A senior EU official has caused outrage by appearing to suggest that the national flags of member states should be dropped in favour of the EU design of a circle of stars on a blue background, the Mail on Sunday informs readers. The MoS thinks there’s a story here, but being part of the mainstream media it manages to spectacularly miss the real issue and instead focus on a tiny element of a much wider and more significant problem.
The paper tells readers that:
Christine Roger, the communications director of the European Council, the EU’s governing body, made her comments in a speech to 650 ‘spin doctors’ from local authorities across Europe, including the UK. She called for a new, dedicated public-relations budget to help ‘sell’ the EU as a ‘brand’ to its increasingly disenchanted citizens.
Before going on to add:
In her speech, a copy of which has been seen by The Mail on Sunday, Ms Roger – a veteran Brussels apparatchik – posed a series of leading questions, including how Europe should be defined. ‘Are we talking about a state-to-be? About a federation?’ she asked.
For good measure the MoS then trotted off to get some quotes from Nigel Farage, who duly obliged by prattling on about flags, the trampling of national identities and the waste of taxpayers’ money, suggesting he clearly only a faint idea what had been discussed and what the real concern is. Once again the MSM has failed the public and the blogosphere has to step up to spell things out.
It is time to put the witless sensationalism into proper context, then hopefully get some people to sit up and understand the real story here.
Context first… The ‘speech’ was actually nothing more than one part of a workshop presentation (Workshop I on page 15) delivered as part of EuroPCom 2011, which is organised by the Committee of the Regions. The workshop was running at the same time as three others, the titles of which are altogether more concerning: ‘Citizen Journalism, opportunity or threat’; ‘Connecting with young people through social networks’; and ‘Outside the Brussels bubble: Europe going local’.
Also, the only thing the MoS would have seen of Ms Roger’s ‘speech’ was a PDF document of slides she used in her presentation. It’s not just the MoS which has access to a copy, anyone can see it by clicking on the appropriate link.
Now the real story… EuroPCom 2011, like its forerunner, EuroPCom 2010, is a concerted effort to spread EU propaganda via the national and local media in member states, using public servants on the government and local government payroll to wage a spin campaign from withing government departments, City Halls and Town Halls. The attendance of many of the participants has been made possible only because our money has been spent to send them to the two day conference.
A measure of how deeply rooted the EU propagandists are in our public bodies can be gained by looking at some of the UK based speakers at the event, who included Nick Jones, the Head of Digital for the Prime Minister’s Office & Cabinet Office; Geoff Meade, Europe Editor of the Press Association; Gyorgy Szondi, Senior Lecturer in Public Relations at the Leeds Business School; Tony Halmos, Director of Public Relations at the City of London; Carl Holloway, Senior Communications Officer at Preston City Council (pictured).
While the Committee of the Regions spins that the total cost of putting on EuroPCom 2011 was around €50,000 (£43,000) for a two-day event bringing together 75 speakers and 650 participants, that does not tell us how much public money might have been spent by participants on the registration fee, travel, accomodation and subsistence in order to attend.
The aim of EuroPCom is to push a positive vision of the EU at local level in member states. The real targets are local authorities and regional public entities, the so called decentralised bodies, which send out their free (taxpayer funded) newspapers and issue press releases to local papers. With that in mind, one wonders how many Councillors will know if Council staff from their authority have attended and if public funds have been used, and how many residents in cities and local boroughs would feel happy with their Council Tax pounds being used for such a purpose.
The real issue is what EuroPCom symbolises. It is not just the naked propaganda effort and talk of replacing national flags with the EU dishcloth, but the lack of democratic oversight and direct accountability in our boroughs. That is the point missed by the Mail on Sunday and Nigel Farage. That is the point that needs to be understood by residents in towns and cities across this country.
So once again blogs like this one will have to do for free the work the MSM journalists are so lavishly paid for, but consistently fail to do. While EuroPCom speakers have considered how social media can be used to advance the European project, so we EU opponents can make use of social media to expose once again how taxpayers across Europe are being compelled to fund their own brainwashing.
A Freedom of Information request has been submitted in an effort to identify which UK local authorities and public bodies had employees at EuroPCom 2011. From there we will attempt to discover whether public funds have been used to register and send participants to Brussels for the workshops, and if so, how much. Then where applicable we will try to find out who took the decision to authorise that spending on enhancing local EU propaganda and see which of those people are accountable to the public they are supposed to serve.
It will take some weeks, but watch this space.