‘Remain’ can’t advance a single quantifiable, economic reason for staying in the EU: Really?

Today on father’s day the best gift of all was seeing all my children posting powerful pro Remain stories on Facebook. I am glad we brought them up to be be warmhearted Europeans rather than little Englanders.  I will just give one block quote from my son’s FaceBook post to give you an idea of his thinking:

“When I think about being ‘British’, whatever that means, I don’t think of short term reactionary politics that result in us throwing our toys out of the pram because the group we’re part of won’t let us have our way. I think of a nation that has learned from its checkered past (you don’t have to dig too deep to see where a nationalist, colonialist nation gets you) to become a leader in our geo-political system. That is democracy. That is being part of a global community. That is being part of the EU.”

Of course my son got the usual flack from some of his not so bright buddies. I did not want to troll these guys on my son’s time line so I block quote one of their #brexit arguments, to lay waste to it here rather than on FaceBook, where few will see it anyway. This is what one friend, I’ll call him Kevin from Essex, commented:

“Unfortunately like most ‘Remain’ arguments, this [my son’s post] doesn’t advance a single quantifiable, economic reason for staying in the EU, instead choosing to focus on the perceived bigotry of the opposition. We were told years ago that not joining the Euro would be disastrous for our prosperity. The decision not to join the Euro is now seen as a critical factor in our ongoing economic success. We’re one of the few net contributors to the union. Despite this, our influence in Europe is virtually non-existent. “

Why do Brits believe that tired line, that not joining the Euro zone in 1999 was so clever? Just because “wrong then, wrong now” has been repeated so many times, it seems to have become part of British folklore. Like people called Robin always stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. But that doesn’t make it true. Sure the UK could in theory have ended up in the gutter like poor Greece. But if you really believe in your country like my son, you might equally speculate in the Euro zone – rather than having an over valued Pound Sterling pricing British goods out of world markets- using an under valued Euro we’d be rich alongside Germany, the world’s foremost manufacturer and exporter of quality cars, engineering tools and household appliances. Our balance of trade in goods might show a healthy surplus like our trade in ‘services’.

Our clever Westminster government never cared much what went on North of Watford.
So instead we have our City of London, undoubtedly  the world’s leading financial centre. Are we about to kill that off as well as our manufacturing base with a #brexit ?

Footshot

Vote.Leave supporters like to make a big thing about the fact that the UK is a net contributor to the EU budget (alongside most of its Northern European neighbours actually). They simply can’t see that our payments are solidarity payments like the ones you make into a mutual insurance company. I always count myself lucky I’ve never had to call on my home insurance policy because my house didn’t burnt down. Your average brexit shouter has the mentality of someone on low wages blowing ten quid each week on the lottery. An amount more than their government pays to the EU  per UK citizen by the way. They feel they have a right to win at every draw and get angry if their numbers don’t come up. They feel the same way about foreign aid to developing countries. It’s all about me, me, me! Kevin says:

 However, do I think we’re getting an equitable deal from our membership of this bloated, un-elected bureaucracy? Not even close.

 

Next the discussion takes the predictable path of the “We buy more from them than they from us” discussion. “We have a negative trade balance and we have to pay for the privilege”. Cameron on BBC Question time today was actually confronted with the same question. I thought Cameron answered it very well. There are direct and indirect benefits to the UK’s EU membership. What UK farmers receive from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is easy to quantify. The billions of extra business revenue UK exporters receive by being part of the common market is much harder to measure, but it is estimated that for every billion spent on our EU membership UK businesses enjoy a tenfold return of investment in higher exports to the continent than they’d otherwise would have been. This in turn fuels economic growth, more jobs and more tax revenues.

The real die-hard Eurosceptics at this point will produce quotes from dodgy economists like Professor Minford or they may have read the Civitas report “Where’s the insider advantage.  I have dealt with these demagogues in two separate blog posts

  1. Where’s the outside advantage
  2. Who’s the idiot in front of the select committee

I suggest you follow the links provided above if you’re up for it.

Today’s post I’d like to finish by block quoting my older sister Louise, who shares with us her insider EU knowledge in dismissing the VOTE.LEAVE claim that for all the money it pays into the EU the UK has so little influence. She replied specifically to Kevin’s following point:

  • our influence in Europe is virtually non-existent. We’ve ‘made a stand’ more than once, but it has proven to be nothing more than a short-lived token gesture before we’re eventually press ganged in to doing as we’re told

Please allow me to break into this conversation. I am a step aunt of Marcus’s step son and recently retired from a 40-year career as a translator for the EU Council of Ministers. I translated many of the legislative texts as well as the debates leading to their adoption. Let me respond to a few points made here. First of all the bureaucracy. The size of the EU administration is about the size of that of a major British city or the Treasury. Then the idea that the UK has been gang pressed to accept legislation it did not want. EU legislation is proposed by the Commission, then discussed by the EP as well as by the national parliaments. The phrase I translated most frequently was probably “UK enters a reserve for parliamentary scrutiny “. If anyone gang pressed it was the UK. Especially on financial legislation, which happened to be my specialty. It has always been tailored to the needs of the City. And lest you forgot, it was the City that was largely responsible for the first and the second financial crisis. It was also the UK that pressed for enlargement of the EU, time and again. It was the UK that pressed for the larger role of Heads of State and Government, which led to the politicisation of the decision making process. This, not bureaucracy, is the reason that decision making has become slow and flawed. It has become an intergovernmental negotiating process. That is exactly what you will get after Brexit, except that it will be only Britain against the rest of the world.

 
Posted in #brexit, #CAP, EU, EURO, Europe, UKIP | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The irony of UKIP’s perverse ‘points system’

points

With just days left till the dreaded EU referendum this blog post is penned, with some trepidation, to counter the ugly anti immigration tide the VOTE.LEAVE  side is taking the public debate. I will be skating on thin ice and risk being called a racist myself, but here it goes. Let me know if I went too far in the usual ‘comment’ section.

I don’t believe for one moment that the Australian points system advocated by ukip #brexit shouters is anything other but naked racism dressed up in some sort of respectable packaging designed to hide later intentions of racist mis-use. See illustration if you don’t catch my drift.

The premise of my EU ‘Free Movement’ counter post is that EU immigrants to the UK, after making a welcome and much needed contribution to the UK economy, mostly return home with a packet to buy or build  their dream house in their EU country of origin and live there happily ever after. I am in fact myself a point in case but diverted to France.

In doing so EU immigrants make use of the same guaranteed ‘freedom of movement’ that got them to the UK in the first place. Scrapping Freedom of Movement only dams them in.

We really have to start thinking of EU migration as an economic tide of ebb and flows, not one way UK. The same north south flows make the USA such a successful economy.

The so called Australian style “points system” however is just a means to filter out foreigners whose skin people don’t like (except if they are a doctor or a nurse or a software engineer). In other words acceptable slaves of this day and age, working long hours for wages we pull our noses up for.

The ‘irony’ in all this “we’re less racist towards our Commonwealth friends” grandstanding is, that I have the impression that rather than returning home, commonwealth citizens really make the UK their permanent home and can’t wait to bring their entire family over. I have no proof of this, so that’s maybe where I’m skating on thin ice and could be accused of racism myself. Is it not true that we see ghetto forming in our big cities? It’s not polish quarter’s that are formed, rather Indian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani neighbourhoods. A polish plumber does not feel the need to be constantly surrounded by his countrymen, because he can just take a short weekend break with RyanAir if his family is homesick.

Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire, tell it like it is, rather than dressing up an immigration stance as less racist, because you slip the words ‘Commonwealth friends’ in.

A British Asian friend of mine agrees and has been using the same anti Brexit argument for months. He told me: “The brexit brigade are in denial. They might hate Eastern Europeans, but I assure you, they hate us viscerally foreign “Pakis” a lot more. And brexit would mean *even* more of us would come over.”

The reality is that most #brexit shouters  much prefer that the Commonwealth were just the nice white people of Canada Australia and New Zealand… maybe South Africa too…

Posted in #brexit, EU, Immigration, Racism | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Brexit Brits just don’t realise who is screwing them, so EU is the easy scapegoat

IMG_1760

It always amazes me when brexit shouters have a go at the EU for their common agricultural and fishing policies. Don’t they realise Britain is a ‘Services Economy’ ? Don’t they realise successive UK governments have steered not only the UK economy that way, but that they also actively pursued the interests of the City of London in the EU corridors of power, at the detriment of UK Manufacturing, Agriculture and Fisheries?

I remember clearly reading in a Sunday Newspaper that a lot of the agricultural subsidies in the UK ended up in the wrong hands, because the British delegation in Brussels insisted that Agricultural Subsidies had to be dished out as ‘rights’ so that they could be sold independent of the land they were originally dished out for. This would give UK land owners a little nest egg on retirement and the City another commodity to trade in. The Guardian called it “a blatant transfer of cash to the rich“.

The scandal reported by the Sunday papers that millions of EU subsidies changed hands in this way and ended up filling the pockets of rich City folk and newspaper proprietors with large hunting estates instead of supporting marginal farmers on arable and grazing land.

Click this link to Google how easy it is to find confirmation of this

A similar think I recall happening when the EU common fisheries policy was reformed to support conservation of fish stocks in the EU.  British fleet owners found it harder and harder to make a profit with high UK wages on the one hand and dwindling fish stocks on the other.  So again they made sure the Brussels lobby made fishing quotas something you could sell separate from the original UK boats they were assigned to and rich UK fleet owners were quick to offload them to either Spanish boats where the crew were on lower wages or the more efficient high tech boats the Dutch started using when fishing became tough.

Here is a screen shot of a simple Google search using the words “uk fleet owners sold fishing quotas“. Why don’t you try how easy it is? Why do so many Brits prefer to believe the words of a Charlatan like Nigel Farage who reputedly only attended one of 36 EU fisheries committee meetings, where he was supposed to represent British interests?

fisheries

Posted in #brexit, #CAP, EU, UKIP | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

The deceit of brexit shouters (part 2)

The latest economic bad news has given #brexit shouters plenty of false ammunition to direct at EU  when they really should be looking much closer to home for the culprits. I am talking of course of the announced sale and possible closure of British Steelworks owned by Tata.

The narrative of the #brexit tweets is that it is EU rules preventing state aid when in fact it is Cameron and Osborne cosying up to their new friends in China that blocked any increase of the current EU tariffs on Chinese steel which stand at 9%. Note that the Americans have no problem in levying up to 266% punitive duty to protect their strategic steel industry.

This is just today’s topical issue but a little trawling through ant EU tweets reveal many many more examples:

The accession of Turkey and the Islamisation of Europe: Guess who is angry at the pace of Turkey’s accession to the EU? Right David Cameron is doing most of the pushing!

The influx of East European economic migrants: Tony Blair’s great Idea to prevent any Franco German axis gaining the upper hand in Europe.

EU destroying our fisheries. Well that was actually self inflicted over-fishing from pre-EU days followed by Icelandic Cod wars. Anyway who sold our fishing boats and quotas to the Spanish? Rich British fleet owners, not Eurocrats. Nigel Farage famously attended only 1 out of 42 EU Fisheries Committee meetings he was appointed to.

CAP is making our shop food prices much dearer? Well it seems only by 1% or 70 p on a typical weekly shopping bill. Do we really mind paying that to support our hard working British farmers and get locally produced fresh and healthy food instead of cheap meat full of antibiotics? One fervent anti EU fanatic Charles Efford was at it again at Easter mentioning cheap New Zealand frozen lamb he bought as an ASDA promotion for £4 a kilo. He said without CAP we could have this price every day. One quick Google search revealed that Last Year New Zealand didn’t even fulfil it’s tariff free quota of lamb exports to the EU. The truth is they make more money selling it to the Chinese.

And so it goes on and on, EU lie after lie. It really wants to make you spit at them. But that only makes them cry “They don’t like us on the continent”

  

Posted in #brexit, #CAP, EU | Tagged | 2 Comments

The Great British Brexit Buzz-off Show

I keep nurturing this idea in my mind that it would make for such a great informative as well as entertaining TV show if the BBC could be persuaded to trawl through the best tweets on the #brexit amd #bremain hash tags on Twitter and maybe the various pro- and anti EU FaceBook pages and make a special edition of Question Time, Pointless or Room 101 all rolled into one, where we the people had our say on the June EU referendum and not the same old clique that the BBC parades time after time on these same shows.

After all the 23 June EU referendum is supposed to be our chance to have our say on Europe and the EU, not elected politicians, not tired hacks from tired national Newspapers who are all too bloody predictable anyway and not TV’s funny men or women.

Let’s say we put four fervent #Bremain and four fervent #brexit campaigners in a hot seat answering questions from the audience moderated by someone like David Dimbelby.

As an added interest feature each team could have a big red challenge button and play one of their three Jokers. Whenever the opposite side makes a false or disingenuous claim we’d hear a loud buzz and the cameras would switch over to  Fullfact  or Infacts team of Euro researchers who’d make a ruling if the challenge was justified or not.If the Challenge was correct, the team would get to keep their Joker and the opposite team would loose a life. An incorrect challenge would be punished in the same way.

The team that first looses all their lives (or rather EU lies) loses  not only the show, but might also lose some support for their cherished position.

I hope you get the idea, it would be both fun and educational supporting democracy.

It would be a chance to put some EU myths as well as brexit  scare stories to bed. We would not have to rely on our gut feelings to trust a politician from a certain party or a journalist from a certain newspaper we favour or abhor..

What do people think?  How can we get this ball rolling?  I am ready for it ! I want to be on the panel!

buzzer

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The inherent dishonesty of Brexit shouters

When you have a habit of trawling the #brexit hashtag on Twitter you invariably come across a number of very dubious claims about the supposedly ‘dwindling’ size of the EU economy juxtaposed with the amazing economic prowess of the UK economy.We’re the fastest growing G7 economy is one dodgy claim. Why shackle yourself to a corpse is a favourite Dan Hannan Line, exposed as an ordinary liar in another blog post.

Today I have it in for a Kipper female called Beverly Dunlop. I am not sure if she is devious like Hannan or just plain dumb. Her profile picture would suggest the latter, but that is no excuse for tweeting and retweeting lies about the EU just because you have this unquestionable belief the UK would be better off outside.  To understand the dishonesty I am blogging about, please consider two of her recent tweets side by side.

bevukip

 

Now when grown-ups discuss relative size of economies we generally talk about Gross Domestic Product (GDP), but note there is not just one GDP people mention, there are in effect four different relevant measures:

  1. gross domestic product  at nominal values
  2. gross domestic product per capita using nominal values
  3. gross domestic product at PPP values
  4. gross domestic product per capita using PPP values

Eurosceptics are known to trawl through all four measures until they find the UK or EU ranking that best would seem to underpin their dubious #brexit claims. I am sure that one or two so called Europhiles in the remain camp have done the same. In psychology this is referred to as selective perception.

It’s when kippers within one discussion thread use a figure from table 3 to show how bad the EU is supposedly doing, while almost in the same breath to prove the UK’s brilliant economic performance they selectively switch to table 1, things turn to outright deceit.

When I asked Beverly what source she was using, PPP or nominal, she dismissed my query with: “Do your own research” so I did.

Bev’s first claim, the EU represents only 17% of Global GDP could be explained away by selective perception. If you use table 3 you get the EU’s $18.6 trillion divided by the world’s $108.7 trillion you indeed get a 17% global share. In the same vein, dividing UK’s $2.6 trillion GDP in the same way you arrive at a paltry 2%. So much for being fifth in the economic league tables. You are in fact dwarfed by the top 3 global players.

Keep in mind for a moment this fifth place Bev attributes to her beloved ‘Great Britain’.
If I use the same PPP figures Bev just used to slag the EU Economy, I find the UK ranked 10th, not fifth! The EU ranks 1st in Both Nominal and PPP tables; no need for us to cheat by comparing apples and pears. So this is where the propaganda deceit of the #brexit camp really kicks in. It turns selective perception into an art form.

To be perfectly honest, if you are comparing how well citizens are profiting from all this economic nationalistic drum banging, table four above is the only correct table to use. Funnily enough the UK finds itself at a modest 27th position on that list with nine countries using the Euro in fact outperforming ‘Great Britan’. Of course you will not hear a tweet about that uncomfortable fact. You’re meant to just pity those poor Greeks, not envy richer Benelux dwellers an hour’s drive away from Calais.

Only when discussing UK’s exports before or after brexit it makes sense to use nominal GDP values as an indicator of how big a market a foreign trade bloc or country might represent. After all, the UK’s exports will be paid in real dollars, not hamburger dollars. Unfortunately for kippers, the EU tops both lists here. Not their beloved Commonwealth, not their special friends the USA.

I’d like to hear in your comments, am I too harsh on poor Bev? Is she simply dumbly retweeting Hannan, who is a known deceitful prick or is Bev devious as well? Actually looking at her profile pic she looks kinda dumb.

bev2

But looking at her tweets she is probably both dumb and devious, a dangerous combination.

bev3

You see she goes on and on about the EU commission being unelected but ignores the fact that MEPs are and also the council of ministers are all elected politicians. As if SIR Humphrey in Westminster, the one who prepares laws for UK Prime Ministers, is elected rather than appointed.

Posted in #brexit, EU, EURO, UKIP | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

European trade a Brexit cautionary tale: Could do better UK SME’s!

Today after months of delay a man with a white van arrived at my French property with our long awaited luxury bathroom suite from Victorian Plumbing Supplies in the UK.

victorian

I feel I must share this story with you as a cautionary tale if you are not sure about the upcoming British EU referendum and think ukip and eurosceptic Tories have a point about the vast majority of UK Small and Medium Enterprises (UK SME)  having nothing to gain from Europe and are only needlessly tied down by EU red tape.

Note: French DIY products are ridiculously expensive. Customer service is non existent in France. There is a great market opportunity for UK services sector here!

Our quest for a new British style luxury bathroom suite started in the January sales after visiting our kids and grand kids in East Anglia. Walking around various B&Q and Homebase type of shops we knew what we wanted and we could not get at Leroy Merlin or Brico Marché in France. All of this shiny showroom stuff is for ordering and home delivery only, but when you ask if it would be possible to divert that home delivery to the continent at our cost the silly sales girls’ jaws just drop in amazement like you’re from Mars.

Venting my frustration at a local plumbing merchant a guy who knew his stuff advised me to check out Victorian Plumbing on the Internet who allegedly delivered in France.

Here is my first caution, do not mistake Victorian Plumbing for a rip-off internet site called Victoria plumb. The latter are con artists of the worst kind probably trading on the reputation of the first mentioned. They took my money and promptly changed the delivery date from February to end May, as if I could just stop my project while they sourced non existing stock in their spring sale. It took me threats of legal action to get my money back.

While praising UK SME Victorian Plumbing for having the courage and conviction to dip their toes into that huge untapped consumer market conveniently right on the UK’s door steps they still have a lot to learn about eCommerce outside of the UK!

What gave me hope was when I saw at their check-out procedure Victorian Plumbing actually had a drop down list of all the EU countries they can export to without filling in a single customs form.  What was disappointing is that after entering ‘country = France’ and my French ‘code postale’, the estimated delivery costs field remained stubbornly empty. (see screenscrape above)  There was just a pop up message customer services would contact me soon with a delivery quote.  So I waited. I waited a few more days. Then I called customer service who said they’ were waiting to get senior management approval. Must be the deal of the century my order? Come on guys, if for every EU sale, one paid for with a UK Barclay Card to boot, you have to bother senior management you still haven’t cottoned on to the EU opportunity you claim to want to grab.

So then I started tweeting to @Victorianplumb to vent my frustration. What is good about companies with a social media presence is that the bright internet savy kids they employ for that purpose know that in social media response has to be immediate. But of course they still are faced with some ukip voting middle management twat that thinks he has to authorise sales to British ex-pats in France because we must present a credit risk with our UK bank cards???? So while it’s nice to tweet to someone who cares and is just as frustrated as me with the rest of the company letting the export side of business down frustration still was mounting by the day.

God know how long later I finally get a ridiculous quote for a pallet delivery to France for £175,- I was shocked. Note that a month earlier I had a heavy woodburning stove bought on eBay UK, delivered straight from a Bulgarian Factory to the same address in France by DHL for just  £50,- This was the ballpark transport quote I was expecting and now waiting for, for a good three weeks.

Naturally I declined their offer of  EU transport and made use of Victorians ‘Free delivery anywhere in the UK for orders over  £500,-  Googling just one minute brought me into contact with a second anti #brexit UKSME who knows which side of their toast is buttered in the form of  ParcelHop UK specialising in delivering where other UK companies fear to tread. Their quote was a much more realistic  £75,- home delivery and they even were kind enough to let me add a UK sourced tractor tyre from Vulcano Ltd. to my delivery which saved me another small fortune compared to tyre prices in France. So yet another UK SME operating from a UK homestead who is not afraid to give great service just because a customer sounds a bit like a forringer 😉

parcelhop

With great service belongs some great feedback on forward looking SME’s social media site. Note the anti #brexit comment of this SME!

Posted in #brexit, EU, EURO, SME | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments