Plans to eliminate Eurosceptics as an organised opposition within the European Parliament are expected to be agreed by a majority of MEPs this summer.
The European Union assembly’s political establishment is pushing through changes that will silence dissidents by changing the rules allowing Euro-MPs to form political groupings.
Richard Corbett, a British Labour MEP, is leading the charge to cut the number of party political tendencies in the Parliament next year, a move that would dissolve UKIP’s pan-European Eurosceptic “Independence and Democracy” grouping.
Under the rule change, the largest and most pro-EU groups would tighten their grip on the Parliament’s political agenda and keep control of lavish funding.
”It would prevent single issue politicians from being given undue support from the public purse,” said Mr Corbett.
”We want to avoid the formation of a fragmented Parliament, deeply divided into many small groups and unable to work effectively.”
Mr Corbett’s proposals will also give the President of the Parliament sweeping powers to approve or reject parliamentary questions.
Current rules allow 20 MEPs from a fifth of the EU’s member states to form groupings, giving them a say in the Parliament’s administration and power structure.
Under the changes, the threshold would become 30 MEPs from one quarter of the EU’s member states.
What this proposal shows, once again, is the deeply undemocratic tendencies of the European Union, and of many of its most fanatical supporters. Richard Corbett complains that allowing "small groups" to organise will lead to the "fragmentation" of the European Parliament, which will be left "unable to work effectively".
Now, with the caveat that I don't believe Britain should be in the EU at all, I'll agree that it is desirable that any parliament "work effectively". However, I imagine that my definition of "working effectively" would differ substantially from Richard Corbett's. Because I think that a parliament is working effectively when it is representing the views of as great a share of the public as possible, and when it is closely scrutinising all the measures brought before it, with an eye to rooting out all unnecessary or bad proposals. This model of effectiveness is best achieved within a system which positively encourages as wide a variety of disparate and dissenting voices as possible. Corbett's idea of an effective parliament, by contrast, appears to be one whose members are in substantive agreement on all major issues, and which passes legislation as quickly as possible, without being disrupted by the subversive actions of "small groups", and without concerning itself with any scruples about what the public want, or who they voted for. This model of effectiveness is best achieved in a one party state.
I also note that, while the Lib Dems are, to their credit, opposing this measure, the majority of Britain's Tory MEPs appear likely to join with their Labour colleagues, and give it their full support. Should they do so, then that will provide further evidence that anyone who asserts that the Tories are even vaguely Eurosceptic is either fooling himself, or trying to fool others.