Tag Archives: EU

Dear Brussels

Dear Brussels,

Erm… well. This is awkward. So the UK went and did something daft. Let’s be honest though, the tone of voice you adopted while we were making the most critical constitutional decision of a generation wasn’t very helpful, was it? And it can’t be said there aren’t many folk in every other European nation that don’t share the feelings of those here who voted for the UK to leave.

You can pretend like you weren’t aware of this, that your attitude towards the inconvenient statistics that are the normal, working, struggling people of Europe, was the right one. This would of course be quite typical of you, being so viciously possessed of a disconnection between the ideals you’re striving for and the reality you’ve created for just too many people.

And what now? All we hear are your leaders trying to push us off the deep end, when in fact this isn’t something Europe wants or needs. And actually, as soon as the referendum result came out, wasn’t even something huge numbers of Leave voters wanted. The picture is clear – a terrible and embarrassing mistake was made, predicated somewhat on the basis of the lies these people were told, and that you failed to effectively respond to.

Really it should have been the easiest argument in the world to win. But somehow you lost it. YOU lost it, because while we were having the conversation, one worth having if we’re being honest, you behaved largely with irritation and scorn.. And now you’re acting like a pack of petulant infants, throwing your toys out of the pram and further risking alienation and the entrenchment of the minority attitude in this nation that the UK doesn’t want to be a part of the Europe.

As the clear message goes out, “Get out now!”, some of us are left to wonder who is having the quiet conversations in the wings at the highest levels as to how this whole mess can be resolved to the benefit of everyone. Because sure enough, if you now want to go about punishing the British political class and British people for saying, on one level, we are simply not happy with the EU, then actually is the EU worth defending?

I’d rather see some mature politics now, some recognition of what really happened here. It was a coin toss that fell heads and immediately told us we really, really badly wanted tails. The protest vote that actually did to our horror return the protest candidate. For the moment however, the whole bloody lot of you, including plenty of our own clowns, continue to be pathetic disappointments.

If the referendum was held again tomorrow it’d probably be a ten point swing. Chew on that before being so determined to make a stupid example of us.

Regards,

One of the 48.1%

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BREXIT

In this metaphor, my blog is a strategically sorted vampire. Staked, chained, soaked in holy water and wearing a wreath of garlic as it rests beneath a thousand looming crosses. It was put away, it was done. This was good, I had better things do to.

Then Brexit. FFS.

Nice one folks, we’ve gone and fucked it. We’ve stuck our fingers up, turned over the table and stomped out of the room. Whatever triumphalism there is about this will turn quick enough, and an associate is indeed already taking bets on who can find a Brexit voter by Christmas.

So here’s my quickfire assessment. The Leave camp are so self-evidently venal and toxic that little need be said there. They lied their way through the whole bloody thing, leveraging emotions and appealing to an unsubstantiated set of optimistic predictions. Gove, Johnson, Farage… remember these names, because further down the road they’ll be trying to stick their head in the sand. Which will not be permitted, thank you very much.

But really I’m angry in the most part at the Remain camp, and at the EU itself. From the moment it was clear that Leave were going to go about their business and play the game entirely on their own terms, the message should have been obvious.

Desperate, fawning, pleading. Please god UK, stay in the EU. You are desperately needed. We love you. Incessantly. Persistently.

Is it true? I don’t know. I don’t care! But it’s what was required. The UK public needed a little affection, but instead the Remain message was, largely – and in this regard Leave were spot on – fear. They spent the whole goddamned run-in trying to make us lay bricks at the very notion of Brexit, with EU figures like Tusk helpfully indicating that the draw bridge would pull up. Whatever time on the floor that remained was dedicated to simply looking indignant and scoffy at any number of Leave claims.

As far as a failure of politics goes, this is about as big as it has gotten in my lifetime. How utterly fucking tone deaf. Some antagonism in the response was almost guaranteed, and this was almost certainly the root cause of the swing.

There are already strong indications across the globe that attitudes towards Britain are not favourable, see… the news, everywhere, which is understandable given how much the already shaky tub has taken another major rattle. I suppose I would disconsolately remind everyone that 16m+ did vote for Remain.

Though as for the nearly 17.5m who did vote to Leave, let’s not pretend they’re a mass of xenophobes and idiots either. A few, sure. But if we’re actually saying the conditions that inspired this referendum weren’t easily read and that the matter was conducted with even vague competency…

Well then, screw ya’ll, no one is honest here, fuckedy-bye now.

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The EU Hurts Itself by Helping UKIP

The latest Eurofeud within Westminster is already well under way, as this blog as been discussing at some length in the recent weeks. It’s nice to know however, that the feuding isn’t for nothing, that there is a tangible purpose to the whole thing. The Eurosceptics are too extreme in my opinion but then the status quo-ticians are also deeply frustrating. The UK, by which I mean its primary constituent in its people, are for the greater part not happy with the current dynamic and are certainly not happy with the look of the future.

And Brussels today throwing down the continental law gauntlet is a perfect encapsulation of the public dissatisfaction. Adam Weiss of the Advice for Individual Rights in Europe outfit is not happy with Westminster trying to reform the benefits system where it pertains to migrants, and believes that everyone is entitled to the same access, quality and quantity of government support. Where the Queen’s Speech laid out the intention to limit these things to migrants, in the first step of government on the road to rendering UKIP obsolete, the European Commission takes Weiss’ side and says, “Non!”

I don’t necessarily agree with the legislative measure on principle, as it does seem jingoistic to say, “We get the full teet and they don’t because they ain’t from here.” It isn’t the strongest position to hold to but I can understand the political reasoning behind it, which is trying to calm a few frayed sensibilities. It may be misinformed to suggest our country is being overrun and that we can’t afford all the welfare support to these ‘mooches’, as we’re not being overrun and migrants are largely hard working folk, but perceptions of ownership of ones home nation are very sensitive and can’t be dismissed out of hand.

You could accuse various governments in the past couple of decades of having done this, and the result is this present surge in UKIP support, aided so handily by the currently poor economic climate being heavily informed by European problems. Being extraordinarily generous, that is a tenuous platform from which the EU is imposing their will upon the nation. Ian Duncan Smith, who has somehow evaded a medieval style tarring and feathering for his domestic reforms to welfare, now has a serious mandate to challenge the legal process we’re now being dragged through. He could emerge redeemed, or if he fails, possibly irrevocably disgraced.

The feeling will be that either he wasn’t effective enough, and so domestic welfare cuts will seem unfair against the inability to make reforms specific to foreign born residents, or it will seem that he couldn’t be effective even if he wanted to, and that is more fuel for the “out” campaigners. Either way, the Tories lose, UKIP win and if Europe had honest desires to keep the UK in the union, Europe loses too. I don’t have the least considered or moderate of positions on the question of Europe and even I am fairly outraged every time our judicial and legislative bodies are rendered impotent by a body I feel I have no connection to whatsoever.

It’s hard enough to feel engaged with even the domestic political situation sometimes. I get to vote in my MP and councillors and the minimal degree of democratic participation isn’t exactly thrilling. Don’t even try to sell me the idea of MEP’s, as they couldn’t possibly hope to make me feel more enfranchised than someone who represents a fraction of the people they are supposed to. This to me is the greatest flaw with the entire idea of the EU. By dragging the process up another tier and even further away from the hands of the people, they leave themselves wide open to accusations of technocracy.

Why can’t it be like the USA? Well for a start, the USA is hardly the model federal system itself, and to say it works isn’t altogether the truth. Ignoring the fact that European history is deeper, more complex, and replete with wildly different cultures, languages etc., there is in the USA a constant debate and struggle over the dynamic between state and federal authority. This coming from a nation that was founded with some federal principles, is a stunning indictment of the lack of reality in the thinking of those who believe Europe can be the same any time soon.

For this continent to evolve into something like the USA, it would take one hell of a lot more nuance and consideration from the drivers of the project, not to mention more time. This is complicated by a lot of recent indications, such as the failures of a lack of unified monetary policy within the Eurozone, that suggest the project must be brought forward with intent. But as a result we’ve seen in the past few years a proportional increase in dissatisfaction alongside every news report telling us that Europe tells us we can’t do this, that or the other.

It seems very clear that renegotiation is the best way forward for both parties. The historical impetus that drives the continental desire for the EU has never been rife in the UK and it’s time for the honest discussion that achieves a mutually desirable outcome. UKIP will only antagonise the debate and so let’s hope that Cameron takes a robust set of proposals to the table and that the EU is willing to listen. The sooner I know what exactly the heck Cameron thinks the renegotiated position is, the better, for everyone, because while I don’t want to be governed from outside the UK, I also don’t want the UK to slip into belligerent obscurity.

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UKIP in a Nutshell

Why UKIP really are a joke. A quick guide, translated into English, of the party’s online policy forum found on http://www.UKIP.org (website frequently non-functional). As of May 8th 2013. Subject to spontaneous, disorganised change.

First, Google text reads, “Libertarian, non-racist party seeking Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.”

What we stand for?

Fear. Using absurdly dark and foreboding language, clearly designed to encourage negative emotional responses, we want you to be in fear for the very fabric of society. Salvation is exclusively linked to EU withdrawal.

  1. Restore Self Government & Democracy – anti-EU statistics and information of dubious provenance. Bring all powers back to the UK.

  2. Rebuild Prosperity – anti-EU cost reductions, truisms about the state of the economy, climate change denial, reduce government, cut taxes.

  3. Protect Our Borders & Defend Our Country – anti-EU, anti-immigration, 5 year freeze, more ridiculous fear language, dubious statistics, pro-nukes.

  4. Safeguards against crime – tough on crime, more prisons, racial profiling is fine, scrap HRA, lots of money for the police, terrifying police state sort of stuff.

  5. Care and Support for All – magically fix the NHS, simplify pensions, no benefits for non-permanent residents, revert higher education to Edwardian state, deregulate education.

  6. Our Way of Life – nationalism, pro-hunting, pro-empire, pro-smoking, anti-foreigners.

About Policy Proposals

We will change our views as and when we choose because we have no political accountability yet.

Defence

The largest section on the website. Open quote, Margaret Thatcher. Reducible to – restore the military machine of the UK to roughly “height of the empire” levels. Throw money at it until we can rule the world. Security is the foundation of society.

Energy and Fishing

Actually two individual sections, but very small. Oh my… Energy is actually a link to a policy paper… taking a very long time to load… very long time indeed….

The fishing section ‘details’ taking fishing grounds back off the EU for exclusive UK use, scrapping EU quotas, not a lot really. But we have to leave the EU!

And I can’t view the policy paper because the link doesn’t work. Desperately upset to be cheated of whiff of detailed policy. But I imagine it will be a further dose of climate change denial, cut with some grade A anti-green energy policy, pro-nuclear, pro-our “green and pleasant land” patriotic nonsense. UKIP deem the aesthetics of the nuclear cooling tower better than wind turbines. Subjective says I.

Healthcare

Emphasis on reducing NHS bureaucracy by ironically hiring a quango to hack and slash, god knows UKIP don’t have the expertise, and establishing County Health Boards to localise healthcare management, more nursing, free dentists and opticians. Almost a reasonable section.

Immigration

Do I even have to do this section?

Fine, massively reduce and regulate immigration, UK is full to bursting and they say we can’t afford all these immigrants and their welfare needs, ill-defined points system for working migrants only of value to the UK, permanent residence status only available to EU folk seven years in-country, withdraw from ECHR and ECR so we can deport all the immigrants we like. All of which requires leaving the EU. But honestly… UKIP are not xenophobes.

Same-Sex Marriage

Anti-same-sex marriage. Apparently because they’re worried about encroaching upon religious sensitivities in a nation that is in inexorable religious decline and socially progressive advancement. Separation of church and state and all that. But the gays can still have civil partnerships so UKIP are not homophobes. Rather curious issue to include as a banner policy then.

Tax

Our economic outlook is worse than even the leading credit agencies like Moody’s are saying. We need to grow so we must hugely reduce taxes for the wealthy with a flat tax (currently 25%, down from 30% two weeks ago) that imposes a massively disproportionate weight of contribution on lower to medium earners. Writes off higher taxes on the wealthy as low revenue “political taxes”, no corporate tax, lower VAT, £13k tax allowance, income tax is an anti-freedom evil, so is NI and actually all taxes for that matter. Deregulate business and markets.

Generally fairly condescending stuff about how even a drunk monkey could see how much trouble we’re in. Their solution is an impossible to fund daydream. Actually references Adam Smith’s “Wealth of Nations” as a classical source. The only one besides David Ricardo’s “The Principles of Political Economy and Taxation”. Which sort of makes sense.

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There you have it folks. No more sections. UKIP in under 700 words. Excuse me while I go and wash myself amidst these fits of laughter. It’s a shame that the genuine sentiments and discontents of so many people have only these ill-prepared sorts to express a measure of democratic protest. A litany of the worst of conservatism.

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Simon Jenkins on Europe

Well thanks a lot Simon. Usually I like to frame my own arguments around issues, or in the least offer a substantive alternate take, yet on the matter of Britain and the EU all you’ve left me is the potential for verbatim regurgitation. Frankly I find it quite inconsiderate that you would assume such a totally rational perspective on the matter, as I’ve come to expect even a little articulate contrarianism upon which to cognitively chew.

If you’ll excuse me I’ll address the reader now.

At most I find two points to pick up on, and these are simple notes not remotely approaching disagreement. The horror. The first is in regard to what Jenkins calls Cameron’s “vacillations” and to be sure, the Prime Minister has dithered and dallied and gone back and forth with the best of them. However, the question of Europe has been politically toxic for the Conservative party almost since the question existed and I’ve therefore been rather forgiving of the man.

The last six months of coalition revealed quite emphatically that the old Tory party is still alive and kicking, grouchily awakening from the temporary hush caused by Cameron’s astute push towards moderation, if only in image. It’s not a question of only satisfying both his party and the Lib Dems, but almost more importantly, both his vision for the Tories and what they really are. The PM’s balancing act has been revealed and though we can certainly say he was overcautious, he was so with the best intentions.

I would be livid to see the Tories consumed in yet another European-fuelled bloodbath and, admitting to a few hair-raising moments, I might actually go so far as to say I admire him for keeping the wolves at bay. There’s every possibility I’m being overly optimistic but what I ultimately see is a PM who wants to resolve the big question the right way, once. That is despite, or perhaps to spite, the existing impression that the coalition couldn’t hit a bullseye on the first attempt if their lives depended on it. The proof will be in the results.

As for the other side of the aisle, our darling Labour party, replete with Tweedleband and Tweedleballs, disciples of the Dark Lord Brown and consummate inducers of nausea, they’ve shown their hand. Jenkins draws attention to their sordid apprenticeships under the former Chancellor and how they would have had front row seats to the 2003 version of today’s debate. There were indications then of the direction the EU was heading and god save us all if it wasn’t Brown who saw the realities therein.

Thus, rightly according to Jenkins, “There need be no disagreement.” I can’t say with any certainty that there is. I can’t say with any certainty anything about the Labour party’s front pairing really. Perhaps that their sole purpose in political life at present is to offer endlessly snide criticisms with one hand and absolutely nothing with other, unless they occasionally needed both to dole out such useless contributions?

I’m all for a dash of good old fashioned political enmity but the extent to which Miliband and Balls have pushed it is not something I care for. An opposition’s duty is to offer a meaningful second choice, and is essential to democratic government. Yet even on the issue of Europe they have brought little to the table beyond the usual cynical lambasting of the Tories, and a vague to non-existent representation of their own message.

We deserve better, although on many a day I wouldn’t reserve that comment for Labour alone. Not just our political classes, we deserve better from Jenkins too. I’ll be disappointed not to find something more controversial or out of tune with my own views next time. Perhaps the National Trust chairman will call for our heritage sites to be saturated with wind farms. Yes, he’d love that.

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