Monday, 7 September 2009

I want to like the EU... but I can’t

This has been on the front page all day. Which is nice. Nice to see level headed, healthy skepticism on the undemocratic unaccountable EU project on mainstream websites. I would buy this guy a pint, but I don't have any money left after the dual governments of Britain and the EU finished raping my arse for taxes.

Let me make something clear from the start of this piece: I like Europe and Europeans.

I like the idea of having closer ties to the continent. I think the Channel Tunnel's a great thing. I'm in favour of free trade and, to the extent that it's practical, open borders.

But I have to admit, the jury's out on the European Union and a lot of people feel the same way. There's been a big swing towards anti-EU parties (not just in the UK either) across Europe.

Why? EU supporters tend to claim that people just don't understand Europe. The logical conclusion from this is that they should just shut up and entrust handling it to the people who do, the politicians.

But I don't think people are that daft. If they can understand how a subprime mortgage (a pretty abstract concept in the first place) got sliced and diced and distributed in such a way as to kick off the collapse of the financial system, then they should be able to get a handle on just about anything.

Governments becoming more powerful
I think the real problem is that people feel that political power is becoming ever more distant from them. Governments seem to be getting bigger and more dictatorial and the concerns of individuals seem to be getting lost.

I think the anti-EU vote was an anti-big-government vote. But what might happen if we ended up leaving the EU? Most obviously there's the economic impact.

But what would it be? One thing that's very apparent when you try to find out anything about the EU is that no one is neutral. Everyone wants to spin a line either for or against the whole project, so it's very difficult to get any clear information.

The right-leaning think tank Civitas reckons the best estimates put the annual net cost to the UK of EU membership at £55 billion, but that includes various indirect costs that can be disputed.

So if you want a straight figure that's hard to quibble with, you can just look at our annual net contribution to the EU.

That's the amount of money we put in, minus what we get back in the form of EU spending on things like farm subsidies under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), for example. This adds up to £6.4 billion this year, a 60% jump on last year.


Word of advice. When someone tries to get you to sign a legally binding document by deliberately covering up the clauses and by outright lying to you. It is best to say 'no thanks'. When you say no and they come back with 'vote again', that is when you stick up two fingers and tell them to stuff their Forth Reich utopia up their collective arses, sideways.

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