Friday, January 14, 2005
January Strasbourg, Part Two
The European Parliament voted in favour of the constitution. This is about as newsworthy a story as "Dog Bites Man". What did make front-page news in the press, Europe-wide (Das Bild, El Pais), was our little protest. As you might be able to see below, they worked brilliantly. All those "Not In My Name" posters? I made them! Well, more accurately, with a rather pithy irony I ripped the logo straight off the Stop The War campaign website and made them into anti-EU posters, and then colleagues and I spent all of Tuesday co-ordinating the various protests. One hundred posters in all, it made rather an impact.

The day as a whole could not have gone better. It started with the MEPs protesting in the chamber, as one may see below. The whole affair then moved to outside the chamber, where ten or so of our researchers were waiting with "Not In My Name" t-shirts and The Constitution Monster (one of our chaps in a werewolf suit, wearing the slogan "Devouring Democracy" and brandishing copies of the constitution). It's fair to say the media went for it hook, line and sinker - cameras everywhere, MEPs were interviewed into the ground. We then unfurled a huge banner, wrestled with security guards who were attempting to take it off us, and headed outside for part two of the protest.

The office part of the Strasbourg building is like a big donut. There is a large courtyard in the middle, where the Yes campaign had planned media interviews to a backdrop of balloons and a triumphant small band. Instead, they conducted their interviews to a succession of 'No' campaigners, banners, t-shirts and a shower of confetti - the latter of which drew admiring gasps from onlookers, believing it to be part of the festivities - only to be crushed upon seeing the confetti all bore the phrase, "No!".

None of the footage taken will be used in the 'Yes' campaign propaganda, that's for sure. Mission accomplished.

The one black part of the day (vote result aside, but no-one's surprised at that) was the conduct of security. They were clearly utterly unprepared for such protests, and resorted to violence to try and restore order - not only did they try to stop protesters carrying 'No' placards back into the building whilst letting 'Yes' campaigners straight through, but far worse, two female UKIP researchers were physically assaulted by security guards. The behaviour of security was an absolute disgrace.

UKIP's protests, I might add, were a disaster - stopped by security at the first hurdle, and they had their banners confiscated. It needs to be pointed out that Wednesday's protests were all Tory-led - at last the Party has done something right on Europe (although I have used the picture of UKIP members holding up Tory-produced and -organised posters, below - I thought it appropriate!).

Finally, to sum up the bungling incompetence of these pro-EU idiots; the finale of the day was supposed to be the release of huge, helium-filled 'Yes' balloons. The reason they weren't released? The 'Yes' organisers had neglected to obtain permission from Strasbourg airport, as the building is under the flightpath. Muppets.

Still, 'No' campaign One, 'Yes' campaign Nil.

Funny you say they were a disaater when it is pictures of UKIP MEPs all over the press.

Nevertheless, at least at the end of the day the 'noes' got in the way of the 'yes' photographs (I myself have some classics) and we tried to put on a united front. It might help, of course, if the Tories weren't so pompous, but well done to the Referendum intergroup. Let's hope the no referendum wins in the UK and unlike the 'North East Says No', the campaign isn't spoilt by the Tories refusing to get involved unless they are the top dog.
The point is that no-one in the general public would recognise an MEP, UKIP or otherwise, if they walked up and punched them in the face. What's important is that the protest got good coverage.

And there may have been pictures of UKIP MEPs in newspapers, but the Constitution Monster is on the front page of the European Voice! (and hell, if UKIP want to take credit for someone else's hard work, feel free).
Good job on standing up for what you believe in, but I'm afraid it was 'No' campaign 1, 'Yes' campaign 100. Who won?
You're missing the point. "European Parliament ratifies constitution!" is about as newsworthy a headline as, "Rain is wet!" or "William Hague is bald!".

No-one has won or lost until the twenty-five countries have chosen whether to ratify or not; some sixteen countries are having referendums, and maybe three of them are winnable.

The European Parliament vote was comparitively only one tiny step in the Grand Scheme of Ratification, but it was one out of which the 'Yes' campaign wanted to make a big media-meal, through publicity events and bribing journalists. They imported over a hundred pro-EU hacks from around Europe, laying on parties and giving them €1000 expenses each.

And yet, instead of their planned, vast 'Yes' campaign launch and propaganda extravaganza on which they had spent around €250,000 in total, the front pages around Europe were dominated by the 40 centimes-a-throw "Not In My Name" posters that I had knocked up on my computer the day before.

Now THAT'S a result in my book.
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