Lost in translation

I ONLY hope that Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, didn’t intend to sound as arrogant as he did when he dismissed the views of the majority of Britons by saying that he had been talking about Euro membership to “the people who matter in Britain.”

Iain Dale and the Tories are having a field day with it, and you have to ask of Barroso: with friends like these…?

There is already a damaging disconnect between the British public and European institutions. The last thing we need is Mr Barroso reinforcing the view that Europe’s elite is dismissive of public opinion and will listen only to “the people that matter”. 

Perhaps one of his aides should explain to him that, in a democracy, the people that matter includes everyone with the right to vote. Or that maybe he needs a new English-Portugese phrasebook.



Filed under Blogging, Conservative Party, Economy, Europe

24 responses to “Lost in translation

  1. It’s less of an issue when they talk only to the people who matter (which remains the electorate, whatever Barroso thinks) than when they talk only to those people who agree with them, which has been the problem with the EU these forty years and more!!

  2. Chris' Wills

    Dash, almost agreed with you up until. “…in a democracy, the people that matter includes everyone with the right to vote…”

    Even those who cannot vote matter, they can be ignored by politicians though.

    Snr Jose Manuel Barroso probably didn’t think that he was being arrogant, it’s a gift some politicians have to be smug and condescending without trying.

  3. wrinkled weasel

    Thank goodness you said that. We ARE people that matter. Every voter, even the rotten ones who inexplicably still vote Labour.

  4. Rapunzel

    I wonder if he’s been talking to David Cameron? Surely he must rate as one of the people who matter!

  5. Blackacre

    Although I do support the €uro, I do totally agree with you that it has to be a democratic decision (which I think all the main parties have signed up to in terms of a referendum). I do not see us joining within the next 10 years in practice whatever the Euro elite say.

  6. madasafish

    Tom said
    “Perhaps one of his aides should explain to him that, in a democracy, the people that matter includes everyone with the right to vote”

    Like on the Lisbon treaty?

    You are being what you are best# at: criticising others .
    # And very good too. Just a bit more balance and acceptance that your own side has its failings as well.

  7. It’s nonsense to say we must have a referendum about joining the euro. We elect politicians to make these complex decisions; they have the time to study the details. The rest of us would vote primarily on emotional grounds.

    We didn’t have one when we left the Gold Standard nor when we devalued nor when we floated nor when we joined the ERM nor when we left the ERM so there’s no precedent.

    Mrs Thatcher was very sound on the topic of referendums (even though she demonstrated her lack of a classical education and/or lack of knowledge of gerunds and gerundives by calling them referenda); she was dead against them.

    Alas Labour’s got form on a lack of foresight wrt Europe; Attlee’s government loftily dismissed the Iron and Steel agreement as irrelevant to “mighty” Britain. As a result we were suffered twenty years of decline and had no chance to influence things at the start of the Common Market, for example, the awful CAP.

    We’ll join the euro one day but only after sustaining further avoidable economic damage. Poor old semi-detached Britain….

  8. Afraid I’ll have to disagree with you on this one, Brian. We have promised a referendum at all three past general elections on whether or not to enter the eurozone, and regardless of some people’s opinion on the lack of referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, there has to be one if the government decide to join. This is not simply an economic matter – it has major constitutional implications also.

    Sorry, Brian, but I there is no prospect of me voting to join the euro unless the people of the UK have voted yes in a referendum first.

  9. Believe me nothing is lost in translation when Durão Barroso speaks

    It’s interesting how far to the right former Maoists move when they “evolve”. I don’t remember any of them ever becoming a democrats, they always seem to become at least neosocialists. In Britain many of them have “evolved” into neofascists. Curious!

  10. William Nicholson

    It’s amazing how he knew that the majority of people wanted to remain with Sterling in their pockets (in theory), but he knew. Nobody has ever officially asked me whether I feel the need to move to Euros……. Maybe our currency should be livestock. I’m bored with little bits of metal.

    I wonder what would happen to the populace if it actually felt that it didn’t matter? Rhetoric’s great.

  11. I know but it was a promise made mainly to appease the press. Unfortunately and ironically, just as we did with the Common Market, we’ll probably have to wait for a Tory government to get us over this next hurdle on the long European road…

  12. richard

    Thomas Jefferson said that “When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.”

    Ironically the EU have found a way around this. They fear the people so much that they’ve decided to ignore them completely…

  13. richard

    Words fail me to describe the disgust I feel at the moment so I’ll just add a clicky-link;


  14. iain ker

    Yes, just imagine how much bigger the housing bubble and burst would be had we had (ie lower) European interest rates for the last 15 years.

    Pro-Euros in this country seem to be an unholy alliance of those who;

    a) dislike America and see a bigger Europe as some sort of ‘bulwark’

    b) are economic-illiterates whose reasoning goes not a lot further than, ‘wouldn’t it be nice if we could go to France without having to change up currency at the bank’ and

    c) people who like drinking wine in Tuscany and think ‘wouldn’t it be nice if we were part of Europe’.

    What in God’s name is wrong with being able to decide our own interest rates?

  15. Rory

    Kudos to Barroso, he’s managed to piss off those in favour of the UK adopting the Euro and those opposed.

    What a guy!

  16. madasafish

    See Guido and pb.com

    I think a few people just signed their own suicide notes..

  17. Since when did the people of this country matter? Barroso’s spot on.

    We can’t even elect our leader, and general elections aren’t representitive of who we the people vote for. If it was then Michael Howard would lead the largest party in a hung parliament.

  18. Johnny Norfolk

    Tom Harris said.

    “there is no prospect of me voting to join the euro unless the people of the UK have voted yes in a referendum first.”

    Except if the PM goes back on his word again and makes me do it.

    Is nearer the mark.

    You did not stand up for a referendum on Lisbon so there is no reason you would do this i think.

  19. Feel free to call me a liar if you wish, Johnny. As it happens, I never saw the Lisbon Treaty as an alternative version of the constitution and made a judgment based on that. Just because you made a different judgment does not make me dishonest or dishonourable.

    On the euro, time will tell. But when I write what I wrote earlier in this thread it’s because I was writing the truth.

  20. Yet Another Political Blog (at 8.36 pm) – “We can’t even elect our leader, and general elections aren’t representitive of who we the people vote for. If it was then Michael Howard would lead the largest party in a hung parliament.”

    Well, first of all, the only people who voted for Tony Blair were the voters of Sedgefield. Prime Ministers have never been directly elected in this country – parties, not individuals, are elected to govern.

    But why would Michael howard be the leader of the largest party in a hung parliament at the last election? Labour clearly won more votes as well as seats.

  21. With regard to Prime Ministers, don’t you think that’s a bit sad? That the British people don’t actually get’s a say in who leads the nation? We vote for our Members of Parliament, and then they choose who leads them.

    What I meant with the Michael Howard comment is that taking Britain as a whole, more people voted Tory than Labour in the last election, yet we have a Labour government with a large majority of seats. That’s what I meant by General Elections not being representitive of who the people voted for.

  22. Johnny Norfolk


    You see you jump in with both feet. I did not call you a liar, as I dont think you are. Just mistaken.

    Its fine for you to say you would not vote for the Euro unles the people had been asked.
    What happens if Brown finds a way round the words just like he did with Lisbon, you would not rebel against your leaders, thats how labour is, followers not leaders.
    You are totaly blinded by loyalty for your party, and when push comes to shove you would put your party first.
    You may not think you would, but you would, you all do.
    You just cannot see what you have done to Britain.
    All of you have let your ministers get away with far to much, when you have had such a large majority, at times you need to be on the side of opposition parties, like many Tories were when the position was reversed.
    But your blind loyalty has allowed Brown & Co far to much power to just do what they want without check, and that is why we are in such a mess.
    Sad but true.

  23. Yet Another Political Blog – “taking Britain as a whole, more people voted Tory than Labour in the last election ”

    What are you on about? The last time the Tories won more votes than Labour at a general election was in 1992. In 2005, Labour won 35.2% of all votes cast and the Tories 32.4%.

    Check out this useful document for more facts and figures, including the fact that “in Britain as a whole”, Labour won 9,552,400 votes to the Tories’ 8,782,200 (see page 14)

  24. Tom, I also found this link: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/vote_2005/constituencies/default.stm

    It appears I have been misinformed. I was under the impression that the Tories had a greater share of the vote overall in 2005, but this translated into a fewer number of seats due to the inequalities of the first past the post system.

    My apologies.

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