Thursday, December 07, 2006

DK on some of my views on the EU and UKIP

DK, after agreeing with me on UKIPHome, goes over an old post of mine about the EU conspiracy meme. After the UKIPHome-Iain Dale dispute that started things this dialogue is, I hope, evidence that UKIP and Conservative members can have a reasonable debate.

Before I get into my main arguments, while DK is in the mood I'd like to challenge him to rebut this article on the UK political system and the means of influencing it. It is my case for why, even if you would like to leave the EU, the UKIP is not the party with which to achieve that objective. One thing I would add to it if I wrote it again now is that my stance on global warming (adaptation over curbing emissions) is also pretty far from the Conservative Party's mainstream at the moment but I believe the same arguments about contributing to the debate rather than choosing a party which agrees with me stand in this case as well. That article may, perhaps, be more convincing to those who believe I am factually wrong or that my political economy is weak on aspects of the EU debate.

"Unfortunately, I believe Matt to be wrong on this point and there are several reasons for this. First and least important, (do say, Matthew, if I am incorrect here) I would say that Matthew Sinclair, who has just recently completed his MSc in Economic History at the LSE (well done), has had only limited recent contact with the... shall we say... salt-of-the-earth workers. A university is still, by any standards, a somewhat rarified environment. I spent the first six years of my working life amongst printers from Musselburgh, Kirkcaldy, Newtowngrange and other such (prelatively poor) places and amongst people who, whilst very good at their jobs, were not educated particularly well and for whom The Sun and its simplistic messages were the normal daily reading.

Second, listening to Farage on the James Whale show a while back, the majority of the people 'phoning in really did not know the extent to which the things that they were complaining about were EU dependent; when they did find out, they were shocked but they were also grateful for the information. And they were angry that they had not known about it, or that they had only heard the connection to the EU through some vague rumour."

It is true that I cannot claim to have had a huge amount to do with salt of the Earth types, I do not claim to be one of the mythical 'common men', although I have certainly spent time in their company. It is plausible that they are irrational, however, my case was that this is not necessarily so and that, perhaps this is the economist in me, the EUSceptics might want to be cautious in leaping too quickly to irrationality. That is why I was trying to make the argument that those who think we should leave the EU should acknowledge that there is a plausible case for staying rather than attempting to convert them to staying in the EU entirely.

This is an Occam's Razor style argument although I understand why it makes less sense to someone who cannot see the plausibility of the argument I am making for why we should stay in the EU.

"Well, unless you are cited on a European Arrest Warrant, of course, which allows you to be arrested and deported from your own country to any EU state on the flimsiest of evidence. We no longer have power over our own lives and our government is unable to defend us; the ECJ trumps all."

I've heard of this a few times before from UKIP members but haven't heard of any cases of it being used/abused. Are there any interesting cases or is it just the potential which is worrying people?

"You may agree with Matt that it is, in fact, a matter of degree and not principle but I would not. Provided we are not aggressors, our treaties with NATO and the UN cannot force us to act against our national interests and they cannot overule the will of our elected representatives; the Directives from the unelected EU Commission can. These directives are backed by the power of the ECJ and the ability to impose swingeing fines upon countries that refuse to implement those Directives."

NATO could force us to intervene to defend Poland from a Russian invasion. This could get us all killed in a nuclear conflagration. While we right wingers might feel fighting the Russians would be the right thing to do the NATO common defence provision is in no way contingent on that defence being in our interests; the existence of the treaty is predicated on the fact it could possibly not be.

The UN story is more complex but it certainly can, in some areas, constrain our policy choices. E.g. immigration is as limited by commitments under the UN as by those under the EU.

"This is a fundamental change of principle because, whilst we may agree that aspects of our national sovereignty may be relinquished we do not know, at the time of negotiating that treaty, exactly what the Clauses are. It is rather similar to signing a contract agreeing to work for someone and leaving the number of hours that you are going to work and how much the employer is going to pay you blank. And then signing the Clause that says: "I agree to be bound by whatever my employer writes in those blank bits, that this contract can never be renegotiated and I have no redress if I am starving to death for lack of money." This is, quite obviously, lunacy."

That seems to rather miss the nature of uncertainty. We did not know what the NATO common defence provisions meant when we signed them. It could have meant getting every single Britain killed by participation in a nuclear war or it could mean the rather less onerous commitments that we face today. That the rules themselves can change is not so important to the question of whether or not our sovereingty is infringed; what is important is the infringement itself, surely?

Plus, we do of course have a redress if things are to get truly desperate that guarantees our ultimate sovereignty and the UKIP is well aware of. We can leave. As we are not losing that option (indeed it was going to be formalised in the constitution I believe) there would seem no need to leave now based on the possibility of a superstate.

I've dealt with the trade question in another post and will return to it at some point, it attracted a lot of attention, so I'll leave that subject for now as it cannot be dealt with quickly.


Devil's Kitchen said...


We can leave. As we are not losing that option (indeed it was going to be formalised in the constitution I believe) there would seem no need to leave now based on the possibility of a superstate.

Yes, a leaving process was, indeed, formalised in the Constitution (which I have lying around on my computer somewhere: I'll try to look it out). It is includes a financial penalty clause based on the recalcitrant country's GDP, i.e. once the Contitution is implemented, we have to buy our way out (and it's not peanuts, either).

You have yet to make a case for staying in the EU, although I shall revise the other posts that you linked to.


Matthew Sinclair said...

The last post linked to in that one (the bit about trade) is the closest to a general "stay in the EU" case.

Serf said...

I've heard of this a few times before from UKIP members but haven't heard of any cases of it being used/abused.

Perhaps it hasn't been abused yet (I don't know). However, it is an invitation to abuse because it is so far outside the norms of behaviour.