Having spent 4 days enjoying the best that the County of Durham can offer (company, food and leisure activities) I note that not much has changed during my absence from the blogosphere where our politics is concerned.
With all the problems we in the UK face it would seem that, according to Benedict Brogran’s ‘Morning Briefing’ George Osborne has achieved some flattering coverage in today’s papers due to the fact that having been on the 5:2 diet (which means restricting himself to 600 calories a day for two days a week), the mockery of his weight has come to an end. According to the Mail, Brogan reports, the whole Cabinet seems to be “a model of lean government”, with Cameron reportedly cutting back on his dairy intake (though Downing Street doesn’t like to comment on such matters); Nick Clegg starting kickboxing; and Michael Gove recently losing 2st on an “fat farm” in Austria. Ones initial reaction is that politicians of all hues have been milking it for some time now; that Clegg is always kicking against something or other; and that Gove is no doubt doing ‘Vine’ where losing weight is concerned – but I digress……….
I note that Richard North has justifiably written about the shortcomings of Ukip and Farage, especially viz-a-viz Cameron’s seven ‘target’ areas for reform; that some MPs have been claiming expenses for riding their bikes even though one has ceased claiming as he realises it costs him nothing while another has claimed just over £400 for maintenance of his two bikes; that Farage has announced he would step-down within 12 hours of Miliband gaining a majority at the general election while Ukip went ‘seatless’ (the Daily Politics interview while it remains available, can be viewed here – starts at 12.12). Interestingly during this interview, Farage was questioned by Andrew Neil in regard to what preparations he was making for his debates with Nick Clegg, to which the response was that he had been ‘boning-up’ on his facts – specifically mentioning Clegg’s oft-claimed comment about 3 million jobs depending on the UK’s membership. Hmm, for a man not renowned for ‘doing detail’ the outcome will sure be interesting.
In other news today we have seen Viviane Reding launch her 2014 EU Justice Scoreboard, her accompanying statement ending with the words: Every national court is a Union court and thus justice policies are no longer simply ‘national business’. It is all very well Grayling being reported as stating: We have no intention of the UK becoming part of a one-size-fits-all EU justice system, and it is just this kind of meddling that really irks the public. The Commission claims the Scoreboard is a tool for promoting effective justice and growth. I do not believe that the Commission has any role in the detailed monitoring or assessment of the justice systems of Member States to secure this goal - he needs to go read Article 4(j) of the TFEU where he will find that the area of freedom, security and justice is a shared competence. In any event it is worth recalling that this document by the Spinelli Group is lurking in the background and if any new treaty is forthcoming and is based on that document, it won’t matter what opt-outs one has on this, that or the other – they will be worth squat-diddly, especially where our politicians wish to remain a full member of the European Union.
With the launch of the Tory Pro-EU EUMainstream event today (‘manifesto’ here) we are also treated with an article on Conservative Home by Jeremy Lefroy suggesting that Westminster, not the EU, controls our spending in the UK. It would seem that a concerted attempt is being made to further sway public opinion. Surely any political party worth its salt would be hitting the airwaves (eg: twitter?), especially one so opposed to the views of such a pro-europe group. If Labour can respond, should we not have seen something from Ukip? Er, don’t they have a Director of Communications, someone who moonlights as a chief reporter for a national newspaper? Just asking………….
Richard North is, again, quite right to infer that while we have politicians of all parties obfuscating; while we have a media who do not do the job that they should; and while we have a public so totally – and one might say, deliberately – uninformed, just why do we bother with all this talk about holding a referendum on our membership of the EU? The result will be, after all, a well-engineered given.