Wednesday, November 03, 2010

They've got big balls

As Bon Scott wrote,
"Some are held for Charity,
And some for fancy dress,
But when they're held for pleasure they're are the balls that I like best"
Tories are spending 30,000 euros sponsoring a champagne and black tie knees up in Brussels in the Spring (see update at the base of this article). The event, the Liberty Ball has as its lead sponsor the Tories new European Foundation, New Direction, The Foundation for European Reform.

The Foundation, an entity that grew out of the 2007 agreement on European Political Parties are supposed to provide research back up for the European Political Parties, and their funding is quite tightly regulated,
Without prejudice to the funding of political foundations, appropriations received from the general budget of the European Union in accordance with this Regulation may only be used to meet expenditure directly linked to the objectives set out in the political programme referred to in Article 4(2)(b).

Such expenditure shall include administrative expenditure and expenditure linked to technical assistance, meetings, research, cross-border events, studies, information and publications
The New Direction organisation is in receipt of €573,000 of taxpayer funding is yet to do anything public apart from launch (and with very strange bedfellows, Baroness Thatcher as a figure head, but with uber federalist Giles Merrit on the advisory board). I just wonder how chuckinbg taxpayers cash at a black tie ball can be considered part ofthe above list.

A few comments about the ball itself. Personally I am a great supporter of the ball. It was launched in 2004 as the Capitalist Ball under the patronage of the Centre for a New Europe a now defunct think tank and was the brainchild of Richard Miniter.

It was designed as an enormous hoolie took place in the old Bourse, involved industrial quantities of champagne, whisky and cigars and was entire funded by private subscriptions and donations. It was a hoot. Miniter's rather freewheeling style did not go down too well with the CNE and it slowl y transformed into a networking event for centre right free trading think tanks across Europe and the wider world.

As the seriousness increased, the fun decreased, initially it was free, now it is 90 Euros a pop. (and we now learn sponsored by the taxpayer). It's name transmuted to the Liberty Ball as the earlier names was feared as too in your face. I remember well rolling up, to the abuse of a bunch of hairy commies and vegan campaigners outside the venue. We went outside to talk to them, and had to be pulled apart by the police.

In a modern subsidised world, we wouldn't want that sort of thing now would we.

Don't get me wrong, I hope and plan to go next year, it is still a great night, but the pure fun and rebelliousness of the Capitalist Ball has been replaced by earnest networking. They have scored a coup by getting P.J. O'Rourke as the keynote speaker, and I wish the whole affair well.

But what the hell are the Tories doing sponsoring a Champagne event to the tune of Euro 30,000 with taxpayers money? Particularly in this time of austerity.

Back to Bon Scott, as he said, it's the balls that are held for pleasure which are the balls that I like best.

Story source New Europe

Shane Frith the Director of New Directions has been on the blower. He tells me that his organisation isn't sponsoring the Ball itself but rather a conference that takes place before the Ball. He also says that the money being put in is less than 30,000 Euros. I like Shane and thus I have to make his points for him. It would make more sense for him to sponsor a conference. True. So why does the Ball website not mention the conference but merely the ball? Why does the New Directions website not mention any future events? And if he paid less, well the figure is that which is quoted by the Liberty ball people when asked about the sponsorhip possibilities.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You really are an unspeakable sewer.