Sunday, October 06, 2013

So, let me see if I understand where we are with this European Union thing.   I have vague recollections of the referendum back in 1975 which decided by a slim majority that Britain should remain a member of the EU, which it had joined by a parliamentary vote when we all thought it was joining a `Common Market.`  That `title` had a nice, comforting ring to it and the majority thought it a good idea to have common trading relations with our continental partners, be part of a community that might provide mutually assured security and generally be nice to each other.

Little did we know that the European organisation would turn into the burgeoning behemoth that it has become - with over 7,000 EU officials; 137 embassies around the world;  44 diplomats permanently stationed in Barbados;  with £31.7million being the cost of running the EU each and every day;  the sharing of EU Parliamentary sessions between Brussels and Strasbourg costing £150million a year and the whole thing costing each UK household £584 a year.

The EU is riddled with absurdities and it`s easy to trot out the nonsense about bananas being straight and hairdressers not being allowed to wear high heels or jewellery but the real scandals include the fact that, for 18 years now, the EU`s own auditors have refused to sign off the EU accounts and the EU has a £2.4billion annual budget for advertising simply to tell EU citizens what a jolly good thing the EU is.

So it really is time we were asked again whether we want to stay in this club and I know all the arguments about economics, jobs, freedom of movement and all the rest of the so-called advantages of membership.   But the only issue that matters to me is that old fashioned concept of sovereignty, a commodity that has been drifting away from us over the years but one which we should cherish above all others.

Governments of all political persuasions have promised a referendum about whether we should still stay in the EU and at the last General Election here, each of the main parties promised in their manifestos that we would have one.   As ever, manifesto pledges are soon forgotten when it suits the political agenda rather than the promises made to the electorate.   But what we have now is Dave Cameron promising to `renegotiate` some as yet unstated terms of Britain`s relationship with the EU and ask the people to approve them or otherwise in yet another promised referendum....but not until 2017!!

Now, for this to happen, Dave must have a good deal of success with his renegotiations, he must win the next General Election and he must overcome the objections of EU Commission President Barroso who only last week said that Cameron`s plans would never be allowed to happen - such is democracy in present-day Europe.

And then along comes one Adam Affriyie, Conservative MP for Windsor who says that the public don`t believe the promises made by politicians so let`s stop pussy footing around and have an in-out referendum next year.   Sounds like a beezer wheeze but already the political apologists are declaring that that can`t happen either.   So it seems unlikely that we will get any sort of meaningful renegotiation, any sort of early referendum and any clarification of the confusion that has reigned over this issue for far too long.

And all the while, the EU continues to cost £31.7million a day and rising, spend £265,000 on cocktail parties, dump £130million worth of fish under the daft Common Fisheries Policy and even squander £160,000 on a fitness centre for dogs in Hungary that still hasn`t opened yet.   If I ever had any doubts that I live in a world that gets more crazy each day, I only have to look at the EU and the shameless arrogance of politicians who allow it to continue unchallenged by the hand of democratic reason.   Confused?  You bet!

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