Well, no, not really

This is relentless checking, tailored for television. You watch videos of ministers or their opponents reciting a fib, cross-cutting back and forth: then you find the true figuring laid out clear as day. No ducking or weaving. It’s a regular, biting reproach to the phoney £350m challenge, one the BBC could provide in a trice (if rigorous public service and hard facts really go together, that is).

But see, then, how one pristine thing gets in the way of another. Sarah Wollaston MP, the health committee chair who was a Leaver till the rubbish about that £350m turned her stomach, made the point openly on the Today show. She’d long protested to Leave campaigners that the figure was a dud, but they’d told her that was fine by them: peddling calculated garbage got you an extra BBC slot for rebuttal under fairness and balance rules.

I don’t think we do want the state broadcaster being the decision maker over what is the truth, do we?

For it rather runs into the problem of “whose truth?”

Minimum wages raise or lower employment, climate change is an immediate threat, solar is economic, the EU is good for us the wheat harvest will be terrific and tractor production is up.

56 thoughts on “Well, no, not really”

  1. I don’t think we do want the state broadcaster being the decision maker over what is the truth, do we?

    You do if you’re the print arm of the state broadcaster.

    And the gross (£350 million) amount is entirely the correct figure to use. If you don’t believe that, you must think that you pay no taxes, because the government spends more on the population than its tax take.

  2. And the gross (£350 million) amount is entirely the correct figure to use.

    In what sense?

    We don’t send or give the EU £350 million a week. So the posters, leaflets, bus, videos and other things claiming we do are not correct. We don’t send £350 million and then get a rebate, the rebate is applied before we send the money.

  3. In the sense of standard accounting practice – costs are stated gross. Yes, it’s a bit naughty to take the cost out of context but Remain should be concentrating on the benefits rather than whinging about a correctly stated cost.

  4. The Inimitable Steve

    Sarah Wollaston MP, the health committee chair who was a Leaver till the rubbish about that £350m turned her stomach

    Eh.

    * Sarah Who?

    * She was supposedly in favour of leaving the EU, and supposedly now thinks we need to let Belgian kiddy fiddlers rule us because of a disagreement over… arithmetic?

  5. The Inimitable Steve

    BTW, while I personally don’t care if the figure is £350m or £3.50 – whatever we pay the EU, it’s too much – if the Left/Dave Cameron’s fake conservatives accuse you of lying, you’re probably on the right track.

    Use rhetoric as a club to beat them. Don’t get bogged down in tedious footnoting and caveating. The EU stooges certainly don’t when they claim Leave would usher in Pedoterroristageddon.

  6. SJW I haven’t seen the bus – if it’s as you say then fair cop. But there’s nothing wrong, per se, with stating costs gross. It’s what you’re meant to do.

  7. If you / they believe £1 is too much, say that. But don’t say £350 million if it isn’t £350 million.

    But there’s nothing wrong, per se, with stating costs gross.

    But the bus (and other material) doesn’t say or indicate the figure is “costs gross”. It says, without caveat or qualification, “We send the EU £350 million a week”.

    I’m sure we can all agree that “Given the high level of public interest in this debate it is important that official statistics are used accurately, with important limitations or caveats clearly explained”.

  8. The Inimitable Steve,

    It’s just not worth arguing with them.

    I’ve realised in recent weeks that the Remain supporters are not just wrong but deliberately fucking evil.

    I’ve spoken to 3 people and had variations on this:-
    “well, we get these windmills/employment protection because of the EU”
    “But there’s no reason we can’t leave the EU and if we, the people think it’s worth it, do those things unilaterally.We can pass those employment laws at a stroke/take the money we pay to the EU and build windmills with it”
    “Yeah, but Cameron won’t, will he”
    “But hang on, for right or wrong, he’s the elected prime minister of this country. He is the will of the people. If he’s not doing it, it’s broadly because we don’t want it. Or if we don’t like what he does, we can elect someone else”.
    *angry look*
    “sorry, but what? yes? no?”
    *looks away*

    They’re basically bloody fascists. Sure, they aren’t wearing silly hats and toothbrush moustaches, but that’s what they are. They want unelected, unaccountable power and see the EU as a way to get it. It’s about a new Establishment. I’ve lost two friends over this in a way I never expected, because I never expected to see frankly, open fascism revealed by debating such a thing. I assumed they would have said “oh, yeah, actually, that adds up”.

    If you want to debate anyone, find the undecideds you know. People who have productive jobs.

  9. The Inimitable Steve

    If you / they believe £1 is too much, say that. But don’t say £350 million if it isn’t £350 million.

    Nah. Waste of time.

    Because no figure the Leave campaign put forward would be acceptable to the Remainlings.

    This isn’t an Oxford Union debate. No lie is too shameful for Project Fear. They’d love to bog down the Leavers in numerical quibbling while Dave Cameron tours the country telling people that leaving the EU causes bum cancer and wet summers.

    So, fuck ’em.

  10. The Inimitable Steve

    The Stigler – dunno if this is representative of anything, but I don’t actually know anybody who says he’ll vote Remain.

    I’m sure there must be some. But it seems all the energy and enthusiasm is on the Leave side.

    Agree that it’s generally a waste of time arguing with EUbots. They didn’t reason themselves into that position, so you can’t reason them out of it.

  11. It’s amazing that in the 21st century there are still people who can’t understand the difference between an advertising slogan and a Report & Accounts.

  12. Bloke inside the M25

    Why are we arguing about money? I presume most on this blog are right wing which should mean we stand for small government, low taxes and the rule of law. The EU stands for none of these things.
    But if you want to reduce the argument to cash how about asking when the last EU budget was signed of.

  13. @ukliberty: tell you what, you send me 10% of your income. I promise to spend it all on you, but on things that I think you should have. You’ll be entirely happy, because you’re getting all the benefits of the money directly back. Your financial situation will (according to you) be entirely unaltered. Deal?

  14. Geoffers: here‘s a picture of the lying bus.

    Jim: we’re not asking the Leave campaign to subtract what the EU spends in the UK, we’re talking about what we actually send the EU to spend wherever. The amount we send is reduced by the rebate, which is about £100m a week.

  15. Why does the £350M figure still exist? Why hasn’t it been reduced by our agreed rebate?

    Because the French want to get us back to the full amount again, see Bliar’s gifting away of part of our rebate when he thought he was doing a deal with them.

    France is too good at this game, the only winning move is not to play.

  16. The £350 million figure is wrong. The actual number is closer to £400 million and rising because of the EU has restated the measurement of GDP. Wheher that money is actually put in the post to the Berlaymont is quite frankly a question of neo-Remainian sophistry. That is the figure over which we let the rest of the EU have discretion. Even after they give us back nearly half of it, that is still £200 million a week down the tubes. How anyone like Wollaston can think that £200 million a week is acceptable but £350 million is not baffles me.

  17. Gareth with a capital G

    Ukliberty said: “In what sense?

    We don’t send or give the EU £350 million a week. ”

    The £350m figure is as real as the ‘subsidy’ energy companies get through a reduced rate of VAT.

    I don’t think Vote Leave have helped themselves using it but it is what the Government records as ‘gross contributions’. They are totally wrong if they say we spend that every week. It makes VL look shifty when challenged on it. £250m would have been a more solid figure and just as useful. AFAIK we generally spend £350m minus the rebate from 12 months ago.

    The Inimitable Steve said: “They’re basically bloody fascists. Sure, they aren’t wearing silly hats and toothbrush moustaches, but that’s what they are. They want unelected, unaccountable power and see the EU as a way to get it.”

    Absolutely. They think it is a positive feature of the EU that it can stop the elected UK government doing things. Many MPs are happy to represent the will of Brussels in Britain rather than represent our will in Westminster. Membership has made our government far less accountable and now EU supporters are openly admitting this is what they want.

    Some EU supporters take a slightly different approach though. They recognise it is unaccountable but say ‘seeing as it’s there why don’t we just make it accountable!’. I would say no to that. If they want a United States of Europe tear down the EU, go back to nation states and start again with the consent of the public.

  18. “we’re not asking the Leave campaign to subtract what the EU spends in the UK, we’re talking about what we actually send the EU to spend wherever. The amount we send is reduced by the rebate, which is about £100m a week.”

    Ok, give me 10% of your income, I promise to send 5% straight back to you in cash, and I’ll spend the rest on you in the way I choose. Deal?

  19. “How anyone like Wollaston can think that £200 million a week is acceptable but £350 million is not baffles me.”

    Don’t get hung up on the number. She doesn’t care what the number is. She jumped ship because she wanted to, and this was the raft she sailed away on.

  20. “The amount we send is reduced by the rebate, which is about £100m a week.” But it won’t be for long if Remain wins.

    “How anyone like Wollaston can think that £200 million a week is acceptable but £350 million is not baffles me.” The answer is probably, sadly, “because she’s a girlie”. A paleo-feminist, such as me, should weep.

  21. @SJW – so it’s not the amount sent but it will be if we stay in.

    Meanwhile Cameron’s lied every time he moved his lips on this campaign and you want to do sophistry with how much of the country’s lifeblood we send to arm the enemy with?

    Don’t bring up how much is spent on us by the EU either. If I give my daughter £10 and she gets me a tie I will never wear I still had the money spent on me.

  22. In the national accounts income tax and NI that appear on public sector wage slips are included as tax revenues, and the gross salary is classed as expenditure.
    But the taxation never leaves the Treasury’s bank account to then be repaid – they just pay out the net figure.
    Does that mean the Treasury are lying when using gross figures as its Income and Expenditure?

  23. @ Chris Miller
    “It’s amazing that in the 21st century there are still people who can’t understand the difference between an advertising slogan and a Report & Accounts.”

    In the 21st Century most people cannot because they don’t know what a Report & Accounts is. More people read trash than Tolstoy; more people listen to the geriatric Rolling Stones than to Handel’s Messiah, just as 50 years ago more listened to The Beatles than Brahms. we have to live with that. If you drink half-a-bottle of port it won’t feel so bad.

  24. @ SJW
    Of course the Leave campaign don’t think the true number is acceptable – some of them don’t think £1 would be acceptable.

    What they actually think is that putting £350m on the side of a bus will influence people.

  25. @ The Inimitable Steve
    In the changing room after my last-but-one race one guy asked how we were going to vote – there was a pause – so then I said “I’ll vote Remain because we can’t reform the EU from outside”. He commented that he hadn’t (previously) heard anyone willing to say he’d vote Remain.
    Certainly all the enthusiasm is on “Leave” even when dispassionate analysis says “Remain” is less bad – and people are more willing to speak out for causes they support emotionally than ones where they have to explain complex issues.

  26. The Inimitable Steve

    John – so then I said “I’ll vote Remain because we can’t reform the EU from outside”.

    Ha! Good one.

    Certainly all the enthusiasm is on “Leave”

    It’s pretty hard to get excited about Herman van Rumpy-pumpy.

  27. @John – very noble thinking, win/win and all that.

    Problen is the EU can’t be fixed because it’s not broken, from the point of view of the creatures running it. Attempting to fix such an edifice is a fools errand. Let it fall and fix up something better from the pieces.

  28. Sorry but have you read the first line of the Guardin’s article?
    “A hundred professional fact-checkers from 41 countries gathered in Buenos Aires last week for a great International Fact-Checking Network convention. Now a question: why were they sunning themselves in Brazil (…)”
    So Brasilia is the capital of Argentina???

  29. “Apparently the Remain campaign thinks the true number is acceptable, or they wouldn’t insist on putting a lying number in their Brexit Economic Impact report.”

    Fixed your post for you.

    The Remain camp started this outright lying competition, and the Leavers are just fought fire with fire.

    The CEO of Unilever got up the other day and barefacedly said that the cost of his icecreams would go up 40% because of ‘import duties on imported milk’ the other day. This in a country that is so awash with milk that dairy farmers are protesting about the low price they are getting for it. Its a blatant lie. But hey, he’s in favour of Remain, so all fair, right?

    http://www.politico.eu/article/price-of-ice-cream-will-go-up-after-brexit-rasberry-ripple-unilever/

  30. The Inimitable Steve

    Problen is the EU can’t be fixed because it’s not broken, from the point of view of the creatures running it.

    That, and we’ve been trying to “fix” the EU for… what? 40 years? In that time we haven’t been able to get rid of CAP. We couldn’t even get rid of the Common Fisheries Policy, and that’s a mere bagatelle by Euro standards.

    Thatcher, Major, Blair and Cameron, and veritable armies of our finest diplomats and civil servants haven’t been able to meaningfully reform the EU, so it’s time to admit that’s just not going to happen.

    Plus, contra to the dear old “Britain at the heart of Europe” mantra, it just ain’t so and will never be so.

    France and Germany are the heart of Europe. Britain is culturally, geographically, historically and economically on the periphery of Europe. It is what it is. We can no more be at the heart of Europe than we can be at the heart of the United States or the Moon.

    We should never have joined, but that’s another story. After decades of trying to change the club to suit Britain we should stop lying to ourselves and stop annoying our neighbours. Best thing we can do now is leave and wish our Continental chums bon courage.

  31. Wollascum was always going to piss off at a strategic point to try and cause max damage to Brexit. It is in the plan.

    If Leave win by a small amount Johnson will be the one of the loudest squarkers for a new new renegotiation and will be able to endorse our continued membership of the shower of shite on that basis.

    John 77–absolute nonsense, As others have said there is nothing “wrong” with the EU– it is becoming the brazen tyranny it was always intended to be.

  32. john77,

    Different social circles I guess as most people I’ve spoken to are remain.

    But seriously, and I say this as someone who a decade ago thought like that, I don’t buy the idea we can reform the EU. Cameron’s renegotiation was a big bag of nothing. He got zilch, even when the EU were faced with an upcoming referendum.

    I don’t quite agree, Steve. I think the EEC, back in the day was a good idea. Back when most of our trade was overwhelmingly with the EEC and it was lightweight regulation, it made sense, even with its faults. But that’s the era before digital services, before the fall of communism, even before we started buying Japanese motorcycles. Pile on the directives on workers and oh no, where did all the jobs go.

    It’s just not a 21st century organisation, though. You can’t make directives based on hours worked when we’ve got so many jobs where people travel an hour to work and where people measure deliverables. You can’t even have them for security guards where a 12 hour shift just ain’t a big deal, but manual work is. They’re classifying what a cornish pasty is, but somehow, the fucking shit that Ginster’s make qualifies, while the excellent ones from my local deli can’t be called so, because they aren’t made in Cornwall, like crossing the Tamar gives you magic pasty making powers.

    I noticed a trend recently – the EU supporters are almost entirely those people who love the big state. “Without the EU what will my agitprop theatre company do” I dunno, shut up shop so we can have a cinema in there? Learn to do panto and musicals? Do it in your own time for fun? Right now, if they win, it’ll be because of the people who are nervous. If those nervous people figure out the game, that it’s about fucking troughers who can bypass the public voting for less spending, that’ll be it. We’ll be out.

    My hope is that the utter bullshit that Project Fear have tried spreading is so bullshitty that it’s destroyed their credibility. “Leave the EU and Keyser Soze, Cthulhu and Candyman will come and get you”.

  33. Bloke in Costa Rica

    Anything Sarah Wollaston is agin I’m for, and vice versa, so it’s a relief she’s defected to Remain. Remember, she’s the authoritarian cunt who thinks her possession of a medical degree confers on her the unquestionable right to tell other people what they should do with their bodies. Fuck her and the hobby-horse she rode in on.

  34. Stigler: “Different social circles I guess as most people I’ve spoken to are remain.”

    Strong but not definitive correlation with grade in GCSE French in my view, (but with many exceptions before any one starts).

  35. £350 million is an incomprehensibly big figure, the net £150 million is just as incomprehensively big, there would have been no disadvantage using the net figure, they are both just “big numbers” to most of the public.

  36. But there’s nothing wrong, per se, with stating costs gross.

    Bet you don’t say that about your salary.

    “Why am I only being paid £20,000 a year”

    “You are paid £1,000,000 a year”.

    “No I’m not, there is only £20,000 going into my bank!”

    “Ah, I see. That’s your nett salary after deductions. Your gross salary is £1,000,000. Oh, you think that is an important difference? But there’s nothing wrong with quoting gross.”

  37. Bloke in North Dorset

    Slightly OT, I saw my first remain poster today and on that journey I didn’t see any out posters.

  38. Alex,

    Actually, it’s more that I know some middle-class people who have nice state jobs. I generally like them, but I stay the hell away from politics with them.

    Anyone that knows me just can’t call me a little Englander. They know I eat chorizo, foie gras, bratwurst, drink everything from Chimay to Chianti, as well as doing work with Europeans. I feel culturally closer to Europe than most of the world. But in reality, this is no longer the end of our world. We can watch Japanese manga easily, listen to Gangnam Style, drink South African pinotage, import iPhones from China, have call centres in India. It’s actually small-minded and backward to only look at Europe as our trading place.

  39. @ The Stigler
    “Different social circles I guess as most people I’ve spoken to are remain.”
    I think that most I’ve spoken to are also pro-Remain – my point was that no-one else was prepared to say so, either at the time or when the guy had asked the same question on previous occasions to other groups.

    Cameron got almost nothing because the other EU leaders knew he was going to campaign for “remain” anyway and they reckoned that they could give him half-an-inch when he asked for a yard. it could turn out to be a very expensive mistake.

    You say “But that’s the era before digital services,…” – what is the crucial point is that was the period before Jacques Delors who having failed to establish socialism in one country (France, for avoidance of doubt) decided to impose it through the backdoor fromn Brussels, thereby condemning the rest of the EEC/EU to his vision of French socialism. There has been a major swing to the Right in Europe over the last few years so there should be a qualified majority of centre-right governments after the next round of elections to introduce reforms (Hollande is the only candidate sure to lose to Marine Le Pen in the second round, even Sarkozy would be odds-on and elsewhere the centre-right will usually have the choice of forming a coalition with either the Right or the centre-left).

  40. “The amount we send is reduced by the rebate, which is about £100m a week.”

    Presumably you don’t know that:

    “the rebate is deducted from the UK’s GNI-based contribution a year in arrears, e.g. the rebate in 2015 relates to UK payments and receipts in 2014.”

    So in 2015 we pay the 2015 contribution gross and then receive the rebate in 2016. The amount to be set against the contribution in 2015 is the rebate for 2014. Any EU spending should not be set against the payment. So we are, in fact, paying over the £350 million (or higher sum) in the year to which it relates.

  41. So we are, in fact, paying over the £350 million…

    No we’re not.. We’re paying over the £350m (or whatever the formula says) minus the previous year’s rebate.

    So something like £250 million. The facts are clear.

  42. Money, money ,money.
    It will sort itself out. But only if you have a nation that is recognisably yours. Not some people parking space.
    you seem to be happily presiding over the death of Britain while counting the pennies you have been allowed to keep.

  43. Gareth cap G – ‘They think it is a positive feature of the EU that it can stop the elected UK government doing things.’

    This is a central theme for many of my pro-Remain friends and acquaintances. They like the EU because it protects them from Them Evil Tories. It doesn’t seem to occur to them that TET can be voted out of office and the EU can’t nor that one day the EU might decide to fuck them over rather than protect them.

  44. “that was the period before Jacques Delors ”

    The guy was an utter cunt, and introducing harmonisation as he called it has been the start of the end of the EU of my youth.

  45. The rebate isn’t a fixed amount and we have no control over how much we get each year. What we get as a rebate is a percentage of the difference between the VAT we paid over to Europe the previous year and what Brussels spent in the UK the previous year. If they fund more crappy projects in the UK, our rebate goes down.

    That’s why it is acceptable to quote the gross, because we cannot be certain of how much rebate we are going to get in any year.

  46. And it is only agreed for seven years at a time, although we do have a veto so provided we’re sufficiently awkward we’ll keep it.

  47. It’s not acceptable* to quote the gross as the amount “we send to the EU”. Because it’s not the amount we send to the EU.

    *Except if you’re one of the commentators above who thinks it’s OK to tell outright lies in an attempt to fool the electorate into voting for something you believe in.

  48. …who thinks it’s OK to tell outright lies in an attempt to fool the electorate into voting for something you believe in.

    This decry both campaigns, then?

  49. @ SJW
    Yes, you are right: but so is dcardno.
    I also expect to get flack from both sides because I recognise that both sides do have valid arguments (hidden the media shouts).

  50. You decry both campaigns, then?
    Yes I do. But only one side started its campaign by writing a lie in big letters on the side of its bus.

    I recognise that both sides do have valid arguments
    Yes they do. If only they’d make them.

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