Sunday, August 22, 2004

The Booker column

In his column today, Booker takes on the O’Brien issue, rehearsed in greater detail in earlier Blogs – click here for the main story, which has links to the other posts.

In particular, he focuses on O'Brien's claims about the "abattoir directive", commenting on how his own column used to report almost to the point of self-parody how the forcing out of business of hundreds of British abattoirs was arguably the most absurd regulatory disaster our membership of the EU had yet inflicted on any British industry. But all those words, it seemed, had been in vain.

He takes up the point that "any half-way competent researcher, either for the Tory Party or the Today programme, could have discovered via Google in two minutes that the meat hygiene directive 91/497 in fact contains not 12 pages but 34, while the wordage of the UK regulations amounts to little more".

Booker’s closing comment, however, puts the whole O’Brien incident into perspective. "The terrifying thing", he writes, "is not just that we have handed over the running of our country to such a weird system of government. It is that neither our politicians nor most of our media still seem to have the foggiest idea how it works".

Also in the column is a report about how John Prescott's regionalisation policy is also going to include the fire services, with plans to set up regional emergency call centres, contactable only through a sequence of push-button questions and answers: "press '1' to report a fire", he writes, "then '1' again for a house fire, '2' for a 'car fire' and '3' for any other fire, such as in an office or factory”. And so on. Campaigner Neil Herron is on the case and working with the firefighters to scupper the plan.

That, and two other stories – one of the European health card – make the column a cracking good read.

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