Pat McFadden, Labour’s shadow Europe minister, got a fair few headlines this morning for a speech at a Fabian Society conference called “Britain and Europe 2020”.
His contribution as the Fabians’ keynote speaker ranged from predictable europhile tropes (that it’s impossible to thrive as a sovereign nation outside the EU) to smears (that euroscepticism aids Vladimir Putin) right through to party political salesman routines, boasting of Labour’s policy pitch for the election.
You wouldn’t expect anything better, really, from such an individual at election time. But there’s an interesting question – who paid for this pro-Brussels party political broadcast on behalf of Labour?
On the website of the conference there’s a handy attribution: “kindly supported by the European Commission”.
Of course, that “kind support” comes in the form of EU money – our taxes, recycled through Brussels, used to provide pro-EU partisan propaganda during an election campaign. As it happens, the other sponsor – the Foundation for European Progressive Studies – is also funded by EU cash, this time from the European Parliament.
Nor was it just McFadden’s speech that showed such a political bias. Looking through the conference agenda, I can’t spot a single anti-EU speaker – let alone one from any party other than Labour. Not only are the EU institutions buying airtime for their defenders, they are buying airtime for a particular political party during a General Election.
It’s unclear quite how much money is involved – the Commission have yet to confirm the precise amount they contributed, though apparently it’s somewhere between 5,000 and 20,000 Euros. Nor is it clear how such an event can possibly fall within their own rules, which state that to qualify for funding:
“…events should stimulate an open debate on the chosen topic(s) and encompass a range of views.”
The Fabians’ conference was neither “open” (“This event is not open to the public, only to Fabian Society members and invited guests”, read the advert) nor did it “encompass a range of views”, either in terms of party politics in Britain or the wider question of EU membership.
Yet again, our own money is used to propagandise us.