One Ring to Rule Them All?

The EU's Ring of Stars (or Crown of Thorns)

The EU’s Ring of Stars (or Crown of Thorns)

There’s been an outbreak of Euroscepticism in the Tory party — or at least we could say that the firmly-held conviction of most party members and activists has once again broken through the arrogance, hubris and indifference of the leadership.  The reason for this is not hard to find — stark panic at the advances of UKIP in the County Council Elections, in the opinion polls and in the media.  Even Tory MPs who were not known as sceptics are panicked about their prospects in 2015.

But in the party’s querulous mood, some of the sceptic voices have tempered their position by arguing that “Leaving the EU won’t solve all our problems!” — as if anyone ever said that it would.  Consider the journey they’ve come on so far.  They inhabited a world where leaving the EU was the province of cranks, gadflies, clowns and closet racists.  Now, the idea that we will benefit from leaving has become so mainstream, after interventions from Lords Lawson, Lamont and Forsyth, from Boris Johnson and Michael Portillo, that some are feeling moved to warn that “Brexit”, though now desirable, is not a universal panacea.

Surprising.  Nevertheless, we have Boris warning that many of our problems are home-made. There is powerful if anecdotal evidence of a reluctance to engage in serious work amongst British young people, a sense of entitlement, a failure to benefit from state education, even a failure of the state education system (though Michael Gove is doughtily battling the regressive teachers’ unions to drag education screaming into the 21st Century).  Boris of course has a point: he should recall Simon Heffer’s famous comment: “We have an underclass because we have decided to pay for one”.

Then we have Dominic Raab, who has been one of the clearest sceptic voices amongst the Tories, arguing that “You can’t blame Brussels for Britain’s debts”. Well maybe not, Dominic, though if you think that Tim Congdon’s estimate of the real total costs of Britain’s EU membership is anything like right, at £150 bn a year, leaving the EU would be a massive help with our debt problems.

But all this is to miss the key point, which is that while leaving the EU would not solve all of Britain’s problems, it is the single most significant thing we could do to promote growth and competitiveness, to relieve regulatory obstacles to enterprise, to control energy prices, to control our borders, and above all to return democracy and self-government to the British people.

At the weekend we had Ed Miliband telling us that the voter doesn’t really care too much about “Europe”.  She cares about jobs, and immigration, and the cost of living — as though those issues were wholly unrelated to the EU.

We should not be surprised when the son of a noted Hampstead Marxist makes this elementary error, but it really is more worrying to find Benedict Brogan doing the same.  He says “The (Conservative) party is divided on an issue that scarcely one in ten lists as a priority“. Benedict, you need to get out more.  In particular, you need to go and talk to voters on the doorstep, as I have, whether in Labour Rotherham, or Lib-Dem Eastleigh, or the leafy Tory Sires of my East Midlands region.

You’d find that voters care about jobs, about living costs and food prices, about energy prices and fuel poverty.  They care about immigration.  Many of them care about the march of wind turbines across our green and pleasant land.  And every one of those issues is directly and adversely affected by our EU membership.

On any realistic estimate around three quarters of our new legislation comes from Brussels, and Westminster acts as little more than a rubber stamp.  This surely brings to mind Tolkien’s Middle Earth: “One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them”.

It is overwhelmingly Brussels that controls broad swathes of our legislation and our public life, to our great detriment.  The reason that voters rate “Europe” way down their list of priorities is that, intentionally or otherwise, our politicians have chosen to conceal (or at least not to make clear) the extent to which we’ve surrendered control of our own affairs.  It is the historic rôle of UKIP to let that cat out of the bag.  I find that the more I tell voters about the EU, the angrier they get.

P.S.  I’ve just noticed that in my nice picture of the EU flag, above, culled from a Guardian web-site, the flag is shown upside-down!

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17 Responses to One Ring to Rule Them All?

  1. Patryk says:

    You avoided a serious debate with me before but I will try again.
    You say: “On any realistic estimate around three quarters of our new legislation comes from Brussels, and Westminster acts as little more than a rubber stamp.” Which laws exactly? Especially those that stifle growth? Let’s see:
    1. Taxation – EU sets VAT at 15%, currentlythe UK’s rate is 20%. The EU doesn’t regulate income tax, corporation tax, council tax, fuel duty, etc… Plenty of room to cut taxation without “Brussel ineterference”
    2. Welfare – The only EU directive (I think) regarding welfare is that whatever applies to a British national must apply to a EEA national. Still, that gives the UK plenty of opportunity to reform the welfare system much more drastically – swap child tax credits for tax cuts or tax breaks, make welfare payments contributory only, etc.
    3. Immigration – The EU only controls the European immigration. Again, that gives plenty of chance for UK to control the immigration from other places.
    4. Energy policy – again is up to the UK govt (no Brussels interference) to explore alternative options like fracking to find cheap energy.

    Will I get a reasoned reply from you or will you tell me again that my arguments are “lefty”?

    • Linda Hudson says:

      I challenge you to discuss these issues face to face with Mr, Farage, a man who probably knows the main E.U. diktat better than most, after all, theres no-one on Gods earth who know all the laws, rules and legislation of this regime, and thats the rub, the bureaucracy is so vast, expensive, and corrupt!

    • Linda Hudson says:

      Patryk you say the E.U. only controls European immigration, well thats 27 countries, and that is where our problem comes from!

    • Chris says:

      Immigration/Welfare: There are now 1 million East Europeans living in the UK. There are over 40,000 children claiming child benefits from the UK even though they live in another EU country costing us £55 million. One in five low skilled jobs are taken by A8 (East Europe) citizens costing 135,000 British jobs or £7.5 billion. whilst migrant remittances affect the country’s balance of payments and inflation. The migrant influx increases job competition.

      Energy: Environment and energy rules fail in their objectives by forcing production out of Europe to unregulated regions; rules cost £25.5 million to Energy Intensive Industries alone and possibly £3 billion to the country. Signing up to ridiculous carbon taxes and renewables are placing high costs on businesses and consumers.

      Tax: The general cost of EU regulation is estimated at over £20 billion each year. Of this, employment rules may cost more than £3 billion, damage NHS morale and productivity, may forfeit 60,000 potential jobs and force unnecessary turnover in temporary work.

      The Common Fisheries Policy has decimated fish stocks, driven up supermarket prices, minimised employment and may cost the UK up to £4.7 billion each year.

      The Common Agricultural Policy drains upwards of £10 billion each year, both in direct costs and by inflating food prices.

      Majority voting is now neutering any chance of Britain stopping unwanted policies being approved. Threatening moves include an EU-wide Financial Transaction Tax (‘Tobin Tax/FTT’) and the European Central Bank’s plans to force all clearing houses trading Euros to be based within the Eurozone. The European Commission’s own ‘Impact Assessment’ estimates that an FTT would result in job losses of 478,000 – 812,000 as a result of the ‘cascading effect’ as the tax makes business capital more expensive. The 1,200-page study does consider the possibility of ‘relocation’, i.e. banks moving their operations to countries without the tax, but fails to quantify what would presumably be a disaster for UK employment, GDP and tax revenue. The Commission are well aware of this, having studied the effects of the 1980/90s financial tax in Sweden, which drove over 50% of all trades to London and reduced bond and futures trading volume by 85% and 98%.
      .

      • Patryk says:

        Thanks for your reply Chris. I completely agree with you on Child benefits for children living outside the UK, CAP, CFP, Energy and FTT. However, when it comes to the last one – there’s an interesting anecdote. I’ve recently attended a meeting with a Tory MEP and she said that when it came to voting on FTT, (some) UKIP MEPs didn’t attend and the ballot was lost by 2 votes… I wonder if Roger will comment on this.

        There are some points I don’t understand or disagree with you though:
        “One in five low skilled jobs are taken by A8 (East Europe) citizens costing 135,000 British jobs or £7.5 billion.” – How is someone doing a job costing Britain any money? This doesn’t make sense. There is no concept that a job automatically “belongs” to someone. For example do you really believe that If I need to have my house redecorated I need to choose the contractor on the basis of their nationality? Can I not have a choice and decide how I spend my money and who does my job? “The job” only “belongs” to the employer who rightly chooses the best person in their opinion to fill this job.

        “NHS morale” – sorry Chris you must be joking. The NHS is in the state it is because of too much administration and the belief that problems will be solved by adding extra layers of bureaucracy and management. NHS admin should be cut and it should be made contributory only and this is something that UK can reform without the Brussels interefrenece.

    • rfhmep says:

      I’m not accustomed to avoiding debates, Patryk. I said nothing about taxation — but the EU is increasingly pressing for “Own Resources”, and for an FTT, which would do huge damage to one of our major industries. And our budget contributions are funded out of taxation. Three quarters of our legislation: The British Govt pusilanimously refuses to make an estimate, but the German govt did a thorough study over an extended period, and came out at 80%. 75% is widely quoted and generally accepted. Welfare: EU insists that EU immigrants get the same access to welfare as UK citizens, making the UK a magnet for poor economic migrants. Welfare/health: the Working Time Directive is doing huge damage to our NHS, and probably costing lives. Immigration: You can’t have a proper immigration policy when tens of thousands are free to come at will. Probably 50,000 a year from Romania and Bulgaria alone from 2014. And if we try to control overall numbers, but have to accept unlimited poor EU economic migrants, that’s fewer qualified people and Indian software engineers we can allow in. On energy, Patryk, you’re clearly talking out of your hat. Gas (whether fracked or not) is not a renewable and does not count towards EU renewables targets. We are being forced into a disastrous policy of wind and solarPV which drives up prices, forces jobs and investment and whole industries out of the UK and the EU, and leaves households and pensioners in fuel poverty. Energy policy alone is enough to make the Better Off Out case.

  2. maureen gannon says:

    What a farce . It is time the dishonourable member Mr Cameron accepted we are not all donkeys that will accept the carrot he dangles,
    Why 2017 has he had an estimate of how many of us oldies will have gone on the Logans run, or should I say Liverpool pathway of non care .
    Had I any doubts that UKIP was maybe not the answer this charade has proved it is the only honest one there is .

  3. georgyporgie says:

    Roger,

    What seems absolutely clear to me is that we are heading for proportional representation at the next general election!!!

    Gerorge Wood

    ________________________________

  4. I recently stood, unsuccessfully, as a Ukip candidate in the local elections. Part of the process was the creation of a leaflet outlining my views on matters local and national. I wanted to ensure that everything I said was factually accurate and so I delved into the matter of EU-based legislation and ended up concluding (as far as one can conclude in this murky area) that only around 20% of our laws stem from the EU. When accosted by individuals my stock answer was and is, ‘many laws emanate from the EU’. But you Roger, (we have met so feel I can address you thus), are saying c. 75%. One of us is wrong or we are working within different parameters. What are the facts of the matter and does anyone know for sure?

    • rfhmep says:

      We can’t “prove” this mathematically, Hugh, because how do you say that one law is quantitively equal to another? How distinguish between Orders in Council & primary legislation? Was the infamous Climate Change Act UK or EU? It was largely driven by the need to deliver EU policy. But cleverer people than me seem to accept the 75% figure, and (see my reply to Patryk) the German government did the most thorough study I know of and came to 80%.

  5. Mike Spilligan says:

    Conversely, Douglas Carswell, who was a confirmed and almost revolutionary Eurosceptic (and whose blog I gave up reading seriously a couple of years ago) reckons Cameron has done enough with his latest proposal to calm nervous sitting Tories. In my view Carswell has “gone native” now that he’s used to the Westminster ethos – and Cameron seems to have promised little more than nothing. Only vacuous minds will be satisfied.

  6. Jane Davies says:

    Roger I have a question about pensions. Can you tell me if the UK is alone in freezing the state pensions of just under half of British expats? The majority of UK expats enjoy their annual up-rating, so this is a discriminatory issue too. Do the other countries in the EU pay annual cost of living increases to it’s pensioners who retire to another country?

  7. DougS says:

    I can understand why the Guardian managed to show the flag upside down – if it were the other way up, the curved ‘folds’ would be defying gravity – something that the EU attempts on a regular basis!

  8. DougS says:

    I love this summary of the EU over on Jo Nova’s blog:

    “….Is there a better argument to show why big government is a big-fail than just saying, E.U.? It takes real skill to start with 20 successful economies and combine them into one large bankrupt entity — and all this in only a decade-and-a-half….”

    She’s currently lamenting (quite rightly), the fact that the Australian government sent A$7 million to the EU to help bail them out!! It’s news to me, but I thought that the Australians had more sense. Perhaps it’s explained by the fact that mad Julia Gillard’s Labour Party are in power down under.

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