Saturday, 3 October 2015
There is no good reason to stay in the EU
It's a Sunday morning and I'm reading "Behavioural Response to Plastic Bag Legislation in Botswana". It is the product of a long chain of international governance measures aimed at tackling plastic pollution. The prattle from the party conferences seems a million miles away. Their fringe meetings serve only as tribal posturings. This document shows that policy is decided elsewhere - far from their reach.
If anything, modern politics is about designing our reaction and policy response to problems created by that layer of invisible top tier of global government. It is wholly reactive. Nobody talks about actually solving the problems because the power is not within their gift.
We could talk about reforming the Geneva Convention on Refugees, but that's not in our power, we could talk about scrapping renewable energy targets and various eco measures, but again that is not within our power. For sure, leaving the EU would be a step in the right direction but as Australia shows, resisting the march of globalisation is no easy task. Political realities mean that very often nations end up giving way in the greater good. Government by consent is almost a thing of the past. We are slaves to the embedded and immovable groupthinks of the global elites.
The prevailing orthodoxies of the "international community" are what dictates just about every strata of law. Cars all look alike these days because they are all built to the same safety specifications, food is largely prepared in the same way and anything that can be standardised and homogenised either has been or is in the process. Much of it is motivated by environmentalism. Cars must be safer and cleaner, we must waste less food, use fewer polluting resources and as a species clean up our act and make things work better.
From legislation from plastic bags, to diesel emissions on cars, these are all global standards aimed at tackling global problems. Soon we will see global accords on how to deal with Uber since every major city runs a taxi system - and global conventions on disability rights means developed nations will always have a regulated requirement for size and type of vehicle and that system must be protected from unregulated threats. In the latest instance we have seen local action by the London Assembly but I don't see that level of subsidiarity surviving.
The problem is that for an increasingly connected world, standardisation is a good thing. It's better if things all work the same way and economies of scale means everybody gets more for less. When global regulation works, it works well and the benefits are many and multifarious. The problem is that they don't happen overnight. The latest regulation on plastic bags is more than ten years in the making - and still only a partial solution. That's a problem.
Many threats to health and wellbeing cannot wait ten years for global accords. Similarly changes in technology that give rise to Uber mean trends and markets and opportunities evolve faster than the regulation can keep up. Bad regulation tends to stay bad for a very long time - and things have to get particularly bad before they are once more addressed by the global matrix of regulatory agencies.
It's not that we need fewer regulations. We need better regulations and a more responsive means of implementing them and where necessary removing them. Nowhere is this more visible than in UK energy policy where global accords translate into policy, which must then go through the EU mill, where they pretend they are in charge, gold plate such accords and them translate them into directives. In that regard, the EU is a forum for making global accords worse and more damaging. A little injection of vanity and hubris can turn bad law into disastrous law.
Moreover, as we have seen with carrier bag regulation in the developing world, such laws from the top tables are implemented well in advance of the European Union. Far from solving environmental problems (assuming such policies are a solution) the EU is a huge block to their implementation. Even if you favour the conclusions and orthodoxies of the international community, it should be apparent that the major stalling factor is the EU. Sometimes conventions are strengthened, other times weakened to the point of redundancy.
Regulations in other areas have also overtaken the EU and so there is a global regulatory single market evolving that is waiting for the EU to catch up. Thus we must ask if we can actually afford the EU. We could be losing out as new global markets emerge. More importantly, the EU does not give us the right to say no. Unlike the international forums, it is not a community of equals and we are structurally outnumbered in any vote.
Given the way that global governance is evolving, that right to say no is essential to defending those things that require our protection. Farming is a good example. Norway does not want the EU because it wants its agricultural protections. Without such protections Norway would simply not have an agricultural sector - which is vital to managing the landscape and vital to food security and defence.
Meanwhile, law made to suit the vast tracts of open prairie in the US or Ukraine is not going to be appropriate for the precious landscapes of Cumbria and Yorkshire. Yes, we must maximise crop yields and pursue optimum land productivity, but there are other concerns that add to our distinctiveness and diversity - and without the right to say no we risk destroying those facets of British life that are sacrosanct.
We have already seen what uniform policy can do to fisheries and as much as we have in the end reached a system that works better for the modern world, much was destroyed along the way - and that pooling of sovereignty we are told is a good thing lead to compromise, delay and vacillation over an unfolding ecological emergency.
Whichever way you look at it, the world has outgrown the need for the EU, it frustrates the process of globalisation while at the same time removing the essential protections we need to make it work for everybody. Time and again it has shown that it cannot respond adequately to emergencies and we have seen industry after industry fold while we wait for Brussels to do something. It's good at gesture politicking but it is short on solutions for the problems it creates. It's an expensive "luxury" we can no longer afford.
Looking to the future we see a global single market emerging and the offer on the table is that there will be a global community of equals with nations like Australia, South Africa, Indonesia, New Zealand, India, Canada and Brazil each having their own voice and their own veto, with a newly minted Eurozone nation sitting at those top tables. Curiously because we are neither in the Euro nor independent of the EU it means we have a voice at none of the top tables.
When Mr Cameron presents the new EU treaty establishing a supreme government for the eurozone and the associate membership as his own reform initiative - he is offering us even less than the status quo. He's offering us the once in a lifetime opportunity to have no regional or global influence with no voice at any of the top tables and for us to be on a leash to the Greater EU.
Cameron is offering us the choice of being a second rate power in choke-hold relationship where our voice is not heard on the international stage. Try as I might, I just don't see what's in it for us when we can be part of a global community of equals, trading freely and choosing our own alliances.
The dream of a united Europe under one flag has long since reached its high water mark. It cannot meet its existing commitments to the latter members, it can do little to advance the Eurozone and the UK is never going to be bounced into becoming part of the new European state. Thus this is a question as to whether we want to be a slave to that entity or a nation in our own right. We are at an historical fork in the road and the fate of the EU is divergent to our own. We can either choose to leave amicably now or be forced by circumstance in the future to do it under less agreeable terms.
In the final analysis, should we vote to remain in the EU, we will be entering a period of national stasis. We will enter a long sleep as the world goes on without us and we will retreat from the international sphere. At some point in the future that will have consequences and we may well be forced out. There is no strategic advantage in this, there is no economic benefit and if we don't leave now, we're only delaying the inevitable at great cost. The bottom line is there is no reason to stay in the EU - and we have much to gain by leaving.