed to Duff! Watch this space!

Update - 4th June 2009 - Election Day

As I said above, I contacted Linda Jacks and she, unlike the 'Duffer', had the courtesy to reply... in fact within about half an hour. This is what Linda Jacks said on being British:

Where I stand on Britishness. Like you I have served in the armed forces and continued to serve my fellow citizens in public service since.

I consider myself patriotic, if elected I will not only be representing the interests of the East of England but also the nation as a whole. Because of my commitment to my country I am also committed to seeing the success of the EU, we truly will be "stronger together". I am certainly not a little Englander, and frankly, like many of my fellow citizens would not be here at all if it hadn't been for cross European immigration!

There is much to do to reform the EU to make it more democratic and effective - to ensure it truly it upholds the very values expressed in the Lisbon Treaty.

That's good enough for me... and I thanked Linda for her candid, courteous and prompt reply. She WILL have my vote! smile

I AM still very pissed off with Duff

As for the 'Duffer'... I am still very pissed off with him... especially since he has not had the courtesy to reply to my two emails and various Tweets on Twitter!

Clearly... he does not want to answer... or considers he can avoid answering my questions without regard for me... or for the electorate. That in itself says a lot about him!

I shall continue to pursue him for an answer on where he stands on being British.

With this in mind, I have contacted all the local newspapers and one or two of the nationals too... hoping to interest them on the news... that Andrew Duff evades the straight question on where he stands on being British... and why does he negate the rights and freely and democratically expressed wishes of 30,000 European British citizens!! evil


Gibraltarian woman said...

All I can say is, Mr Duff, next time you're lying on your sunbed in Spain, think about taking a trip to Gibraltar.

Once here you can learn about our recent history why we wish to continue being British and why it is our absolute right to do so.

Paul said...

UKIP used to be a single-issue party but they have a range of domestic policies these days. I would suggest they are pro-British conservatives with hints of libertarianism.