Posts Tagged 'EU Withdrawal'

UKIP – the best and the worst for the anti-EU side

UKIP’s billboard poster campaign is a curious mix of badly judged rubbish tempered by something more incisive that the party doesn’t do enough of.

The poster campaign tells us a great deal about the party’s approach to the forthcoming European Parliament elections and shows the party at both its best and worst, with implications for the wider anti-EU part of the electorate.  Starting with the worst…

The EU policy at work poster is plays on the anxieties of low and semi skilled workers, portraying a man in a hard hat who made to appear as though he has been adversely affected  by cheap labour coming to this country from other EU countries.  The problem with this is that only certain sectors have been affected and the impact has not been across the board.

Indeed many farmers have been grateful for cheap labour on their land, particularly at harvest when produce needs to be picked or dug up within a small time frame. Whereas they frequently struggled to hire enough labour for the task, labour from other EU states has ensured a reduction in produce spoil and maximised output.

The open goal missed here is that as an independent country we could decide what our needs are and welcome those with the skills we need, or who will perform tasks there there is a labour shortage.  But that isn’t what the poster says, as such it characterises the party in an unfavourable manner.

Then there is the casual ignorance of highly skilled roles that could not be filled, such as dentists, which now have been thanks to labour from EU member states, to the benefit of large numbers of patients.  Indeed my own excellent dentist is from Lithuania and prior to dentists from other EU countries coming to my town, getting NHS dentistry was all but impossible.  Are UKIP suggesting this is a bad thing? It is but one example, but there are others where this country’s less well off most certainly benefit.

Dentists from elsewhere in the EU were among those looking for work, but did not displace UK workers when providing a much needed service.  It shows this issue, and the one above regarding benefits of unskilled labour, is not as black and white as UKIP like to suggest; and without the application of some specifics and detail UKIP will only reinforce the electoral glass ceiling it has created for itself by alienating people who see there have been positives as well as negatives and may feel UKIP’s sweeping generalisations are irresponsible or plain inaccurate.

Then there is the bus/limo poster.  At first glance it’s clever, but there is an element of rank hypocrisy here because our daily grind is also funding the very comfortable lifestyles of UKIP’s MEPs.  UKIP separating themselves from the gravy train when they have first class seats on it is basically dishonest.

We have already found that Nigel Farage has been taking full advantage of any allowance going, but has also tapped into an opportunity to boost his European Parliament pension fund at taxpayers’ expense so that he stands to get a £71,000-a-year pension from the EU when he leaves retires.  Criticising other Eurocrats for something UKIP MEPs will also benefit from leaves the party open to attack, such as with the image below, which Richard showed on EU Referendum today.

Finally, however – the figures used in the wording notwithstanding – we find an intelligent piece of campaign material, below, that gets to the heart of the matter of who really runs this country.

This is the kind of thing that makes people think and cannot be countered – the EU runs the UK.  It is an honest reflection of reality and could be adjusted to address the concerns over control of immigration, the use of British taxpayers’ money, trade, international affairs and various other negatives this country experiences as a result of not being independent and self determining.  This is what UKIP can achieve when it applies some brain power.

This is what the whole anti-EU side needs, but sadly there is too little of it.  There are still many good people in UKIP, but as we have said before they are being let down by the slapdash ignorance of the leadership.  UKIP still deserves better.

Latest Farage comments on floods indicate UKIP has abandoned anti-EU role

While it was not the press conference Nigel Farage referenced in his tweet to me yesterday, this morning he was interviewed for over 4 minutes by Sky News’ Dermot Murnaghan, in Somerset, about the floods there. UKIP have put the full interview up on their website.

Despite having days in which to take on board the extent of EU’s responsibility, for turning what would have been annoying floods into a major incident that has gone on for weeks, the sum total of Farage’s effort to explain it to Sky’s audience was this reference to the Environment Agency’s role in the matter:

They seem to want to follow European Directives to the letter of the law…

This from a man whose primary focus is allegedly fighting tooth and nail for the UK to leave the EU.  Presented with yet another golden opportunity to highlight who really runs Britain, following his Farage on Friday piece before the weekend, and help voters understand and reflect about whether this is in British interests or whether we should determine laws for ourselves, he again passed it up.

Thankfully, Christopher Booker published a valuable piece about the EU’s role in degrading Britain work on flood prevention in his Sunday Telegraph column today.  At least someone with a substantial profile has tackled this head on while the politicians and lamestream media tip-toe around it and do their best to avoid any mention of the part our supreme government in Brussels has played in making flooding in recent years far worse than it ever would have been.

With a sizeable number of UKIP members not seeing leaving the EU as the number one issue for the party, it seems the leader is one of their number and EUscepticism is being forced off the party political agenda to make way for other topics.

Fantasy Island: EU renegotiation special episode

fantasy_islandFrom the ever confused and deceitful pages of the EU-supporting Daily Mail – the paper that quietly declared way down in a long editorial, ‘Let the Mail lay all its cards on the table. This paper has no desire for Britain to pull out of Europe’ – we have yet another bit of supposed red meat tossed to EUsceptics to keep them at bay.

Irrespective of the reality about trivialities such as how these things work, who has the ability to convene them, when they can be called and how items are accepted onto the agenda, the Mail reports the latest from Europlastic HQ to quiet the maddening crowd and give the illusion that something of substance is being done.

Next week, a group of Tories will unveil their own blueprint for reform of Britain’s relationship with Europe.

Andrea Leadsom, Chris Heaton-Harris and Tim Loughton, from the Fresh Start Project, have identified at least five major changes to EU treaties they say should be at the heart of Britain’s renegotiation.

They include reforms to protect our financial services industry and an end to limits on work hours. Tory Eurosceptics also want reforms to energy policy, the common agricultural policy, defence and immigration.

Add in to this renegotiation mix other ‘demands’ including limits on EU migrants who claim benefits in Britain, and the right to stop making payments such as child benefit, to the dependent children of migrant workers – and the Mail’s self delusion that this ‘move’ comes only after a poll for the Mail identified deep public anxiety about the ending of transitionary immigration restrictions on new EU members Romania and Bulgaria in January – and we have all the ingredients for a special episode of Fantasy Island.

Let’s not forget of course the shallow commitment to an in-out referendum sometime in 2017 that keeps being floated to keep the unruly peasants in their hovels, something that is almost certainly not going to happen because the EU will be in the midst of a new treaty negotiation to shore up the Eurozone and provide the EU with direct taxation powers to help with its revenue vs spending shortfall.

I’m only surprised we haven’t seen Osborne Tattoo running for his bell shouting ‘De Plane!! De Plane!!’

[Many will be pleased to know blogging will be light to non existant this weekend - lots on at Mind Towers]

Why a campaign rather than parties is the route to getting the UK out of the EU

Anyone who still clings to the belief that voting for a political party, namely UKIP, is the way to bring about a Brexit from the EU could do with thinking long and hard about the following opinion poll response from YouGov.

Party that people would never vote for

PoliticalBetting.com, from where this information was taken, explains that:

This is from a survey that looks at views of the parties in different parts of the country which doesn’t produce any startling conclusions – the Tories are less popular in the north while LAB had problems in the South outside London.

These YouGov numbers are very similar to what Ipsos-MORI found in August when they asked about liking and disliking parties.

This is not a dig at UKIP.  It is just additional evidence that using the party political process to further the Eurosceptic aims of leaving the EU is at best flawed, at worst futile.

UKIP is the only party that has ever committed to leaving the EU, while the other parties are fully ‘on message’ with the Brussels machine and are either actively purusing further integration and dilution of the UK’s fabled ‘influence’ by way of enlargement, or are cheerleading such activity from the oppostion benches.   The fact that UKIP is by far the most unpopular of a very unpopular set of party entities shows it does not have the capacity for a breakthough that would lead to any form of influence in the Parliamentary process.

Instead the focus should be on having a single non-party political ‘No to EU’ type campaign that brings together all the various Eurosceptic groups to push a clear and easy to understand message about ‘Who should run Britain?’ ensuring the real issue – that of political sovereignty – is not swamped by the deceitful focus on economics and big business interests.

Such an alliance of groups, that allows the respective groups that are part of it to preserve their identity, could more effectively raise the necessary awareness of the impact of EU governance and counter the Europhile lies that have been ignored by UKIP for narrow party political reasons.  Sharing the load, the groups can establish a single shared platform to give an honest counter to the flood of nonsense filling the media, making the campaign the ‘go to’ destination for comment and insight.

A non-party ‘No to EU’ alliance established now – before Tory proxies like Matthew Elliot can undermine the ‘out’ side with irrelevant arguments and diversions – could build significant support around the country, and coordinate the right time to apply pressure to individual MPs and candidates to support an in-out referendum in return for endorsement, rather than get bogged down in fighting an election with candidates and all the problems that entails.

Taking the party political route will ensure we never arrive at our destination.  It’s time to take this essential issue out of the control of the increasingly untrusted and deceitful political class and have a genuine grassroots campaign fought on the real issue – sovereignty.

The Hannan paradigm

The story we covered earlier concerning Lord O’Donnell’s puff piece, in support of handing more power over the political process to civil servants and Parliamentary has-beens, has attracted the ire of Douglas Carswell.  Fair enough.

But this has subsequently prompted Daniel Hannan to weigh in, after spotting an opportunity to make one of his favourite points – related to comments made by O’Donnell on a different occasion – about how EU membership prevents the UK from negotiating trade accords with non-EU states.  The problem with Hannan’s observation is that while true, it doesn’t come close to getting to the heart of why a UK exit from the EU is vital.

The prior comments of O’Donnell that Hannan fixes upon are these:

Britain is, above all, an open trading nation, but unfortunately our main trading partner, the euro area, is unlikely to increase its demand for UK exports very much in the short or medium terms. Our historical trading patterns, which have been so beneficial in the past, are likely to condemn us to the global slow lane for years to come. Our share of world trade has declined over the last decade by more than that of all our G20 partners.

This prompts Hannan to postulate that:

[...] Ever since the mid-1960s, as Hugo Young showed inThis Blessed Plot, the campaign to mesh Britain into European political structures has been led by our permanent functionaries. It wasn’t that they were unpatriotic. Rather, they had made a calculation, understandable in the context of its time, that economic growth would be concentrated in Western Europe.

Today, no one makes such a calculation. Every continent in the world is growing except Europe. Britain, the only one of the EU’s 28 members that conducts the majority of its trade outside Europe, is especially well placed to benefit from the growth overseas: we are linked by language and law, habit and history, to the places that are doing best. When even Sir Humphrey has internalised that point, our exit is just a matter of time.

What Hannan doesn’t explain, perhaps because he hasn’t grasped the reality of the genuinely bigger picture before us, is the more crucial point that Britain, because of its EU membership, has no direct influence at the level where trade rules and regulations affecting manufacturing and the standards for a vast number of goods are decided.  Namely around the tables of various global bodies and organisations where no EU member has a seat.

While Britain’s ability to strike trade deals is important, of far greater importance is our ability to inform and shape, in our interest, the rules that will bind most countries around the world that are signed up to various conventions and treaties – and which consequently impact international trade deals involving most of the goods we make and most of what we buy.  This is what membership of ‘Little Europe’ denies us and why we have to get out.

Leaving the EU is not an end in itself.  It is merely an enabler that gives us an opportunity to fight our corner in our competitive interest, in the forums where the rules and standards are made.  The hard work therefore does not end when we simply have the ability to strike agreements with other countries on our own terms, rather than the consolidated and diluted terms suiting 27 other European countries.

Hannan’s trade paradigm is only a narrow part of the imperative for leaving the EU.  If he understood and articulated the bigger story from his substantial platform, he may actually help more people understand the benefits of British independence.

Charge of the Referendum Light Brigade

Having been derided for his aspiration of leading the Conservative Party, Adam Afriyie, has now determined how he plans to exact revenge – declaring via the Daily Mail’s RightMinds section that he will force David Cameron to hold an in-out referendum on EU membership ‘now’.

This really is a new charge of a light brigade, misguided and doomed to failure.  While it may elicit excitement among Eurosceptics, an early referendum would almost certainly be lost and the UK would be shackled to the twitching corpse of the EU, for decades to come or until the whole ediface comes crashing down under its own weight.

The facts are these.  The Eurosceptics are in appalling shape and nowhere close to ready to fighting the kind of campaign required to win public support for an ‘out’ vote.  We would face a biased and distorting media where the selected voices on our side will be those who will undermine us with undecided voters and where, with the exception of the Express, even the supposed Eurosceptic press like the Mail and the Telegraph will support continued EU membership and push the false ‘renegotiation’ meme.

Add in to this the fact that Afriyie is not really pushing an early referendum to hasten UK withdrawal from the EU, but for narrow party political considerations.  Always delve into a piece if you want to find the author’s genuine motivations.  The headline rationale is the ‘acceptable’ argument only put there to earn sympathy from the audience.  As a piece goes on, the author lets slip what is really on their mind.  Afriyie’s piece is no different and his motives are clear in his article:

I think people understand the argument that if you vote Conservative you will get a referendum and if you vote Labour you won’t.

But we must not rely too heavily on the belief that the promise of a referendum will persuade people to vote Conservative nor trust the Labour Party not to change its position.

In reality, the British people are unsure whether the Conservative leadership would be able to stick to its promise of holding a referendum after the Election, especially if in coalition once again.

It seems to me that if we don’t hold the referendum before 2015, large numbers of people will continue to vote UKIP whatever happens – and if they do, there is a distinct danger that Labour will gain a majority and we will never see a referendum at all.

Protest votes are understandable mid-term, but mainstream politicians continue to underestimate and dismiss the power and significance of populism – currently expressed in the form of UKIP votes. Because at the heart of a populist movement is a legitimate concern unacknowledged by the political establishment.

By holding an early EU referendum, we would have recognised, embraced and addressed those concerns.

An early EU referendum would resolve the issue for all political parties as well as the British people. And for my party, I believe it will reunite the wider Conservative family so that we can win convincingly in 2015.

That is his Afriyie’s real agenda.  Stealing a march on Labour and neutering UKIP’s capacity for harming Conservative electoral prospects.

So we now can see the only reason why Afriyie wants an early referendum.  Narrow, party political advantage.  The conventional wisdom is that the Conservatives would benefit regardless of the outcome of the referendum – and that is what Afriyie is trying to sell to his Tory colleagues right now ahead of tomorrow’s amendment.  The national and public interest, which would be served by freeing this country from the EU, isn’t the primary consideration.

That can only spell bad news for our prospects of securing our exit from the EU.  Those who are currently excited by Afriyie’s construct should be careful for what they wish for.  Rather than throwing compliments at Afriyie, they should be hurling brickbats.  We have to suit up for a referendum campaign and be strong in order to win it.  The suit has not been stitched and we are severely under our fighting weight.  An early referendum is to be avoided.

The EU in/out debate and the reality… spread the word

EU membership is about politics, not economics.  But the debate is being grossly distorted by the Europhiled to scare people into maintaining the status quo while distracting people and businesses from understanding the facts.  If we are to help the UK escape from this political prison while protecting its economic interests, understanding how this false debate has been framed, is essential:

In recent days, Tony Blair, the Lord Mayor of London, big business represented by the CBI and numerous others have all been repeating the same plaintively concerted cry. But what is almost wholly absent from all this one-sidedly lacklustre debate is any reference to the fact that, if Britain were to leave the EU, we could still enjoy full access to that single market by joining the European Free Trade Area (EFTA), allowing us to continue trading with the EU just as we do now.

It is not surprising that the cheerleaders for continued membership so consistently fail to explain this to us, because it completely removes from them almost the only argument they offer for why we must stay in, as part of Mr Barroso’s drive for political union.

If they do occasionally mention it, this is only so that they can scornfully dismiss it by claiming that, although EFTA members such as Norway have full access to the single market, they must obey all its rules without playing any part in shaping them.

But this merely betrays an astonishing ignorance of how the system works. Not only do Norway and other EFTA members play a very active part in consulting on single market laws before they are finalised. Ever more rules these days in fact originate in global bodies above the EU, such as the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) or the Aarhus Convention on environmental issues, on which Norway is represented in its own right as an independent country, exercising more influence than Britain, which is represented only by the EU.

This is the kind of hard, factual evidence which should be right at the centre of any proper, grown-up debate on Britain’s future relations with the EU. Yet it is ruthlessly swept under the carpet because, to the scaremongers who want to pretend that, outside the EU, Britain would have no influence, it is the very last thing they want the British people to know about.

The media won’t tell the truth.  The Conservative Party’s proxy organisations won’t tell the truth.  So the only way more people will understand this is spreading the word through the grassroots.  Please do your bit to spread the word.

UKIP: Fighting the battles of yesterday

Our model should be the Liberal Democrats. Not in policy terms but on how they focused on areas where they are strong, focusing on district councillors and parish and city councils. They trebled the number of seats in Westminster that way. We need a volunteer army. We need people to stand up and put their heads above the parapet.

So said Nigel Farage at the UKIP rally in Telford.

What sounds like a step change in progress is, in reality, Farage seeking to fight the battles of yesterday.  When UKIP was formed it was for a clear purpose, to secure withdrawal from the EU.  Using the party political model was the right approach for the time because the only way to force withdrawal was via taking Westminster by storm, securing a parliamentary majority and voting to repeal the European Communities Act. The focus, however ambitious, was on going after the politicians by defeating them in elections and taking power.

It was the wisdom of its time.  There was no Lisbon Treaty back then, therefore no other route to an orderly exit.  There was also no suggestion of a referendum either.  But that is not true today.   Now we have Article 50 and a defined route to an orderly exit from the EU that didn’t exist before.  We also have talk of a referendum.  Yet in Telford, Farage spoke of the need for a volunteer army,  for people to stand up and put their heads above the parapet.  To what end?

It’s a puzzler because UKIP has no clear policy message for this army to carry to the public.  Farage won’t let a defined policy be articulated for two reasons:

1) because it allows him to remain all things to all members by not coming off the fence to explicitly chart the course the party will take, therefore avoiding a split with the half of the party that wants a different approach to be taken, and
2) because Farage fears having his policy pulled apart by political opponents, resulting in a loss of confidence among potential UKIP voters when the detail-free policies collapse under scrutiny.

As a result, there is nothing for UKIP to teach its members and activists in the proposed training, therefore they will get chewed up on doorsteps and in hustings as soon as detail is sought and the responses are on-the-fly, off-the-cuff answers that may easily contradict what other UKIP candidates assert elsewhere.

Setting these considerations aside, what can this volunteer army realistically achieve?  Most of them will be supporting the party because they oppose EU membership, but having arrived they will be encountering a party whose leader is now dramatically reducing any discussion of EU matters.  Ironically, of those things which Farage does deign to talk about many have come about or become an issue precisely because they come under EU competence and have been imposed on the UK.  But even Farage is refusing or failing to connect those dots to help voters understand just how relevant and how much impact the EU has on their day to day lives.

This volunteer army would be part of a force in a party that was created in a time when seizing political control was the only way to realise its aim of exiting the EU.  But today the world is rather different.  There isn’t the need to directly tackle the political class on its own terms in its own domain to move the UK towards the exit door.   The battle that needs to be fought is to win the hearts, minds and confidence of the general public to get them on side to vote in a referendum for an independent Britain.  How does UKIP having its army and getting Farage and others into Parliament achieve that aim?  Norway has already shown the way, winning its referendum to remain independent without having a UKIP type party leading the campaign.

But when it comes to winning the hearts, minds and confidence of voters, many vocal UKIP supporters argue that it is sufficient just to say ‘UKIP wants the UK to leave the EU’ to get them onside, and that giving voters detail will put them off.  But unless voters have confidence that the solely political aim of leaving (to achieve self determination) can be achieved without damaging the country’s economic and commercial interests, they aren’t going to get onside.  They will stick with the status quo out of fear.  This partly explains why UKIP is stubbonly rooted on around 12% in the polls, unable to increase its support because it is mute on the EU issue and is leaving the field to the Europhile voices who are happily sowing misinformation and outright lies without challenge.

Then there is the issue of business involvement in the campaign.  Even though it isn’t the place of business to decide how this country should be governed, there’s benefit to the business community also having confidence that an orderly exit can preserve what they want to hold on to and there’s nothing to fear from a Brexit.  Leaving the EU is about politics and democracy, it is not an economic matter and must not be allowed to be positioned as such by the Europhiles, using economic concerns to corrupt the debate and scare people into accepting the wishes of the political class.

We do need UKIP as a membership organisation to be onside with a Brexit campaign, articulating the right arguments to win people over to the merits of independence.   But UKIP has gone awol just as the Europhiles have started spreading false arguments, which unchallenged are therefore presumed by voters to be accurate and true.

UKIP is working back to front, adopting an approach they should have used years ago just after it has become obsolete.  The party is dancing to Farage’s tune, but he is way off key.   So what is UKIP good for if it’s so far behind the times and won’t show leadership in the independence campaign because it wants to win the protest votes of fed up people to realise Farage’s ambitions?

The sad fact is, in fighting the battles of yesterday UKIP is not helping us win the bigger battle that is coming tomorrow.  The party needs to change and that isn’t going to happen under the Blessed Nigel.

The Europhile plot to steal a future EU referendum vote

For the last couple of days it has been my intention to close this blog, following my annoyance and despair at the extent of support for the reprehensible Godfrey Bloom; and the continuing ill informed and factually inaccurate assertions made by people in the comments, who nominally share my determination to extract the UK from the EU.

For now, while I consider whether there is any value in carrying on with the blog, there is one important issue that should be brought to wider attention.

Some readers may be familiar with the name Matthew Elliott. He is a Conservative strategist, the co-founder and former Chief Executive of the TaxPayers Alliance, founder of Big Brother Watch and he led the No to AV campaign that saw the Lib Dem effort to force the alternative vote system defeated in a low turnout referendum alongside other elections.

Last week, Elliott’s latest campaign vehicle, Business for Britain, got a mention in the Daily Mail, which reported that:

Tory Eurosceptics will challenge David Cameron to toughen his line on renegotiations with Brussels by calling for the UK to pull out of the single market altogether.

Up to 100 MPs are expected to back a tough manifesto to be released in November by a new pressure group called Business For Britain.

The group is run by leading Tory strategist Matthew Elliott, who ran the No To AV campaign against Lib Dem proposals for electoral reform in 2011 and is widely expected to take the helm of a No campaign in an in-out referendum promised by Mr Cameron for 2017.

The interesting – and concerning – bit here is the last paragraph and the assertion that Elliott is widely expected to lead the ‘No’ (or Out if you prefer) campaign in a prospective EU Referendum.

Why would this be a problem? On the face of it Elliott seems phenomenally qualified to lead such a campaign. The answer can be found in Business for Britain’s own manifesto and an article written by Elliott back in July this year for City AM, in which he wrote:

BUSINESS for New Europe’s manifesto – A Europe That Works – is a useful contribution to the debate on Britain’s membership of the EU, a debate that has often been dominated by political, rather than business voices. But the assumption that the UK’s wealth and job creators would seek to preserve Britain’s place in the EU at all costs has already been dispelled with the launch of our own campaign – Business for Britain – supported by over 750 business leaders, and calling for a fundamental renegotiation of Britain’s EU membership.

The EU Referendum ‘No’ campaign is a vehicle for people who wish to see the UK leave the European Union. The clue is in the nature of the prospective referendum – in or out. Which begs an all-important question that I now ask…

How could Matthew Elliott lead a ‘No’ campaign for people who want to leave the EU, when his latest venture is an organisation making arguments only for reform of the EU, not withdrawal from it?

Elliott is a favourite son of the Conservative Party, which wants to re-pay him for helping defeat the Lib Dem AV campaign, The Conservative Party is an entity that describes itself as Eurosceptic but aggressively fights any suggestion that UK should leave the EU, instead they believe it should be reformed from the inside. A state of affairs that leaves Brussels as this country’s supreme government.

So it stands to reason that Elliott is being tipped for the role of leading a ‘No’ campaign, because the Tories know he favours reform, not withdrawal. Any effort to install Elliott as the ‘No’ campaign leader would be a cynical effort to steal a referendum. No football team would turn up to a match and name one of the opposing team’s players as its captain and put him in goal. Putting Elliott in charge of a ‘No’ campaign would be no different to that folly.

Regardless of his campaigning credentials, no Eurosceptic should be fooled into accepting Elliott as the leader of a ‘No’ campaign. The Electoral Commission must not be allowed to hand control of the ‘No’ / ‘Out’ campaign to a Europlastic who wants to stay firm in the EU.

It would be nice to see UKIP, the UK’s only national political party that advocates withdrawal from the EU, speaking out on this important issue. Naturally the followers of the Farage cult will complain they would if only the media would take notice of them. Well, it doesn’t seem like Farage has any trouble getting the ear of the Guardian’s editorial team and they do have a website on which such messages – if they actually existed – could be shared.

Memo to Nigel Farage: This is why detail matters

When one doesn’t do detail, a bit like a certain Nigel Farage, one is liable to get things wrong.  When one gets things wrong, it is difficult for people to have confidence in what one has to say – particularly when it comes to presenting details of how a particular aim, say, leaving the EU, can be achieved.

While it might not matter much to some people that Farage wrongly stated Sinn Féin’s policy on European Union membership, his high profile means that such errors are not merely a personal embarrassment for him, but are damaging to the credibility of the rest of us who want the UK to leave the EU.

As this blog has argued before, to indignation from some of his supporters, Farage’s ‘cheeky chappie, bloke you would be happy to have a pint with’ persona will only get UKIP so far in electoral terms.  Many undecided and non-voters are more sophisticated than many people give them credit for and will form any voting intentions based on the competence, character and credibility of a candidate or party leader.  If Farage won’t do detail and get his facts right, he won’t just earn the scorn of his rivals, he will be rejected by potential supporters who would have grounds to doubt his claims and question his suitability for office.

UKIP and the true Eurosceptic movement deserve better.

EU: That famous British influence in action

The EUphiles never tire of claiming that if the UK left the EU we would lose our ‘influence’ over the laws that are made and how things are done.  When asked to detail examples of this influence they go quiet.  It is an illusion.

That much is emphasised again in the Telegraph, which reports on the reaction of DEFRA minister, Owen Paterson, to a series of votes in the European Parliament concerning the Common Agricultural Policy. The minister is said to have condemned the votes, which will see farmers paid twice for doing the same work at a cost of up to an extra £2.6bn per year.  A substantial proportion of that money is extracted from UK taxpayers and the benefit to UK farmers is trivial compared to the subsidy whores on the continent.

The parliament’s agriculture committee, which is dominated by farming interests, backed so-called “double payments” to farmers in order to keep spending on the CAP – currently approaching £50 billion a year – as close as possible to its present high levels.

Crucially, farmers will be able to be paid twice for the same work. Farmers who qualify for money from “Pillar 2”, the part of the budget which rewards “green” practices, such as preserving hedgerows, will now get an automatic right to collect money from the larger subsidy scheme, known as “Pillar 1” regardless of how little work they do for the Pillar 2 cash, meaning in effect being paid twice for doing the same thing.

The committee also voted for more of the controversial practice, reduced under earlier CAP reforms, of subsidising farmers based purely on the amounts they produce – something which contributed to the infamous 1970s “butter mountains” and “wine lakes.”

It is waste, plain and simple. It is an appalling abuse of our money. But as if the fact the vote was carried at the meeting of the agriculture committee at all isn’t bad enough, the manner in which it passed and what was passed along with it is even worse, as a separate piece in the Telegraph makes clear:

[...] the agriculture committee voted, in several ways, to go backwards in time. They passed “recoupling”. This re-establishes, on a smaller scale, the discredited practice of subsidising particular crops for the sake of it. It blocked transparency provisions which would have published the names of all the beneficiaries and the amounts they received.

Now why on earth would transparency provisions be blocked?  The question is rhetorical, for we can already be sure of the answer.  This is the nature of the EU.  Vested interests are being served at our ever growing expense. As the piece continues:

If last week’s vote shows the unreformed nature of much Euro-thinking, it also shows up the EU’s flawed democratic processes.

These hugely important changes have emerged almost entirely without public involvement, knowledge or debate. The amendments, and the compromises between them which were passed, were produced in private, and even published only a few days before last week’s hearing.

With as many as 8,000 amendments to consider on Wednesday and Thursday — though the number was reduced by compromises — there was no time for debate, or indeed for anything but the votes.

There is much more besides and reading the whole depressing thing is essential.  But this is what David Cameron wants more of, the UK staying trapped inside a corrupt cesspool with Brussels still pulling the strings, with a few meaningless ‘powers’ returned like crumbs being swept from a table.  All because Cameron and his EUphile stooges says it’s vital this country is at the heart of ‘Europe’ using our ‘influence’.

Just where was this famous influence on Wednesday, as British taxpayers were ripped off for even more money amidst chaotic scenes, as our ‘partners’ not only picked our pockets but at the same time voted to prevent us finding out who exactly was going to benefit from this pork barrel pantomime?  Nothing that Cameron hopes to reform is going to change this.  The only way to stop being abused like this is for the UK to leave the EU.  Stories like this make it that bit easier.

Roger Helmer writes open letter to Damian Reece

Regular readers will know this blog has had some strong disagreements with Roger Helmer in months gone by.  Credit where it’s due, Helmer finally abandoned his indefensible membership of the europhile Conservatives and defected to UKIP – a party that reflects his eurosceptic viewpoint.

As this blog did on Saturday, Helmer has taken issue with the weekend editorial piece by the Telegraph’s Head of Business, Damian Reece, and has responded with an open letter on the Better Off Out site, a campaign group whose objectives this blog wholeheartedly supports.

While the sentiment of Helmer’s response is spot on, parts of the response leave eurosceptics open to accusations of woolly thinking, such as in this following paragraph (emphasis is mine):

Those of us who believe that we should be “Better Off Out” would argue for full independence, plus a free trade agreement. Such an agreement can certainly be achieved, because it is overwhelmingly in the interests of both parties, and of Brussels more than the UK (since we are a net importer from the EU). It is also required in the Treaties for the EU to negotiate such an agreement with a departing member-state. Even in the unthinkable case that we left the EU with no such agreement, the duties we should pay on our exports to the EU would be a mere fraction of our current net EU budget contributions.

This is ludicrously simplistic and fails to recognise major issues Helmer should be well aware of. For example, if we left the EU without agreements covering a wide range of matters the UK could find itself in breach of international conventions such as the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), which Richard recently outlined on his blog to illustrate the attention to detail needed when exiting the EU.

Unilateral withdrawal from the EU without an agreement is indeed unthinkable – which is why it is unbelievable that Helmer has needlessly opened up a line of attack against eurosceptics with his detour on to discussion of duties and budget contributions. There are literally thousands of different conventions, agreements, protocols and other arrangements like CCAMLR which could be affected by our withdrawal from the EU and damage the UK economy by making it more difficult for this country to export. Comparing export duties with budget contributions is utterly irrelevant, particularly if this country finds itself unable to export to the EU because of the absence of an agreement.

Sadly this is another frustrating heads-in-hands moment caused by a lack of determined focus and a need to ramble.  The withdrawalist argument and pledge to the nation needs be clear and unambiguous and leave the europhiles with no opportunity to scaremonger that withdrawal will damage the UK’s interests.  The manner of withhdrawal needs to be certain and sure-footed, the arguments for it completely positive, and commitment to securing agreement to safeguard the UK’s economic and commercial interests absolute.

There is more than a hint of the Farage UKIP party line in Helmer’s letter, which is only to be expected given Helmer is a party political animal.  But Helmer should know better.  This is another positive argument for a strong and leaderless, organic, grassroots movement that is free of the baggage of a political party and direction set by an autocratic leader.


Enter your email address below

The Harrogate Agenda Explained

Email AM

Bloggers for an Independent UK

AM on Twitter

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

STOR Scandal

Autonomous Mind Archive