Labour MEPs lambast European Parliament funding for the BNP

Labour Party

To their utter shame, the committee which oversees European Parliament business recently agreed that an alliance of seven European extreme right wing political parties (including the British BNP, the French Front National and Hungary’s Jobbik) would qualify for €289,266 of EU money.

The Bureau of the European Parliament took this decision on what they considered to be the appropriate interpretation of the Parliament’s Rules of Procedure, specifically the activities and legal situation of the political groups. The relevant paragraph states that European Parliament political groups shall carry out their duties as part of the activities of the Union. The political groups shall be provided with a secretariat on the basis of the establishment plan of the Secretariat, with administrative facilities and with the appropriations entered for that purpose in Parliament’s budget.

In what was a very narrow and quite disgraceful reading of the European Parliament rules, the Bureau took the view that the newly formed extreme right group, the Alliance of European Nationalist Movements, qualified for funding in the same way as the other mainstream political groups.

However, the Bureau completely failed to take on board the very essence of the European Union, the values on which the EU is founded. Just to recap, these are respect for human dignity, liberty, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights. These values are common to the Member States and the societies of the Member States are characterised by pluralism, tolerance, justice, solidarity and non-discrimination.

When the possibility that the European Parliament may fund extreme parties such as the BNP is given just a short moment’s thought, it becomes clear that such funding is a non-starter. The BNP and other extreme parties quite clearly contravene the EU’s fundamental values. Indeed the BNP’s political programme and campaigning is against equality and respect for human rights, to name but two of the values mentioned above while there is no way they respect pluralism, tolerance and non-discrimination.

Labour MEPs never accepted the inevitability of BNP funding. The European Parliamentary Labour Party (EPLP) went into action forming alliances with like-minded MEPs to halt the current payment and stop any payments in the future if this was democratically possible.

After a passionate appeal to Martin Schulz, the President of the European Parliament (equivalent of the Speaker), he assured EPLP Leader, Glenis Willmott, last Wednesday that he would check whether any initial payment to this ultra-right alliance could be reimbursed on legal grounds.

Furthermore, agreement has now been reached across the political spectrum of European Parliament political groupings (the Greens, the Liberals, the Centre Right as well as the Socialist and Democrat Group where Labour sits) that a “committee of wise persons from outside the European Parliament” will be set up under the European Parliament’s rules to see whether this new pan-European alliance conforms to European values.

I am sure we all agree with Glenis Willmott when she said, “The BNP cause violence and hatred wherever they go. The tolerant don’t always have to tolerate the intolerant. We’ve worked together so this is not just a socialist alliance against the far right, all parties across the spectrum are agreeing with us. The budgets committee of the European Parliament are not happy for this money to go through either. We’re happy to debate and fight our corner with anyone who disagrees with us, but we can only argue with democrats.”

4 thoughts on “Labour MEPs lambast European Parliament funding for the BNP

  1. What happens to groups that reject the Lisbon treaty – or consider that the judiciary is biassed against trades unions – perhaps on the grounds that collective bargaining distorts the market?

  2. Thanks for your question Martin. UKIP for example oppose the Lisbon treaty, yet as part of the EFD group they receive funding.

  3. It doesn’t strike you as ever so slightly inconsistant that you wish to prevent funding of these objectional groups because they are not “pluralist”. Surely pluralism means we must (alas) allow them to have funding. I don’t like ’em, you don’t like them but they represent an electorate so there should be a level playing field (and anyway history shows that extreme nationalists find it difficult to overcome their prejudices and stick together.) A slippery slope indeed. I dare say Nick Griffin could employ the same arguments against funding for communists who don’t exactly have a history of supporting pluralism and tolerance either. Better for all that we treat all groups the same. I suggest you re-read Pastor Niemoller’s famous poem. It applies both ways.

  4. Utterly outrageous. There are two types of political party: Legal and Banned. PERIOD. Only the Left believes in some grey area of parties which are legal, but which should be banned from public funding and platforms in student unions; on the BBC etc – kudos to UKIP and the Tories for opposing the move to ban funding for the British National Party; no matter how little many of us agree with their views.

    If a party falls short of basic legal principle (for example demanding violence on religious or racial minorities) then seek a ban through the legitimate channels; but it is profoundly undemocratic to arbitrarily propose ‘tiers’ of acceptance; thus circumventing the electorate.

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