On the question of ‘Brexit’, only the other day it was put to me that I was ‘divisive’ in respect of Ukip when I knew very well what was at stake – which I thought a tad rich when I do not write about them as often – and as negatively – as others. Any criticisms I do make are not made from any personal animosity for Nigel Farage, nor his party; and invariably my criticism of Ukip is grouped with a similar dislike of any other political party.
One of the most repeated accusations that I make of Conservative, Labour, or Liberal Democrat politicians is one of ‘being economical with the actualité’; in other words being economical with the facts to the point whereby the electorate is misinformed, even lied to – and in this regard, where being ‘economical with the actualité thus leads to misinformation, Nigel Farage and Ukip are no less guilty than the other three parties.
A recent comment seen is that all this country needs is a free trade agreement so that we can make our own decisions; to which one response said that that is what Ukip proposes while expressing the wish that Ukip would untangle decades of laws. Another comment stated that a vote for Ukip meant Brexit and contained the wish that that party had an exit strategy and policy after withdrawal. After withdrawal? God forbid they go down that route as having withdrawn, what happens to trade, movement of capital, goods and people, while they negotiate a ‘bespoke’ trade agreement?
No-one would begrudge the fervour exhibited by any party’s activists in promoting the party they support, but Ukip MEPs and supporters seem to excel, especially on Twitter, with the inane, discourteous; and at times totally rude, comments; in particular on newspaper stories which are themselves incorrect – and in some cases, deliberately made so it seems.
One such recent illustration of what may be termed ‘Ukip hype’ concerns an article in the Daily Express which reported that the EU intended to impose road tolls; a story stating that European Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc wants a standardised driving tax across all EU member states. The Express story was factually incorrect as what Bulc said contained a caveat that the Express chose not to mention; that omission being:
There are many options – a fee could be obligatory but it’s also possible to make it optional i.e. that countries decide themselves whether and on which roads they want to levy a road use charge based on kilometres driven. (Emphasis mine)
In fact, subsequently, on 27th January Bulc tweeted:
My vision for EU #tolling system would be optional for Member States. A uniform system would be fairer + more efficient for EU citizens.
On the day of the Express story Twitter was ‘flooded’ with comments from Ukip MEPs and supporters all adversely passing comment on this intended EU law. It is obvious that comment was being made without any attempt to investigate/research the veracity of this newspaper story – is that a logical response from a party that wishes the electorate to take them seriously?
Let us consider Ukips ‘policies’ – as so far published – together with the most recent publication: 100 reasons to vote Ukip. As an aside on the latter, this was most eloquently ‘filleted‘ by a blogger whose ‘diminutive’ is, I understand, ‘The Bastard’ – however I digress.
On the Ukip website we read:
We would negotiate a bespoke trade agreement with the EU to enable our businesses to continue trading to mutual advantage.
I well remember a telephone conversation with a Ukip supporter, one who is a frequent user of Twitter, who when I tried to explain that trade agreements with the EU take time, blithely said that my view was rubbish and that it could be done within a week, if not days.
Really? Let us consult the EU Commission on how free trade agreements are reached:
Many months of careful preparation take place before a trade negotiation begins. This includes public consultation, assessment of an agreement’s potential impact on Europe’s companies and consumers and informal and formal talks between the Commission and the country or region concerned to determine the issues to be covered. After these comprehensive preparations, the Commission requests authorisation from the Council of Ministers (made up of representatives of EU governments) to open negotiations. They agree the objectives that the Commission should try to secure. During the negotiating process that usually lasts several years, the Commission regularly informs the Council and the European Parliament on the progress being made. Once an agreement is reached, its signature is formally authorised by the Council. The European Parliament, using its new Lisbon Treaty powers, may accept or reject, but not amend, the text. Individual EU countries may also need to ratify an agreement according to their own national procedures as well as the green light they give at international level. The agreement enters into force on a particular day, but may be provisionally applied beforehand. (Emphasis mine)
Ukip also state:
We would review all legislation and regulations from the EU (3,600 new laws since 2010) and remove those which hamper British prosperity and competitiveness.
The inference of that statement is that all the legislation and regulation coming from Brussels is ‘EU Law’ – it is not. Where the setting of ‘standards’ is concerned, this is done within bodies under the aegis of the United Nations; for example: Codex (food standards); the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) based in Rome; the United Nations Economic Council (UNECE) based in Geneva; the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) based in Paris; the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) based in Montreal; the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) based in Basel; and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) based in Bonn; the World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations – known as WP.29 and held under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Council Europe (UNECE); the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission, which jointly manages the fisheries in the region.
‘Standards’ are then handed down to members of these various UN bodies in the form of dual international quasi-legislation, or ‘diqules’, for implementation by governments and trade blocs. In fact the majority of the bulk of the Single Market regulation originates from these UN bodies, making the EU no more than an intermediary player, processing standards agreed elsewhere, way above the EU and over which the EU has no direct control. So the EU does not make law, consequently law does not come from Brussels. In any event the point has to be made that ‘EU Law’ is no doubt law that the UK would have applied anyway, had it had its own seat on the aforementioned bodies.
Where the statement:
We would reoccupy the UK’s vacant seat at the World Trade Organisation, ensuring that we continue to enjoy ‘most favoured nation’ status in trade with the EU, as is required under WTO rules.
is concerned, I am not going to waste my time pointing out that ‘most favoured nation’ would mean that the UK would still be liable to tariffs; suffice to say that in effect a horse and cart has been driven through WTO ‘most favoured nation’ rules by trade blocs, such as the European Union, which have lowered or eliminated tariffs among their members while maintaining tariff walls between member nations and the rest of the world.
Neither will I waste time with Ukip’s statement:
UKIP would not seek to remain in the European Free Trade Area (EFTA) or European Economic Area (EEA) while those treaties maintain a principle of free movement of labour, which prevents the UK managing its own borders.
If Ukip wishes to negotiate a ‘bespoke’ trade agreement, then what would be simpler than a sideways move to EFTA/EEA while it did just that? That course of action would have no negative effect on the ability of UK business to trade with the EU, neither would it affect the other ‘three pillars’ involving services, capital or the movement of people. What it would do is allow any future government time to negotiate a ‘bespoke’ trade agreement.
The foregoing can but illustrate that, in common with the other three main parties, Ukip, too, is ‘economical with the actualité’ – or, in common with the other three, has no real idea on that which it pontificates.
There is an irony involved in the dissemination of political messages; in that parties spend an inordinate amount of time refuting statements from their opponents in order to negate adverse public perception of their policies – should not political parties also pay attention to what can only be described as the ‘crap’ put out by their supporters – ‘crap’ which also does the respective party no good whatsoever.
And on such ‘shallow’ ignorance, the electorate is prepared to hand over our lives, our future and be ‘ruled’ by any of them?