Quite Simon

For the avoidance of doubt – and I would never want you to have any of that – let me state where, for what it is worth, I stand on the European Union. I am against it. This is not a johnny-come-lately position. I have been against it since before we were in it.

I was against it when many of those now against it were actually rather for it. I can still recall the visceral disappointment when, in June 1975, we missed the chance to come out of it. I look at Third-World and collapsing economies such as Norway and Switzerland, and think wistfully of what might have been.

Simon Heffer.

Carbon Capture

New power stations across Europe could be routinely fitted with carbon-dioxide capture and storage (CCS) technology within two years under a proposal by the European Commission.

Good news, eh?

Well, not quite:

Next week, the commission will propose a directive on geological storage of CO2 that would require all new fossil-fuel combustion plants to have “suitable space on the installation site for the equipment necessary to capture and compress CO2”.

Given that we\’ve not yet invented decent carbon capture technology, how do they know how much space to leave?

Tranzi Drivel of the Day

Edward McMillan-Scott:

The time has come for Europe to help a troubled globe – from Kenya to Pakistan to Palestine – to understand that democracy, human rights, the rule of law and economic freedom – the EU\’s founding principles – offer more lasting peace and prosperity than the simplistic Bush formula.

That\’s the EU he\’s describing? Democracy? The Commissioners are appointed, not elected, the Parliament, which is elected, has no power (and the authorities actually complain when you try to count the votes properly) and there is no European demos, without which it is really rather difficult to have democracy.

Human rights? That\’s, err, the Council of Europe, isn\’t it?

The rule of law? Remember what they did to Bowland\’s Dairy?

Economic freedom? Under the Roman Law system they are imposing?

No, I don\’t think that Bush\’s vision of the world is perfect either but this is absurd.

Quelle Surprise

The battle over the EU Reform Treaty has been reignited after an influential committee of MPs said that the document is no different to the defunct EU Constitution.

Nice to see the truth, not that it will change anything.

Metric Martyrs

I think I know howthis will play out:

She faces 13 charges which are set out in a document that runs to 67 pages. They include two counts alleging that she used imperial weighing scales without an official stamp. The charges were brought by Hackney Council.

Great emphasis will be placed on the fact that her scales did not have the requisite stamp (and checking weighing equipment and measures has long been a function of local government). That they were Imperial will be played down.

However, I doubt very much that Hackney will stamp as being accurate Imperial only scales, so everyone can say with a straight face that of course you can use Imperial, only you must have stamped scales, which you can\’t get.

The interesting question will be whether the jury buys this or tells them to bugger off.

Relatedly, I must admit that I hadn\’t known this amusing detail:

Julian Harman, of Camelford, Cornwall, was ordered to pay costs for selling Brussels sprouts using imperial measures.

Polly On Europe

Sigh.

No other bills will go through in this time. The place will be a morgue, with only a clutch of the living dead on their feet for hour after hour. A daily three-line whip will fray MPs\’ tempers, but any amendment means the whole treaty falls – here, and right across Europe.

So, err, The Mother of Parliaments gets to discuss, but not change by even one comma, a bill….and it\’s a good thing that they cannot change it?

Many Tories talk up a new, looser relationship, free-trading like Norway in the European economic area. But Norway pays dearly as a big net contributor, getting no grants in return and no seat to share in EU decision-making.

Does Norway make a higher or lower net contribution than the UK?

In all 26 member states, the Tories\’ only allies are Greek communists, Dutch animal rights and Sinn Féin.

And, as the polls show, a substantial portion of the British public (those stating that they would vote no in a referendum). That\’s an important thing to miss out really.

Out of fear and populism, Labour never sold voters the value of the EU –

Indeed, we are still waiting for someone to show us the cost benefit analysis. Like to try Polly?

Meanwhile, it leaves the Tories with an impossible policy that leads only to the EU exit door.

Oh well, if that\’s the outcome, bring it on then!

TEBAF Wibbles Again!

Indeed, The Ever Blessed and Fragrant Margot Wallstrom tells us how the world works:

–  EU enlargement has been the most important factor to maintain peace and stability in Europe – a fact that is sometimes overlooked

This fact is sometimes overlooked because it is of course complete bollocks. The guarnator of peace and stability in Europe has been for a humber of decades NATO: something which, much as Federasts hate to admit it, includes the Americans, and worse for said federasts only has any power precisely because of the membership of the Americans.

– the EU has to use all its policies in a more coordinated way to enhance security globally : trade, environment, migration etc

Trade and environment have bugger all to do with security. Migration might….but do remember that the estimates of, say. climate change driven migration are for a couple of hundred million people. Over a large number of decades. This is about the same as current annual international migration. Yes, international, and the climate change migration will be intra as well as inter national. Oh, and when we count these numbers we count internal EU migration as intra national.  It just ain\’t gonna be a problem folks as we already deal with vastly more now.

– there is a gender issue when it comes to defining security : women are too often not consulted in conflict areas around the world

We don\’t actually want to "consult" women about security: nor do we want to consult men. What we want is someone willing to do voilence on our behalf so that we may sleep abed at night.

– today´s security threats include for example climate change and pandemics

These are not security threats. Climate change is best thought of as an economic problem. Let\’s start with the thought that we all agree with the IPCC. OK, now what we want to do is change people\’s behaviour. That\’s an economic problem, how to create the correct incentives for them to do so. Security? No, we\’re not going to solve climate change by hiring either more policemen nor more soldiers. Pandemics are a public health problem, not a security one.

– the EU budget has to be reformed in order to better reflect the political priorities

Indeed, the political priorities being that we should be in the EU, in fact, the EU shouldn\’t exist whether or not we are in it. The reform should therefore be its abolition.

So how did a woman so at odds with reality end up getting 225,000 € a year of our money?

Democracy in the EU

This story has been around and about for a couple of days amongst the UKIP bloggers (Elaib and Trixie for example). Now Dan Hannan lays it out in The Telegraph. Quite simply, the EU Parliament doesn\’t even bother to follow its own rules when there is any opposition to the programme.

Dan suggests that we all start to use, as he does, the following phrase:

Yesterday, I spoke on agriculture, consumer protection, adult learning and the rights of the child and, each time, I finished with the words Pactio Olisipio censenda est: the Lisbon Treaty must be put to the vote…

Yes, of course it\’s an echo of Cato. But I have a better one.

Ceterum Censeo Unionem Europaeam Esse Delendam.

And therefore the European Union must be destroyed.

Cato\’s fellow senators would mock him. Sometimes, they would mimic his voice, sometimes shout him down. But you know what? In the end, they sacked Carthage.

Dear European Union

Please fuck right off.

Proposals, to be agreed by Baroness Scotland QC, the Attorney-General, at a meeting of EU justice ministers next week, enshrine "procedural" guidelines setting out the circumstances for quick extradition of people convicted in their absence.

A draft text, seen by The Daily Telegraph, notes that existing rules do not "deal consistently with the issue of judgments rendered in absentia". "This diversity complicates the work of the practitioner and hampers judicial co-operation," it states.

Human rights and civil liberties campaigners fear the new EU rules breach a fundamental principle of British justice: that defendants must have their day in court to defend themselves.

Britain does not convict people or hold trials in their absence but many EU countries, including Belgium, France, Spain Greece and Italy, do so on a regular basis.

No, not having this. It may be true that our Continental cousins are quite happy to bang someone up without hearing their side of the story, without even informing them that a trial is taking place. We do not do this and there is no way we should start to do so…nor allow and facilitate the banging up of Britons by said Continental cousins.

One of the first duties of the State is to protect the rights of the citizenry, this is an obvious breach of said rights.

Bugger off.

Cloned Animals and Food

An interesting little example of the stupidity of the food testing system in the European Union. First, the Americans have considered this matter:

US farmers have been given the green light to produce cloned meat for the human food chain. In a 968-page report billed as a "final risk assessment" of the technology, the US Food and Drug Administration has concluded that healthy cloned animals and products from them such as milk are safe for consumers.

An entirely logical stance. There\’s nothing different about meat or milk from cloned animals. Indeed, that\’s rather the point, that there isn\’t anything different about them. So while one can argue on moral grounds (not sure what ones, but I\’m sure it\’s possible) or animal welfare ones, as is done here:

"It\’s a technology that has arisen out of a huge burden of animal suffering and that is still going on," said Joyce D\’Silva, of Compassion in World Farming. But she said even if the embryo loss rates were brought down to acceptable levels, the technology would be detrimental to animal welfare. "It looks like it is going to be used to produce the most highly productive animals – the cows that produce the most milk, the pigs with the meatiest bodies. These are the high-producing animals that have the most endemic welfare problems anyway."

Well, yes, that\’s the point of all animal breeding programs. All this one does is allow us to do it better.

But arguing about the food itself as being safe or unsafe is nuts: thus the American decision. But what has to happen here?

Even if cloned meat were given approval by the European agency it would have to undergo rigorous testing. "Under the novel foods regulation, the applicant has to provide evidence of safety – this could be in the form of a detailed comparison with the existing product, or it could be the results of tests in animals," said a spokesperson for the UK\’s Food Standards Agency. It would also be subject to approval by the European commission, which would require a majority vote of EU member states. Approval in the EU is likely to be years away, if at all.

That\’s the way to spark innovation, isn\’t it? To make Europe the most knowledge based, forward looking (or whatever the gibberish offered by the Lisbon Declaration is) economy in the world? When you offer something which isn\’t in fact a new product at all, it\’s a direct replication of an existing one (again, which is, after all, the point of cloning) you have to go through a testing process lasting some years, one which also requires the assent of the assembled continent\’s politicians, before you can sell it?

That\’s really going to get the boffins excited about inventing new things, isn\’t it?

Argle, Argle, Argle

Damn this is supremely annoying.

Europe is Europe\’s last remaining realistic political utopia. But Europe remains to be understood and conceptualised. This historically unique form of international community cannot be explained in terms of the traditional concepts of politics and the state, which remain trapped in the straitjacket of methodological nationalism. If we are to understand cosmopolitan Europe, we must radically rethink the conventional categories of social and political analysis.

Wibble wibble, Nuremberg Trials, wibble, Churchill, wibble, New World Order, wibble….

Can we please get something transparently clear? Europe is a continent. It doesn\’t do anything, doesn\’t mean anything and is not a model for anything. It simply is. The European Union is a political construct. This might mean something, might do something and might be a model for something. I happen to think that it means bad things, does bad things and is a poster model for something that should be abolished.

But the European Union is not Europe and should not be confused with it.

 

Higher Food Prices

There\’s a very simple solution here you know?

Food prices are accelerating at their fastest rate since records began, fuelling a rise in the average family\’s shopping bill of £750 a year.

A very simple solution indeed.

The CAP costs an average family of four in Europe £16 a week in taxes and higher food prices.

£16 a week is £832 a year.

Thus, abolish CAP and you\’ll cancel out food price inflation. A good reason to do it, no?

Godders Speaks Out!

Brown\’s job loss claim "nonsense"

Claims by Gordon Brown that Britain needs to be part of the EU or 3.5 million people risk losing their jobs were dismissed today as "mind bogglingly dumb."

UKIP MEP and economist Godfrey Bloom said the claim was so daft he didn\’t know where to begin pointing out its nonsense.

"I will give Gordon Brown £1000 if he could point to any private sector job which would be lost as a consequence of Britain leaving political union with Brussels and joining EFTA" he said.

"Such a statement as his is on par with someone addressing the NASA conference and claiming that the moon was made of green cheese.

"Apart from the fact that we have a trade deficit with the EU, does he really think that companies such as Mercedes would stop trading with Britain if we governed ourselves?

"We have a trade surplus with America and yet we aren\’t in political union, and I\’m sure I\’ve seen people driving Japanese cars and yet we don\’t let them make our laws for us.

"Mr Brown really needs to go back to his book on \’economics for dummies\’ because the man does not have a clue."

"Given that the Commission have estimated that the cost of EU regulation on business is £405 billion a year, I would say that businesses would weather the storm better without that millstone around their neck."

The Marmalade Scandal!

There\’s more to this than meets the eye, you know?

As many of you will have been painfully aware, in Britain, sales of marmalade are in decline. While the attention of the nation has been focused on such diversionary chimeras as Iraq, the Iowa caucus and Britney Spears’s mentalness, marmalade has been going the way of the pikelet, piccalilli and Gentleman’s Relish. It is becoming an anachronism in the brash new world of the energy drink, the breakfast bar and Coca-Cola with vitamins in. It is facing gradual extinction.

Galvanised by this slow-moving preserve tragedy, David Atkinson, of Premier Foods – the manufacturer of Frank Cooper’s, Rose’s and Golden Shred – has announced an important change: marmalade is to be renamed “orange jam”.

“We’re looking at ways of making marmalade more accessible,” Atkinson said. “The challenge is to entice a new generation.”

The thing is though, you\’re not allowed to simply change the name like that. Ooooooh, no, there are laws about what is marmalade and what is jam. Very important ones too: it\’s a criminal offence (not a civil one) to breach them, with up to 6 months in jail and or a £5,000 fine to breach them.

Yes, it\’s our old friend, the jams, jellies, marmalades and sweet chestnut purees (including extra jams and extra jellies) where these are for human consumption but not in the preparation of fine bakery wares, pastries or biscuits. Here\’s the Welsh version. Yes, of course, it all comes from the European Union.

Our marmalade description:

A mixture, brought to a suitable gelled consistency, of water, sugars and fruit pulp, fruit purée, fruit juice, fruit peel or aqueous extract of fruit or any combination thereof, in every case obtained from citrus fruit, such that the quantity of citrus fruit used for every 1000 grams of the finished product is not less than 200 grams, of which not less than 75 grams is obtained from the endocarp.

Doesn\’t that make you feel better? That the governing body for 450 million people went to such lengths to protect you from marmalade which only uses 70 grams of citrus fruit endocarp? Further:

The following additional ingredients may be used, to the extent stated below:

essential oils of citrus fruits: only in marmalade and jelly marmalade;

So, orange jam may not contain essential oils of citrus. No, really, it is very important indeed. So much so that 27 national legislatures, any number of devolved ones and at least ten thousand politicians, with their assorted hangers on, secretaries, mistresses and toadies, should pass such a law. For what perils would accost us all if you were to spend £3 on a jar of orange jam which contained essential oils of citrus? As opposed to £3 on a jar of marmalade which did not?

Well, quite. People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough politicians stand ready to violence to the law on their behalf.

Breaking a Law That Doesn\’t Exist

An extraordinary thing happened one week last September. Gunther Verheugen, a vice-president of the European Commission, announced that Brussels had abandoned its policy of forcing Britain to go exclusively metric.

The British, he said, could use non-metric weights and measures as long as they wished. Indeed he went further. The belief that it was a criminal offence under an EU directive to sell in non-metric measures, he said, was an invention of the "tabloid press", which had "repeatedly and erroneously printed stories" of "people having to buy their food from markets in kilograms rather than pounds".

Mr Verheugen\’s announcement won front-page headlines in the national press. Yet, only a day later, trading standards officials made a mockery of his statement by seizing two sets of "illegal" imperial scales from a stall run by the sister of Colin Hunt, one of the five original Metric Martyrs, in London\’s Ridley Road market. This event was totally ignored – except by this column.

Just before Christmas the stallholder, Janet Devers, a 63-year-old pensioner, received a 67-page document from Hackney Council charging her with 13 criminal offences, including use of her old imperial scales. Yet only a month earlier, in a letter to the British Weights and Measures Association, one of Mr Verheugen\’s senior officials had stated that "use of pre-2000 weighing instruments in imperial-only units" remained entirely legal under EU law, since "the directive does not prohibit the use of such instruments".

Mrs Devers was told the council\’s costs, for the time of the officials who seized her scales (£68 an hour each, equivalent to £141,000 a year) were already £2,000. Fees for Hackney\’s lawyers will bring the total much higher – apart from any fines to which she might be liable (up to £5,000 each), for offences which Mr Verheugen insists do not exist.

However, that does rather depend upon our taking the word of a European politician as to what the law is in England. I\’m not wholly convinced that I\’d want to base a defense upon that. It rather depends what Parliament actually passed into law, not what it was supposed to.

Typical

A referendum on the controversial redrafted EU constitution was ruled out by Portugal yesterday after pressure from Gordon Brown and President Sarkozy.

The Prime Minister and Mr Sarkozy called José Sócrates, the Portuguese Prime Minister, to insist that a popular ballot was not necessary.

The decision by Portugal not to hold a referendum but to ratify the treaty through its parliament will come as a huge relief to Downing Street and the Élysée Palace, which feared extra pressure on them to hold a public vote. The revelation of top-level phone calls will, though, only increase suspicions that the European political elite have coordinated efforts to avoid a repeat of the referendums in France and the Netherlands in 2005 that sank the proposed constitution and plunged the EU into a two-year crisis.

Not that people here would have rejected it, mind, but it is symptomatic of the way in which the people are not to be allowed to derail the project.

Quite

One of the marvels of the age is how our politicians continue solemnly to parrot the mantra that, if Britain left the EU, she would be left in bankrupt isolation, when the two countries that have twice voted in referendums not to join the EU – Norway and Switzerland – are today richer than any of us.

As Patrick Minford has pointed out, leaving the EU\’s customs union would increase the UK\’s GDP by some 3%. We\’d be richer, not poorer.

Willy, Willy….

One of his five great ideas of the year:

Cambridge University\’s Brendan Simms is an extraordinary historian and his reinterpretation of British history in the 18th century is one of those sleeper ideas that, along with others, is gradually challenging know-nothing Euroscepticism. His argument in the engrossing Three Victories and a Defeat is that Britain won the military space to build an empire and industrial hegemony through consistent and deep involvement in European politics, ensuring that no one European power could ever challenge us.

It was when we followed the Eurosceptic injunction to forget Europe that we suffered ignominy and disaster, losing the war in America as united Europeans undermined our war effort and then watched Napoleon dominate Europe.

We never were, and never will be, capable of prospering without engaging in Europe. It may be wishful thinking on my part, but visceral Euroscepticism increasingly seems batty – and the planks with which it is built rotting.

He seems not to notice that this is, in fact, the Eurosceptic case: that we indeed don\’t want one dominant European power which constrains us. In the way in which the assembled European powers now make 80% of our laws, just as an example. The historic engagement with Europe was in fact to make damn certain that such a situation never arose.