I thought I was more or less unshockable, but I admit I was a bit taken aback by an e-mail I received last week from one Yannick Laude, who proves to be a parliamentary official in the Press Office of the Liberal Group (ALDE). Forgive me, Gentle Reader, but if you are to understand the story, I have to repeat the obscene and offensive language in which he chose to express himself (sensitive folk can look away now): “We don’t need stupid f***ing xenophob (sic) tory anti-european as you”. Sic(k) in every sense.
Language like this would be unacceptable from anyone on the parliament’s e-mail system. From a parliamentary fonctionnaire to an elected Member, it is intolerable. I have raised the issue with the General Secretary of the parliament, Harald Romer, and with the College of Quaestors (the MEPs’ shop stewards).
This all arose because earlier a member had e-mailed everyone, MEPs, staff and assistants, about signing a Written Declaration. A number of members then responded “Reply All” saying “Yes, I’ll sign”. This is an abuse of the system, creating tens of thousands of unnecessary e-mails clogging up the parliament’s already creaking computers, so I spammed back (I admit it!) saying “Stop spamming: we don’t all need to know”. It was this that elicited the extraordinary response from Laude. (As Shakespeare might have put it, “Alas, poor Yannick”!).
It is sad that there are still a few intellectually-challenged europhiles out there who try to tag sceptics with the labels of “xenophobe” and “Little Englander”, so it is worth making the case, one more time, why on the whole, the sceptics tend to be the internationalists.
In my own case, I spent over thirty years working mainly for multi-national companies in Europe, America and especially in Asia. I spent over a decade living in Asia — Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Korea. I spent three years running a business in Malaysia (rather successfully, as it happens) employing 280 local people, where I was the only European. Did I run into cross-cultural problems? Yes I did. Between my Malay and my Chinese staff!
Since entering politics in 1999 I have worked in many EU member-states, from Estonia and Finland in the North to Malta in the South, from Spain in the West to Greece and Bulgaria in the East. I have worked in America (where I was awarded an “International Legislator of the Year” citation by the American Legislative Exchange Council), and served on the parliament’s delegations to ASEAN and Korea. I am passionately committed to free trade and internationalism, and I see Britain as a great global trading nation, not an off-shore province in a country called Europe.
It is the europhiles who are inward-looking, self-referential, protectionist. While Commission President Barroso has made some helpful anti-protectionist remarks, nevertheless protectionism is built into the system and institutionalised in the CAP. I would not say that europhiles are xenophobic, but many of them are consumed with resentment at the perceived global hegemony of the USA, and are terrified of globalisation and the “threat” from China and India.
Most eurosceptics I know are committed to internationalism, free trade, a global vision and global interests. As the Norwegian NO Campaign slogan put it, “Europe is too small for us”. It is the Little Europeans — like Mr. Laude — that I worry about.
UPDATE:- Since writing this, I have received by e-mail a fulsome apology from Mr. Laude. Unlike his original e-mail, this one is in perfectly good English, so I guess it was drafted for him and that he was required to send it.