Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Libertas a vanity project for Declan Ganley MEPs react to Libertas

UK Labour MEP Richard Corbett has branded Libertas a farce and said it was "a personal vanity project" for Declan Ganley. Corbett has been one of Ganley's most outspoken and active critics.

EU politicians attack Libertas following launch in UK and France

MEPs from all parties have joined forces to attack Libertas, the anti-Lisbon treaty group, following its launch as a political party in Britain.

The group, founded by Declan Ganley, hopes to field 72 candidates in the 12 electoral regions across the UK in June's European elections.

On Tuesday, it announced that the UK arm of its operation would be spearheaded by former soldier Robin Matthews and that it is attempting to recruit other candidates. Libertas, which led the successful 'no' campaign against the treaty in Ireland, will launch in France today.

The UK launch was met with derision by several MEPs, including UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage, who branded the organisation's basic policies as "flawed".

Farage said, "Libertas is running on the idea that a few more elections, say an elected EU president, will solve matters.

"However well-meaning, this simply is not possible."

"People have to realise that Libertas is not a Eurosceptic party. It wants a bigger and stronger EU," he added.

He believes, though, that electorally it may have a "big impact" in June, particularly in countries with no tradition of Eurosceptism like Germany but that it will not have an impact on Ukip.

Further reaction came from UK ALDE deputy Andrew Duff who said that "anti-European voters in Britain are being spoiled for choice".

"Ganley wants the EU to stick with the present, clumsy and inefficient Nice treaty but voters want a stronger and reformed EU," said Duff.

UK Socialist deputy Richard Corbett branded the group's plans a "farce", saying it was "a personal vanity project" for Ganley.

"Eurosceptics will be like kids in a sweet shop this June, with the British National Party, Ukip, the Tories and Libertas to choose from, but this launch is a farce. The fact that their 'party leader' has been personally appointed by Ganley demonstrates that Libertas is nothing more than a personal vanity project – a pressure group masquering as a party."

Referring to claims by Ganley that he would not be using his own money to back the campaign, Corbett said, "Ganley spent more money in the Irish referendum than Ireland's three main political parties added together.

"That is what he is about - slick propaganda, myth-making and playing on people's fears. If he doesn't spend his own money, then he will be using someone else's."

German Socialist deputy Jo Leinen commented, "I am worried about the current political situation in the UK because there is a real danger that it will return quite a number of eurosceptic MEPs to the new parliament.

"It could be, though, that the public will be confused by all these different groups and their populist anti-EU slogans will not succeed."

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