May 31, 2010

Nick Clegg & the Elgin Marbles

Posted at 9:18 pm in Elgin Marbles

I wrote before about Nick Clegg’s support for the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles. Some newspapers (predictably) aren’t particularly thrilled with this aspect of him though.

Daily Express


DOUBTS over Nick Clegg’s commitment to British interests in the EU intensified last night after it emerged he once led a campaign to return the historic Elgin Marbles to his friends in Greece.

As an MEP, the Lib Dem leader berated the British Museum for guarding the statues, saying it was like displaying Big Ben’s clock in the Louvre. He told a Tory MEP who dared to criticise his campaign: “you appear to have lost your marbles.”

The issue highlights his strident pro-European views and helps shatter his attempt in Thursday’s leaders’ debate to portray his party as moderate on EU affairs.


A Sunday Express survey of his 12 MEPs’ voting records reveals them to be among the most fanatically pro-EU politicians in Europe. They have consistently spearheaded efforts to transfer sovereignty away from Britain and boost a bureaucratic superstate.

They have voted against reforming MEPs’ expenses and against holding a sleaze inquiry into a ­senior official but they have voted for the promotion of the grand EU project in British schools.

Mr Clegg, who is married to a Spaniard and whose father is half-Russian, was a Euro MP for the East Midlands between 1999 and 2004. In 2002, he helped organise the Marbles In Exile conference in the Strasbourg parliament where he demanded Britain return them to the Parthenon in Athens.

The statues were taken with the permission of the Ottoman Empire by the Earl of Elgin in 1801.

When Tory MEP Roger Helmer objected to EU resources being used to promote the campaign, Mr Clegg wrote back: “During the opening of the Marbles In Exile exhibition yesterday, I took the opportunity to read out your message. Everyone agreed that you appear to have lost your marbles.”

In a bid to appeal to floating Eurosceptic voters, Mr Clegg tried to portray a more ­moderate stance during Thursday’s leaders’ debate, saying he would offer a referendum on future major transfers of powers to the EU, such as were contained in the Lisbon Treaty.

His shift was branded “opportunistic” and came as he tried to soften his previously ardent ­support for the euro.

He now says he is glad Britain did not join the single ­currency but as an MEP in 2002 he tried to justify giving up the pound by saying blind and partially sighted people would find the euro easier to use.

In March last year all Lib Dems voted to exclude details about MEPs’ allowances and expenses from a new law designed to imp­rove transparency.

In 2008 they tried to give Brussels more powers over taxation by voting for a single rate of corporation tax throughout the continent.

The year before they voted to end Britain’s £4billion annual budget rebate and last November they supported moves by Brussels to force countries to share Europe’s asylum seeker problem.

The Sunday Express has also learned that in 2002 Mr Clegg and Lib Dem MEPs signed a European parliament resolution calling on the EU to legalise drugs.

The resolution “strongly” urged policy makers to de-criminalise “certain substances”, partially de- criminalise cannabis and make heroin “available under medical supervision”. They believed it would help fight drug traffickers.

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