Author Archives: Nosemonkey

There is much discussion amongst our continental brethren about just what to do with the aborted EU constitution. Some suggest simply ratifying the thing anyway, despite the French and Dutch “no” votes; others propose cutting bits and trying again; others still that bits of it should be introduced gradually (so that no one really notices); yet others that we should start again from scratch.

Yesterday, however, one of the most bizarre suggestions I’ve yet heard was put forward by Italy’s Interior Minister Giuliano Amato (who has his own ideas about the constitution). Speaking at the London School of Economics, he suggested that one of the reasons why the EU’s constitutional question may not be solved this year is “the British transition, because the British prime minister on that occasion might meet some difficulty committing his country for the future”. Read More

Professor Victor Bulmer-Thomas, in his last briefing paper as Director of non-profit foreign policy analysts Chatham House, is suitably damning of our dear foreign policy obsessed PM – with a few nice little digs to boot:

“In Blair’s case, of course, the focus on foreign policy may have been accentuated by the difficulty of playing a leading role in the management of the UK economy, where the Chancellor of the Exchequer has held sway for so long.”

Me running a Europe-focussed blog, however, I’ll ignore (most of) the stuff about The War Against Terror, and head straight to the bits on British relations with the EU which, as Bulmer-Thomas notes, were pretty much the only aspect of foreign policy in which Blair had shown any interest before becoming PM – and that largely because Europe was a good stick with which to beat the disunited Tories back in the mid-90s. Read More

Simon Heffer is not a columnist for whom I usually have much time – although his biography of Enoch Powell was relatively interesting, that was more down to the subject than the author. If anything, the writing style put me off reading the thing more so than did old Enoch’s politics.

Still, Heffer has a piece in the Telegraph today about the French socialists’ presidential candidate Ségolène Royal, for whom I am holding out much hope (based largely on desperation for some kind of major, top-level reformist drive in the French political system that could finally give the EU a chance for significant improvement), so I thought I’d give him another go.

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Courtesy of today’s Metro freebie (published by the same lot as are responsible for the fervently anti-EU Daily Mail):

“Traditional loaves of bread could soon be replaced by packs containing just four slices under a new EU ruling”

It’s a disgrace! How dare these Brussels bureaucrats take away our sliced whites! How dare they presume to allow us to buy only enough bread for a couple of rounds of sandwiches!

Then read on: Read More

Thus spake France’s Minister for European Affairs, Catherine Colonna, giving her opinion of the state of the EU to the assembled ranks of the French Ambassadorial elite. Packed with (if we’re honest, fairly astute) criticisms of the current way the EU works, this seems to be a new approach from France, the country which more than any other has driven European integration and reform during the last half century. Read More

Right, I’ve taken my time with this one, but finally here it is – the long-awaited latest addition to the “Now That’s What I Call New Blogging” series. A varied selection of British(ish) blogs started in 2006 (give or take a few weeks), ranging from the big boys and girls of the proper press to the average random punter with a computer – all of them are, however, in some way promising. We don’t like dross here at the Sharpener, despite occasional appearances to the contrary…

Right – enough prevarication. On with the meat of the thing: Read More

Back in November, our man Justin had an idea to find new British blogs that we might have missed. Although m’colleague Tim Worstall’s Britblog Roundups bring us a weekly dose of the best individual posts, we wanted to find the best new blogs as well. It is, after all, so very easy to stick to the same old favourites once you’ve been reading blogs for a while. (This was the result.)
So anyway, I reckon it’s about time for another new blog roundup, both to give some exposure to the up and coming tykes of the interweb and to inject a bit of originality and energy into British blogland. Read More

The Euston Manifesto, officially launched today, proclaims itself as a way forward for “the left” – and is again defended by one of its writers, blogger and Manchester University Professor Norman Geras, over on the Guardian’s website.

Fine – a laudable aim. The British left has needed a way forward ever since the gang of four split the Labour party, a problem only compounded by the fall of the Soviet Union and Tony Blair’s careful guidance of the party towards the centre ground. The British left has to seriously reconsider its approach to the promotion of socialist ideals, and to what parts of the old left-wing obsessions are likely to be acceptable to the electorate in this post-Thatcherite age of rampant capitalism.

Obsessing over the Iraq war achieves none of this. Read More