Saturday, January 06, 2007

Daily irritations

As I pay less attention to the MSM than my esteemed colleague does or, for that matter, many of our readers do, and never listen to Radio 4, unless there is a dramatization of a detective story on, I have to get my daily irritations somewhere else. Fortunately, these are supplied in plenty by our so-called allies, eurosceptics of various hue.

Take the subject of hiring Polish or any other kind of workers because they happen to be the best available or when it makes economic sense. Just why precisely does the media and, come to think of it, some of our "eurosceptic" brethren think that is wrong or hypocritical? How often have we said, on this blog, anyway, that being eurosceptic is not about hating people of other nationalities, even if they are European (or French), but about opposing a certain political construct?

Furthermore, if one believes in a free economy, one believes in an employer's right to hire people as he or she sees fit and there should be no discrimination on any grounds except what is perceived to be useful to the business.

Then there are all those people who do not like the European Union and pronounce themselves to be eurosceptic who then insist on enumerating all the various reforms they would like to see in the institution that would make it quite acceptable. That is like saying back in the seventies that you would not object to the Soviet Union if it introduced a multi-party system, freedom of speech, thought and religion and allowed private enterprise. Few of us would have had any objections to that but it would not have been the Soviet Union.

Those who spend their time talking of reform need to come up with answers to the questions we have posed over and over on this blog. Well, all right, just one question: exactly what methods and which institutions do you propose to use in order to promulgate those reforms you keep chattering about?

And so on to irritation number three, also to do with eurosceptics. Nothing but nothing annoys me more than sloppy thinking on the part of our supposed allies. And no, I am not talking about American political wonks who are still incapable of grasping that the EU is not a jolly, cuddly, free-market area. I am talking of people who live in Britain, work in Britain, write on politics in Britain and consider themselves to be more knowledgeable than the average populace or the political establishment.

This particular irritation was caused by a conversation I had with an editor of a dead-tree media outlet that I am much involved with. We were discussing the possibility of an article on the EU and the editor mentioned what a colleague on this particular dead-tree media outlet had said.

The colleague announced that as the East European countries are not joining the euro (except for Slovenia, which he appears to have missed) then, surely, the whole thing is dead in the water. Various reasons, such as the fact that I was conducting the conversation on my mobile phone while riding the Hammersmith and City line, prevented me from making the obvious comment: how can a currency that is being used now in twelve countries be described as "dead in the water"?

The integration process may not be going as fast as the powers that be would like it and the economic outlook for the eurozone remains rather grim. But the currency is there and is likely to be with us for some time to come. It is not "dead in the water".

Neither is the project "dead in the water". Again, the integration process has stalled and it is rotting away from within. But there is a great deal of spoiling in a state and in a political structure. The EU is still where the overwhelming majority of our laws and regulations originate with our Parliament having no right to refuse them.

The Commission is still the sole originator of that legislation and the ECJ remains the supreme arbiter of how member states (that means us) implement and obey that legislation.

So, as a final growl of irritation, let me refer to an idiotic article written by Sara Rainwater, editor of that highly esteemed dead-tree media outlet, the European Journal (no, not the one I was referring to earlier - I was banned from the EJ many years ago) in which she was describing some conference in Brussels, during which she was "proud" of fighting against the right of Brussels to legislate in the UK.

As I have seen no reference in the European Journal to the possibility of the UK withdrawing from the European Union, I fail to understand what Editor Rainwater's fight consists of. For her information, as long as we stay in the EU, Brussels has every right to legislate in the UK. Signed, sealed and delivered.

So ends my Twelfth Night or, if you prefer, Russian Christmas message to our readers.

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