Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Tory genius 3: special takeaway edition

Spare me if you will for a moment the accusations of racism that might rightfully derive from this post’s title.

There’s method in my madness and it’s not to rile my non-anti-immigration readers; nor to win undeserved praise from some of my fellow anti-immigration readers.

Both 13th Spitfire and Calling England have pointed out this piece from Conservative Home from the Conservative MEP Nirj Deva, concerning who rules Europe.

Read this interesting and truthful article, and look at the Lisbon breakdown graph that the gentleman has provided.

Much of what Mr Deva says is true, and even sounds a bit like Euro-skeptics such as I might make. In the main body of the argument, with a squint and a quick read and a full bladder that makes you finish it fast and move on, you might think that I had penned many of the criticisms, or Trixy, or EU Referendum. (How’s that name-dropping and egotism for you! I’m on holiday, so I’m treating myself.)

I’m just going to take exception to one or two things in the early, descriptive part of his post, just for fun and context, and then I’m going to do what I guess most of my readers will have done when reading the speculative part of his post.

The European Union, first established as the EEC in Jan 1958 comprises of three separate but interdependent institutions.

What’s in a name? An alleged collection of economic groupings which developed from European Economic Communities to the European Community to the European Union. What’s next, we wonder?

Unless you think that that old thing in the Treaty of Rome about ‘ever-closer union’ actually means something, but that would be crazy, right?

Remember this history so when we get onto the Tory-bashing it’ll be fresh..

Oh, and:

In legislating for these 500 million people my primary duty is to first determine what is best for my own constituents in the South East of England, what next is best for my party the Conservative Party and third what is best for all the peoples of Europe whose interest are represented by the European Parliament.
This is no more different than a Member of the Indian Parliament from Mumbai going to Delhi every week and representing first his electorate and then the interest of the whole of India or a United States Senator from California going to Washington every week and voting to protect the interest of California and then that of the United States according to his party interest be they Democrat or Republican.

Did you see what he did there? He said that a national of one country legislating for his constituency first and then for all the members of a collective polity of many nations is the same as, say, an Indian legislating for his home constituency first and then the nation of India, or an American legislating for his home state and then for all of the United states of America.

It might do some good explaining to someone involved the difference between regional representatives from all over a single nation (albeit some very diverse nations) legislating for the whole nation, so that Indians only make India’s laws and Americans only making America’s laws, and Englishmen making Ireland’s laws (without bayonets being involved,) or Germans making France’s laws (ditto) or Austrians making Italy’s laws (but with nicer pastries.)

Now for that table.


I’d love to know where those percentages come from. I imagine they’re true in some way though as with all things ‘European’ we’re in a number of halls of mirrors as well as smoke-filled back rooms when trying to quantify anything at all; except possibly the number of ‘member states’ involved.

Now it’s time for the boot of sarcasm to meet the buttocks of Cameronian ‘Euro-skepticism.’

So how do we fight back?

Firstly, like all British Conservatives, I am working tirelessly to demand that Prime Minister Brown deliver upon his party’s manifesto commitment to hold a referendum on the European Constitution.

So, trying to persuade Gordon Brown to fulfil a promise is your first line of attack?

What’s number two: build this big horse and then run away from Brussels, but when the Belgians come out to drag it inside, and you what…?

It is a travesty of political and common law justice to deny the British people and (peoples of other nations) a say in how they should be governed.

So restoring legislative sovereignty to the nation-states would be a minimal first step, I’d guess, unless you have a sophisticated new version of ‘pooling sovereignty’ which has always made the same sense as ‘pooling virginity,’ and for similar reasons. Let’s see if restoring legislative sovereignty is on your menu, shall we?

Secondly, the importance of the party’s new European Conservative and Reformists Group in the European Parliament – the body’s first ‘official opposition’ - should not be underestimated.

Oh, I’m sure that we don’t underestimate it, exactly.

As British Conservatives, we are an outward looking, free-market oriented and in favour of greater individual freedom and less regulation.

Anybody out there not either glumly nostalgic now or weeping tears of laughter again?

For the first time, the European Parliament has a group which shares our credo – and a genuine commitment to reform.

In the early days of the group, we should now be asking the following questions:

How do we reform the EU to bring about smaller government and more powerful citizens?

Who knows? Nobody’s ever tried it, though I did read in a libertarian science fiction book once that there’s no political situation anywhere that can’t be improved by the importation of a couple of million Saturday Night Specials.

Of course, I’m not a libertarian and would prefer some solution based around an actual collection of elected and genuine representatives of the people such as, you know; big place built by Pugin, in London – no foreign citizens allowed voting for representatives except for certain Irishmen by long agreement, big fuss about some receipts a few weeks ago.

How should Europe do less… –

Mate, just exactly who in the Commission, the powerless ‘parliament,’ or the Council of Ministers actually wants ‘less’ and is prepared to make sacrifices (such as facing up to critical editorials in Le Monde, the Guardian, or on the BBC) to achieve ‘less?’ When did anyone in the Court ever pass a verdict that enforced ‘less?’


…and how should they do it better?

‘Better’ implies well. What does the EU do well that anyone ‘outward looking, free-market oriented and in favour of greater individual freedom and less regulation’ would sincerely want it to do, and which couldn’t be done easily enough by mutual consent and goodwill without the ’help’ of the Commission, parliament, Council, and Court? Customs union? Nothing easier for nations that really wanted to co-operate, I’d have thought.

It’s not like, say, building armed forces and then getting them to agree to enthusiastically and effectively fight a common enemy which would be a good idea if you could do it, but I wonder if you managed that you’d also need a powerful and intrusive continental bureaucracy to enforce more intimate things like weights and measures, plug design, banana curvature…

Recognizing that an average birth rate of 1.5 will leave a deficit of skills talents and a depopulated internal market,

… or who shags whom and with what result.

Though effective border controls that doesn’t allow floods of modernity-hating barbarians to head for European welfare entitlements might help, plus lower taxation that allows working couples to have a decent standard of living and to afford modest but slightly larger families. But if even we can’t manage that in Britain - and we’re an island for crying out loud! – then it’s unlikely (to say the least), that ‘Europe’ will be able to do it.

… how do we deregulate the EU?

Without latter-day Lancasters and Wellingtons, you’ve got me beat.

Any ideas yourself given the permanent institutional and legislative bias for centralization explicit in the Treaty of Rome’s ‘ever closer union; you being the elected and publicly financed professional politician and all?

How do we develop new safeguards for the rights of member states?


Might have something to do with the fundamental nature and internal processes of the European Communities…EEC…EC…EU…

Nope. Nothing springs to mind.

How should subsidiarity be strengthened: by a subsidiarity panel, new treaty provisions on interpretation or a ‘states' rights' clause?

How has ‘subsidiarity’ ever returned delegated powers back to ‘sovereign’ nations without larger powers being internationalized up to the EU by treaty or just plain cheating? Has it ever been done? Is it possible given, blah, blah, blah…

What legislative areas should we repatriate and how?

See above. I mean it. Seriously. Check the history.

How can – and how far should – National Parliaments otherwise be more closely involved in EU decision-making (by pre-Council meeting mandates for ministers, for example) or by sitting as the revising Upper Chamber of the European Parliament to review subsidiarity and intergovernmental pillars or through a permanent "Congress of National Parliaments" to review subsidiarity and pass treaty amendments (except those of "constitutional" nature)?

Putting national parliaments on top of continent-wide European institutions to check that continent-wide European institutions pass internationalized powers back to national parliaments, huh? It’s so simple, it’s brilliant!


B) Does this mean we get to play the boy for once, and even so how does it prevent us still being screwed? or

A) Is this on offer?

I mean, seriously; are they just humming in Paris and Berlin and Madrid and Rome to let their 65 year-old parliaments (along with our 745 year-old parliament) climb on top the 55 year-old European institutions and ask them to Stop! Wait a minute! What do you think you’re doing? That’s no way to treat an expensive constitutional instrument.

Is there anyone singing that song who isn’t a British Tory speaking in Britain to other British Tories?

How do we open up the Council of Ministers?

I’d use surgical knives myself but hey, that’s just me.

Should its legislative work be held in public?

That worked so well in Britain these last few years, yeah? We were right on top of that old expenses thing – we hardly let it get anywhere these last 12 years…

Maybe if you did it like the US Congress does it, and also broadcast all the committee proceedings…

Maybe then, and only then, would the BBC inform us it’s all so beautiful and sign off with a humourous piece about the Yoghurt Wars, or Alfonso, the Commission cat…

How should we increase the reporting requirements to national parliaments of ministers before and after they attend the Council of Ministers?

You know, if ministers only governed their own countries according to the traditions, moralities and the shared myths, histories and legal systems of those particular countries, then they’d only have to report to their own parliaments, and you’d get to cut out the middle man, and even the ubermensch…

How do we make enterprise, employment growth and wealth creation central to the EU's instincts and philosophy?

I think we may well be back in Lancasters and Wellingtons territory here.

Look, the continentals vary a lot, from state-worshippers to liberty-lovers, but I doubt that continued membership of the EU or its looming successor is going to achieve anything of the sort. Why not let the French do their own thing and farm weekday mornings and drive to Paris in the evening for income top-ups? Let the Germans make cars to go fast on their autobahns only to slow down when they hit everyone else’s wiggly roads anyway, and let the Czechs, poor buggers, be free for once.

A career open to the talents was a French aspiration: let us all dream of such a thing by not telling us how many hours we can work, and for whom, and for how much.

Should we make even greater use of "mutual recognition and cooperation" rather than "harmonisation", in completing the single market?

How about free trade or separate intra-national agreements? Look how well suppressing landfill to meet Dutch and Danish drainage needs is working for UK refuse disposal and see how well continent-wide legislation about work and trade function.

Is there much further scope for self-regulation by sectors on the basis of EU-wide guidelines and codes of conduct?

Try non-regulation of sectors, or the law of the land, buster – they just might work.

This particular land, by the way.

Which European social legislation poses the biggest burden on the labour market and needs to be repealed?

Nobody help him, folks. He’s got to work this one out by himself.

Is further action needed to tackle the continuing problem of anti-competitive price differentials across Europe, as Conservative manifestos have proposed?

Protectionism, tariff-unions, or free trade. Take your pick, and stick to it, why don’t you?

How much co-financing or re-nationalization of the CAP should there be?

This isn’t a trick question. I think he really means it. Oh dear.

How far should the CAP provide financial incentives for environmental protection?

Or anti-virus software? Or better munitions? Or nicer-shaped tomatoes? Or better footballers?

Should the CFP be abolished?


If so, what should replace it?


How do we allow two-way flexibility, with opt-outs available to member states in policy areas other than internal market, competition policy and trade?

How indeed? How also do we allow two-tone flip-flops with bake-outs to member states in hay fever areas other than internal junket, quizzes and fade?

Keep it simple, if you can.

These are but some of the challenges facing my political generation. If we do not address them, future generations will not thank us for leaving behind a Europe of turmoil, chaos, failing birth rates, debt, low employment and even conflict - the very thing the founding fathers of the EU set out to eliminate forever …

(Failing birth rates? Really?)

… when they created the current unstable, undemocratic, unrepresentative edifice.

That was simple but somehow I don’t believe he’s got it, do you children?

Someone seems to have taken the clue away, and I don’t think it’s coming back via the Conservative Party any time soon.


Goodnight Vienna said...

Very nicely taken apart there NNW. A good read, thanks.

Grumpy Old Man said...

"though I did read in a libertarian science fiction book once that there’s no political situation anywhere that can’t be improved by the importation of a couple of million Saturday Night Specials."

The book you read was "the Weapon Shops of Esher" , I think by Van Vogt. The author was a leading member of the NRA, and the book was written, in part, as a justification of the NRA's position. Progressive Liberals hated it and thier diatribes in lefty media were enough to make it a best-seller. It's well worth revisiting, though, because progressive liberals still hate it.

North Northwester said...

Goodnight Vienna. Hi and thanks and you're welcome.

Grumpy Old Man

Welcome and thanks for that. You are wiser than I - I was referring to The Nagasaki Vector
by L. Neil Smith who very likely was quoting or paraphrasing your Van Vogt story.

Smith wrote in a lot of hard-core anarcho-capitalist libertarian stuff in the 80s (which was when I read it) and if he's new to you and you like alternative history and sci-fi that's akin to F. Paul Wison's and you don't know him already, then I recommend you look him up on Amazon.

They're still a cracking good read, but I'm tending to CS Lewis these days, which only goes to show that they're right about you getting more conservative as you grow older.


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