Sunday, February 21, 2016

The EU Referendum (4)

The UK political parties have  over the years not really inspired the people one way or the other about  the EU perhaps because they have been as divided as to what the best position might be and even then, "best" for the UK or for their own political aspirations?

For example Radio 4 yesterday broadcast an interesting  and  historic debate between Tony Benn (Labour party) and Bill Rodgers then also Labour. One was passionately against the Common Market as it then was the other passionately in favour.

Later  Bill Rodgers became  a founder member of the Social Democratic Party (the SDP) which sadly later still merged with the Liberal Party. The Liberal Party about 5 years ago were  in favour of the EU but wanted  referendum; then they changed their minds and didn't want a referendum; later still the people had their say on the Liberals at a general election. 

Meanwhile the Scots Nationalist party having been formed, the SNP announced that they are keen on the EU but against the Euro. The referendum then having been announced the Scots Nationalist  talk was of getting people to vote "no" hoping that a Brexit would then result an a new Scottish Independence referendum although now apparently the Scots Nationalists  want people to vote "yes" to the  EU - perhaps because the price of oil has collapsed.

All the above is my own analysis and I am sure their are other and far better ways of putting the relevant political history and ways which better mirror other political viewpoints. 

However what the above amply illustrates is that the issues raised by the referendum  are best analysed from a personal viewpoint and not in line with one's normal preferred political party. 

The Observer newspaper is a pro EU left of centre publication. This morning's edition at page 4 has an article about Michael Gove's decision to  join the anti EU camp. Excellently written and one has to feel a little for Michael Gove given his  long standing friendship with the PM. 

The same newspaper has an article about Jeremy Corbyn's views. He considers that Cameron should have spent more time in Brussels trying to save the British Steel industry. Yet a quick glance at Wikipedia illustrates that the steel issue is one which has affected the UK for years eg:

According to Blair (1997) British Steel faced serious problems at the time of its formation, including obsolescent plants; plants operating under capacity and thus at low efficiency; outdated technology; price controls that reduced marketing flexibility; soaring coal and oil costs; lack of capital investment funds; and increasing competition on the world market. By the 1970s the government adopted a policy of keeping employment artificially high in the declining industry. This especially impacted BSC since it was a major employer in a number of depressed regions.

The current steel  problems really arise from Chinese competition at give away prices and is not just a UK or EC one.

 Jeremy Corbyn's article in the left leaning Observer  helps one form one's own opinion sadly not at all, so my view is that one has to do one's own research irrespective of normal party allegiances. Individuals' views  simply summarising what the Labour Tory or Scots or even Welsh and NI parties might  be saying, help and inform not at all. 

David Cameron achieved very little of what I was looking for  see blog post   EC in or out?  Nonetheless I found his tenacity and hard work in Brussels a few days back impressive so am still wavering as to which way the vote. The Observer article today about Michael Gove however also puts Mr Gove's position, which is now opposite to Cameron's, in a very interesting  light.

Mr Gove's reported comments in the Observer include:

“Everything, from changing guidance on behaviour in schools to changing the exam system, to the whole school building programme, was affected by officials waving EU rules,” the colleague said. “His experience as a minister showed him how little ministers are now in charge and how EU rules destroy sensible reforms, delay everything, and cost taxpayers billions.”
Gove’s reported statement  went even further: “My colleagues in government know it,” it said. “And the British people ought to know it too: your government is not, ultimately, in control in hundreds of areas that matter.”
 I remain undecided but Mr Gove is usually a wise man.

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