Tag Archives: European Union

A missed opportunity?

For those of us who keep a ‘close eye’ on ‘developments Brexit’ it will not have escaped the attention of some that amongst all the talk of the United Kingdom ceasing its membership of the European Union – while wishing the European Union no harm, etc, etc- only one voice has asked the question: why do we need the European Union? As an aside there were two voices, but one of them was a politician (of whom more in a minute) who, in the intervening period appears to have changed his tune – presumably because he was handed another ‘hymn sheet’ (you know the one: it contains the phrase: be a good boy,  ‘don’t make waves’, following which: behave, ‘fall into line’; and you’ll soon be a Secretary of State again). Oh, how are the mighty fallen – but resurrected once they have had their 15 minutes of ‘rebellious fame’.

I am at a loss to understand why any politician in our nation would wish to give the ‘kiss of life’ to an organization that is, in effect, breathing its last due to the fact that the need for its existence has been overtaken by events. Let us, initially, acknowledge that two men (Monnet and Salter) recognized a ‘gap in the market’, one which would bring them – and their disciples – power and fortune. Whether it brought them fortune or power is open to question as those two are now no longer with us – but it sure as hell has for their disciples.

It is a known fact that approximately 80% of what is called ‘EU law’ actually emanates from United Nation bodies – such as UNECE and Codex, to name but two – and whilst our politicians are, no doubt, well aware of this fact, that they do not acknowledge it is probably due to the fact that it diminishes their self-proclaimed right to ‘set our laws’. Knowing this as they do I, for one, find it incredulous that they appear willing to ‘prop-up’ a failing supra-national body which is no longer needed – if it ever was in the first place.

Amongst all the ranting about Theresa May’s views with regard to Brexit, as an aside I have to say I find it ludicrous that MPs appear so obsessed with the subject of whether EU nationals will have the right to remain in the UK once we have left (and vice-versa), when there are far more pressing subjects such as the continuation of trade – but I digress.

Guy Verhostadt has admitted on the BBC that the EU faces possible ‘disintegration’ and in this regard not much, if anything,  appears to have been mentioned by those bloggers who are considered ‘must reads’. Where ‘disintegration’ is concerned, I would suggest that too little has been focused on the possible upheaval that could be caused in the Brexit debate were Gert Wilders to succeed in the Netherlands and Marine Le Pen in France; and adding in Denmark, together with the Eastern Europe Member States (Hungary and Poland spring to mind), just how many of these countries are waiting to see how the UK fares, prior to declaring they too wish to ‘jump ship’?

It cannot be denied that history shows the United Kingdom has not only ‘led the world’- but that it has also ‘led Europe’ – is it not time the UK resumed this leadership? Has- and is it not time – that our politicians held/have talks with the likes of Wilders, Le Pen and the other aforementioned nations with a view to accumulating a group of countries willing to speak with one voice; in effect saying to the EU: we don’t need you – we’re leaving.

In the first paragraph I mentioned two voices querying why we (the UK) need the European Union. One is Richard North (FlexCit: pp 200-210) and the other was Owen Paterson with a speech (google: owen paterson heritage foundation washington speech [should be top hit] – opens in pdf) given to the Heritage Foundation in Washington a few years ago – as I wrote, he appears to have changed his tune somewhat; or suffered a loss of memory?

Helle Haganau first came to the attention of most people when she appeared on a Newsnight programme and ‘stunned’ those of us interested in ‘matters EU’ by announcing that Norway is not ‘governed by fax’ (contrary to what we were led to believe at the time) and had a veto over EU directives and had exercised such where the Third Postal Directive was concerned.

While I have been an advocate of EFTA/EEA membership, as proposed by Richard North in FlexCit, in the interim period we may spend there it may not be the ‘bed of roses’ it appears. HelleHagenau has posted an article here – (click on ‘The EEA – A warning from Norway’ (opens in pdf – do read) which suggests that the EU has been ‘tightening its grip on the EEA’ in its usual ‘salami slicing’ – this would suggest that were we to follow the EFTA/EEA route there is much to beware.

This leads one to query whether there is something to be gained by investigating that which is suggested in paragraph six of this article? Were the UK and France to ‘leave’ (bearing in mind they are both nuclear powers  and have an ‘armed might’ worthy of consideration), notwithstanding the loss of possibly four more member states; might that not put the boot on the other foot where UK negotiations were concerned?

Food for thought……………?

 

 

 

 

 

A European Army?

We learn today that Federica Mogherini has, this weekend, sent an advance copy of the EU Global Strategy on foreign and security policy to the Member States. She will formally present the strategy to the Heads of State/Government during this week’s summit in Brussels. She was mandated to to prepare the new strategy by the European Council in June 2015.

It is noted that the press release states that an advance copy has been sent to Member States, which presumably includes the United Kingdom – we are after all still a full member of the European Union; and so remain until the conclusion of the Article 50 process.

Donald Tusk’s ‘invitation letter‘ to members of the European Council does not list the presentation of Mogherini’s draft strategy. Presumably this will be done on the first day as the United Kingdom is still a full member of the European Union, especially as Tusk’s agenda states that the second day will be taken up with a discussion by the remaining 27 Member States concentrating on the effect of Brexit and how to take forward a depleted union of 27.

Bearing in mind Mogherini states that the strategy reflects the collective views of Member States, that raises two immediate questions:

  • what was the input by the United Kingdom, with what did we disagree and with what did we agree;
  • had we not voted ‘Leave’, in what would we, potentially, now find ourselves embroiled.

As past form shows us that this snippet of news is highly unlikely to feature in our media, I thought it may be of interest to my readers.

 

Confused (dot eu)?

From this site we learn:

  • Accessing markets outside the EU is crucial for jobs and growth within the EU;
  • The EU works to keep markets open and to keep trade flowing;
  • An open and fair international trading system is one of the foundations of Europe’s competitiveness;
  • The EU stands to gain from the further opening of markets worldwide;
  • When tariff or non-tariff barriers block the flow of primary goods into Europe or the access of European companies to markets outside Europe, Europe’s competitiveness suffers;
  • The EU aims to reduce the barriers to the flow of goods and services in the EU’s export markets. The market access strategy designed to target and remove individual barriers in key export markets. This involves negotiating the removal of tariff barriers and non-tariff barriers;
  • The EU regularly monitors and reports on Protectionism around the world in the context of the anti-crisis G20 commitment not to resort to trade restrictions.

So the EU, following Brexit, would ‘make life difficult for the UK‘ – even if the UK wished to rejoin EFTA and maintain membership of the EEA? Really??

Methinks Cameron, Vote Leave and Remain are not the only ones ‘talking with forked tongue’.

 

When David Cameron said ‘he ruled nothing out’….

….did we realise what it meant?

I wonder how many of the electorate saw Hardtalk, aired on 24th February 2016, which was quite an ‘insightful’  interview of Martin Schulz conducted by Sarah Montague.

Perhaps the most telling comment from Martin Schulz comes (@11:29) when Schulz states:  For the first time a Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is fighting for Europe and the European Union; this is progress in itself.

For one who has stated that he believes in the United Kingdom, it then begs the question why is he fighting for the European Union?

On Cameron’s ‘reforms’ Schulz earlier states, in answer to a question from Sarah Montague about whether the changes to migrant’s benefits will stop migrants coming to o the UK, Schulz said (04:57) : I don’t believe so, the whole exercise was to protect the United Kingdom for the time being….. (my emphasis).

On the subject of ‘contagion’ (whether other Member States, seeing what the UK has got, might want the same), Schuilz states that it was a ‘UK deal’ and it does not mean others may follow.

I believe Schulz is an authortive voice in the European Union and as such carries ‘weight’, so it follows that which he said was probably agreed in advance with his ‘contempories’.

As with all politicians, nothing they say can be taken at ‘face value’ and the sooner they begin talking to us in plain English, the better!

Politicians don’t indulge in ‘spin’, ‘double talk’ and ‘propaganda’? Tsk; ours do; and I don’t believe Schulz does!

 

 

Martin ‘Schulz’ himself in the foot?

Together, possibly, with the arguments of the ‘Remain’ campaign who continually maintain that if the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union it would become ‘impotent’ on the world stage?

Speaking to the European Council ahead of its meeting today Schulz said, amongst other things: With its foreign policy experience and clout, its open market policies and its trade and counter-terrorism track record, your country, Prime Minister Cameron, brings a lot to the table. Leaving to one side the point that the ‘table’ about which he speaks is not the ‘top table’, one has to question his reasoning.

If the United Kingdom has foreign policy experience and clout, open market policies and a trade and counter-terrorism record, then why should that not remain were the UK to be an independent sovereign nation? If ‘little’ Norway (no disrespect to that country) can exert the influence it does in world organisations such as UNECE, Codex Alimentarius, WTO, ILO, IMO, UNEP and a whole host of bodies few have even heard of, where the EU takes our seat and then negotiates on our behalf, just how much influence would ‘great’ Britain have on its own?

Methinks that Schulz knows this and is thus scared that ‘le projet’ may just be undermined by an independent United Kingdom acting in its own right on the world stage.

Schulz also said: One day all of us around this table will have to answer to how we as the EU dealt with the biggest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War. No, Mr. Schulz, one day all of you around this table – and the politicians of member states who have acquiesced to your dream – will have to answer to how you ‘enslaved’ the people of Europe. No doubt – and fortunately for those involved – they (the enslavers) will be dead and thus beyond the retribution of those who have suffered said dream.

Schulz and his ilk would have us believe that World War I and II were but European Civil Wars. If Schulz and his ilk continue with their dream, one day – and heaven willing it will be in their lifetime – they may find that the European Civil War III begins.

Then, heaven help them because they should remember the fate of Mussolini.

Passing Thoughts

I note that Manchester has been chosen by the Electoral Commission to host the results of the forthcoming referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union. While it is well known that there is rivalry twixt the United and City factions in Manchester there is also an element of that  twixt Manchester and Liverpool. The latter is probably more than glad they did not ‘kop it’, this time.

It is also noted that Chatham House, under their ‘Europe Programme’, have issued a paper entitled: Britain, the European Union and the Referendum: What Drives Euroscepticism? – the paper being authored by Matthew Goodwin and Caitlin Milazzo. Here we have two ‘professors’ who would have us believe they know all about eurosceticism, but who really know squat-diddley. From the Summary it appears they maintain that: Our analysis of around 30,000 Britons reveals that, broadly, those who would vote to leave the EU tend to have left school before their 17th birthday, to have few or no advanced academic qualifications, to be over 55 years old, and to work in less secure, lower-income jobs. In contrast, those who want Britain to remain a member of the EU tend to be younger, to be more highly educated, and to have more financially secure and professional jobs; and that: These two groups think fundamentally differently about the EU and about the issues that feed into the debate on Europe. Those who are currently planning to vote to leave the EU are motivated mainly by their dissatisfaction with how, in their view, democracy is working at the EU level, and also by their strong concerns over immigration and its perceived effects on Britain’s economy, culture and welfare state. When one considers the manner in which education presently brainwashes children (and has done for yonks), is it any wonder that this divide in voting intentions exists – and I leave to one side the ‘slight’ on we of advanced years who did have what may be termed a good ‘all-round’ education imparted by those free of political ideology.

No doubt Jeremy Hunt and our current apology for a government will soon be crowing about the plans for a new ‘super hospital’ in BIrmingham, the construction of which is due to start in 2016 and costing £350million. What they will probably not inform us is that £108million is coming from the European Union. So the European Union get to further embed their claws into our country; and also the opportunity of yet another blue plaque placed to honour their ‘grandeur’.

Eamonn Butler, he of the Adam Smith Institute, has an articleAn unelected check is better than no check on the House of Commons; in which he mantains that a ‘toothless’ House of Lords is necessary for democracy. Eamonn Butler points out that the Parliament Act exists, which means any view of the HoL can be ‘overridden’ by the HoC – in which case one might ask why does the Hol exist? It is worth considering that whether we elect – or don’t – ‘legislators’, we have no say over their election or appointments. As he doesn’t appear to understand that it is the people of this country who are sovereign, then bring on the pitchforks!

Another article which caught my eye is one by Bronwen Maddox (another graduate of PPE) who would have us believe she is yet another ‘expert’ on ‘matters EU’, who links to 12 reasons we need to know about Brexit. So yet another ‘education brainwashed’ person wishes to pass on all that she has ‘learned’ to the unenlightened.

Not that the United Nations is above a little brainwashing: witness their attempt to link transport, health and climate change. When this idea that windmills, the sea and the sun can provide sufficient energy to power trains, cars, generating stations, etc, goes ‘pear-shaped’, we will be left with another body of legislators that we cannot fire in retribution.

Considering all the above, it gives me great pleasure in being able to coin a phrase from the European Union: ‘User Pays’. If we, the user of democracy, have to pay for it (and for those who provide it) then it is about time we had the ability to decide not only which form of democracy we will accept, but also just for what and how much we will pay!

Just saying………………………

 

 

 

Bit of a ‘rogues gallery’?

Tusks, including those of elephants, are used to produce ivory and are highly valued – if only the same could be said about the tusk of the ‘elephant in the room’.

Donald Tusk has published his response to the letter sent to him by David Cameron in which the latter set out the areas in which he wanted reform. Tusk’s letter has been disected by Richard North in this article, which handily saves me the job of so doing.

One of the areas in which Cameron wants reform is that of sovereignty, included in which is the annulment of ‘ever closer union’ coupled with an enhanced role for national parliaments which allows them to ‘club together’ in order to stop unwanted measures. It is ironic that Cameron (and other politicians), who prattle on about the ‘sovereignty of parliament’, understand not the meaning of the word ‘sovereignty’. Whilst the UK is part of the political aspect of the European Union it can never be in the position of having the full right and power of a governing body to govern itself without any interference from outside sources or bodies. Likewise while the UK parliament is based on representative democracy (as is the EU) the people of the UK will always be subservient to their politicians.

On the subject of democracy, Chris Bryant (Labour: Rhondda) has an article in the New Statesman headlined: Sorry, the role of an MP is to be a representative, not a delegate; and in which he quotes Edmund Burke. Bryant laments what he terms the onset of ‘on-line democracy’ within social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, in which every vote in the House of Commons be subjected to a form of instant online constituency referendum. If Bryant can lament, then so can I because it is idiotic for anyone to argue the case for something, only to condemn himself by, in his words, failing to (and I quote) see an issue against the wider context. Witness Bryant writing: …..I still think parliamentary democracy is worth fighting for because it is the best way of managing our affairs as a nation so that that which touches all is agreed by all. Since when, under representative democracy, has any issue which has touched all been agreed by all?

Bryant, in his article, quotes Burke in defence of his argument;  so perhaps I may quote AV Dicey to Bryant. Quoting from this article (from my WfW days – and for those who haven’t read it, please do):

Yet A.V. Dicey held that there was an inherent weakness in the British system of representative democracy and its government. In a letter to James Bryce on 23rd March 1891 (source: Bryce Papers, Bodleian Library MS 3 fo.83.) he writes:

“the possibility….which no-one can dispute of a fundamental change passing into law which the mass of the nation do not desire.”

In effect what Dicey was alluding to was the fact that the foundation of representational democracy was, to use the vernacular, shot to hell; and by inference that it was not Parliament, but the people, who were sovereign.

That attempts by those of us who wish to change our democracy to one of direct democracy face a fight with our political elite, one which we readily recognize, is again illustrated by A.V. Dicey. In 1915, in the Introduction to Law of the Constitution, 8th ed  (London: Macmillan 1915 p.c.), he wrote:

“It is certain that no man who is really satisfied with the working of our party system will ever look with favour on an institution which aims at correcting the vices of party government.”

These three men, along with innumerable others, all believe in the continuance of the subugation of those who elect them. In respect of the UK’s prime ministers, it is worth recalling not one of those pictured in the photographs adorning the staircase wall in Number 10 truly believed in the sovereignty of the people. Bit of a ‘rogues gallery’?

There is an alternative; and one day the people of the United Kingdom will awake and realise just what is being done to them and in their name. When that day does come a word of warning to any politician who believes in representative democracy: don’t be one of them.

 

 

Some questions

It is always a source of amusement when reading the outpourings of political commentators on the subject of democracy. One only has to consider this from Gabby Hinsliff (and where she is concerned, ‘Gabby’ is so appropriate); or this from Yasmin Alibhai-Brown; or this from Philip Booth.

The first two articles centre on l’affaire Mark Clarke and intimate that young potential politicians, to quote Hinsliff: …..weren’t knifing each other over ways to change the world, but over getting seats, or jobs with MPs, or proximity to power of any kind. Hey, never mind the ‘young’ tag; isn’t that what politicians of all ages do? Alibhai-Brown reckons: degradation of politics by any party disables our democracy, and no party is immune to the effects. Hey, in order to disable democracy, first it is necessary to have democracy. That of Booth’s centres on the fact that: we have representation without taxation and an intrinsic big government bias in the electoral system, while suggesting that: a proper federal structure must be created for the UK.

What we have with all these articles is an extension of the accusatation contained in my preceding article; namely that we are blessed with brain-dead political commentators or ‘hacks’ who know not the meaning of research; who, to quote from a comment from the preceding article: would think that an aspirational writer, looking for another angle to be a little bit original, would seize upon something that is not being discussed by other reporters or columnists.

The answer to all the ‘complaints’ in the linked articles already exists, namely: The Harrogate Agenda.

However this blog – and many of its readers – are slightly puzzled. It has been written:  ……The Harrogate Agenda cannot stand aloof from the anti-EU movement, and wait until it has achieved it aim, in order that we should be able to progress ours; likewise it has been written: ……there is little point in recovering powers from the EU, only to hand them back to the same institutions that gave them away in the first place (FlexCit –  page 375). Neither can it be, as the Director of THA informed me in an email, that once the Referendum Planning Group (RPG) launches, hopefully THA will receive more coverage (my emphasis).

We all know that the European Union is not ‘democracy’ by any manner of means, but then neither is the system of democracy currently prevalent; so: why is THA stage six of FlexCit; why, if there is little point in recovering powers from the EU only to hand them back to the same institutions that gave them away in the first place; and why is it only hoped that once RPG launches, THA will receive more coverage, when it has already been stated The Harrogate Agenda cannot stand aloof from the anti-EU campaign – which it currently does.

The questions in the preceding paragraph have been raised previously on this blog and still no answer (logical or otherwise) has been forthcoming. Bearing in mind the greatest reason given for over a third of the electorate not participating in local or general elections is that for whoever they vote, nothing changes; is not THA the answer to their complaint? It has also been maintained on this blog that reaching that section of the electorate will be crucial to winning the referendum, because if shown that within the EU (and within representative democracy) they can never have a voice, then once that understanding is embedded, the result surely cannot be in doubt.

So I repeat: why is THA stage six of FlexCit?

Readers should know by now that I am behind FlexCit but with one doubt about the ‘stage order’. Let me say at the outset that by raising that doubt does not mean I am being argumentative, working against Brexit or undermining FlexCit or RPG; but is:

Just asking why THA is not being run alongside, but separate to, FlexCit and with equal prominence?

 

 

 

 

 

Just another ‘brain-dead’ political commentator – or ‘hack’

Yes, you, Philip Stephens Chief Political Commentator of the Financial Times.

An article, albeit a few days old, about Brexit from this font of wisdom begins: What do you mean by “out”? and continues: Would Britain stay in the single market or cut loose entirely? The question goes unanswered. The Vote Leave campaign has turned this silence into an article of faith. A sceptic, in the true senseof the word, might think they had something to hide. As it happens, the government too has not properly considered what would happen if a disgruntled electorate backed Brexit. It then states: A post-EU deal along the lines of that secured by the Norwegians, Icelanders or Swiss would leave the primacy of EU law intact while robbing Britain of any voice. At the other end of the spectrum, complete disentanglement would deprive Britain of preferential trade access to scores of third countries and remove all protection for the City of London.

We all know that Vote Leave (and Leave EU) haven’t the slightest idea about that on which they campaign; and that the Government hasn’t thought about losing the referendum, being as it will no doubt be ‘rigged’ in some way to achieve a ‘remain’ result. The article then repeats the old canard about Norway, for example, having no voice within the EU.

 I have no intention of repeating the rebuttal of his assertions about Norway – they have been covered by me and a host of others – and as for Vote Leave and Leave EU, they are doing more harm than good to the exit cause; that last point again having been covered by those same others.

There is an ‘exit plan‘ which does in fact answer the question Stephens poses – perhaps the Government and Philip Stephens should go read it; the latter especially, before writing the ‘verbal excrement’ that he has.

It is apprciated that your average political ‘hack’ will write an article repeating the words that have been spouted by a politician and do so without query – but a political commentator? Surely one of those would put in the research to ensure that his/her article was factual and thus correct; and as a result, demanding respect for his/her efforts.*

*Afterthought: but then we can all dream, can’t we……….

 

 

Dear Donald, Jean-Claude, Martin & 28 Others

Well, here’s my letter setting out my demands for a reformed European Union – says David Cameron – and you will notice that, in common with ‘everything EU’ where reform is suggested, it is set out in very ‘broad terms’,; ie, nothing too specific; well one might be but as you can see I am open to diluting that if necessary. You will also note there is no mention of fishing, agriculture/farming, working time directives, energy or taxation in all its forms – to name but a few where repatriation of powers is concerned, which would then enable me to waffle on further about sovereignty – not bad, eh; coupled with the fact that I hope you will agree I have not ‘rocked the boat’ too much.

That sums up the contents of Cameron’s letter to Tusk and his speech today at Chatham House. As a result, one can but echo Bernard Jenkins’ question to David Lidington, following the latter’s statement in Parliament today: After all the statements made by the Prime Minister, the Minister for Europe, the Foreign Secretary, and the former Foreign Secretary about being in Europe and not being run by Europe, and after all the pledges to restore the primacy of national Parliaments and to get an opt-out from the charter of fundamental rights to restore our borders, is that it? Is that the sum total of the Government’s position in this renegotiation? Normally I do not have much time for Bernard Jenkins but on this occasion he is ‘spot on’ with his question.

In conclusion Cameron really should have mentioned farming and in particular sheep – after all he’s going to need a lot of them to produce the amount of wool he’s trying to pull over our eyes!