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That ghastly Mr MacShame

Posted by Richard Tuesday, February 15, 2005

As a general rule, one is supposed to avoid ad hominem attacks, not least because it diminishes the force of one's argument.

However, coming from from the school of "rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men", we are always prepared to make an exception for the egregious Denis MacShame, minister for Europe.

This truly ghastly man is at it again, this time in the online journal Epolitix – which is presumably the only place he can get published – attacking the "eurosceptic press" for "misleading" the British people over the EU.

This is from a man who's department, the FCO, has just produced the extraordinary tissue of lies in the guise of "myth rebuttals" which purports to put the record straight on the EU constitution.

In his article, MacShame complains of "an enormous information deficit" caused, he claims, by debate on Europe being focussed on "a political and ideological subject and not in terms of the facts". The second problem, hew identifies, “is that we have a press that is very ideologically engaged with anti-European politics."

He also has a go – predictably – at "the primitive anti-Europeanism of the Tory Party", which he claims “makes it less and less electable”. If the Conservatives are serious about becoming a major British party again they will have to, as Labour did, change their hostility to the EU and to the treaty," he asserts.

On the EU referendum campaign, he claims that "if you have time to talk to people and explain, their first degree of hostility to the EU, which is based on the myths they read in the majority of the papers, tend to disappear."

How he has the nerve to make this sort of claim is beyond us, but just to illustrate, once again, the brass neck of this man – as if it was needed – readers will recall Booker’s column last Sunday which noted that EU commission had opened a website dealing with the "myths" about which MacShame complains.

One such lifts from a Daily Mail report concerning the new rules for electrical installations in the home, which claimed, rightly, that DIY electrical work had been banned by "an EU edict".

However, according to the commission,

This "edict" is actually a set of voluntary standards adopted by the European Committee for Electrical Standardization, a non-EU body, made up of organisations from 28 European countries, including the British Standards Institution. It is a matter for national governments if they wish to legislate to enforce such standards.
This is not true. It is a lie. As we pointed out on this Blog, what in fact is going on is a poorly understood and little-advertised procedure whereby the EU is gradually harmonising technical laws in the Community, first introduced in 1983 and then amended in 1998 by an extraordinarily opaque directive (98/34/EC) "laying down a procedure for the provision of information in the field of technical standards and regulations".

What this Directive did was introduce what has been called the "new approach" to technical harmonisation.

The process was to continue to work through the EU standardisation bodies such as CEN and CENELEC, which would continue to churn out "European standards" but, instead of these then being turned into EU directives and regulations, this new directive required the various national standardisation bodies (such as the British Standards Institute) to confer "the status of a national standard to these standards" and "to withdraw any conflicting national standards."

This, we called "hidden integration", but, for the likes of MacShame, this is no doubt merely another "myth".