La Treizième Étoile: 02/12/12 - 09/12/12 Blog Archives
News from the European Union with a focus on the South West UK and Gibraltar region and its MEPs
My tweets (@SWUKinEU)
BIG NEWS: webcams at Gibraltar - Spain border to monitor the queues go live!

Friday, 7 December 2012
After a stuttering start on Wednesday, the Frontier webcam positioned at the border between Gibraltar and Spain has this afternoon gone live and is freely available to view online at

Following the visit of Deputy CM Dr Joseph Garcia to Strasbourg a couple of weeks ago for a series of meetings, the Gibraltar Government took the decision to set up a video live stream of the frontier queue online 24 hours a day every day to allow people who want to go to Spain to monitor the state of the queue and also to gather further evidence of the reported lengthy delays.

The website offers users two views of the border area: one shows the loop by the frontier fence, and the other shows Winston Churchill Avenue outside the old air terminal.

The cameras are positioned so as to highlight the length of the queues while avoiding filming Spanish police and Guardia Civil officers at work.

Click here to visit the site and see the current status at the border.

Gibraltar to face England as the Rock is included in UEFA draws for the first time

Gibraltar's national football and futsal teams have been included in UEFA competition draws for the first time, in a not so insignificant move towards gaining acceptance as a full UEFA member.

In a series of draws carried out at the FIFA HQ in Nyon, Switzerland this week, Gibraltar were first paired with France, Montenegro and San Marino in Group A of the 2013/14 UEFA European Futsal Championship Preliminary Qualifiers before later drawn with an asterisk besides its name in an Under-17 pool with England, Ireland and Armenia, and an Under-19 group with the Czech Republic, Croatia and Cyprus.

Those international football fixtures will be played next October, in Armenia and the Czech Republic, only if Gibraltar is accepted as a full UEFA member by a majority of Europe's 53 official football nations when they vote next May at the 2013 UEFA Congress in London, the host city of that year’s Champions League Final.

Gibraltar was allowed in the draws because UEFA granted provisional member status in October at a meeting of the European football governing body's Executive Committee in Russia.

Spain has constantly called foul at Gibraltar’s applications for membership because it continues to claim sovereignty over the Rock. While the two teams were not drawn together this time around, it has not stopped one Gibraltarian blogger asking ‘is Gibraltar about to beat Spain at football?’.

Apprentice ‘star’ Katie Hopkins to stand again in SW to demand EU referendum

Thursday, 6 December 2012
Oh lucky us. Katie Hopkins, the Apprentice ‘star’ has announced her intention to run again for election as an MEP in the South West in 2014.

Mrs Hopkins, who failed in her attempt last time gaining only 0.6% of the vote, made her announcement during a visit to Brussels this week where she met with Nikki Sinclaire, a former UKIP MEP who was expelled by the party in 2010.

She is best known for having made the final three in BBC1's show ‘The Apprentice’ in 2007, before appearing on ‘I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here’. Outspoken, she was famously sacked by the Exeter Express and Echo after an overwhelming majority (84 per cent) of readers wanted her to lose her column.

She will run for the ‘We Demand a Referendum’ party whose main and only policy is to force a public vote on whether the UK should stay part of Europe.

Click here to see list of list of declared MEP candidates in the region.

'Inaccurate, misleading and downright untruths' - could the Leveson report end the UK media misreporting of EU issues?

Wednesday, 5 December 2012
After many years of evidence-taking and consideration and at much expense, Lord Justice Leveson on Thursday 29 November published his extremely lengthy report on the culture, practices and ethics of the press. While the national press revelled in the days that followed at the opportunity to talk about the press and argue at length how any form of statutory regulation was unwelcome, others read the report and the Business for New Europe blog as well as the Tabloid Watch blog among others reposted a number of passages from the report where Lord Justice Leveson speaks of 'clear evidence of misreporting on European issues'.

In his report, Lord Justice Leveson (p.687) writes:

Articles relating to the European Union, and Britain’s role within it, accounted for a further category of story where parts of the press appeared to prioritise the title’s agenda over factual accuracy.

On misreporting of EU issues in the press, he said “the cumulative impact can have serious consequences. Mr Blair explained that the misinformation published about Europe by some parts of the press made it difficult for him to adopt particular policies or achieve certain political ends in Europe that he might otherwise have done.

In today’s Financial Times, South West Liberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham Watson published a strongly-argued letter in which he says the UK media has “followed its own agenda on the EU”. It reads:

Sir, The Leveson report makes some interesting reading on British reporting on “Europe”. Debate on this issue is relevant to Britain’s place in the world, trade, jobs, our economy, investment and our environment. Yet Lord Justice Leveson notes that for articles relating to this fundamental issue, many newspapers 'appeared to prioritise the title’s agenda over factual accuracy'.

We have increasingly seen inaccurate, misleading and downright untruths that the EU is banning everything from mushy peas and jam jar lids to kids blowing up balloons. Such blatant fabrications do nothing to help citizens make an informed decision about our involvement in the European Union.

The Leveson Report rightly notes that 'on issues of political interest, the press have a responsibility to ensure the public are accurately informed so that they can engage in the democratic process'.

For too long politicians and media proprietors with a vested interest have decided how the press is regulated. But the current self-regulation, where the press act as judge and jury over their own affairs, has failed.

The 1st Clause of the PCCs Editors Code explicitly refers to the need for accuracy. But in many cases where no specific individual has been affected by an untruth the PCC have continuously allowed editors to play fast and loose with the facts.

I am all for an open and free press to play its full part in the democratic process, but press reporting must be founded on accurately informing readers rather than misleading them.

This is an opinion that I cannot fail to fully agree with. Indeed, one of the reasons I started this blog was to detail how the work at European Union level actually does bring benefits and what our six elected MEPs do - two aspects that hardly get a mention in local and national media unless it is sensational, an opportunity for Nigel Farage to provide soundbites, or a fabricated Euromyth (which is more often than not).

With so many Euromyths created and presented by national newspapers as fact (too many to mention), is it any surprise the perception of Europe is largely negative in the eyes of most citizens and that the UKIP party score so well in European elections as a result? This needs to change and some accurate reporting would go a long way to improving the situation.

Admittedly, European Union politics is not as simple, confrontational and as ‘scandelous and sexy’ as Westminster politics is but it is nonetheless important. I, for one, hope that the Leveson report will signal the start of the end of Euromyths that will no doubt dominate the coverage in the run-up to the European elections in 2014. Stranger things have happened but I live in hope…


A Sir and two Dr: Graham Watson elected head of SW LibDem list for 2014 elections

Sunday, 2 December 2012
Incumbent MEP Sir Graham Watson has been re-elected the first candidate on the list in the region for the 2014 European elections by Liberal Democrat party members in the South West.

Sir Graham, who has been an MEP for the region since 1994 and is the current President of the European Liberal Democrat pan-European political party, received the most votes ahead of Dr Kay Barnard and Dr Brian Mathew.

Andrew Wigley and Jay Risbridger will appear fourth and fifth on the ballot paper respectively. The sixth place on the list will be a candidate nominated by the Liberal Party of Gibraltar.

The result should give Sir Graham the best chance of re-election in 2014 and since he is the loudest and most experienced voice for the region in negotiations in Brussels and Strasbourg, this would ultimately be good news for citizens of the South West of England and Gibraltar.

Elsewhere across the country, sitting MEPs were elected first on the Liberal Democrats list for every constituency with the exception of the North East following the decision of current delegation leader Fiona Hall not to seek re-election. Recalling that European citizens can stand for election anywhere in Europe, this honour interestingly falls to a German citizen currently the press officer for the LibDem MEPs in Brussels.

UPDATE (03/12, 11.53):

While I am sure it will please Sir Graham enough to have been elected head of the list, he will no doubt be delighted to learn he received the most first preference votes from party members of all the other LibDem MEPs seeking re-election in 2014.

According to results emailed to this blog of the vote carried out using the single transferable vote system, Sir Graham received 79.1% of first preference votes ahead of Chris Davies in the North West (72.4%) and Edward McMillan-Scott in Yorkshire and the Humber (66.9%). Both Andrew Duff (East of England) and Baroness Ludford (London) received less than half of the first preference votes in their regions.

With almost eight of out every ten Liberal Democrat party members in the South West casting their first preference vote for Sir Graham, that to me represents quite a considerable vote of confidence in his work.

UPDATE 2 (05/12, 13.05):

Sir Graham has welcomed the result, this morning tweeting:

Additionally, in an article published on his website, he outlined his work programme and prioirties if elected for a fifth term as an MEP for the region:

"I want to see us work proactively with our EU partners, to make our area more prosperous, safer and greener. The challenges we face on a daily basis, from a changing climate, to tackling organised crime and to securing our future energy and food supplies require us to work with other countries.

I want to continue to fight for a fair deal for the South West, using my knowledge and experience to deliver more funding for our region. Funding to spend on training our young people, getting more people back into work and investing in broadband and transport. I will continue to campaign for South West businesses which trade outside the UK, often selling goods and services onto new markets in India, China and the Middle East.


Last election:

Click here to see which six MEPs were elected.