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Posted by Richard Sunday, January 08, 2006

For some unexplained reason, the Sunday Telegraph has not put a link up on its website front page for the Booker column today, so for those who have been unable to find it, here is the link.

For his subject matter, Booker leads off with the Barroso story, in which the listeners of the Today programme voted the commission president the most powerful man in Britain.

But, writes Booker, if the selection was a joke, the last laugh is on the likes of BBC political correspondent, Nick Robinson, and Guardian correspondent Nicholas Watt, both of whom claimed that pointed out that power in Brussels rested not with Barroso but with "the council of ministers", as evidenced in that pre-Christmas row over the EU budget.

Both, of course, were referring to the European Council, a wholly different institution. "This schoolboy howler only showed yet again how ignorant most commentators are about how our EU system of government works", says Booker.

He adds that it might seem remarkable that the BBC's political correspondent appears so ignorant of the distinctions between these institutions (a mistake as basic as not knowing that Paris is the capital of France). But it is obvious that our grand pontificators are equally hazy about the extent to which this system dictates the way that the countries of Europe, including our own, are run.

He then gives the example of the growing disaster in our waste management policy, long since handed to Brussels, adding to the detail on this blog, having talked to Peter Jones, a director of Biffa, Britain's largest waste company.

Jones tells us that, in addition to the £10 billion infrastructure costs to set up the EU's "recycling society" in Britain alone, there will be a further annual cost for running 300 "waste parks" needed to implement the EU's recycling law.

The trouble is, Booker writes, that it will not be economical to do this until the cost of landfill - thanks to the steady £3 a year rise in the EU-inspired landfill tax - has risen to around £60 a tonne, which will not be for another four or five years. As our landfill tips disappear (they are currently closing at two or three a month), we shall be faced with a colossal waste crisis.

We shall no longer have any way to dispose of our rubbish because that £10 billion-worth of infrastructure and the 40,000 staff to run it will not be in place.

Such are the results of handing over ever more of the running of our country to a mysterious, unaccountable system which reduces our politicians to impotence, and which most commentators are far too grand to understand. As for Mr Cameron's Not-the-Conservative Party, Booker avers, it will have nothing to say either, because it seems to be quite as oblivious to all this boring, practical stuff as the BBC's Mr Robinson.

And there is the rub. The Booker column these days is confined to the inside back page of the paper and they can't even be bothered to put a link to it on the website. Yet, in one short piece, there is more about how this strange, unaccountable political construct works than you find from reading the entire newspaper. Such is life.

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