The European Parliament Journalism competition – with its €5,000 prizes – has been scrapped and not before time, writes Godfrey Bloom, UKIP MEP for Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire.
• The European Union seems to drift further and further towards a Soviet style administration. The laws are made behind closed doors by an unelected bureaucracy, cocooned from reality by massive tax breaks, free pensions and high salaries. The European Parliament is a sort of politburo, an amending chamber which nods through most of the legislation proposed - giving a veneer of democracy to the easily fooled. Visiting United States Congressmen are amazed and horrified that the parliament is not the law making body.
I spoke to a senior employee of Europarl TV the other day, who explained that even the faintest criticism of the EU would mean a broadcast would be edited or pulled altogether. Questions on the €21m expenses of the parliament's "museum" were withdrawn almost immediately. The slightest protest against the EU within parliamentary grounds or hinterlands in Brussels or Strasbourg is broken up by security goons or police, within an hour or two.
All this is commensurate with a "journalism prize". The usual subjective decision making behind closed doors to reward the poodle journalists, who laud the administration for such a wonderful job. One almost expects fake graphics on tractor production to manifest themselves at any minute. The new suggestion that credit rating agencies should be muzzled on sovereign debt tells us all we need to know.
Journalism in a free society is our protection. Politicians have proved time and again they cannot be trusted. Only the press stands between the citizen and complete and utter state exploitation. Thankfully, the whole silly business has now been stopped. Frighteningly, the more covert pressure remains. The BBC receives interest free loans from the European banking institutions which have - by their nature - a political agenda. No serious criticism is ever raised by the BBC of the EU and its institutions or, indeed, the validity of membership by the UK, under its constitution. Rewards to journalists of any sort must raise the question of journalistic independence. There will always be the question, why? What? How? In whose interest is this report and what is the end goal of the writer?
Journalistic prizes in the past have always been treated with suspicion. People like John Pilger added a new verb "to pilgerize" - meaning the "signed documentary" or "greater truth" style of news presentation. In the shallow age of television, propaganda is dangerous because people believe things to be true if they are presented in a certain way. One of the most epic examples of this was Braveheart. The film with Mel Gibson was portrayed as historical fact. Thousands of Scots without the benefit of a formal education believe it to be a documentary of their history. The closest historical analogy is Shakespeare's treatment of the Tudors and the Wars of the Roses. That Richard III was a hunchbacked villain of the first water is received wisdom, even today, by people who would claim a sound education. Let us keep journalists, in whatever role, on the straight and narrow. Facts only please and we can make our own minds up as to the merit of the arguments.