I’ve often wondered why it is British politicians want to stay in the European Union “club”, and for that matter politicians all over Europe too? What is it they like about the “club” that makes them fight to preserve it? So much so, that nearly every political party clamours to stay in: Labour, Conservative, Libdem, Plaid Cymru, The Greens and SNP, it makes no difference, they all want to remain regardless of any negotiations not done by Cameron. As far as they are concerned, they want to dig us all in deeper into the abyss.
Is it down to our ability as a country to make our own trade deals? Do they think we’re not good enough to govern ourselves? Have they lost the will to live? Is it that they think the EU will close the door to trade and won’t buy our widgets? Is it a global conspiracy of “elites” to build a New World Order, with Manchurian Candidates programmed to do the EU bidding? Or is it like in Occam’s razor, where the solution is a lot simpler?
Seasoned politicians like Mandelson, Kinnock, Blair, Clarke, Heseltine all come out of the woodwork when there is talk of leaving the “club”, saying that the EU is the best thing since sliced bread and none of them can imagine any powers being returned or want treaty change, even though evidence is plain for everyone to see, the EU project is crumbling. So is it financial incentives and rewards from EU pension pots?
The long suffering public point out the various pitfalls of membership, like losing sovereignty, losing our fishing grounds, the democratic deficit and EU laws that cannot be repealed, amended or rejected. Mass immigration that has to be compared to an invasion of biblical proportions, the inevitable final destination of a United States of Europe, complete with EU army, and nearly all laws made in Brussels and yet not a murmur of complaint from anyone in Westminster. Oh no, the reverse in fact. To them it couldn’t be better and here’s why.
Since 1972, when Edward Heath joined the UK up to the European Economic Community, the Common Market, the legislative function of Ministers has been progressively out-sourced to Brussels. Small areas of policy and law making were given over at the start, and over time the scale and scope of the legislation out-sourcing has grown and now encompasses virtually every aspect of policy to run a country. That job of legislating is largely redundant to a UK member of parliament. The MP is left with important issues of minor domestic legislation like a plastic bag tax announced to the world by The Queen, with great pomp and ceremony.
In the meantime, if half their job is now done by Brussels what is there for politicians to do but twiddle their collective thumbs? My MP said he still gets to represent his constituents and responds to their enquiries, meeting them if necessary in his surgery. He goes around cutting a ribbon on projects run by others in his constituency and may attend meetings with planning boards etc. His legislative capacity is to pour ready-made quickset EU legislation into a theoretical big funnel and form it into “UK law” by turning up and voting the way he’s told to by the Westminster whips office.
When it comes around to election time my MP and the other parliamentary candidates show themselves to their public at hustings and pretend they are still applying to represent the same public office, where they know its function has been emasculated, presenting phoney manifestos that they know will never see the light of day. This is basically all he does for his £67,000 a year plus expenses. A government minister gets £134,500 , plus expenses and a chauffeur driven car. Some boost their pay with private non-executive directorships lined up for them and have been known to organise government contracts for their “other” employers, TV interviews for the media etc. to keep themselves busy: idle hands and all that.
So what is the big deal here? Why are they happy for it to stay this way, knowing their electors will never get what they voted for? Is it they don’t care? Politicians have thick skins and any dissatisfied constituents wash off like water off a ducks back.
I’ll explain why they do it and, it’s obvious when you think about it, with a simple analogy by comparing a plumber’s job to an MP’s job in Westminster. Both have similar jobs in their own way: they’re both servants to perform tasks for their customers.
In Nigel’s client’s house, he installs all the plumbing, radiators, boiler, controls, the works and commissions it to make sure it all functions before he hands over the finished job to his customer Joe Public, to the specifications agreed at the start of the job. Joe Public is happy with the work done and Nigel gets paid. Joe is snug and warm in his heated home. The customer is satisfied. Nigel moves on to repeat the process for the next job.
In the other house that “Call me Dave” has to do, he gets a contractor to install the pipework, boiler, controls and radiators etc. and commissions the job for him to a standard that has NOT been agreed by his customer. Apparently “Call me Dave” did a job a few months ago in Brussels, where he had radiators and a boiler from that job that were spare, so he gets these items installed in the house without his customer’s knowledge.
“Call me Dave’s” customer John is not happy that the radiators are in the wrong places, a different size and style, even a different type of boiler to what John thought he was getting in the “Call me Dave’s” brochure. “Call me Dave” claims all the works were completed as agreed in the “small print” of the contract the customer signed. The central heating works… occasionally. What’s to not like about that? John reluctantly pays “Call me Dave” for the “work” completed. John who now wears a jumper and is dissatisfied, but “Call me Dave” is happy that he’s been paid. “Call me Dave” moves on to repeat the process for the next job.
As you can see both jobs are completed but there is a subtle difference as to what each customer gets. Who actually is having to do work, though? Is it Nigel or is it “Call me Dave”?
Both are paid the same each for the jobs completed, both are qualified as plumbers, but Nigel has to do all his own work. “Call me Dave” just sits back and waits until payday, although he works studiously improving his glossy brochure. In the meantime “Call me Dave” can make use of his spare time to do other jobs, perhaps run a market stall, go to his club and play golf or take siestas in the afternoon, or even go on holiday while the contractor does the work.
That is what we the British electorate are up against. We get sleepy “Call me Dave” the plumber. Wouldn’t you prefer Nigel?