9th Mar 2021


Billows of censorious hot air

  • An hour of censorious talk (Photo: European Parliament)

Everyone was there. (Well almost everyone). The right-hand man. The foreign policy chief. The walking-on-coals one. And, naturally, the motion man of the moment. He arrived a bit late though. But was very contrite - it was due to heavy traffic and not discourtesy.

Because even if you’re in no danger of being censured, you must respect the parliament.

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The Italian Five Star deputy Marco Zanni opened the debate. He spoke at breakneck speed. European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker was not a true European. He was not protecting the interests of ordinary citizens. He was on the side of tax-evading companies.

He took a swipe at all those political groups who wouldn’t be signing his motion to get rid of the entire commission. Starting with far-left. Moving on to the sitting-on-the-fence Greens; bad pro-European liberals, and saving some extra bile for the Socialists.

"I am not a friend of big capital," replied the man in the spotlight, Juncker, brushing aside all evidence to the contrary. He would take one for the team. “Let's leave the other commissioners out of it … If you want me to go, say it and I will go”.

Thank goodness the signatories were who they were and said what they did. This opened the gates for a slanging match. “He enjoys the full support of this group” began the EPP’s front man, in the most unsurprising statement of the day.

He then threw everything back at Zanni and his “right-ring populist” group. Zanni laughed uproariously.

Next up were the Socialists and Gianna Pitella, who let us all glimpse a little bit of hell – the hell that could be imagined should the commission be booted out of office.

“Were we to sack all the commissioners,” he began ominously “the €300bn investment project would go down the drain. We’d be cancelling the last chance for Europe to create jobs and combat the crisis”.

Society would collapse, unemployment would go up, there would be deflation.

“Do you want to see deflation?” he repeated for dramatic effect. There was no answer. Thankfully it was a rhetorical question. Zanni was laughing uproariously again.

After that there was death by reasonableness via Polish MEP Ryszard Legutko: “I didn’t have the feeling that you have some pangs of conscience at all”.

“The shadow of the scandal will follow you,” he said, while managing not to say whether his group (the ECR) would support the motion.

“We should not waste too many words on the motion,” said the liberals' Verhofstadt. But went on to do so anyway. Before adding: “Finally Mr Farage and Mme Le Pen are outing their hidden relationship.”

There was no time to ponder this image before he usurped someone else’s quote about Ukip being "hideous, racist, populist, xenophobic and Islamophobic".

“These are not my words,” he said triumphantly. But by then no one was listening to that little nuance. Zanni was laughing again.

It was on to the far-left to squiggle around on how they didn’t like what Juncker had done but did not want to sign up to a motion that had been signed by "those" people.

And shame on the Greens and Socialists for not backing an enquiry committee.

The Greens waxed lyrical about austerity policies and lack of trust. "We want unlimited clarification here," said Rebecca Harms. But Juncker should be the one to do it.

Then it was Ukip's turn.

In the manner of someone auditioning for a minor town play, Steven Woolfe took to the floor. Speaking slowly, enunciating clearly, he spoke about stains: "The stain of deceit has seeped into you and the longer you stay in that seat, the stain will seep further and further up the chain behind you. The stain is deep."

"I would rather get on with my job," said Juncker.

Indeed it was a pleasant hour of obstufication and hot air.


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