Courtesy of Edward Spalton:
What moves public opinion is not fact nor reasoned argument but feelings generated by what comes in “under the radar” of conscious thought.
I wrote this when I was campaigning to “keep the pound”. That was a campaign which could have been won but only because the Conservative Party had put its weight behind it. Otherwise the opposition to the euro would have looked very odd – Business for Sterling combined with UKIP and the Marxists of the Campaign Against Euro Federalism – just as the No Campaign in 1975 looked odd with Enoch Powell to the right and Tony Benn to the left. Several people I know from that time said they voted for the EEC because the opposition appeared to be “extremist”.
There are plenty of people who are fed up and browned off with the EU but still only a tiny minority of committed, principled pro-independence campaigners and solid supporters. Euroscepticism (for want of a better word) is broad and shallow. We talk so much to each other, we mistake our friends’ views for public opinion – which itself is easily malleable anyway if you have the resources.
I am not going to go on banging on about this. The People’s Pledge campaign is funded and will go ahead. It will keep the issue in front of the public, it will apply pressure. I welcome that. But I do fear what might happen if they succeeded because, so far, they appear to be like the Bourbons who had “learned nothing and forgotten nothing”.
Just a word on the effect of party loyalties – two anecdotes widely space in time both of which I vouch to be true.
Like most of the Spalton family since the days of Good Queen Anne, my father was a dyed-in-the-wool Tory. In the run up to the 1975 referendum, he said “I don’t like this Europe business. It doesn’t smell right” Then he added “But that man Wedgewood Benn’s against it – SO THERE MUST BE SOME GOOD IN IT”
In the mid Nineties I was canvassing for UKIP in the Hemsworth by election in the Yorkshire coal field. There was deep snow. It was a thankless task. Then I doorstepped a very intelligent old lady who hadn’t received our literature but knew exactly what she thought about the EU – just the same as I did. “May we count on your vote then?” I asked. “No duck, I’m Labour”. When I started to explain that she was voting for all the things she didn’t like about the EU, she put her hands over her ears!
New Labour (and no doubt Tory) strategists and propagandists talk about the “dog whistle” phrases and issues which will pull their supporters into line. Shows what they think of their supporters, doesn’t it?
Unless the “out” side could mount at least as good a campaign as this, scaled up for today’s media, I would not be at all confident about the outcome.
Britain joins the Common Market
How they swung it in the early ’70s
The CIA DID fund the European Movement: and they, the Conservatives and the Foreign Office DID squeeze the BBC.
We print below excerpts from a transcript of the BBC Radio 4 programme, transmitted at 8.00 pm, Thursday 3rd February 2000, entitled “Document: A Letter to the Times”
This programme told the story of how opinion was swung in the early ’70s in favour of Britain entering the European Economic Community, including how the BBC and ITN news programmes were influenced to support the campaign for Europe. It also reveals that the European Movement and other organisations received substantial hidden funding from the CIA.
Points made included:
Back at the start of the 1970s, the greatest issue of the day was whether Britain ought to become European…. and had you been scanning the correspondence columns of the Times you might have noticed a flood of letters in support of our application to join the EEC. A good many of those letters were stage managed on behalf of the then Conservative government.
Every week as Edward Heath’s government inched Britain towards Europe, Geoffrey Tucker, an advertising guru who helped to market the Conservative party, organised breakfasts for the political shakers and the media movers of the day. Journalists were there and captains of industry, editors too and television people.
Ernest Wistrich’s European Movement was the natural organisation to front the public campaign for Europe
TUCKER: We decided to pinpoint the “Today” programme on radio and followed right through the news programmes during the day….the television programmes, “News at Ten”, “24 Hours” and “Panorama” and from radio “World at One” and “Woman’s Hour”. Nobbling is the name of the game. Throughout the period of the campaign, there should be direct day by day communication between the key communicators and our personnel e.g. Norman Reddaway at the FCO and Marshall Stewart of the Today programme.
And in 1970 the Today programme was presented by Jack De Manio, who was terribly anti-European. We protested privately about this.
Ian Trethowan listened and De Manio was replaced.
PRESENTER, CHRISTOPHER COOK: Ian Trethowan was then the Managing Director of BBC Radio and a known friend of Edward Heath’s. Another of Geoffrey Tucker’s guests was Lord Hattersley, a leading figure in the pro-European faction of the Labour party.
LORD HATTERSLEY: The one breakfast I went to was a very chummy affair. We were all fighting the European cause to the extent that some of the protagonists actually drew Ian Trethowan’s attention to broadcasters who they thought had been anti-European, and asked him to do something about it.
Now I was so shocked that I decided I couldn’t go again. It sounds terribly prissy but it really did shock me at the time and, frankly, remembering it shocks me still.
SIR EDWARD HEATH (PRIME MINISTER 1970-1974): The support in public opinion polls steadily mounted until we got to the point of finally concluding negotiation and had just on 50 per cent support which was very considerable.
PRESENTER: How helpful was the European Movement?
HEATH: Very helpful. They worked very hard and they received funds from supporters which enabled them to publish their own literature as well as ours.
DR RICHARD ALDRICH (political historian) – on being asked what was the documentary evidence for the alleged CIA funding – I was absolutely astonished to discover that the library (George Town University in Washington) had the entire archive of a CIA front organisation which documents from start to finish funnelling millions of dollars into Europe, into Britain, with correspondence, for example, from British Labour MPs.
The whole accounting structure of the European Movement was designed to hide the fact that CIA money was coming in.
HATTERSLEY: – on being asked for his comments – All those years, all the Europeans would say “Let’s not risk trying to make fundamental changes by telling the whole truth, lets do it through public relations rather than real proselytising” and they were always inclined to “spin” the arguments rather than “expose” the arguments.
PRESENTER: And that clearly, in your view, was the wrong approach?
HATTERSLEY: Not only was it wrong for us to deal superficially with what Europe involved, but we’ve paid the price ever since because every time there’s a crisis in Europe, people say, with some justification, “Well, we wouldn’t have been part of this if we had really known the implications.”
Joining the European Community did involve significant loss of sovereignty, but by telling the British people that was not involved, I think the rest of the argument was prejudiced for thirty years.
We thank the British Data Management Foundation for permission to quote from the transcript.
In 1972 Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath signed up to join the EEC. In order to make his treasonous act appear legitimate he lied to Parliament and the British people about the implications of the Treaty that he had signed up to, despite having been advised by his Lord Chancellor, Lord Kilmuir, that the Treaty of Rome “…. Is the first step on the road that leads to the fully federated state … I must emphasise that in my view the surrender of sovereignty involved is serious … these objections ought to be brought out into the open.”
Notwithstanding the lies and deceits laid before Parliament, the European Communities Act was passed by a majority of only fifteen votes. The Queen then gave her Royal Assent to the destruction of the nation. By so doing the Queen had placed herself in breach of Her Coronation Oath.
There now seems little doubt that some powerful force within Parliament itself had given Heath an assurance that he would never be impeached for his treachery – and he never was.
Filed under: Politics & economics