Thursday, November 16, 2006

Better off in!

I see that the more rabid conservative bloggers are advertising a meeting of the Bruges Group over the weekend that intends to discuss policies for "a post EU" Britain.

You might expect to see such immaturity on the amusing Guido Fawkes blog- but I was moderately surprised to see the same event given equal coverage on Iain Dale's blog.

Iain is the Queen Mother of political blogging, especially since he became a Tory "A" Lister- "They can't answer back you know". Although he was on a hiding to nothing trying to unseat Norman Lamb in North Norfolk, there are many people who would certainly like to see him inside the House of Commons. Personally, I enjoy many of his initiatives as a blogger.

Nevertheless the fact that the majority of British Conservatives can no longer have a sensible debate about the costs and benefits of membership of the European Union and have taken the maximalist position of complete withdrawal just reminds me why the party should not be let anywhere near the levers of power.

Either they are fools who do not understand the vast political and economic costs that withdrawal would inflict on the UK, or they are hypocrites who know those costs but like to fantasize about withdrawal in front of the electorate, while all the time knowing that they could not take the final step.

UPDATE: Iain writes- saying that it is MessageSpace that provided the advert on his blog and that he carries adverts from other organisations that he is not associated with. I have therefore modified my post to attack the Bruges Group itself and those in the Conservatives (though not, presumably Iain himself, since he disassociates himself from the Bruges Group) who advocate withdrawal from the EU.

Glad he did not object too much to being compared to the Queen Mum- I expect he will have revenge when I go on his 18 Doughty St show in a couple of weeks


Iain Dale said...

As you know this advert is hosted by MessageSpace. Just because I carry an advert for the Bruges Group does not imply support for it. I also carry adverts for Friends of the Earth and War on Want on the same basis.

Etzel Pangloss said...

We will not be withdrawing from the EU when the Tories win the next election. It's a no brainer and you know it.

Cicero said...

Dr. Pangloss- I agree. The Bruges Group does not- and neither do the many Conservatives who belong to the Bruges Group

RK said...

You advocate a low regulatory burden (and I agree) but the EU produces red tape at an alarming rate. As long as this burden keeps increasing there will be a number of people who see the price as higher than the benefits, and with some justification. The EU abolitionists may be taking this logic too far but it’s a bit of a patronising position to just suggest stupidity and hypocrisy in your opponents, it’s also a position that will not convince many of them to join your cause. If you want to remove support for this position then you need to focus on why they consider the costs so high. A repeal act for Brussels like the one you advocated for Westminster would be a good place to start. Too often the LibDems look like enthusiastic supporters of Europe and the perception is you therefore approve of all the pages and pages of rules and regulations flowing from it.

Cicero said...

RK- while I agree that the system in the EU is flawed, the evidence is strong that British civil servants have tended to a) gold plate EU guidelines and b)to interpret the directives in the most restrictive way. A good example is the question of hygine at abbatoirs. In the UK, but nowhere else, the directive as intepreted has reduced the options of abbatoirs to a small number of very large facilities- which is no benefit to animal welfare.

rk said...

It's not just civil servants. Our courts also seem to adopt much stricter interpretations of EU laws and regulations than the rest of Europe (eg HRA). You suggest we are over interpreting but I'm often left feeling that we’re the only ones playing by the rules.

Cicero said...

Sure, but if 24 countries don't do it that way and 1 does, then who is doing it right, and who wrong?

Etzel Pangloss said...

Dear Marcus,

I do hope you remind us (i'm sure Mr. Dale will) of this promising debate, nearer the time.

And as I recall, 24 wrongs does not necessarily make a right.

chris said...

It's certainly true that most EU regulations get lead plated when they pass through whitehall. But where we not in the EU there would not be this stream of regulation, that is outside democratic oversight, to be lead plated.