Now, as readers of this blog who have ever discussed European politics with me will know, I am no fan of Gisela Stuart. All started so well for any Labour voter – her beaming face, winning in Birminigham Edgbaston in 1997 was the sign that Labour was on course to win. Having spent her childhood in Germany, it was assumed she would be a good European and Blair hence sent her to represent the House of Commons at the Convention on the Future of Europe. All seemed to be OK. Yet then something strange happened. I think Gisela, who sat on the Presidium of the Convention was simply out-foxed by wily old Valery Giscard d’Estaing – this led to something breaking in Gisela’s mind towards the end of the Convention, which lead to the non too complimentary Fabian Society pamphlet The Making of Europe’s Constitution – details here.
Gisela then could not make up her mind whether to advocate to UK voters to support the text or not, and kept on and on about the role of national parliaments – an argument that I think is spurious coming from the UK parliament that, especially in the Commons, has such lousy parliamentary scrutiny. The French and Dutch votes looked like they had backed her up, and things have rumbled on. Never one to put her head in the sand on this issue, she has recently written an article for OpenDemocracy about her views. Thankfully, John Palmer from the Centre for European Reform has delivered a comprehensive and welcome riposte to what Gisela wrote – you can find his reply here. I look forward to the day when John Palmer is asked about these matters, rather than Gisela-I’m-a-pro-European-but-I-can’t-work-out-how-it-can-work being called on to comment.