Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Cam's Euro Crisis

No need for national flags any more

Archbishop Snow and the BBC are scarcely able to contain their chortling delight. Now that the superstate constitution is in place, the Tories will be ripped apart. Happy Days are here again. Hurrah!

Except of course, the Tories won't be ripped apart. Out here, we all understand that the overwhelming priority is winning next May. Everything else is for another day.

The EU is one of those issues like crime and immigration where the political elite believe they have a high moral duty to ignore the ignorant peasantry. With a few honourable exceptions, the elite have continued to propel us towards ever-closer union, even though virtually every poll shows we don't actually want it.

Even the European Commission's own poll this year shows only around one-third of Brits have a positive view of the EU. The poll is here, and the key results are:

So after four decades, only 37% of us are enthusiasts. Moreover, when we're offered the polling option of a looser relationship with the EU restricted to free trade rather than political intregation, around two-thirds of us choose either the looser relationship or complete withdrawal (see here).

So how can the political elite justify not listening to us?

One key factor was blurted out by Mr Flip-Flop Portillo on BBC R4 Today this morning. He said that as long as our EU "partners" see Britain as ringleader in the EU awkward squad, British politicos are unable to "enjoy" their meetings with EU counterparts. Poor dears.

More fundamentally, the elite really have convinced themselves that in general we peasants are too ignorant to have a useful opinion.

We can see this quite clearly in another European Commission opinion survey carried out in 2001. It comprised a series of focus groups carried out with groups of ignorant peasants from each EU member state (I'm sorry, but that really is the kind of thing Prog Con Nazis might have been doing in the mid-60s, a couple of decades after establishing the superstate). Here's a sample of what it says about the British peasantrys' attitudes to the EU:

"On the whole, the British have a very negative - and often caricatural - image of the European Union about which they know very little...
There is near-total ignorance concerning the origins of the European Union... The respondents believe that the objective behind the founding of the European Union was to develop trade among the Member States. Very few respondents are aware of the idea of creating a sort of “United States of Europe” that would join forces to create a political and commercial power that would be stronger than the sum of its parts and could rival the superpowers...
The respondents’ knowledge of the institutional functioning of the Union is just as mediocre."
Do they mean us? We clearly need an intensive programme of re-education.

The reality - as BOM readers will know only too well - is that we joined the EU on the basis that we were joining a large free trade area. Yes, we should have read the original Treaty of Rome and all those other EU superstate documents, but we were ignorant peasants so we didn't. We trusted our Tory government and concluded that if Red Robbo and Commissar Benn were opposed to the EU, it must be a good thing.

And when it came to the vote in '75, virtually the entire economics establishment told us we'd be mad to leave - couldn't we understand the vital importance of our companies having access to a large "domestic market"? Tyler was a government economist at the time, and having grown up in an era of seemingly unmitigated economic decline and the Austin Allegro, he was fully signed up to that argument.

But things look very different now.

Not only have we found out about the sinister and unwanted superstate project, but the economics have changed. One of BOM's very first posts highlighted the fact that we now derive no net economic benefit from EU membership.

Every serious analysis (eg the classic IEA paper by Brian Hindley and Martin Howe) shows the economic costs and benefits are now pretty well a wash. And while we might suffer some disadvantage from being outside the EU tariff wall, world tariffs are much lower than when we joined.

Moreover, as Global Vision argues, we'd almost certainly be able to negotiate withdrawal from the EU's political union while retaining the free trade arrangement (eg see this blog). We’d thereby escape the budget contributions, the CAP with all those inflated food prices, the social chapter/human rights/eco wibble costs, and of course the Euro.

It isn't Cam who has a crisis: it's our political elite. The people whose mediocre knowledge of contemporary economic realities, and whose wilful disregard of our wishes is forcing us to become a province of Greater Europe. Without even a shot being fired.

PS Just listening to PMQs. It seems Labour have decided that Cam's Euro Crisis is their killer argument. Brown himself - the man who lied so despicably and obviously over giving us a referendum on the superstate constitution - tells us he keeps his promises whereas Cam breaks his. He should get out more to meet some real people - may we suggest a stroll round Bracknell town centre.

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