Tuesday, 17 June 2014

That very important Eurovision Top Monkey Contest

Time to 'fess up. Like most Brits I'm pretty ignorant about European institutions. In my defence, the way these things are reported doesn't exactly help. I keep hearing, for instance, that Angela hearts Jean-Paul, which makes David jealous. But why, exactly, should I care more about these characters and their love triangle than I would about who's snogging whom in Hollyoaks (i.e. not at all)?

It apparently matters because Jean-Paul Juncker is a lover, not a fighter an "insider", not a "reformer" and electing him would be 'a back-door power-grab' by the European parliament.

If this is important enough to be worth a headline, it's important enough for a bit of context. For example, exactly which reforms would David like to see and Jean-Claude want to block? I'm not asking for in-depth analysis here, but even short mention of list of two or three of the most important issues would help to explain why I should start to care.

Instead, the BBC summary devotes more effort to 'Jean-Claude Juncker: The numbers game' (a handy guide to who's backing Jean-Claude and how the electoral arithmetic's stacking up), than it does to explaining the issues at stake.

And what about the reporting of David Cameron's 'back-door power-grab' sound bite? So the people in the elected bit of the European Union want to grab some power from ones in the unelected bit. On the face of it, that sounds like rather a good thing for democracy fans.

Why not arrange for a lively debate between people who can explain these issues coherently (unlike David Cameron who, one minute seems to be insisting that the European Parliament shouldn't interfere in the appointments to the Commission so that they can get on with appointing an "impartial" technocrat, but also wants to keep open the option of 'a serving prime minister or president' of one of the member states heading up the Commission (I can't think of any current candidates who'd fit Cameron's paradoxical job description, although the next Mario Monti-style prime minister/unelected technocrat who comes along would logically tick both of Cam's boxes)?

I'm sure the answers to my questions are out there, but it's not surprising that I'm in the tiny minority of anoraks who might be interested in finding out, when the mainstream media coverage is so bland and content-free.

Or is the substance of the arguments less important than the grunting struggle for dominance between the top monkey in the British troop and the alpha female of the German troop, (in which case, finding stuff out, rational discussion and, indeed, the last three million years of evolution would seem to have been an enormous waste of everyone's time)?