The first recorded treaty appears to have been concluded around 2100 BC in Mesopotamia to settle a boundary dispute between the city states of Lagash and Umma. Even within the imagination of an expansionist Eurocrat this could not be described as the first European treaty. That honour falls to the Treaty of Cassius in 493 BC, which formed an alliance between the Roman Republic and the Latin League of thirty cities. This first treaty of Roman ended a war that started when Rome claimed surrounding countryside that was not theirs. The victorious Romans dictated conditions placing Rome on equal status to all of the Latin League combined. The terms provided for common private rights between citizens of Rome and any Latin city. It was agreed to set up joint colonies in captured territory so they might both prosper, with an equal share of the spoils and booty. It was mandated that the Roman and Latin armies would be combined, to provide mutual defence from Italic tribes, under a Roman commander. Changes could not be made to the Treaty without consent. In 486 BC the Treaty was extended to the Hernici. Thus greatly strengthened Rome expanded to conquer most of the Italian peninsula and the Treaty was renewed in 358 BC. Soon after that Rome reneged on the Treaty, winning the resulting Latin war and rendering the Treaty void. What followed was the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. It seems that nothing changes and the parallels with modern Europe are obvious, as are the dangers.
Known to his friends as Jimmy, Goldsmith was described as having a ‘colourful’ private life and a ‘controversial’ business career. In the latter part of his life he became active on issues to do with the environment, for example being strongly opposed to industrial farming. He also opposed multi-national trade agreements, considering them to be detrimental to blue-collar workers who would have their jobs exported to low-pay countries. A further repercussion being that products previously manufactured domestically would then be imported, adding to trade deficits. He will probably be most remembered for his political activities.
He became a politician who was anti-politician, founding the Referendum Party in 1994 with a declaration that it would be wound-up when its objective had been achieved. He had no ambition for high-office. He was scathing of the 1992 Maastricht Treaty that initiated the European Union in 1993, and of the UK politicians who had refused to let the electorate have a vote on a major change of direction. Because of his family roots in Britain, France and Germany he could not be labelled with the derogatory title ‘little Englander’. If you have not been able to watch the video of his keynote address to the 1996 RP Conference, the extract that follows might be of help.
It has been a long time, but twenty years after the Referendum Party published the question they wanted the people of the United Kingdom to vote on, it is finally happening. In November 1996 (prior to the 1997 General Election), and having previously indicated a reluctance to presume the wording, they set out the exact wording. The question that the people would be asked was, “Do you want the UK to be part of a federal Europe or do you want the UK to return to an association of sovereign nations that are part of a common trading market”. This was much more precise and more accurate than the question, “Should the UK remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union” that will be on the ballot paper when we vote in the referendum on 23rd June.
This is important because we are not just voting about the EU as it is now, but also about the direction the EU is taking and about what it is destined to be – that is a fully functioning federal United States of Europe. We will not get a second chance to vote at some future stage because the Government tells us that the EU referendum is a once in a generation decision. The Government believes, and has set out to convince us, that the UK remaining in the EU is in our best interests. I am like many of you dismayed about the way the referendum debate is being conducted on this most vital and important issue. There is an old political saying, “If you cannot convince voters, then confuse them”. That is what the Government and its supporters are doing. Not only are their arguments getting sillier and sillier, they are also spouting a load of nonsense. They are dismissive, without reason, of any statements from the Leave campaigners that have some substance. It is getting very nasty with personal attacks on people who hold sincere and valid opinions that are contrary to those of the Government.
The professional politicians leading the Leave campaign have broad shoulders, but there is something or somebody missing from the campaign. That person is Sir James Michael Goldsmith and his message that rallied people to join the Referendum Party in 1994 [they claimed over 50,000 members] and enabled them to contest the majority of the constituency seats in the 1997 General Election. The threat that this posed to New Labour resulted in Tony Blair promising to hold referenda on further European integration and entry to the Euro currency zone. This was consolidated before the 2005 General Election when the Daily Mail organised the largest petition ever of people demanding a referendum on the proposed European Union constitution. In order that it did not become an election issue all the main parties promised a referendum. Labour and the Liberal Democrats later reneged on their promises.
Sir James delivered a powerful keynote address at the Referendum Party conference held in Brighton in October 1996. He died in July 1997, after contesting the general election, and the Referendum Party was then dissolved in the belief that they had delivered a binding commitment from the new Prime Minister, Tony Blair. But, you can never trust professional politicians.
Sir James had clearly set out his position in a book – The Trap – and in his keynote address. You can download the book and listen to and watch his rousing speech by visiting http://www.sirjamesgoldsmith.com/politician