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Selective Quotes To Be Banned By Nanny State 28 April 2007

Posted by David in EU, Europe, European Union.
4 comments

We’ve all seen it; “Superb”, “a masterpiece”, “the greatest thing since sliced bread”. The short quotes used to publicise films (and books) because there isn’t really any other way of describing a film or book quickly enough on a billboard, poster or cover. Being sane human beings (or at least not being total utter idiots), we take these quotes with a pinch of salt, they are after all adverts, and understand it’s obviously only part of a longer description.

But of course we are not to be trusted. The EU’s new Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, which comes into effect in Britain next April, bans promotions that are “likely to deceive the average consumer, even if the information is correct”.

Now I’m not for deceiving consumers, I am very pro-consumer rights, but consumers are not total idiots. Selective editing is wrong, but do we really need protecting from it? The new law will require test cases, so it is as yet unclear where it will end.

And come to think of it, how guilty is the EU of selective editing? I know loads of people who voted Yes to a Common Market in 1975 but weren’t told it would become the EU, in fact they were guaranteed that it wouldn’t. I have seen an EU printed “Citizen’s Copy” of the EU Constitution, abridged to 8 pages of very selective quotes. The EU would have been shut down years ago if it had to meet even basic consumer protection laws.

It has however got me thinking about all the quotes used as tag lines on blog headers. My own – “As discussed in Prime Minister’s Questions!” – is of course true but possibly rather misleading (it was only referenced). I will probably soon be able to add “And illegal under EU law” as well. But I wonder how selective others have been? Iain Dale’s Diary, as essential to my morning as Marmite, I hate Marmite and never touch the stuff? Nah.

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EU Mobile Phone Charges 13 April 2007

Posted by David in EU, Europe, European Union.
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EU plans to set price limits for mobile phone charges are still moving forwards, after a committee of the European Parliament supported the move. I posted on the topic recently under the headline Get Off My Mobile Phone You Market Rigging Nutters (15.03.07) – one of my more energetic of titles I admit – but this is actually something far more important than the price of phone calls.

The very basis of this argument is the question whether the state intervene and “rig” prices? The answer is of course, no. Phone companies, as private bodies, should be free to offer whatever rates for whatever services they wish. We, as free individuals, should be free to negotiate and choose as we see fit. You don’t even have to use a phone if you don’t want to.

Despite the nice headlines of “international calls getting cheaper”, by fixing cross-border prices the phone companies will recoup their losses elsewhere – in higher domestic charges, less freebies, poorer quality service, less investment and more expensive phones (California limited the price of electricity – the investment stopped, they had black outs costing them billions).

Our choice will also have been limited. If I want a phone package with dearer calls internationally, but cheaper domestic ones, and the company wants to offer it, what right does the EU have to stop it? We should all be free to charge and pay what we like. Anyone in favour of intervention needs to be asked how they would like the EU to dictate what they charge for their labour/goods/services?

But to the EU, this is – as Mark Mardell on the BBC explained – an attempt to win over the public with headlines. It will be another thing for their dodgy self-congratulatory list of “nice things the EU has done for you”. Reading BBC Have Your Say, it may have worked: “Oh dear- the EU and its parliament may be doing something useful for the UK after all. What will all those Europe-bashing HYS contributors have to say now?” writes Simongw, while Jabba DeHutt writes “Yes. I am a regular Euro traveller and quite frankly the charges are extortionate. British mobile phone providers should be ashamed of themselves. The sooner we embrace Europe totally the better off we will all be…”

They’ve not thought it through.

Tebbit, Better Off Out, and a Dim View of John Maples MP 1 April 2007

Posted by David in Conservatives, EU, Europe, European Union.
3 comments

Lord Tebbit has joined the Better Off Out campaign. I have a problem with the campaign, known as BOO. This is because I agree with it 100%, but find its campaigning tacky, cheap and low quality – sorry, but I do. Its websitehas improved, but it’s still awful, and the campaign fails to put across the high minded, liberal case against the EU (i.e. freedom and liberty for all nations). Instead it’s too inward looking, focusing on us, being better off, out. Instead I want everyone, free.

Anyway, my moans aside, I hope more candidates and MPs now join BOO. But such common sense, free thought and individuality will not be helped by schoolyard bullies such as the Euro-statist MP John Maples, Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party. When asked “What is the Candidates Department’s policy on candidates signing up to support the “Better Off Out” campaign?” he replied “this campaign is contrary to party policy and we will take a dim view of any candidate who signs up to it.  We expect candidates, before and after selection to support party policy (and I hope to continue to do so after they have been elected as well!)”

Mr Maples and his dream of robotic, carbon copy idiot candidates is certainly not in the party’s best interests. Who will be tomorrow’s leaders if all candidates believe only and exactly in the policies of the 2009/2010 manifesto? What happened to being a ‘broad church’? Why has the “dim view” not been taken with others who broke party line? Such as Ken Clarke.

It’s clearly John Maples who has dim views.

Iran Hostages: What is the Next Phase? 31 March 2007

Posted by David in Comment, EU, Europe, European Union, World.
5 comments

Iran still has 15 British troops held captive, at an unknown location, and is refusing diplomatic access to them unless Britain apologises for entering Iran’s waters. But we didn’t enter Iran’s waters! Even if Britain forged the GPS signal and maps – as Iran has themselves – the original grid reference given by Iran is actually within Iraqi waters! Only when they realised the mistake did they give a new grid reference.

But what can we do? We cannot block trade any more than we have, as the European Union (Iran’s biggest trading partner) controls our trade policy, and both Germany (the current European Union President) and France (with a veto) have big trade links with Iran. France alone in fact is Iran’s 2nd biggest trading partner. As the Times reports, European foreign ministers failed last night to back Britain in a threat to freeze the €14 billion trade in exports to Iran.

We don’t even know where they are, so can’t mount a rescue bid, as dangerous and near impossible as it would be anyway. Would we really declare was for 15 people? Iran would probably execute them even if we did. And the public have shown a very distinct lack of interest really. As the Telegraph comments, public opinion has changed. Where our great-great-grandfathers clamoured for the rescue of Gordon, we have reacted to Iran’s provocation with a resigned shrug. Americans, in particular, cannot understand why we seem so indifferent to the fate of our own people.

I certainly agree that the Americans are confused, the internet is awash with comments from our friends over the pond who really do not understand what has happened to Great Britain – many pledging their military support to us. The US Republicans in particular are shocked by our lack of action. But what will the government do?

And so Iran has all the cards, and knows it. The letters and apologies are clearly forced by the Iranians, you can tell in the letters by the language and grammar, one lacking the definite article and reading “To British People” as if dictated by a foreign person with less than fluent English rather than “To the British People” as we would say. The mention of removing forces from Iraq so they can take decisions themselves is clear indication as to Iran’s power in Iraq.

Blair has got to step up the pressure. Appeasement doesn’t work. If you give in to one hostage taker, you invite a thousand more, with ever bigger and tougher demands. We cannot rely on the EU, they will not help us. The diplomatic heat must be cranked up, with tough sanctions banning trade, blocking entry to the country, halting flights over allied territories etc. Meanwhile we must begin to threaten military action – such as seizing the waterway, bombing nuclear plants and oil sites – with America and our other true allies, and let Iran know we will not allow such actions against our forces enacting a UN mandate.

But Blair and Brown are weak. They talk of the next phase, the next level, the next stage – but what exactly is it?

Happy Birthday To EU? 24 March 2007

Posted by David in Comment, EU, Europe, European Union.
1 comment so far

Today millions are being spent to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, which founded the European Coal & Steel Community, which became the EEC, which became the EU. It feels like one of those children’s stories – “the cat that ate the mouse, who scared the maid, who milked the cow, who ate the grass, that stained the clothes, that irritated the parents, who remortgaged the house that Jack built”.

Regular readers will know that I do not like the EU, and the Telegraph lists some of the recent news stories that give reason for such a dislike.

March 1: The head of the European Commission says it would be illegal for any country to opt out of the Social Chapter. March 6: A report by Eurochambers shows that EU productivity is 20 years behind that of America. March 7: A Brussels magazine analyses the EU’s policy towards business in the light of the fact that 100,000 of the 170,000 pages of EU regulations and directives have been produced in the past 10 years. March 12: Publicans complain because the Commission wants the crown stamp removed from British pint glasses. It is revealed that the EU pays for free massages for the unemployed. The European Commission wants to set up a bigger embassy, a “House of Europe”, in London, costing £1 million a year. EU foreign ministers refuse to agree sanctions against Khartoum for massacre and expropriation in Darfur. March 13: A row about the EU attempt to ban incandescent lightbulbs. March 15: The Monetary Affairs Commissioner admits that trade within the EU has not grown since the creation of the single currency. March 16: Plans for a centralised European database of fingerprints, biometric information and criminal records are set out. A BBC investigation reports that the EU now has a “standing army”. March 19: 44 per cent of all Europeans and 52 per cent of the British tell an FT poll that their life has got worse since joining the EU. Fifty-three per cent of Europeans think that Britain has the biggest say in international affairs of any member state. Only nine per cent think this is true of Germany, six per cent of France. Disabled people won’t be able to go on holiday because the Working Time Directive forbids their carers to work more than 11 hours at a stretch. Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett says that Britain will “rise above” demands for a referendum on the expected new European Treaty, which will try to push forward the defeated constitution by other means. The European Parliament considers a proposal to regulate all football in the EU. March 20: A commission spokesman blames the previous day’s poll on “nostalgia and insecurity”. A British farmer is forced to destroy his £500,000 herd of cattle under EU rules because of irregularities between their passports and their ear-tags.

But my dislike of the EU is not based on news stories, but principle. I oppose the European Union on the grounds that I am a believer in liberal nationalism, rather than the EU’s crazy euro-nationalism. Let me explain.

I believe the “state” and thus the government should be freely formed around the naturally occuring and organic “nation” – a nation being defined as a group viewing themselves as a nation, distinct from other nations. Naturally this could lead to ever constant disintegration, so some limit must be placed on it, generally geographic sense, language and history.

This is the reverse of what the EU is attempting, which is to create a state/government (Romano Prodi said “for the powers I have [as European Commission President] there is no other word than government”) and then form a European identity around it, hence efforts to create Europe Day, flags, anthems etc. It’s also why the USSR had so many Stalin statues, Rome had the Emperor on coins everywhere, and why China is transforming Tibet.

You can see the difference. Liberal views build the state around the people, the other view builds the people around the new state.

But such a project is not only illiberal, but dangerous. When people live within a state but do not see each other as the same, the result will never gain legitimacy in their eyes. Then you see the rise of a violent form of nationalism, the nationalism of a people denied self-determination within a supra-national state – precisely such a state as the EU is becoming. Just look at Yugoslavia or Iraq to see that supra-national states cause trouble. And with the EU’s obsession with removing differences, and to standardisation (called “harmonisation – to soothe British feelings” as Schroeder put it), tensions will be a problem.

I am not anti-Europe, Europe is a continent, but I am anti-EU. I want independence not just for Britain, but for France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Poland, Belgium… Europe’s greatness lies in the fact it is many, instead of just one. Vive la difference, vive la independence.

What We Face Part 2 23 March 2007

Posted by David in EU, Europe, European Union.
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A while back I highlighted some of the crazy comments from Euro-fanatics posted on the BBC. Well… there’s more. And the level of lunacy is as high as ever.

“UK politicians always emphasise what the UK got out of Europe, when the real question has to be: What can the UK (or any other Member State) do for Europe?” Ronald Vopel, Brussels, Belgium 

Like serfs? I thought the (deluded) pro-EU argument was that membership benefited us, not that we should work for it?

Almost every specific complaint I have heard about the EU is alleviated (if not entirely solved) by the proposed constitution – things like “lack of democracy” “overbureaucracy” “indecisiveness”, etc. . I think the only reason people are afraid of it is that it makes the EU sound too much like a country – which I personally don’t have a problem with (I’m primarily European and I think nation states are getting outdated) but I see how others might. Look beyond the name and read the content! Tivadar, Bremen, Germany

Not even worthy of a reply, I’m guessing Tivadar read the EU published condensed constitution, not the many thousands of pages long text. And why are nation states outdated? And so what even if they are? I myself think huge multi-nation empires and federations are outdated, with proof being Yugoslavia, USSR, Czechoslovakia…

Some people are so anti-European that they can’t even acknowledge the benefits the EU has brought. For example, it is correct to say that the EU stopped wars in Europe. After centuries of fighting each other, some European countries decided to share the resources required for war in order to put a stop to all this through the European Coal and Steel Community, which preceded the EEC and now the EU. It was this and not NATO that was designed to prevent further wars between France, Germany, Britain and others. Since then the EU has brought huge benefits to the people of Europe, including free trade. However Eurosceptics who seem to know or understand little about the EU won’t acknowledge this but readily point to the EU’s quality standards for bananas. These were necessary for free trade within the EU, but perhaps Eurosceptics don’t like free trade, or bananas! David, Dublin, Ireland

Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty, forming the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), demands that “an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.” I think they had maintaining peace in mind, and there is no such commitment in the reams of EU law.

And free trade doesn’t need the EU, see NAFTA, EFTA and the Swiss trade agreement. Quality standard rules imposed from government are not necessary for free trade either, as we have been trading freely within in the UK for years without them.

Where do they get these people?

Sloppy Journalism at the Independent 21 March 2007

Posted by David in Comment, EU, Europe, European Union.
2 comments

First it was the BBC with “Ten Things The EU Has Done”, now it’s the Independent with “Fifty Things The EU Has Done“. And it’s even more sloppy than the BBC’s pathetic brainwashing efforts.

1 The end of war between European nations
Didn’t NATO play a role, or banishing Hitler?

2 Democracy is now flourishing in 27 countries
Not in the EU itself however, and this is rather insulting to claim the hard work of others

3 Once-poor countries, such as Ireland, Greece and Portugal, are prospering
Free trade, no EU required

4 The creation of the world’s largest internal trading market
Free trade, no EU required.

5 Unparalleled rights for European consumers
Can be done at national level, indeed is, because not everything is European made.

6 Co-operation on continent-wide immigration policy
Not very effective is it. Not needed anyway.

7 Co-operation on crime, through Europol
Not effective either. There’s Interpol anyway.

8 Laws that make it easier for British people to buy property in Europe
The EU hasn’t touched property laws, and we can buy anywhere anyway.

9 Cleaner beaches and rivers throughout Europe
No EU required.

10 Four weeks statutory paid holiday a year for workers in Europe
No EU required. And what if they don’t want it? Wages are cut to fund it!

11 No death penalty (it is incompatible with EU membership
Abolished before we joined the EU.

12 Competition from privatised companies means cheaper phone calls
Free trade, no EU required.

13 Small EU bureaucracy (24,000 employees, fewer than the BBC)
You’re forgetting all those employed to implement EU regulation at national, local and private level. Still too many anyway as EU is not needed.

14 Making the French eat British beef again
Is it compulsory?

15 Minority languages, such as Irish, Welsh and Catalan recognised and protected
No EU required. How do you protect a language anyway?

16Europe is helping to save the planet with regulatory cuts in CO2
Not very effective is it? See Blair’s King Canute Climate Change Act.

17 One currency from Bantry to Berlin (but not
Britain)

A very defective currency, which according to a study bySheffield University has the wrong interest rate for all but one member nation.18 Europe-wide travel bans on tyrants such as
Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe
No EU required.

19 The EU gives twice as much aid to developing countries as the
United States

No EU required, money comes from the member states anyway.

20 Strict safety standards for cars, buses and aircraft
No EU required.

21 Free medical help for tourists
No EU required.

22 EU peacekeepers operate in trouble spots throughout the world
Where do they come from? Member states. Who pays them? Member states.

23Europe’s single market has brought cheap flights to the masses, and new prosperity for forgotten cities
Free trade, no EU required. Contradicts #16 somewhat.

24 Introduction of pet passports
No EU required.

25 It now takes only 2 hrs 35 mins from London to Paris by Eurostar
Even the Independent admits this is nothing to do with the EU, but still puts it on the list anyway.

26 Prospect of EU membership has forced modernisation on
Turkey

Forced? How liberal. And what modernisation?

27Shopping without frontiers gives consumers more power to shape markets
Free trade, no EU required.

28 Cheap travel and study programmes means greater mobility for
Europe’s youth

Free trade, no EU required.

29 Food labelling is much clearer
Not at all, food labelled “EEC” is hardly informative.

30 No tiresome border checks (apart from in the UK)
Handy for criminals, illegal immigrants, people traffickers and such. Again, no EU required, as the Swiss have agreed to end border checks despite not being in the EU.

31 Compensation for passengers suffering air delays
No EU required, and funded by higher air fares.

32Strict ban on animal testing for the cosmetic industry
No EU required, and we cannot ban live exports or dog fur due to EU membership.

33 Greater protection for Europe’s wildlife
Not hedgerow residents or sea-life, both ruined by the EU’s Common Agriculture and Fisheries Policies. No EU required.

34 Regional development fund has aided the deprived parts of
Britain

Money comes from UK anyway, indeed we pay far more than we get back. The regional development funding only goes to areas with average wages a certain amount below the EU average, which due to EU expansion in Eastern Europe is now far lower, meaning EU regional development funding in the UK is being phased out.

35European driving licences recognised across the EU
Like the International Driving Licence? Also, the road skills of some migrants is not terribly brilliant.

36 Britons now feel a lot less insular
Because of the EU? Pull the other one.

37Europe’s bananas remain bent, despite sceptics’ fears
So what?

38 Strong economic growth – greater than the United States last year
One year, thanks to Eastern Europe, out of how many? EU growth lags far behind the
US.

39 Single market has brought the best continental footballers to
Britain

Free trade, no EU required. David Beckham has moved to California without the EU.

40 Human rights legislation has protected the rights of the individual
And created crazy results in cases. The EU is not required for human rights.

41 European Parliament provides democratic checks on all EU laws
They’ve obviously never investigated it, even A-level politics emphasises the weakness of the European Parliament, which in most cases only has the right to offer an opinion. There’s no real debating, as MEPs only get 90 seconds each, and translation ruins any argument. Anyway, most MEPs are so loyal they approve anything proposed by the EU.

42 EU gives more, not less, sovereignty to nation states
How do they calculate this?

43 Maturing EU is a proper counterweight to the power of US and
China

Pathetic. How will a multi-polar world be safer?

44 European immigration has boosted the British economy
Contradicts #6 a little. Actually, immigration has boosted our GDP but reduced GDP per capita (i.e. more people will create more wealth in total, but are producing less wealth per person – so we’re bigger but poorer).

45 Europeans are increasingly multilingual – except Britons, who are less so
What’s this got to do with the EU?

46 Europe has set Britain an example how properly to fund a national health service
What’s this got to do with the EU?

47 British restaurants now much more cosmopolitan
What’s this got to do with the EU? Will the EU claim Mexican and Thai restaurants next?

48 Total mobility for career professionals in Europe
Free trade, no EU required.

49
Europe has revolutionised British attitudes to food and cooking

What’s this got to do with the EU? So has the lean mean grilling machine!

50 Lists like this drive the Eurosceptics mad
No they don’t, they make us laugh.

Guess What, More BBC Bias on the EU 20 March 2007

Posted by David in BBC, EU, Europe, European Union.
4 comments

The BBC is seemingly so unashamed of being biased it flaunts it whenever it can. Just look at this, Ten Things The EU Has Done. The entire BBC coverage of the EU’s 50th anniversary party is so one sided all but the insane couldn’t see it (in fact 2007 is the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome which founded the European Coal and Steel Community, not the EU as we have now, but the way they’re talking you’d easily miss this point).

‘Ten Things The EU Has Done’ could include costing the UK taxpayer £12bln per year (of which just a fraction returns to the UK), blocking Africa out of trade and so locking Africa in poverty, rigging prices to rip off shoppers (£12 per week according to the Consumer Association), spending £250m a year on an information propaganda budget, putting one sided ‘educational’ information in schools, destroying the maritime environment and fishing industry, grubbing hedgerows and destroying much of the farming industry, being involved in around 80% of all laws according to the German government, banning support for post offices, had people arrested for selling bananas in pounds on a market stall, lying endlessly really, attempting to standardise 27 diverse nations into a single political union…

The BBC must have missed these, and the rest.

Get Off My Mobile Phone You Market Rigging Nutters 15 March 2007

Posted by David in Comment, EU, Europe, European Union, Policy, World.
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Using your mobile phones abroad is going to be cheaper. But before you celebrate, guess what? Using your mobile phones at home is likely to be dearer. The EU has decided that it has the right to decide how much we pay to use our phones overseas and so told operators “cut your fees or we’ll force you to with regulation”. I call that blackmail myself.

Operators make a lot of money from overseas calling, and naturally will have to recoup this elsewhere – dearer domestic calls, less freebies such as new phones every year or worse service (if such a thing is at all possible) – or see fewer profits, lower dividends and reduced share prices. As a business this equals trouble.

But it is of course none of the EU’s business. We are all capable of deciding our own contract for a phone, if we have one, and using it ourselves. Those not reading the full contract in the past have had nasty surprises with bills when using mobiles overseas, but it’s not for government to regulate prices. We should be free to choose any phone contract we like, not told what we can and cannot have by the EU. If I want a contract that charges more when overseas but less when at home, and the phone company wants to offer it, why can’t I have it?

Chameleons On Bicycles Mentioned At Prime Minister’s Questions 7 March 2007

Posted by David in Chameleons on Bicycles Blog, EU, Europe, European Union, Uncategorized.
3 comments

Mike Gapes MPQ2.    [125430] Mike Gapes (Ilford, South) (Lab/Co-op): “As we prepare to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the European Union’s treaty of Rome, will the Prime Minister find time to read an article called Beware the Berlin Declaration, which calls for this country to leave the European Union? It can be found on the blog Chameleons on Bicycles.”

The Prime Minister: “First, it will be a very good thing for the whole of Europe to celebrate 50 years of the European Union, which has brought peace and prosperity to a continent that used to be ravaged by war. I think that we should celebrate our own position in the European Union. I look forward to going to the European Council tomorrow in order to bring forward proposals for climate change, where I am pleased to say that at least this Government will have some allies in ensuring that the battle against climate change is taken to a proper fruition.”

Thanks for everyone who contacted or posted to let me know, I totally missed it. As far as we know, we are the first blog to be mentioned at PMQ’s. I bet Guido and Iain Dale are upset, I hope not. But what a coup! Hello to all the new readers – huge number of visits today – including the rapidly growing number of Parliamentarians.