web analytics

Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

MP expenses, political corruption and the European elections

Corruption starts here by Flickr user IntangibleArts (CC)(Alternate post title: Westminster MPs: Not as corrupt as UKIP MEPs…)

The last few days of revelations about Westminster MPs’ taking advantage of lax expenses rules – many of the allegations decidedly sexed-up, a number of them mistaken, but nonetheless indicative of a long-running problem with the way politics is conducted in the UK and elsewhere – have unsurprisingly been hitting the opinion polls hard.

As such, old predictions of UK voting intentions at the European Parliamentary elections, now just three weeks away, should now be entirely discounted. The latest polls shows both Tories and Labour taking a -4% hit (and that was conducted a few days ago – since when a whole bunch of new stories have appeared about alleged Conservative abuses).

The only likely impact of this constant stream of stories about Westminster MPs seemingly being on the make – especially coming as it does so soon before an election – is a major boost for the smaller parties, both through reduced turnout with a public now even more disillusioned with politics than they were before, and through misguided protest votes. Hell, even old Tory grandee (and bogeyman of the British left) Norman Tebbit has explicitly warned right-wingers not to vote for his party at the European elections to register their disgust.

This is, of course, entirely missing the point that if you want to punish the actual transgressors in this expenses scandal then to vote out MEPs is rather like spanking your niece because your nephew stole your wallet. “Ha! I’m punishing someone who’s got nothing to do with the wrong that’s been committed! THAT’ll learn them!”

Most likely beneficiaries of all this? Well, disgruntled Labour voters are likely to shunt either to the BNP or to the Greens, while disgruntled Tories are more likely to head to the other major centre-right eurosceptic party – often a leech on Tory votes in European polls in any case – UKIP. A party its hard not to see the strongly anti-EU Tebbit having a great deal of sympathy for in any case, and which was – until this little furore – likely to lose a good number of MEPs at the upcoming elections thanks to a combination of David Cameron (largely at the behest of Shadow Foreign Secretary and ex-Tory leader William Hague) taking the Tories in a more eurosceptic direction again and the loss of the Kilroy-Silk factor, which so boosted their media coverage and vote in the 2004 elections.

Ashley Mote and Tom WiseBut, lest we forget, UKIP is a party with only one competent elected politician – its articulately populist, platitude-spouting leader Nigel Farrage. It also has a tendency to pick candidates, like MEPs Ashley “convicted benefit fraudster” Mote and Tom “charged with money laundering and false accounting” Wise, who put even the worst Westminster politicians to shame. (And that’s not to mention the on-going infighting that has plagued the party since its inception, including ongoing allegations of seemingly institutional corruption.)

Yep, UKIP’s pound symbol logo does seem rather appropriate…

Then again, to be fair, a vote for the Tories in the European elections is a wasted one anyway. Having pulled out of the EPP, the largest centre-right group in the European Parliament, in order to have any influence at all in Brussels and Strasbourg they need to join another political group (as without EP group membership, securing the all-important committee places where all the real work goes on, Tory MEPs will be effectively powerless). The only other viable existing centre-right EP group? Independence/Democracy – leader? One Nigel Farrage… Which means the Tories won’t be able to join it, which means they’re stuck on the fringes with other outcasts like the former members of the right-wing Identity, Tradition, Sovereignty Group – such charmers as Jean-Marie Le Pen, Alessandra Mussolini and assorted other fascists.

The simple solution? Check out Votematch.co.uk to get an idea of which parties have policies you might like (as these are often rather different at European level), then check your local candidates for the European Parliament, visit the invaluable Votewatch.eu to check the performance of your local sitting MEPs, and cast your vote based on the character, policies and dedication the of candidates the parties are putting up.

No, you can’t vote for an individual candidate in the European elections (an horrific flaw in the system that needs rapid alteration), but you can make a moderately informed choice about the likely value those on offer are going to provide to their constituents. Have a poor attendance record, like UKIP MEPs Godfrey Bloom, Trevor Coleman and John Whittaker, the Lib Dems’ Baroness Nicholson, the Tories’ Jonathan Evans and Caroline Jackson or Labour’s Eluned Morgan? Think hard about whether they’re worth your vote.

Me? As ever, I’m not endorsing any party. In fact I’m still sorely tempted not to vote at all, thanks purely to the British electoral system for EP elections preventing me from endorsing an individual candidate whose jib I like the cut of. But that way, thanks again to the awfulness of the party list proportional representation system that the UK uses for these things, lies more seats for the likes of UKIP and even (possibly) the BNP. With the Tories out of the EPP, to vote for some sensible MEPs to represent the UK is essential lest the country become a laughing stock. The question now is how to play the system. And for that, the greater the turnout, the less the chance of the smaller, more extremist parties getting representation. I may not like the bigger parties either, but at least they’re (usually) not as mad.

In short: No matter what your political outlook, your vote is important. But your vote is for the next five years, not the last five days. Don’t let short-term disgust with an unpleasant scandal affect which box you tick when that vote is for members of an institution who have nothing to do with the scandal in question. Base your vote instead on the performance of those politicians and what you want to see happen at that institution – because the European Parliament, no matter how much national politicians like to use it as proof of their domestic support, is a very different beast to that in Westminster. Want to punish corrupt Westminster MPs? There’s a general election less than a year away. You’ll have your chance then. That’s the way democracy works.

/stating what should be the obvious…

29 Comments

  1. “Stating what should be the obvious” but stating what needs to be stated!

    We have to prevent European elections becoming more and more punishment elections against governing or dominating national parties, because this will not make European democracy better but worse. Because the national dissatisfaction of today brings eurosceptics into the EP that will manage to cause the European dissatisfaction of tomorrow (not alone, just to make this point clear).

    Good article!

  2. Thoughtful post, good analysis.

  3. Let`s see if we`ve got this right. The present furore over Westminster MPs expenses is nothing because some MEPs in UKIP have been bad. They wre thrown out of the party but not one MP in Westminster is suffering any punishment of any kind.So we must carry on with the three party system .The expenses scandal doesn`t show you that this is an indication of just how out of touch they`ve become ?
    Norman Tebbit said dont vote for any of the three main parties but you`ve interpreted that as him saying dont vote for the Consevatives and perhaps, nudge nudge wink wink, vote UKIP.
    And only sensible politicians are in the three main parties, and if we dont vote for them we might be laughed at. Cant have that can we ? Why would that matter ?Is Jonnie foreigner going to think we`re even more stupid and up the contributions we chuck into this project ?
    I see populism got a mention there, linked to Farage. I can never understand why populism is so denigrated in a democracy, but then some intellectuals really dont think the masses should have democracy at all.That`s not how democracy should work.
    Of course you could deflate the protest vote by having a referendum on the Lisbon treaty .But then that really is democracy at work.

  4. That’s an impressive amount of extrapolation there, Robin.

    I’m pretty certain that all I’ve really said (having been circumspect about the current allegations about various MPs because a) what the Telegraph has been publishing over the last few days has been contested by most of the people the allegations have been about, and b) I haven’t seen the raw data myself and so am in no real place to pass judgement) is that votes for the the European Parliament should – ideally – be based on issues to do with the European Parliament.

    I’m not sure where you get the idea that I reckon people who don’t vote Tory, Labour or Lib Dem might be laughed at either. I was actually suggesting that perhaps, considering the EU is an important factor in the running of this country, that it might be an idea to take elections to its one representative body seriously. Because although the big three (and yes – I blame the Tories, Labour and Lib Dems for this more than the smaller parites) don’t seem to take the EU seriously, that doesn’t mean that it’s not something that should be taken seriously.

    On the populism front, please read this. I don’t mean to be patronising, but you’ve called me on this before, suggesting that it is somehow elitist (sorry, “intellectual”) to oppose populism, and I again get the impression that you think that “populist” is synonymous with “popular”. It isn’t.

    “Populist” is, however, perhaps the wrong word to use in this context as it has no real set definition. To clarify, when I use “populist” or “populism”, I generally use it as if it were more or less synonymous with demagoguery – although that’s a term that tends to apply to an individual political figure, and so is somewhat limited in scope.

    So, to state explicitly, I believe Nigel Farage to be a wannabe Demagogue. I also believe this of David Cameron, (increasingly) Gordon Brown, and most high-profile politicians in this country (and others). The difference with Farage is that his party has no real policies beyond the populist rhetoric. The policy platform of UKIP is *entirely* populist. If it weren’t, I’d have some respect for them. I have voted for them in the past, after all.

  5. I like this post.

    I’m using some analysis to decide my vote—I need to see some polling data, because I reckon the numbers will change a fair bit, but last time in Yorkshire (where I now live) the Lib Dems were half way through the bracket, thus won’t get a 2nd MEP nor will they lose one, thus my support is unlikely to be needed.

    In addition, 2nd on their list is the husband of the sitting MEP. Not really an issue, but, well, meh.

    So I might vote Green, although I dislike their membership stance that’s not an issue for the Parliament anyway, and they’re OK on some other issues—given the BNP are picking up steam, I’d rather have a Green than a fascist.

    FWIW, those living in London should really consider voting Lib Dem, they’re really close to the boundary, and 2nd on the list is Jonathan Fryer, who I met several times while living in London and at a few conferences, both a really decent bloke (bought me a drink) and also sound on the issues and a solid campaigner.

    Was really pleased that the new(ish) campaigns co-ordinator for the Lib Dems has chosen to run on an explicitly pro-EU platform in this campaign, there’ll be domestic stuff because you can’t avoid it, but it’s nice to see them actually coming out and saying they believe in membership and it’s good, can we reform it to make it better please.

  6. Yes I want to punish Westminster politicians, I want so badly to punish them it hurts. Not that the perks scandal annoys me one bit, I would suggest that 75% of the population in the same care free circumstances would be at it too. I want to hurt them for their lack of concideration for the general public in Britain. From the mismanagement of the economy to ID cards and all the other issues that when viewed from their ivory towers seem to become distant irrelevances, second to their petty social manipulations.
    To this end I believe that the EP elections come at the most fortunate time. That is, within the electorates short memory span before the general election, and within the time frame that a stern message to Pinky and Perky in Westminster will still remember and not be able to sidelined with bluff and bluster.
    1. To vote for a candidate is legitimising the EP, an entity no one legitimised by actually voting for, but was foisted on us by various governments over time. Until this matter is address the EP is a fraudulent entity, and to vote to put a wanna be millionaire there to represent you, is co operating with a fraud.
    2. Tebbit is partly right, Pinky and Perky at Westminster need a good slap, but calling on people to vote for parties other than he main three is just perpetuating the fraud, and although it may piss of the main three still legitimises the entity.
    3. Abstention, well they would love that wouldn’t they. Voter apathy, an excuse to pour more money into advertising their EU the next time round as people don’t understand how important the leeching of their national democracy is. Anyway, should no ordinary voter vote, the people with the larges families/secretarial assistants would get in or they would just appoint someone. Yes a slap but not a protest as such, and all covered by good excuses.
    4. Spoil your vote. Now in a voting system that uses the 1 2 3 PR system there will be mistakes made and counted as spoiled votes, heck it even happens in the first past the post voting. But a properly spoiled vote wherby a message scrawled acoss the ballot paper that can’t be counted as wee granny Jones not understanding, is the way to send your message of disgust to Pinky and Perky. Firstly you actually turned up and bothered to enter the booth with a voting slip, two you clearly noted your opinion that Pinky and Perky were no longer to be trusted with either the running of the country or the nodding of heads in the EP. Three, yes it will be put down as many things, but never the truth. BUT they, Pinky and Perky WILL know, and perhaps a nosey reporter wandering about may get to know too. Why is the spoiled vote so high? Answer that Gordy the grunter?

    I do know what may be asked if this is allowed to stay. Does not spoiling your vote not fall into the category of legitimising the entity, and a good question it is too. But as stated, abstention is desired over dissention. Yes I may well be legitimising them but for the peaceful aim of reclaiming my British Parliamentary sovereignty, and to scare some sense back into them. The only other way is to wait until the next G20 and break some windows.

  7. These are excellent posts, highlighting a number of new initiatives on the web vis-a-vis the European elections. One website which failed to get a mention is Micandidate.eu.

    Has anybody visited this website? There’s probably room for improvement, what are your opinions, if any?

  8. I’ve been following this issue with interest. I dont believe MP’s will have to pay back what was claimed as expenses. Arguably the vast majority of what they claimed was legitimate at the time. We have no legal capacity to hold people accountable to a new law over actions committed in the past before said law came into existence. So what we need now is a new openess about claims and spending. http://www.micandidate.co.uk actually has a designated section for intended expenses. Candidates running for the Euro elections should be honest and fill it out!

  9. Nosemonkey, I find myself agreeing with you. I will just not vote.

    Spoiling papers is no answer as they are not recorded ( or so I was told – maybe someone could put me straight on this )
    No my mind is made up. Even though I shall be delivering leaflets for UKIP I myself will not vote.

    In fact, this is most probably the last time that I will ever take part in any political activity, such is my hatred for all the phoney politicians and lawyers that claim to represent me and my rights.

  10. Nosemonkey,

    Well I had to get my Nosemonkey For Dummies book out again and feel I may have extrapolated on your extrapolations.
    For a start your picture shows Tom Wise and a UKIP emblem, but TW has been thrown out of UKIP,and he hasn`t been found guilty yet.It`s about as relevant as showing the 70s MP John Stonehouse and saying Dont Vote Labour, or the 80s MP Keith Best and Dont Vote Tory.Comdemnation by association should only go so far.
    OK you haven`t said who to vote for, but you`ve said if we vote the wrong way, we`ll be laughed at.So which is the right way to vote so that we aren`t a laughing stock in the EU project ?
    “Votes for the E[U]ropean parliament should be – ideally – be based on issues to be based on issues to do with the E[U]ropean Parliament ”
    Well the only pan EU party ther is is Libertas, and UKIP is definately about EU issues. The Tories want our votes to show disaproval of the national party of Labour, the LibDims are just two faced on every issue, and is it right to castigate the BNP on its policies within the UK if you say national parties should only be judges on their EU credentials ?I think the usual problem is here; what does the EU parliament do and where does the EU cut in on natianal and local issues.?
    Im as confused as the next on your take on Populism. I just used to look in the dictionary about it and even your Wiki article seems in accord up to a point.Then you redefine it into demagography and say they`re all at it.Then you say Farage isn`t, or again redefining it. No matter though, what would be interesting is for you to tell us why you hated the EU project but now support it.Or are these “details” that are insane ?

  11. Robin,

    You are asking a lot of questions about the (dis)merits of the national parties in British politics.

    Sometimes it is good to step outside the box to gain perspective.

    What about taking a look at what the European Union should be about?

    For instance, go to the web pages of the European Council for Foreign Relations, and read a number of articles on the challenges facing Europe in the world.

    If you understand the big picture, the details will follow more easily.

  12. Ralph Garn,

    I took a quick look at that website and what did I see ?

    Something that seems along the lines of the CFR, which works under Chatham House rules.(Bilderburgers are meeting this week).

    Emma Bonnino is a leading lunminary of it. That woman.

    We`ve also had the “big picture” phrase before as an excuse for the EU`s shortcomings, but I`m willing to give it a chance;
    You explain to me why the “detail” of the destruction of my trade is neccessary for the big picture and I`ll willingly, enthusiastiacally, go out and canvas for the most pro EU politician fielding in this EU election.

    And because you put my mind at rest, I`ll treat you to the best lunch at the Ritz or in Brussels.

  13. Robin,

    Perhaps a new start in more areas than one could be a chance?

  14. “A new start ” ?- for who ? The EU project ?

  15. No, Robin, although the EU would need a new start towards effectiveness and democracy, I was thinking about you.

  16. Well I`ve had a new start thinking about this EU/EC/EEC/Common Market over the years several times. One doesn`t like to think one is duped and paying for a project that only impoverishes him.I ask pro EUrophiles for good reasons to be in it, but only get Glittering Generalities as a reply.

    Let`s have a new start together. Is my pain worth the gain ? Is it all fair in the long run ?
    From each of the 26 other member states, you tell me at least one trade, industry or job that is destroyed for no good reason by their powers that be and the biggest excuse given is because of belonging to the EU.
    We`ll start from there, sort out some other “details” that that dont show the EU in a good light and maybe EUrosceptic me will learn to love the project.

  17. Hi, Robin,

    Don’t you think that the absence of the EU would also have destroyed industries? Europe would be a divided market.

    We complain about the EU now, because that’s the system we currently have. But if we didn’t have the EU, we would just be swapping our current set of problems for a new bunch.

    The difference between you and me is not that I think things are great now and you think they are terrible. The difference is that I think the problems we have now are better than the problems we would have without the EU. I think leaving the EU would cost us British jobs.

    I don’t think the EU is perfect. I might describe myself as Eurocritical. But I do believe we need some sort of European system of economic and political co-ordination – and the EU is the closest thing we’ve got at the moment.

  18. P.S. You said you wanted concrete examples and not just generalities. My central arguments are these:

    1) How would you enforce the single market without the ECJ?

    2) It is naive to think that isolating the UK from its current trade bloc (the EU) would give it any sort of advantage during trade negotiations with the US or BRIC countries regarding de jure/de facto tariffs.

    3) The UK would have democracy-by-fax if it relied on bilateral treaties with the EU or on membership of the EEA.

    4) The EU is the largest single market on Earth, and one of the most politically stable. In comparison, Commonwealth markets are fractured legally and geographically, and much more politically unstable.

  19. Hi Joe,

    Firstly remember I am advocating Britain coming out of the EU because we are unsuited to it, I`m not sure about abolishing it if that`s what the citizens of other countries want (although I think it will implode).

    So on that basis I will put foreward my replies to you.

    Britains absence from the EU would not have destroyed jobs and industries unless the civil service carried on their sabotage to get us in.
    We survived and prospered before hooking up to the project. The rate of growth in the Common Market may have been faster at the time, but they were in different circumstances to ours.

    If we were out we would be swapping our current bunch of problems for some new ones that at least we would be responsible for and had the sovereignty to sort out.

    Joe, please tell us how leaving the EU will cost us jobs.What jobs and why ?

    I dont think Britian needs to be in this project. It may be neccessary for others, but we are unsuited to it.

    Your PS;

    1}We wouldn`t be in the single market to need enforcing it.

    2}Sorry but that`s like saying you have more influence over your bank manager if you took along your neighbour.And then ley your neighbour do the barganing. EU representatives do not put us first as their main concern, in fact I bet we get sacrificed for others.

    3}I cant understand why you say that. Why would that be so ?
    Parliament would become the supreme lawmaker in the UK again and we would be electing our supreme lawmakers again. How does having Brussels governing us make us more democratic ?

    4}The EU may be the larges single (?) market and politically reasonably stable (why do you think it is more so than America, Australia or New Zealand ? )Commonwealth countries are more fractured but they are not setting up a new project mainly by stealth.They dont want to be like the EU.

  20. Hi all.

    I read EUtopia as often as I can. Though I rarely comment I’m in a bit of a bind as to who to vote for.

    I live in the North West England constituency.

    I would probably consider myself a classical liberal, against a United States of Europe but in favour of friendship and free trade within the EU. I want the good bits of the EU without all the ready-made law making. I’m not sure I want to leave entirely. I might be the kind to vote Conservative if they were more Eurosceptic, civil libertarian, more patriotic and less, well, statist. I would probably have voted for David Davis. I want a referendum on the EU and the Lisbon Treaty. I want both the pro- and anti- sides to put their cases honestly, truthfully, and faithfully.

    I will not ever vote Labour. Ever. There is no way that that will happen.

    I don’t much like the Tories at the moment and have very little faith in them. As I am anti-EU I don’t suppose I would be wanting to support a European party composed of pro-EU MEPs. I would vote for Dan Hannan but he’s not in my constituency and anyway he’ll make it in.

    The Liberal Democrats are far too pro-EU for me. They are too much into positive liberty for my liking. I worry about their true attitude to civil liberties, free speech and freedom from government.

    I like the leader of UKIP, Nigel Farage. He comes across well probably because I like the cut of his jib and demagoguery and screaming-the-house-down politics all appeal to me. I like his libertarian conservative politics. The rest of his party, with one or two exceptions, show themselves up. They are a mixture of men from a bygone age, guys on the make and unhinged EU obsessives.

    Nick Griffin will probably get himself a seat as he’s standing here. Can’t stand their party or the racist collectivism they stand for. Utterly repulsive.

    NO2EU are a motley crew of socialists, Jury Team are a bunch of random independents selected from a list and Libertas is a joke.

    I understand that the platform that I would support – conservative-leaning libertarian Euroscepticism with a touch of nationalism – can’t really do anything for me inside the EP.

    So, who do I vote for? I leave it up to you.

  21. Hi, Robin,

    “Firstly remember I am advocating Britain coming out of the EU because we are unsuited to it, I`m not sure about abolishing it if that`s what the citizens of other countries want (although I think it will implode).”

    Point taken. Not everything I said will apply to your argument, but I think most of it still does.

    “Joe, please tell us how leaving the EU will cost us jobs.What jobs and why ?”

    Well, firstly I’m sure that trade would suffer. But not only trade, cross-border services would suffer as well. Any jobs connected to them would also suffer.

    But more than this – companies within England would be restricted in terms of the markets they could compete in (remember, they would not be barred from European markets – but the external tariff would make them uncompetitive), and they would be vulnerable to larger companies from overseas.

    The actual reasons I think this would be the case are in my P.S.

    “1}We wouldn`t be in the single market to need enforcing it.”

    You are quite right, this one doesn’t apply to your specific argument.

    “2}Sorry but that`s like saying you have more influence over your bank manager if you took along your neighbour.And then ley your neighbour do the barganing. EU representatives do not put us first as their main concern, in fact I bet we get sacrificed for others.”

    There’s no need to argue by analogy, because the argument is very clear on its own. If the UK left the EU, the old trade agreements concerning tariffs and other barriers to trade with the US, China, India, Russia, etc, would no longer apply (because they were negotiated with the EU, rather than with the UK). They would need to be renegotiated.

    When the EU negotiates with China as a bloc, two of the largest markets in the world are sat at the table. When the UK negotiates with China on its own… One side has all the cards.

    “3}I cant understand why you say that. Why would that be so ?
    Parliament would become the supreme lawmaker in the UK again and we would be electing our supreme lawmakers again. How does having Brussels governing us make us more democratic ?”

    Brussels would be governing us to an even greater extent if we relied on the EEA, or if we signed bilateral trade agreements with the EU. This is because we would have to sign up to EU law before they would trade with us. Democracy-by-fax is a phrase used in Switzerland, Norway and Iceland to describe the system they have. They sign up to the laws, but aren’t able to influence the law-making process.

    “4}The EU may be the larges single (?) market”

    It is indeed the largest market on Earth, not in terms of number of people (probably China) but in terms of trade.

    “and politically reasonably stable (why do you think it is more so than America, Australia or New Zealand ? )”

    America, Australia and New Zealand are the most stable of the commonwealth countries. The markets of Australia and New Zealand are too small to support us on their own if we left the EU.

    America, on the other hand, IS a large, politically stable market. But do you think we’d be able to compete with Canada for that market? Being geographically close DOES make a difference in terms of the prices and services you can offer your customers (either that, or having PPP so low you can pay your workers next to nothing – something China has, but not us).

    Even if we could compete, the same problems with trade negotiations exist. America can subsidise or protect its companies (which is what it does, for example, with those companies taking military contracts) so we can’t compete… and there wouldn’t be anything we could do.

  22. Hi Joe,

    Sorry to put an analogy in there, I`ll try to cut them out (but I find them hard to resist sometimes ).

    Taking your points in order if I can,

    About jobs – As my own trade shows, it is absolutely no good having an open market if the odds are stacked against you not just by the EU but also by what should be your own side.
    Please understand this :British hauliers and drivers were not pushed out of the international market because they were lazy, incompetent or greedy, but because of the way the market is rigged. Rigged. In this “Single Market”.
    Liberalising or globalising a market does not mean that more jobs are created. Sometimes this is to the contrary, as the unemployment in the former Warsaw Pact countries show.
    So companies in England may be restricted in the EU market, but so would the EU countries be restricted in England (has Scotland gone beyond devolution here ?) If they have tariffs, we could have tarrifs. That`s if they want to play like that.And being in the EU has not proved that our companies are not vulnerable to be taken over, as BAA and our energy companies prove.

    2]They would be renogotiated with our interests in mind, not the other 26.And the smaller markets are not at a disadvantage because they are small.It`s a matter of who is selling and who is buying.Just how has the EU helped the UK in trade with China ?

    3]In this you are mistaken. The “Democraccy by fax” is because the complex rules at great time and expense are adopted freely by those countries, saving the trouble and expense. They dont always enact what comees from Brussels if it contradicts their own interests.
    Secondly, we dont need to accept any laws from Brussels. There would be nothing they could do about it. Why should they want to ?We import more from them than they take from us, and would the guiding lights of the project risk even more unemployment and economic depression in a fit of pique ?

    4] There seems to be a theme of “large is best” in your posts. Not accepted in all situations is my take.(And would it be the largest without the UK, and what preperations are being made for whwen it collapses ?)
    We were more succesful when we traded globally than within the inward looking EU, and if what you say is true, the logic means trade locally, not with the EU.
    I dont know how long China can remain a low wage economy and another factor is government interference and taxation, which again, shovellling money into the EU and being rigged up out the market, shows we should leave.
    How has the EU helped in the problem of American subsidies to its military complex ?

  23. Robin,

    “Sorry to put an analogy in there, I`ll try to cut them out (but I find them hard to resist sometimes ).”

    Hehe, no problem. I use them all the time!

    “British hauliers and drivers were not pushed out of the international market because they were lazy, incompetent or greedy, but because of the way the market is rigged.”

    I definitely don’t think British hauliers and drivers are lazy, incompetent or greedy. I take it this is your industry? How bad are things? You say they’ve gotten worse since joining the EU?

    “Liberalising or globalising a market does not mean that more jobs are created. Sometimes this is to the contrary, as the unemployment in the former Warsaw Pact countries show.”

    I think the rise in unemployment in the former Warsaw Pact countries was more to do with the fact that before liberalisation they had full employment, guaranteed by the state. Standards of living have also gone up.

    “(has Scotland gone beyond devolution here ?)”

    Excuse me, I do mean the UK. I’ve accidently let slip the secret plans. ;-)

    “If they have tariffs, we could have tarrifs. That`s if they want to play like that.”

    This wouldn’t be in anybody’s best interests. Europe wants to trade with the UK, and we want to trade with Europe. But they don’t want to let the UK trade with them if we don’t sign up to EU legislature. This is because such legislature puts certain restrictions on industries (such as working hours, tax harmonisation, packaging standards, etc) that would give the UK a competitive advantage if it didn’t abide by them.

    Also, when there are two markets putting up tariffs (a big one and a small one) my money is on the bigger market outlasting the smaller one.

    “And being in the EU has not proved that our companies are not vulnerable to be taken over, as BAA and our energy companies prove.”

    The EU has done a lot to protect and promote fair competition. Look at the IBM fine. Or Microsoft. Or Honeywell and General Electric. The UK couldn’t have done these things on its own.

    “They would be renogotiated with our interests in mind, not the other 26.And the smaller markets are not at a disadvantage because they are small.It`s a matter of who is selling and who is buying.Just how has the EU helped the UK in trade with China ?”

    It isn’t always a disadvantage to be a smaller market. It does depend on what you’re exporting. But in general, it is a disadvantage.

    The EU has measures in place to stop Chinese products flooding the market. China can complain about these, but there’s not a lot they can do because it needs EU trade too much. If the UK was isolated, China would have more freedom to take punitive economic measures (tariffs, quotas, etc).

    “In this you are mistaken. The “Democraccy by fax” is because the complex rules at great time and expense are adopted freely by those countries, saving the trouble and expense. They dont always enact what comees from Brussels if it contradicts their own interests.”

    I don’t think I am mistaken. I’ve studied Norway, Iceland and Switzerland with great interest, because these are the examples always given by eurosceptics about how things should be done.

    They almost always enact what comes from Brussels, even if it’s not in their interests. This is because, overall, it’s not in their interests to be outside the Single Market.

    Here’s an interesting report on the way Switzerland has had to adopt EU law:

    http://se1.isn.ch/serviceengine/FileContent?serviceID=47&fileid=E1BB8EAA-3890-11A3-B7C2-E9497C9C3AFA&lng=en

    Since this report was written, Switzerland has been forced to adopt even more legislation. Voters went to a referendum over it, and the EU threatened them with the guillotine.

    “Secondly, we dont need to accept any laws from Brussels. There would be nothing they could do about it.”

    This is where we disagree. But let’s imagine for a moment that the UK would have democracy-by-fax. Is this a deal-breaker for you? If the UK left the EU tomorrow, and then had to sign up to all of the EU legislation anyway, wouldn’t this defeat the point?

    “There seems to be a theme of “large is best” in your posts. Not accepted in all situations is my take.”

    In general, large markets are more competitive. Economies of scale, specialisation, greater consumer demand, etc. The exceptions are when a small market has plenty of high-demand exports (oil and gas are the classic examples). But in the case of the UK, I’m sure we would be at a disadvantage.

    “We were more succesful when we traded globally than within the inward looking EU, and if what you say is true, the logic means trade locally, not with the EU.”

    I know it’s something europhiles say all the time, but it still has some truth to it: we were more succesful when we had an empire and the EU didn’t exist. We don’t have an empire now and the EU does exist. Times have changed.

    “I dont know how long China can remain a low wage economy and another factor is government interference and taxation, which again, shovellling money into the EU and being rigged up out the market, shows we should leave.”

    I’m not sure either, and China is (I think) a seperate issue, so I won’t address it (unless you want to).

    “How has the EU helped in the problem of American subsidies to its military complex ?”

    Specifically with the military complex? It’s a sensitive issue (because the US doesn’t want to outsource military projects) but the EU has supported Airbus against Pentagon funded projects (only US companies can compete for a lot of these contracts – so it’s de facto protectionism, something the WTO is bad at dealing with).

    Anyway – in general, we may not agree. But I still think these are valid concerns I’m raising. I’m not certain I know what will happen if the UK stays with the EU. But I do think that, on balance, we’re better off in.

    You know by now that I feel the EU has plenty of problems – and I still think we should stay in.

  24. Hi Joe,

    I mentioned about the haulage industry because this shows that any industry, trade or job in the UK can be lost because of the maladminstration of our civil service and membership of the EU.This apllies to farmers, fishermen,steelworkers and hundreds of thousands of others here. For a good picture of it read Christopher Booker in the Sunday Telegraph.
    Tarriffs aren`t good for international trade and I hope the EU luminaries finally understand this, so if we leave they wont jeapodise jobs on both sides of the channel.For exporting with them we can abide by their rules (as we would to any other area/country) and they abide by our rules.The EU is not boycotting Chinese goods because China is not signed up to those areas you mentioned, so why should they with us ?

    You`re better off placing your money with the market that has the most businesslike attitude, irrespective of the size.Size just means more people, more people to regulate and more people unemployed if trading goes off. So China, or the EU, have just as much to fear as any smaller market,eg Slovenia`s high unemployment of 10% means 200 000 unemployed, but China`s unemployment of 10% means 500 000 000 unemployed.

    Britain`s civil servants are pathetic when dealing with other countries, inside or outside the EU.When the EU negotiates, they do not put our interest at the top of their priorities. I would go so far as to say they would make us a sacrificial lamb for any of the other countries, because while a country such as small Ireland has a patriotic civil service, ours still think they must have the weight of the world on their shoulders.So when you are worried about China putting punitive tarrifs on EU goods, remember we dont send much to there, we buy from there. The EU is no help to us at all.WE have ended up having trade spats with other parts of the world because we are in the EU, whereas outside it we could just carry on.
    As regards Switzerland, this is a landlocked country within Europe trading per capitsa far more with the EU than we do, and exporting more than importing. It`s no surprise they adopt some of the regulations of the EU, and, i,m given to understand, chuck money into the EU pot. But we dont need to, except in areas where we want to.So if we export something to the EU we might have to adopt their packaging laws, but it is vice versa, the same as trading with the USA or Australia.
    I know we dont have (much of) an empire. I`m not looking back for inspiration because, as you say, times move on. That`s why I want us to get out of the backward looking EU (made because of wars 65 years ago )and act as a normal country, putting our interests first. No one else will.

  25. Paul,

    Well from me you naturally get the answer; UKIP.

  26. Pingback: Why voting for a eurosceptic party is a good thing for the EU | Nosemonkey’s EUtopia

  27. Pingback: Nosemonkey » Blog Archive » Why voting for a eurosceptic party is a good thing for the EU

  28. Pingback: Expenses and the elections | johninnit

  29. Hi Paul,

    I had the same problem, did some research, and figured the best thing to do is abstain. This is of course, by some, regarded as a vote wasted. However, when historians/sociologists review the figures in years to come, they may note the large abstention votes, will analyse them to ask why, and might actually draw some kind of logical conclusion. That conclusion may, in turn, contribute to political philosophy and help future politicians realise that a citizen with a clear stake and/or role in the development of his/her country/community/federalist superstate is, by and large, happier than your average bear.