Wednesday, May 08, 2013

UK politics: they still don't get it

000Queenie speaks.jpg

Only a few days ago, the media were wibbling about "lazy" MPs being given an extra twelve days "holiday" because there were not enough new laws to debate. 

But one thing missing from the discourse was any mention of that king-sized elephant in the room, the EU. No one thought to mention that the reason our MPs have so little to do is because most of our law-making is outsourced to Brussels and beyond. 

And now, on the day of the Queen's speech, we again get what passes for analysis but, once again, the "limited package" is again seen entirely through the filter of domestic politics. 

Labour's Chris Bryant claims the speech is so thin it is "practically translucent" (a bit like his underpants). But, its "limited nature”, writes James Kirkup, "reflects the simple fact that we are now less than two years from the next general election. More than anything else, that timetable defines and dictates the Government's agenda".

Most of the Coalition's big decisions were made long ago, says Kirkup, and the biggest, on economic policy, was never a matter of legislation. Whatever legislation was needed for major domestic reforms – welfare, schools, the NHS reorganisation – has already been passed. 

All that remains, he says, is delivery, "actually trying to make those changes work, and make them work in a manner that voters see and appreciate".

Yet, as we wrote those few days ago, the European Parliament has rarely been busier, listing on its database 1,301 "legislative acts" so far, for its 2009-2014 session. That is where the action is, we wrote, demonstrating how far the power has drained from Westminster. 

And just by coincidence, in Brussels on Monday, where the eurocrats were not on holiday, the Commission launched a major new initiative under the working title of "Smarter rules for safer food", a "landmark package to modernise, simplify and strengthen the agri-food chain in Europe".

Not least of the measures proposed are those to deal with the fall-out from the horsemeat fraud, but there is a huge range of issues being dealt with, from animal health to the marketing of seeds.

Says the Commission, "the current body of EU legislation covering the food chain consists of almost 70 pieces of legislation. Today's package of reform will cut this down to five pieces of legislation and will also reduce the red-tape on processes and procedures for farmers, breeders and food business operators (producers, processors and distributors) to make it easier for them to carry out their profession".

But, for the Queen's speech, the nearest we get to dealing with livestock is the announcement of a provision which will lead to an amendment to the Dangerous Dogs Act. The real thing is an EU competence, so this need not concern our media. Despite the massive scale of the EU initiative, it has not been reported in the UK by the national newspapers. 

Therein lies yet more evidence that the legacy media is writing itself out of the script. It no longer has any pretensions of reporting the news in any responsible way, while its analytical skills have atrophied to the extent that they are producing little that is actually worth reading.