Captain Moonlight: Europe defends its huddled masses, and rugby leaguers

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The Independent Online
NOT LONG to go to those European elections now, so let me make it quite clear: Europe, in my view, is a good thing. Forget that nonsense about junketing and faffing about; the members of the European Parliament - and indeed all the many, many, many European institutions - are there for a purpose, and a vital purpose at that.

Take the annual report on respect for human rights in the European Union compiled by the Committee on Civil Liberties and Internal Affairs of the European Parliament. The report will be discussed during the coming session this month in Strasbourg. It is a remarkable document, making 121 recommendations in a breathtaking tour d'horizon of European suffering and outrage, including a call on Belgium to abolish the death penalty and a general urging of member states to implement immediately the multi-institutional approach to combatting racism and xenophobia.

It reaffirms the need for specific measures to combat poverty and social exclusion. It asks for legislation against trafficking in human organs. But it was Clause 116 which particularly caught my eye: 'Maintains, in the light of discrimination in Britain and France against people who play 'rugby league', that people should be able to participate in sports such as 'rugby league' without fear of reprisal or discrimination.' Quite] As a keen follower of the 13-a-side code, I cannot but applaud any pan-European move against the Twickenham gauleiters who have not only punished their players for any association with us, but have also created a climate of fear where merely to mention our great game is to invite vicious sneers about whippets. Strasbourg, the North Country salutes you]

(Photograph omitted)

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