Friday, 23 October 2009


I was worried that my fellow North West MEP would manage to appear just a little bit warm and 'cuddly', or even worse that he might emerge as the brave defender of honourable views being bullied by the establishment.

But no, to my mind he just looked ridiculous. Is there anyone that the BNP doesn't hate, or fear is out to do down the "English"? (Incidentally, if Griffin so loves England why does he live in Wales?).

I don't rule out the idea of a future debate with him in the region we both represent but I doubt that such an exchange would be of any value. You can't have a serious discussion about policies to shape the future with someone who sees demons in the dark, and who is so beset by conspiracy theories that there is no room for the complexities and contradictions of the real world.

So has all the coverage done the BNP a power of good; after all, it's said that all publicity is good publicity?

But when Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe was charged with conspiracy to murder in the mid-1970s I remember using those as words of comfort and condolence.

I was wrong!

Thursday, 22 October 2009


A motion condemning restrictions on press freedom, particularly in Italy, is put to the vote in the European Parliament.

The result: 338 in favour, 338 against. No majority in favour. The motion is rejected.

One side of the chamber erupts in cheers and wild delight. No doubt Berlusconi and his pals in Rome raised a glass of champagne to their lips.

The most persuasive argument came from those who said that no one country should be singled out for criticism, but this is exactly what we MUST do. The EU embraces fine principles about freedom and democracy - they are enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty - but by not pointing a finger at those who transgress we do little to uphold them.

And where were the UKIP and Conservative MEPs when the vote took place? Firmly in the camp of the Berlusconi forces of darkness, helping to fail freedom.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009


It's a clever move. Just as the prime ministers start to hunt around for someone to be the first president of their European Council so the current president of the European Commission raises his game and his profile.

Jose Manuel Barroso now faces the scrutiny of a regular question time session in the European Parliament. It sets a precedent that his successors will have no choice but to follow. He shouldn't have too much difficulty himself. As a former prime minister with 5 years' experience of leading the Commission he will be near the top of his game.

The innovation should emphasise his position as head of the EU's permanent executive, and strengthen the bond between the Parliament and the Commission.

But surely the Council will have to respond? If the president of the Commission is to face questions then the pressure will be on for the president of the Council to have to do the same. The media will have no choice but to pay attention for a couple of hours each month, and the European Parliament will be strengthened as a result.

To move things along, as a candidate for the European Council job myself, I offer myself here and now to face a regular parliamentary question session. Will others do the same?


One week on and I am recognised in Brussels as the only self-declared candidate for the Presidency of the European Council. It's true that the recognition may not be extensive but I know of at least one window bill backing my candidature and it's not even in my own window. Who knows? Before long a stakeboard may go up in someone's garden.

My campaign launch was reported in the Dutch and the French press rather better than at home. Journalists emphasised the negative ("anti-Blair") rather than the positive ("widen the selection") but it was ever thus.

My letter of application has received its first response from a head of government. The office of the Irish Taoiseach has promised to bring my application to his attention "as soon as possible". I say: "Thanks Brian, and the sooner the better." When all the other likely names have been rejected he and his fellow leaders may turn to me with gratitude.

But now there's a setback in the European Parliament. I bid to speak in the debate on the European Council's agenda, but now I hear that no speaking time has been allocated to me by my own Group's secretariat. I suspect backroom deals. There are others who want the job. The dirty tricks brigade will stop at nothing.

Monday, 12 October 2009


A lot of nonsense from E.ON about "reduced demand" being the reason why they have deferred building a new coal power station at Kingsnorth in Kent, matched only by the nonsense from some green activists about this being "the end of coal."

Sorry, but despite it being the largest single source of CO2 emissions, worldwide use of coal is fast expanding. We have to live with coal, and tackle its emissions, if we are to beat global warming.

No commentator that I noticed made the connection between E.ON and the EU's strategy to develop carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. Just shows how anglocentric people here are.

Power companies have all been told by the UK government that they cannot build new coal power stations unless they are at least partly CCS equipped from day one. E.ON duly submitted a competitive bid for є180 million funding from the EU for CCS development, the sum to be matched by our government. Only one UK project is due to gain support at this stage and rival bids were submitted for projects at Hatfield, Longannet and Tilbury.

On 1 October the European Commission presented its recommendation to a technical working group of representatives from EU member states. The details have not yet been made public but it's no secret in Brussels that Kingsnorth was not top of the list.

One week later E.ON announced deferral of its scheme.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009


Can we get real? On the one hand the Tories claim that the Lisbon Treaty is not likely to be adopted before the next general election, and therefore possibly not at all, and on the other hand they are going wild at the prospect of Tony Blair becoming 'President of Europe'.

I'm with them in not wanting Tony Blair to get the job. I appreciate his presentational skills - they are hugely impressive and work as well in the European Parliament as in the House of Commons -but I believe the man deceived MPs, launched an illegal war that led to the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of thousands - and rightly belongs in The Hague, not in Brussels.

But the depiction of the job in Britain has been ludicrous; I've even read one europhobe describe it as that of 'head of state'.

The reality is that it amounts to no more than than being chairman of the European Council, the gathering of the 27 Prime Ministers. The holder of the post will sit alongside whoever is Prime Minister of the country holding the EU presidency, a role that rotates every six months. No job description has been prepared and there are plenty of Prime Ministers who want to keep it strictly limited.

So if the job doesn't amount to much why describe the holder as 'President'? Well, the European Commission has a President, and the European Parliament has a President, so for the sake of consistency....

Mind you, an independent chairman of the European Council even with a limited role could still provide a huge service. They could do what none of the rotating office holders ever do, they could highlight the failings of those Member States who do not come close to respecting the high ideals and principles to which the EU is publicly committed.

Now there's food for thought. Forget 'Blair for President,' doesn't 'Davies for President' have a good ring to it?!

Monday, 5 October 2009


God bless Nigel Farage. The UKIP leader's intervention in the Irish referendum campaign is being credited by 'Yes' campaigners as having helped them secure such a very large majority. "It was manna from heaven," writes one columnist in the Irish Times.

Arrogant, English, twits as they are, UKIP's use of a turkey in an attempt to make a point about possible future EU enlargement allowed them to be portrayed as rude and racist.

The EU has its faults, but it's not hard to see why those in Ireland who took a good look at UKIP went firmly the other way.


67pc in favour of the Lisbon Treaty. A convincing result, and I feel absolutely great about it.

It's not that I'm convinced that the treaty is going to make that much difference. If the 27 EU governments want to take action together then good progress can always be made. If they don't want to then, treaty or no treaty, it will always be a shambles and we will only muddle along.

But all those who have lied about what the treaty means, or who distort everything about the EU, have been confounded.

There's a way to go yet but the Tory and UKIP little Englanders and xenophobes are unhappy, and that feels good, good, good.