Vince asked the Question

so I’ll answer it

Maybe you'll need a tin hat, Vince?

Maybe you’ll need a tin hat, Vince?

One amazing consequence of UKIP’s remarkable run of by-election successes has been a new respect from the old parties.  Baroness (Sayeeda) Warsi has invited Lord Pearson for a fireside chat.  And Vince Cable, no less, once everyone’s favourite uncle, and now the anti-business secretary, has said that UKIP should be taken seriously.  Thanks for that, Vince.

“I certainly don’t think we should be insulting the voters or indeed insulting UKIP. If they want to be taken seriously we should engage with them on the big issues.”   But he goes on to question some of our political positions.  “They are arguing at the moment as I understand it that we should have a massive increase in defence spending, we should have massive tax cuts and balance the budget at the same time. It is far from clear how you do those things but let’s challenge them and get them to explain it.”

Thanks for the offer, Vince.  For a start, the UK foreign aid budget is around £12 billion.  Not much, in the sort of terms that George Osborne talks about, but still something like £500 per household.  UKIP believes that the UK should be ready to contribute to disaster relief — earthquakes, floods, tsunamis — tents and blankets — but not routine development aid, especially when so much is pilfered and wasted, and so much goes to countries who seem in some respects better off than we are.  Today we hear that Ed Davey in Doha is promising £2 billion for wind turbines in Africa.  The nonsense goes on.

Poor countries need lessons in governance, not endless foreign aid that breeds corruption and dependency.  If the EU is serious about helping poor countries, it would do more good by dismantling its protectionist agriculture policies than by giving hand-outs.

Then there’s energy policy.  The UK is spending something like £100 billion this decade on wind turbines and other renewables.  We can’t afford it.  Nor can we afford the consequent high price of energy, which is driving energy-intensive industries offshore, taking their jobs and investment with them.  It is forcing households and pensioners into fuel poverty.  It is mortgaging our children and bankrupting our grandchildren.  Stop that green nonsense, Vince, and we’ll have lots more headroom in the budget.

But of course the big one — the really big one — is the EU itself.  Never mind our direct budget contributions (and the pathetic hand-outs which we get back in return).  The really big issue is the regulatory cost.  Tim Congdon, one of the UK’s leading economists, has done a very thorough study of the total costs of our EU membership, and his headline number is £150 billion a year — or 10% of GDP.  That would pay for a lot of aircraft carriers and tax cuts, and help us pay down the debt.

Of course we couldn’t count on those savings from Day One (or Independence day, as I like to think of it).  It might take two or three years to unwind the most egregious EU legislation.  But the savings would be tens of billions from Year One, and perhaps £100 billion by year five.  Leaving the EU would transform the UK’s economic prospects.  Just now, in economic terms, we are tethered to a corpse.  We need to rejoin the rest of the world, where the growth is.

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10 Responses to Vince asked the Question

  1. charles wardrop says:

    The EU membership is clearly a form of self-indulgence for our politicos, except the UKIP, paid for by the nation.

  2. Mike Spilligan says:

    Mr H; There’s nothing to challenge in what you write here; all too true. I liked your reference to Independence Day as for some time I’ve been calling 13th December our Loss of Independence Day, recognizing Brown’s treacherous signing of the Lisbon Treaty on that day five years ago. There is, I think, no suitable act of observance.

    • Andrew Smith says:

      Better another day in December when the Treaty of Maastricht was signed on 9 December 1991. While the EEC/EC membership up to that point had been damaging it was surely the Maastricht Treaty which brought about the qualitative change. Among other impositions on us we all became Citizens of the EU” without the option of saying no, with all the duties and obligations citizenship implies.

      At an IEA discussion last evening there were some interesting contributions. Tim Congdon was for complete withdrawal of course, Gisela Stewart seemed close to calling for that too. The egregious Conservative John Stevens wanted full political union in a federal USE – that man must be funded by the EU surely.

      The problematic speakers included Matts Perssen of Open Europe who was pushing the Cameron case of “do nothing now, ask for some delays and seek to get powers back, it will be all right in my hands”. Also Martin Howe was a problem; after an excellent address in which problems and opportunities were clearly set out, his answers to questions dismissed the possibility of us leaving the EU and raised fears about the outcome of a referendum and how our “partners” might damage us after we left.

      No one reminded the audience how, for instance, the City dominates trade in many markets other than the Euro without being a “member of” the USA, China etc or how these other nations appear to prosper and trade with the EU without adopting its Directives internally.

  3. Help us send our “Enough is enough” Christmas message to Decc Minister Ed Davey to repeal, suspend or amend the [2008] Climate Change Act to get our fuel and energy bills down and save 3.5 million British children living in poverty from being cold and hungry this Christmas.

    Climate legislation is hurting millions of British children who are our future – by killing their parents jobs, stagnating wages, increased living costs on fuel, energy, public transport, clothes and food.
    A recent report by Save the Children shows that poverty leaves children without a warm coat or new shoes. It means they miss out on experiences that are central to a happy childhood, such as going on a family holiday or having a friend round for tea or having a few gifts at Christmas time.
    Enough is enough! Ed Davey repeal the Climate Change Act now!


  4. Linda Hudson says:

    HERE, HERE, and so say all of us!

  5. Independence Day – love it. My new rallying cry! Can you please fix the link to Tim Congdon`s work, would love to read through it. Thanks in advance

  6. Jane Davies says:

    I so agree enough is enough, sending billions in overseas aid is obscene when UK pensioners are reduced to trying to live on the lowest state pension in Europe and yet are still being targeted by George Osborne. As for those of us with a frozen state pension being reduced to living in poverty just because we retire to a “wrong” country yet seeing millions wasted by this government one has to ask when is someone with a backbone going to declare an end to this madness?

  7. mikestallard says:

    The real problem (hat tip: Douglas Carswell’s new book) is that money is promised by the Civil Services and the government without people actually seeing the bill when it is planned. A billion here ten thousand billion there, a twelve million here and a one trillion there. Old MacDonald had a farm…..
    Who cares?
    IF we all saw the bill whenever money was planned and IF we could see how much it cost us EACH then things might be very different. As it is a group of four people sit in a dark room planning and a further group sit somewhere in Europe planning. They have absolutely nothing to do with us. Most of them are not elected or accountable at all. They might even by crypto Communists, Trots, even Nazis.
    It is like living under Communism, ruled by our enemies.
    UKIP is one of the very few parties that seems to have its roots in the actual people who are expected to pay for all these follies.
    Gay marriage indeed! Whoever thought that one up! Windmills! Don Quizote…….

  8. Peter Wilkins says:

    Ref Mark Trowbridge complaint about the link to the Tim Congden report. I had the same problen but it can be found here ( 10 pages )

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