Saints, sinners and gravy trains?

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DESPITE previously saying he wanted to freeze or cut the UK’s EU budget contribution, David Cameron claimed “victory” in his recent bid to limit the rise for 2011 to 2.9% and not the proposed 6%. Now, I’m no great EU supporter but any mention of it invariably opens a floodgate of rants and equally vituperative retorts. So, for the sake of balance, let’s take a look at some of the usual brickbats:

1. Rant: “What exactly do we get out of the EU for our billions each year except the continual erosion of our right to govern ourselves?”

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– Retort: Well, investment in the UK that would disappear the moment a British exit from the EU looked remotely likely. A British referendum would doubtlessly result in a vote to withdraw. And just like if you asked a member of the Hitler Youth his opinion of the Führer, he would doubtlessly proclaim his love and admiration. It’s called indoctrination.

Few people in Britain understand the benefits of EU membership and refuse to let facts to get in the way of their prejudices – due in no small part to the tabloids’ propaganda and unwavering xenophobia. Additionally, it is estimated 3.5m jobs are tied into the single market and withdrawal would mean losing innumerable trade opportunities.

2. Rant: “Who are these Faceless Bureaucrats?”

 

Retort: The EU Parliament is a fully elected house. The Commission and Council are chosen by elected governments. You may not like who you’ve ended up with … but you do know who they are.

3. Rant: “And that Gravy Train?”

 

Retort: 34% of the EU budget is spent on the CAP (a system that certainly needs reforming but nonetheless supports agriculture and food stocks) and 30+% on Regional Development.

In the 1990s for instance, the UK received EU funding for the regeneration of the South Yorkshire coalfields (Rotherham, Doncaster and Barnsley) and also help for Liverpool, Tyneside, Hull and many other areas.

EU grants are intended to bring member states up to par with the richest parts of Europe, regenerating its poorest regions. Obviously as time passes, money and grants will change location as their success is felt.

4. Rant: “And MEPs’ Salaries – about 30% higher than MPs’?”

 

Retort: Oh ****! We’re all totally gobsmacked! To say they’re “fair” in any shape or form is like claiming Alan Johnson’s a dead ringer for Snoop Dogg …

 

Whether you support any of these rants or retorts, I suspect few would agree with Cameron’s claim of “victory” in the rise he’s achieved –which will probably end up costing us more anyway in the usual EU fudge.

But then, if we remember that Tony Blair gave up €1.5 billion a year from our EU rebate in perpetuity, on top of normal EU payments, on a promise (never honoured) to change the iniquitous CAP farce (he did hope the bung would give him a shoo-in to the EU president’s job, but that didn’t work, did it?), it does start to look a ‘little’ better.

 

Nora Johnson’s novel, The De Clerambault Code (www.nora-johnson.com) available at Amazon. Profits to Cudeca


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