SNP MEP Derides Parliament Vote on Symbols and Songs

09 October 2008

Scottish National Party Member of the European Parliament Mr Alyn Smith has today (Wednesday) criticised a vote in the Parliament to formalise the symbols, motto, song and celebration day of the European Union at a time when the citizens of Europe are more interested in whether they will have a job next week and any savings left in their bank.

Smith said:

"This report is a technical recognition of existing practice and will not change much, the twelve stars of Europe were flying above the Parliament building last night at 10 o'clock when I left and still do today.

"My problem is that to vote on this sort of housekeeping now is just such a gift to the opponents of the EU, who would seek to present the EU as out of touch, self aggrandizing and obsessed with trinkets, image and flummery. It would be difficult to prove them wrong.

"Europe's citizens, and the vast majority of MEPs, are deadly concerned about the state of the economy and the evident fragility of our banking sector. Thousands of my own constituents, and I, are deadly worried about the state of the economy, how safe are jobs, savings, pensions? Where is the next bad news going to come from? The citizens of Europe, far from being 'united in diversity', as our new motto says, are more accurately 'frightened in adversity' and will look at our move today with disbelief.

"For the Parliament to indulge in a pointless navel-gazing exercise today undermines all the good work the Parliament does in making a real difference to people.

"The Parliament authorities regularly wring their hands over why the citizens of Europe do not greatly rate us, and seem to have somehow convinced themselves that symbols and songs will do the trick. I would gently suggest that if they focussed a bit less on bunting and Beethoven and a bit more on empathy and delivery the credibility and respect they so crave will look after themselves."