No, this is not another agonizing self-appraisal about the pros and cons of blogging but a rant about certain organizations. Earlier today I decided to go along to a discussion organized by Open Europe who no longer hide the fact that they think Britain should stay in the EU. The theme was: What is the Coalition's record on Europe so far? I ought to have known better when I saw the title. Really, what kind of a question is that.
So, we had Tobias Ellwood MP for Bournemouth East speaking for the Coalition or, at least the Conservative bit of it. He spent a good deal of time explaining how much this country gets out of the EU, how we always lead from the front (that's the army officer speaking) and why the problem is that most MPs do not like going there and that is why we have less influence than we would otherwise. Oh and he asked if anyone in the room knew about "the yellow card system" (that's the one where nine national parliaments can get together and send back a piece of EU legislation to be reconsidered and has been used successfully once so far). Sadly for him, quite a lot of people in the room knew about it and, I assume, knew what a ridiculous bit of nonsense it is. No, Mr Ellwood, it is not an adequate substitute for legislating for ourselves.
Then we had Chris Leslie, Labour MP for Nottingham East and Shadow Financial Secretary to the Treasury, who told us at slightly shorter length that the problem was that we did not have enough clout in "Europe" because the Conservatives are so against it and because of the "phantom veto". Mind you, no man who uses that expression can be all bad but did he do so at the time?
Finally, we had Baroness Falkner, Lead Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs in the House of Lords, who started her talk with a bad joke and continued by explaining that the two most important events in all our lives except the really aged members of the House of Lords (yes, that's what she said) have been the refusal to enter the eurozone and the refusal to have a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. How old is this woman, I wondered, that she cannot remember anything else of importance. Anyway, apparently, these two events affected our ability to do anything anywhere, let alone in Europe.
As they used to say in the less reputable Sunday newspapers, I made my excuses and left. Why did I even bother?