Despite the fact that most of the public were distracted by the “Baby Cambridge” sideshow of the last 72 hours some people were clearly spending their time stewing over the release of the first part of the EU competence review and understandably so. In case you missed it here is what it concluded:
“In conclusion, based on the evidence submitted, the current balance of competence between the EU and the UK was considered by stakeholders to be broadly appropriate and that these competences are properly applied but that competence should not be extended further“
That is to say on the areas covered so far the internal market, tax and foreign policy the Conservative’s own review says the balance of powers between the UK and the EU are “appropriate”. I bet Nigel Farage choked on his breakfast pint and fag when he read that on Tuesday morning!
Anyhow, the result of the abovementioned stewing has been revealed in what can only be described as a shameless refusal to believe the evidence – what I like to call the ‘General Melchett‘ response – and we tend to see this in the tabloids such as the Daily Mail and Daily Express. The Mail, at least, did not let us down with their thunderingly alliterative “Whitehall Whitewash” (to be honest I don’t really care what the Daily Express has to say on the matter).
Usually we can rely on the likes of the Telegraph to be more reflective on matters of significance but as we saw yesterday they simply sank into a journalistic depression and wrote what appeared to be the mumblings of a recently chastised schoolboy all “umms” and “ahhhs” as the author struggled through his or her “no convincing proof either way…arguments on both sides” denial vortex.
So it was left to Allie Renison (Research Director of @forbritain – the campaign to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with the EU) to pen something for The Spectator and so she did; delivering the depressingly dour sounding but descriptively titled blog post: “Balance of Competences Review is not a full assessment of Britain’s EU relationship”.
Before we go on I would just like to add my ounce of disgust to the mountain that The Spectator has brought upon itself with its shameful publication and support of the article supporting Golden Dawn in which references are made to Jews and the preparation of ovens. To find the article I typed the following terms into google “spectator jewish controversy greece golden dawn” and the fourth item on the list of search results was for a website for a group declaring themselves as, presumably “having”, something called “White Pride”. I don’t think much more needs to be said by me about that for now.
So back to Allie Renison and those musings on the report which she expressed thusly (formatting is mine):
“The much-ballyhooed Balance of Competences Review has just published its first set of reports and the lines have already been drawn between the In-at-all-costs camp and the Out-no-matter-whats. The former, jubilant at conclusions drawn by civil servants that EU competences across a number areas are just right, see fit to run around shouting ‘I told you so’ from the rafters. More hardened sceptics wearily remind them of their conviction from the outset that this was always going to be a technocratic sham of an exercise.”
Once I had wiped the soggy brown mixture of toast and coffee from my computer monitor I took a deep breath and read on (a link to her blog is included below). Let’s not beat around the bush here, it’s the sort of childish nonsense that until recently I would have been surprised to read in a publication with the journalistic credentials of The Spectator. As you can safely infer from the final sentence of her opening gambit Ms Renison considers herself and presumably the editorial staff of The Spectator to be weary “hardened sceptic[s]” You can almost hear the heavy-hearted sigh that accompanied the typing of that portentous line.
Yet what follows is the sort of analysis that a teenage schoolgirl might write in her diary about how stupid her best friend has become since she started hanging around with that new girl. It’s truly pathetic and no doubt one day she’ll read it again and shake her head at how foolish she was back then and how great it is that we’re all really good friends now. I do not have the time to go through it line by line but in summary:
- ..the wrong questions were asked…
- …the wrong answers were accepted
- …she’s a “big thinker”…civil servants have tiny minds (I guess)
- ..a full audit isn’t possible anyway…
- …there’s no section on democracy…or sovereignty…
- ..technocrats & bean counters aren’t….
You know what? I just can’t be bothered to keep looking at it anymore. All I really wanted to point out to Fraser Nelson, the richly voiced editor of the Spectator, was that far from having a “conviction from the outset that this was always going to be a technocratic sham of an exercise”; his magazine in the person of James Forsyth was published on 20th October 2012 saying the following:
“As a precursor to this renegotiation, the coalition is undertaking a ‘balance of competences’ review. This might sound a thoroughly dull, bureaucratic exercise. But it is terribly important because for the first time it will reveal just how much the European Union influences our national life. It will call for evidence from government departments, business, civil society, think tanks and parliamentary committees. And the government plans to publish the evidence submitted.
Eurosceptic ministers regard this as a great opportunity, as a chance to educate people as to how much the EU impinges on their ability to make decisions. Several ministers have been radicalised by their experience in office, offended by how circumscribed they are by the Brussels raj. One remarks, with relish, that the evidence presented by departments will ‘show us who really runs the place and who is really a Eurosceptic’. The review won’t make any recommendations, but when it concludes in 2014 it will form the evidential basis for renegotiation”
So Mr Nelson, is the review “terribly important” or is it a “sham of an exercise”… and, more importantly, is there any amount of research or other evidence that would be enough for you to change your mind?
I suspect not.
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