Monday, March 19, 2007

Global vision and worldwide myopia

On Thursday, your humble Devil attended the launch of yet another EU campaign group, Global Vision (GV).
Global Vision has been established to help create an open, informed discussion on those issues by setting out well reasoned, fact-based analysis and commentary. Starting with the premise that the 21st Century will be driven by global trade and relationships, our perspective is that Britain would be better served by a looser relationship with the EU that preserves the benefits of free trade and cooperation across Europe, but allows the UK to opt out of continued economic and political integration. Against the background of continued negotiation on further Treaty changes, we also argue that the UK is in a strong position to negotiate such a preferred position if we are clear about what we want.

Helen of EUReferendum was there and she has written a long piece on that blog pointing out the many flaws of this approach.

Essentially, GV has been set up to persuade our venal politicians that Britain should be part of the free trade area, but should not participate in economic or political integration. Well, so far, so good; there are a good many of us that believe this.

Whilst parties like UKIP believe that we should withdraw and then leverage our market size, etc. to negotiate free trade Treaties, GV believe that they can achieve this result from within. They would like to remain within the EU, but not to participate in anything other than the free trade.

Which, to me, sounds pretty much like withdrawal.

A number of questions were asked, with varying degrees of answer-dodging from the two people presenting the options; the majority of these questions were along the lines of, "yes, but how—precisely—are you going to achieve these aims."

The solution is, apparently, this: we veto any change to anything until the EU gives us back the powers that we want; the case was always based on the idea of our veto being a bargaining chip. But this is a rather simplistic idea and is undermined by three severe problems.
  1. We cannot just keep vetoing everything.

  2. Our politicians are too lacking in spines and balls to stick to their guns.

  3. We don't have a veto in many areas and so would be utterly unable to prevent further integration anyway.

Global Vision—whilst having the right general idea—have about as much chance of succeeding in their aims as I have of becoming king of the world.

Talking of fantasists, that utter fuckwit, Francis Maude, keeps giving tedious interviews to Tory Radio; here is yet another one [MP3] in which the slimeball talks total arse. Arthurian Legend challenged Mr Maude...
David Cameron has repeatedly stated that taking back the "Social Chapter" powers transferred by the UK parliament to Brussels will be a top priority concerning our relationship with the EU.

Since those powers are now enshrined in Art. 136-145 of the EU Treaty, which can only be given back by unanimous agreement, how will he do it?


This is the answer that Francis Maude gave to Jonathan Sheppard, in the interview that can be downloaded here [MP3].
FM: Well, it has to be done by negotiation. Um, these, but as a newly elected government we will have a lot of negotiating leverage".

JS: Hmmm.

Hmmm indeed. What negotiating leverage?
David Cameron to the Council of Ministers: We want to take back these powers.

President of France, Chancellor of Germany, Prime Ministers of Belgium and Italy:
No. The UK will gain a competitive advantage if it does that. It will mean businesses are more likely to locate in your country than in ours. It will damage European solidarity. You are being awkward. You English, You Conservatives always want the same thing. Wanting to go back to the past. Not wanting to be a full part of the European dream, always dragging your feet, not wanting to be part of a single Europe.

David Cameron: Oh. Well, that's not fair. I told people I would get these powers back.

Rest of European Council: Tough.

David Cameron: Hmmm....

Francis, we ain't got any leverage without playing HARDBALL. Any I mean playing dirty. Like threatening to withold our £9 billion annual contribution. Or leaving altogether.

Well, quite. And since everyone is pretty fucking sure that Cameron won't be able to achieve it in even the small areas that he has sabre-rattled in (after all, his wonderful EU policy initiative is already unravelling), it seems extraordinarily unlikely that any of our gutless leaders are going to be able to negotiate what is essentially an out from within.

In short, Global Vision are just another bunch of fantasists with no real clue as to how to achieve their ends. After all, they have to convince both the EU and the politicians.

With reference to the latter, I received a reply to the email that I sent to Oliver Letwin. You'll recall that I asked the patrician fuck some questions at the Bow Group meeting and then followed up.
At the end of it, I asked you a question about our membership of the European Union as it related to your new ideas for Tory policy. I also maintained, with some off the cuff figures, that I simply could not see the benefits of remaining with this organisation.

Your answer was, essentially, that if I was as aware or informed of the arguments as yourself, then I would see the benefits of staying in. I wonder if you might enlighten me with a few of these benefits, as I am unable to see any that could not be achieved by simple inter-governmental Treaties on the relevent issues.

And here is Letwin's response; I think that you can see that the lazy fuck has taken a really long time over his carefully, well-researched reply.
Dear DK,

Thank you for your email of 12 March.

I don't believe that we could achieve a European Emissions Trading Scheme except through the EU. I don't believe that we could negotiate successfully at the WTO except by joining forces with other EU countries. I don't believe that our economy would perform merely so strongly if we were not part of the Single Market arrangements.

I have listed just three of the reasons why I think it is worth being part of the EU.

But I certainly believe that, as well as resisting the new Constitution and avoiding the Euro, we need to move towards a much more open Europe - with, for example, much greater national powers over employment and social legislation.

With best wishes.

Yours sincerely,

Oliver Letwin,

Rt Hon Oliver Letwin, MP
Member of Parliament for West Dorset

Oh, well thanks a fucking bunch, Ollie; fuck, that's all my doubts erased! Where do I sign up for the Europhile Party? Oh, just apply to Conservative Central Office, shall I? For fuck's sake...

Let's look at his three big reasons, shall we?
I don't believe that we could achieve a European Emissions Trading Scheme except through the EU.

Well, it may be that you don't believe that we will be able to set up a European Emissions Trading Scheme outwith the EU, but what the fuck do I care? I don't believe in this carbon emissions bullshit anyway.

But, let's assume that climate change is that important, and that carbon emissions are a massive part of that, are you telling me that unilateral agreements could not be put in place? After all, my Airmail gets to the destination countries through such Treaties: is that sort of cooperation more, or less, important than climate change? Ollie? Hello?

But then this is a man who kept mentioning the Stern Report in an approving manner, even though it has been shown to be a great big pile of horseshit. Repeatedly. And since the day of release. So what the fuck do you know, eh?
I don't believe that we could negotiate successfully at the WTO except by joining forces with other EU countries.

Really? So, the world's fifth largest economy (or whatever the hell we are), with strong ties to Commonwealth countries all over the world, would not be able to negotiate effectively? About what, Ollie? It is imports that make us rich, for fuck's sake! All we have to do is say, "hey, everyone: come trade with Britain! We won't raise any quotas, tariffs or barriers to your goods!"

Seriously, Oliver, my little poppet, how much negotiating is that really going to take? Or are you ignorant of basic economics too? Well, let's face it: that wouldn't surprise me.
I don't believe that our economy would perform merely so strongly if we were not part of the Single Market arrangements.

Yeah, well, this really is a big stinking lie, isn't it?

In a speech to Open Europe, William Hague estimated that the Single Market adds something like £20 billion per annum to the British economy which is somewhat dwarfed by the costs of remaining in.
However the EU also prevents the UK from many potentially good opportunities. Such as in 2003 when
a Bill was introduced in the Senate that would have created a free-trade agreement between the two countries. Alas, Blair had to decline this, shamefacedly (I’d like to think) having to point out that this country had no right to negotiate international trade agreements.

Free trade with the USA is not the only area that Britain could have been trying for, free trade agreements with fast growing Brazil, India, or China might have been possible where we not in the EU... Estimating the costs of these lost opportunities can lead to total figures such for the cost of being in the EU that are truly horrendous.
when one adds on the costs described earlier to the opportunity costs, the current recurring annual net cost to the UK of EU membership is ten percent of GDP, or approximately £100 billion per year at present levels of UK GDP.

This from a newsletter in 2004 [PDF], so the numbers will probably have gone up since then. That rather makes the 20 billion that Mr Hague claims that the UK gets from the common market seem rather insignificant.

You're not kidding. Besides, as Civitas has been at pains to point out, withdrawal from the EU does not guarantee our exclusion from the Single Market at all. In short, in this matter we could have our cake and eat it.

But seriously, this was the best reply that Oliver Letwin—who is, lest we forget, in charge of Tory policy—could come up with? For fuck's sake, how fucking stupid does he think we are? It's such a pathetic reply that I could barely summon the energy to fisk the fuck.

Needless to say, I am composing my retort...

UPDATE: It is very similar to what I have written above, so don't feel that you need trawl through it all again, but here is my reply to Ollie.
Dear Mr Letwin,

Thank you for your reply which, I have to say, I was a little disappointed with. I shall just take your three points in order.
I don't believe that we could achieve a European Emissions Trading Scheme except through the EU.

(I shall leave aside the fact that, having examined a good deal of the science surrounding this, I don't believe that human carbon emissions have any significant effect on the environment.)

This country -- indeed, all countries -- make unilateral Treaties. There are a great many examples of this; the UN would be a good starting point. However, we could also take something more prosaic: the fact that my Airmail gets to its destination, for instance, is through these sorts of Treaties. If climate change is that important, I am sure that we would be able to negotiate a reasonable position on this issue (and not only with the EU, but with everyone in the world) through this avenue.
I don't believe that we could negotiate successfully at the WTO except by joining forces with other EU countries.

What are we rated at the moment? The fifth largest economy in the world -- something like that? Plus, you can factor in our links with all of the Commonwealth countries (and India) and the Anglosphere generally, and you think that we wouldn't be able to negotiate?

I might also ask what you think we need to negotiate? Most reasonable people believe that it is free trade that makes us rich, and it is certainly a central tenet of international trade economics that it is imports that make a nation's population richer. All we have to say at the WTO is that "Britain will erect no barriers, tariffs or quotas: come trade with us!"

This would, incidentally, go some way to solving two other problems: first, that of climate change as defined by the IPCC's A1 family of scenarios (utterly ignored by Stern in his valueless Review) which envision freer trade and increasing technological cooperation. Second, it would go a long way towards helping the peoples of the Developing World by providing a free market for their goods.

The EU actively hampers free-trade; worse, it derives a good proportion of its money from the tariffs imposed on goods entering the EU and so has zero incentive to reform this aspect of its job. The EU is a customs union.
I don't believe that our economy would perform merely so strongly if we were not part of the Single Market arrangements.

That is not the conclusion reached by this Civitas paper, or by the distinguished economist, Patrick Minford. My blogging colleague, Strange Stuff, sums all of this up quite nicely in the following passage.
However the EU also prevents the UK from many potentially good opportunities. Such as in 2003 when
a Bill was introduced in the Senate that would have created a free-trade agreement between the two countries. Alas, Blair had to decline this, shamefacedly (I’d like to think) having to point out that this country had no right to negotiate international trade agreements.

Free trade with the USA is not the only area that Britain could have been trying for, free trade agreements with fast growing Brazil, India, or China might have been possible where we not in the EU. Or Africa, allowing us cheaper food, and the African nations a way to build up their economies. But instead Britain is shackling to the slowly sinking states of old Europe and is impoverishing Africa thanks to the EU's CAP.

Estimating the costs of these lost opportunities can lead to total figures such for the cost of being in the EU that are truly horrendous.
when one adds on the costs described earlier to the opportunity costs, the current recurring annual net cost to the UK of EU membership is ten percent of GDP, or approximately £100 billion per year at present levels of UK GDP.

this from a newsletter in 2004 [PDF], so the numbers will probably have gone up since then. That rather makes the 20 billion that Mr Hague claims that the UK gets from the common market seem rather insignificant.

Well, quite.

The EU, through its protectionist policies, impoverishes those within and without its barriers. The EU's regulations lead to stagnating economies.

The EU has a massive democratic deficit, with its laws initiated by the unelected and amended and vetted in secret, behind closed doors.

The EU is a corrupt organisation, its accounts qualified for the last 12 years and any whistle-blowers persecuted. Indeed, we are breaking the EU's own anti-money laundering laws by giving funds to an organisation lacking in proper accounting procedures.

The EU's environmental record is appalling; just look at the disaster of the Common Fisheries Policy. Or, the massive waste and environmental damage occasioned by the constant to-ing and fro-ing between Brussels and Strasbourg.

Now, you can dismiss me as a crank, of course, but I have to say that you have utterly failed to convince me of the rectitude of your arguments. Further, you have failed to explain how you are going "move towards a much more open Europe" where everyone before you has failed on a similar slogan ("In Europe, not ruled by Europe", etc.).

Regards,

DK

I expect it to be ignored, of course. But seriously, I cannot see how anyone with any brain could support the EU (in its current form, at least).

Unless, of course, the bastard's know something that we don't...

4 comments:

Martin said...

DK,

You might recall that before before going into public life, Letwin was a director of Rothschilds, where he specialised in privatisation - in 1988 his services' merits were debated by the legislature of, all places, Saskatchewan -

http://www.legassembly.sk.ca/hansard/21L2S/88-05-17.PDF

Scroll down to 'Return Number 16' for the dirt.

Since finding this out, I've always wondered whether or not he was involved in the phenomenally corrupt cock-up that was made of privatisation in Russia.

Of course, it MUST be assumed that he issues a pronouncement such as the reply he gave you he is speaking his own mind...

The Nameless One said...

Funny how Letwin's reasons for staying in the EU are all based on what doesn't believe in rather than what he does believe in. He doesn't really believe in the EU, but the party line does not allow him to say so.

Which, of course, makes him a two-faced, hypocritical little shite.

Elaib said...

You may be interested to note that that fellow Stern has a new job.
He has been given the job of advising Mr Barroso on climate change.

Steve_Roberts said...

Cracking post, DK.

The socratic technique of demanding that the benefits of EU are specified in detail and weighed against the costs very quickly reveals the vacuum within.

Keep it up