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It is national parties which select the candidates who stand in European elections, and who run the campaigns designed to bring about their victory. They may increasingly use the literature of the transnational groupings, but they fight primarily on national rather than European issues and they interpret the outcome very much in terms of what it means for their standing in domestic politics. Party politicians attend EU gatherings as national figures, advancing their countries’ interests. They will be influenced by their position on the political spectrum, those who are left-inclined being more concerned with social justice, protecting employment and supporting stronger environmental action and those on the right is more concerned with deregulation of business, free markets and open trading policies. But these ideological leanings usually take second place to arguments based on national interest and the leaders’ perceptions of the demands of the political situation ‘back home’.
THE EU CHARTER AND ITS APPLICATION AND INTERPRETATION
The EU’s New Human Rights Dimension
Rights and Principles provided for by Title III of the EU Charter
Title III on Equality contains seven Articles, from 20 to 26: equality before the law (20); non-discrimination (21); cultural, religious and linguistic diversity (22); equality between women and men (23); the rights of the child (24); the rights of the elderly (25); and the integration of persons with disabilities (26). The obviously eclectic type and nature of the provisions (rights, principles, social goals) may, in their totality, target a certain level of social equality and cohesion, but concrete definition of such a level depends very much on the meaning given to them by the institutions, authorities, administrative and judicial bodies responsible for their application and implementation.
i. Article 20 CFREU: General Principle of Equal Treatment
The first defining feature of the medieval experience of the law, which we will now begin to examine in depth, is its profound discontinuity with the experience that precedes it. Medieval legal thought begins to define itself amongst the strategies and innovations with which the society of the fourth, and especially the fifth, centuries AD sought to reorient itself in the void generated by the collapse of the Roman political structure and of the culture that existed within that structure. Historically, the most salient point is the manner in which the society of the time dealt with that sudden absence of power. For now, we shall deal with the void as it affected the political sphere, which was the most consequential and the most problematic difficulty the new system of law had to face.
On 24 June 2016, shortly after the full results of the referendum were known, the online edition of the Financial Times quoted the senior Labour MP, Margaret Hodge, attacking the leader of her own party, Jeremy Corbyn, over his allegedly inadequate campaign for Remain: ‘The EU referendum was a test of leadership and I think Jeremy failed that test. He came out too slowly. He was very halfhearted about his attempts to campaign and Labour voters simply didn’t get the message’ (Pickard et al. 2016). In the same article, Lord Mandelson, a key figure in Tony Blair’s government, is quoted as saying of Corbyn’s campaign, ‘At best his voice was curiously muted but when he did say anything, there were mixed messages.’ Over the next five days twenty-one members of Corbyn’s shadow cabinet resigned, all citing dissatisfaction with their leader’s lackluster performance in the build-up to the referendum as a major reason for doing so, while the shadow foreign secretary, Hilary Benn, displayed such disloyalty that he left Corbyn with little option but to sack him.