Making things difficult in opposition

9 April 2009

Making things difficult in opposition

Last week I found myself, quite unexpectedly, in an awkward predicament. I was obliged to defend the foreign minister, Maxime Verhagen of the centre-right CDA, against Labour Party (PvdA) attacks on the issue of EU enlargement. PvdA Member of Parliament Luuk Blom wanted to see Ukraine and Georgia given the prospect of EU membership, but Verhagen was unimpressed. For once I was in agreement with Verhagen. The EU has already grown too much and too quickly and Romania and Bulgaria, who have recently joined, were completely unready for membership. That is why the SP voted against the proposed enlargement.

By Harry van Bommel Harry van Bommel Sweetening Ukraine and Georgia with talk of EU membership is completely stupid. Before you know it, these countries will be on course for accession. It is really hard to be a difficult opposition if you find yourself having to defend the government.

This isn't the first time that the social democrats have come up with this sort of plan. L. Blom himself presented a case recently in the PvdA party magazine Socialisme en Democratie for making Ukraine and Georgia candidate members of NATO. In Ukraine the people don't want to join NATO, and Georgia has just emerged from war. Not such a good idea, then, unless you're looking for a scrap with Russia.

In my view the PvdA have, as far as geopolitics goes, completely lost their way. It is somehow reassuring that the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and of Defence come from the centre-right parties in the coalition, and not from Labour. In no time we could find ourselves back at war as a result of the PvdA's political idiocy. It must be said, to be fair, that not everyone in the Labour Party is barking mad. The international secretary wrote following the publication on the website of Blom's NATO plans that this was a 'personal' view and not that of the party.

In the run-up to the European elections on 4th June things have been made a little easier for us. On the PvdA list (and at number one) is a person more European than Dutch, a Secretary of State who helped to write the European Constitution and a European spokesman who wants to see the EU so big that it would simply fall to bits of its own accord. In my view we scarcely need to campaign. They're doing it for us.

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