Thursday, February 08, 2007

Is Rape more important than the EU?

...a title I really hoped I'd never have to write.

Something about Caroline Hunt has really upset DK. I have to defend my fellow Conservative though as I really think he's rather missed the point on quite a few of her responses to PMQs (leaving aside the "what's the point of UKIP?" post which I've responded to in the comments on his blog and will return to later).

"Well, Caroline, it rather depends whether you think that cases should be judged on the evidence of whether you think that anyone accused ought to be automatically convicted, you stupid girl. Or would you set some targets?

"I'm sorry, Mr Smith; we all think that you're innocent, but we have to meet our targets so I'm afraid it's 15 years without parole for you.""

Firstly, the main problem Hunt raised was over the increase in the number of cases which surely is a problem. Now, a low conviction rate can either be because most of those being accussed are innocent or it can be because of some flaw in the judicial system which is making it unable to properly prosecute rape cases and get the guilty. It seems likely to me that it is a combination of the two. However, both are clearly a problem. Our justice system is clearly either unable to quickly determine false cases before they get to court or properly convict the guilty. Either way, Hunt is right to note that if "rape conviction is down and rape cases are up" that is not a good thing.

"Look, Caroline, a good proportion of the general public think that Z-List Celebrities are more important than the EU: should our MPs spend all their time discussing whether Rooney really did sleep with that prostitute? Or who's died this week on Eastenders?"

However, there are a great many questions which the public is concerned with and should be. Imagine a Venn diagram of poor topics for PMQs; you have a "the public doesn't care" and "the public shouldn't care". Europe is in the first category, Z-list celebrities in the second and UKIP policy is in both (joke). Rape is clearly in neither category.

The actual importance of PMQs is that it does feed into the media and does reach the common man; they may not know the stories but they do read about what the Prime Minister said in the paper. Hunt is right that, in political terms, PMQs is a great time to talk about issues which the public is interested in. Plenty of other time in the commons to talk about Europe. Of course, the EU can be a good subject for PMQs but there isn't really a lot of note going on there at the moment as everyone is still settling in after enlargement. Give it a couple of months and then maybe we'll have an attempt at a new constitution to oppose and the EU will be a PMQ worthy issue again.

"I'm not going to ask how you are so familiar with lorry drivers, my dear"

They called in to her talkshow...

"but next time that you... er... meet some, perhaps you would like to inform them that the Social Chapter doesn't exist, and so Cameron's pledge to withdraw from it is either a sign of stupifying ignorance or a bare-faced lie.

For fuck's sake, I wish these Tories would either get informed or stop lying to people. As I have said before, we cannot opt out of the Social Chapter because it doesn't fucking exist any more! It is now contained in Articles 136–145 of the Treaty of Amsterdam, which Cameron cannot just unsign."

Firstly, the same is, I believe, true of leaving the EU which does not yet have a formal exit system, right? (I don't spend much time studying EU treaties so forgive my ignorance if there is already such a system) Do you think that would stop us? Does promising to leave the EU make the UKIP a bunch of, to use your charming phrase, ignorant fools or shameless liars?

Secondly, just because things are not possible in terms of the current treaties does not mean they are impossible. The EU still functions largely as an outcome of negotiations between governments. While we can't "promise" things we can promise to make them priorities in negotiations with the rest of the EU. Cameron has promised either to leave the Social Chapter in the same way UKIP has promised to leave the EU or has promised to make it a priority in negotiation. I don't know which but neither is inherently implausible.


Devil's Kitchen said...

"(I don't spend much time studying EU treaties..."

In that case, Matt, I suggest that you do so: your point is answered here.


Gavin Ayling said...

And sadly, the more you study the European Treatise the more you will find them unpallatable as a 'real' Conservative. There is no way, none at all, that real Conservatives should be comfortable with foreign rule.

The EU is impossibly undemocratic and is effectively run by proxy twice... Our non-directly elected Prime Minister appoints an entirely unelected Commissioner who then cannot be thrown out by anyone except a 2/3 majority vote of the EU Parliament. But the EU Parliament can only vote to throw out the entire commission (not just one commissioner) and then the non-directly elected Prime Minister can reappoint the self-same Commissioner.

The EU is madness. The only reason a UK Parliament MP would support the EU is if their own socialist agenda was progressed by EU legislation, regulation and interference or if they see some potential future personal benefit or power.