Which planet is Ken Clarke on?

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Last Sunday, Ken Clarke declared that British Ministers, not Brussels, were to blame for swathes of damaging EU regulation.  It was “a myth” that British politicians had no control.  “We sit in the Council of Ministers, so when European regulation comes along, we can object and try to block it”.  Big deal (you may think).  Ken ignores the fact that as a (vestigially) free-market Anglo-Saxon economy, the UK exists in a structural and permanent minority against the dirigiste, social-market continental model.  Yes, Ken, we can object.  We can try to block it.  But we almost never succeed.

He didn’t stop there.  “It is very hard to find an EU regulation that has been forced on an unwilling British Minister”.  And again “I cannot think of one EU regulation passed into UK law that has not first been advocated by a British Minister”.

Of course the elderly do sometimes have memory problems (I am not immune myself).  But let me see if in this instance I can help jog Ken’s memory.

I well recall the infamous Agency Workers Directive.  I remember Alan Johnson, then Labour Minister for Employment Relations, coming cap-in-hand to Brussels and explaining to the Chairman of the parliament’s Unemployment Committee that temporary work in the UK was well-ordered, and operated in the best interests of employees, employers, agencies and the broader economy.  We didn’t need the new Directive, which we believed would damage our existing arrangements.  This, bear in mind, from a Labour Minister in a Labour government, and a man with impeccable working-class roots to boot.

He was told in no uncertain terms that while there might be a possibility of a derogation for a year or two, this was EU legislation and we’d better get used to it.  A more demeaning experience for a Minister of the British Crown would be hard to imagine.

We then had a succession of UKREP people and Labour Ministers visiting with British MEPs and appealing to them to oppose the legislation.  I well remember (I have to admit it: I was a Conservative MEP at the time) saying “Of course we Conservatives will vote against it, Minister.  The problem is your own Labour MEPs who want to support it.  What are you going to do about them?”.  No answer but a rueful smile.

More recently, we’ve had the British government fighting a desperate rearguard action against financial regulation which will be hugely damaging to the City of London, on issues like short selling and bankers’ bonuses — and the Financial Transaction Tax.  The government even has several cases before the ECJ, which knocked back the UK case on short selling only a few days ago. 

Perhaps Ken would like to rejoin the real world, and recognise the huge damage that EU membership is doing to our country, as Brussels tramples rough-shod over the policies of our elected government and the will of the British people.  (Now I come to think of it, one of the main reasons I want out of the EU is so that Great Britain too can rejoin the real world).

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14 Responses to Which planet is Ken Clarke on?

  1. Roger, welcome to the Real World, and when you find it, let me in on the secret, as in my dotage I find difficulty in finding a clean pair of socks. Is it any wonder that I and maybe others are confused with the EU and Politics?

  2. I think Clarke has a point even if it is not quite the one he is trying to make.
    British governments are perfectly capable of producing useless regulations even when the EU don’t force them & sometimes, I suspect, they are happy to be able to blame the EU for something they intended anyway (& as you say, they helped push through the EU). The EU can be a good alibi.

    2 examples
    – in Britain child care costs 42% of the average wage. In Estonia it is 6%. This can only be regulatory and since Estonia, while admirably libertarian, is part of the EU, it cannot be the EU.
    – in Britain public building projects, roads, bridges, railways etc, normally cost 8 times what they do in most of the EU and the rest of the world.

    • I think you’re absolutely correct. The EU does make an excellent excuse, especially with the notorious habit of British civil servants to “copper bottom” EU regulations — that is, interpreting EU regulations in a way that goes some way beyond what the EU actually requires. When the public objects, the reply is, “Blame the EU — we have no choice.”

      Without the EU, they wouldn’t have this excuse. The British public administration would have to account for its own failures. What’s more, the British public administration would be free to amend the silly regulations as necessary.

  3. dave roderick says:

    :that temporary work in the UK was well-ordered, and operated in the best interests of employees, employers, agencies and the broader economy.:
    It is obvious you have never had to work through these theiving instruments as i millions of others have been cheated out of a fair days pay with there undercutting each other to gain contracts at the workers expense

  4. Our political establishment just can’t stop lying about the EU, can it? They lied to us to get us in in the first place, they’ve been lying about it ever since, and here’s Ken Clarke still lying about it now. And they wonder wonder nobody takes them seriously any more.

  5. DICK R says:

    Clarke is a despicable traitor !

  6. Ex-expat Colin says:

    I think Clarke and a good few others of that Party are of the chocolate teapot category, and thats being too nice. Teapots of that type are fairly widespread in this country I am sure.

    As regards the ECJ and knock backs – something similar regarding Wind turbine impacts and the Arhus Convention appears here: http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2014/1/29/european-justice.html

    I have seen this blowing in the wind a few times and have no way of assessing the technicalities. Am sure its been popped on something technical – legal person ? Its a couple of serious issues appearing to be discarded by an unelected bunch of .

  7. Mike Stallard says:

    Actually, in a way, Mr Clarke has a point. Parliament can surely be by-passed with a statutory instrument, can’t it? I thought this was one of Douglas Hurd’s acts of genius – I may be wrong though. So Ministers do have to sign off Directives before they are gold plated by the British Civil Service.

    Please may I beg Mr Helmer not to forget the main point of UKIP: to free this ancient, democratic and freedom loving country up to get its power of decision making back to London? It must not get side-tracked.

    • Mike, I don’t think any of us will lose sight of UKIP’s primary objective — to re-establish the independence of our country outside the EU. But if we want to be taken seriously as a political party, we can’t be a One-Trick Pony or a single-issue pressure group.

  8. Linda Hudson says:

    no one, takes any notice, least of all his opinions, of this yesterdays man!

    • Heather Alibakir says:

      Sorry to disagree but enough notice is taken of him for us to be discussing him now instead of something more interesting. I have been calling him a loose cannon for the last 20 years

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