The EU is interfering in the British general election
Does the EU have the right to interfere in the British general election, let alone try to influence the outcome? Right now that’s a very good question because that is what it is doing.
The EU was responsible for much of the funding of three programmes recently broadcast on two British television channels. All three attempted to demean anti-EU opinion in the UK. Two also set out specifically to undermine support for UKIP. Not their business at any time, you might think, let alone in the run-up to a general election.
But the bureaucrats in Brussels clearly don’t care a fig about what is right and acceptable, and what is not.
Anyone who saw the two programmes broadcast on Channel 4 earlier this month (March 2015) mocking UKIP, or the one on the BBC a week later claiming that leaving the EU would be a disaster for the UK, will know the viciousness of the scorn poured over British anti-EU opinion on prime-time television.
Only in the small print of the closing credits was there any indication that the EU was directly behind such outrageous interference in Britain’s internal affairs at a crucial time in our democratic process.
Channel Four’s UKIP: The First 100 Days was funded by Culture, an EU funding agency which is, and always has been, an integral part of the European Commission’s long-term financial programme to gain public support.
As recently as last December Culture was openly advertising the provision of up to 500,000 Euros each from the EU’s bottomless pit of taxpayers’ funds to any “creative and cultural organisations” needing to fund the “co-development, co-production and programming” of new ventures.
Of course, funding of the BBC via the EU’s Investment Bank has been known for many years. In my memoirs as an MEP (A Mote in Brussels’ Eye) I reported the admission by Margot Wallstrom, the Swedish Commissioner for Communications, finally prised out of her after years of obfuscation, that the BBC had received over 100 million Euros from the EU up to 2009.
I have no reason today to think anything much has changed. Indeed, the EU made no attempt to hide its funding of the BBC’s The Great European Disaster Movie. The producer Annalisa Piras, a left-wing Italian journalist based in London, advises both the BBC and The Guardian on European affairs. She has worked closely with Bill Emmott, formerly editor of The Economist, on other films produced by Emmott’s Springshot Productions, as indeed was this one.
According to the credits, funding came from a least half-a-dozen public service broadcasters in Europe. The leading financial backer was Arte, the Franco-German Euro TV Channel founded in 1991 in Strasbourg (were else?) by Helmet Kohl, Francois Mitterrand and others. They have been busy ever since peddling pro-EU rhetoric all over the continent. The BBC’s programme was merely the latest.
Then, even more recently, Channel 5 broadcast a supposed documentary, Farage Fans and UKIP Lovers. The credits appeared to suggest this was an internal production, but the content suggested an EU finger in the pie somewhere. The programme’s research team had gone to great lengths to find a handful of truly odd-ball nutters, including an overweight nurse into bondage and self-flagellation, an arrogant old bachelor with verbal diarrhoea, a lesbian couple with four children, and a heavily tattooed toy soldier fanatic of truly weird appearance. Yes, we also heard from a London cabbie, a blind ex-serviceman, a classics graduate, and two Asian businessmen - all in the name of what producers call ‘balance’.
But Channel 5’s purpose was obvious. Most UKIP supporters are extremists and weird-dos. Only a trawler fisherman and his crew provided any serious – and valid – contribution to UKIP’s case for leaving the EU. And they did it well. More like that and the programme might have been worth watching. Instead it was a worthless lampoon.
So was the EU involved? Could Channel 5’s producers have resisted the EU Culture fund’s offer of half-a-million Euros to help finance a programme ridiculing UKIP? No chance. Channel 5 is a commercial channel after all. Apart from anything else, lower costs equal higher profits.
Three major UK television channels – Channel Four, the BBC and Channel 5 – all setting out to ridicule UKIP. And the EU openly funding at least two, and probably all three of them.
The question stands. What business is it of the EU, either directly or via one of its many funding vehicles, to seek to interfere in, let alone influence, the outcome of a general election in a sovereign state?
Answers on a postcard please, to :
Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, Brussels.
Don’t expect an answer – not even a lying denial. The EU regards itself as above criticism and answerable to no-one.