Friday, June 11, 2004

Insp. Sands at Casino Avenue is not a happy bunny - go and see if you can cheer him up [edit: helps if I publish at the time rather than wait for his posting to slink it's ways down the page].

Bloody universal suffrage and the right to free speech (it at least ought to be the right sort of free speech). Southern Cross makes me cross. Why? This post in which Andrew Black announces why he's voting for the anti-EU UKIP. It's partly as a protest vote, but also because he believes Britain should leave the EU.

The thing that worries me is that he's not apparently voting necessarily for what he wants, but for what he thinks other people want. He believes that Britons don't want to be in Europe and it's only the people we elect keeping us there.

Whilst he might have a point when it comes to the pro-EU leanings of some members of the left and the right, I feel he is being over-simplistic. For example, he argues that left-wingers see the EU as a shortcut to socialism, even though they know that being socialist is a shortcut to being unelectable. His explanation requires an equal mix of cunning and naivety to present in the same people. To me, this seems unlikely.

The right-wingers apparently see the EU as a new empire, to be dominated by Britain, which in turn can dominate the world. As Andrew Black points out, the EU cannot succeed in outgunning the United States. Trying to beat the Americans at their own game is not practical, that way lies blocks at loggerheads [though one side has a much bigger head]. So what should the EU do? Use different rules. European states have always leant on other countries to get their own way. Diplomacy is about creating carrots [or mirages thereof] to alleviate the need for the military stick. Yes, this is sometimes both odious and tedious, and yes, it requires greyscale thinking, but it does work [eventually]. Would creating favourable coups and juntas be a better way? [Look up: School of the Americas. Apparently the US Gov have renamed it the much funkier WHINSEC. Can't think why they'd want to ditch the SOTA name and its associations. ...Co-operation: can't think what that would mean].

Whether or not external manipulation of countries and governments is ethical or necessary is not currently the point. It happens, it is seen as being required, and so tolerated. Therefore, in the current climate, one needs to find the best process for achievement.

As for Britain dominating the EU, well someone's always going to [and going to want to]. Is a French led empire any better? We've seen what France thinks of the newer members states [something about missing a good chance to keep quiet, and knowing their place wasn't it? At least we now know Chirac is a John Cleese fan]. What would happen if the UK left the EU? Or what would happen if England left the EU? The UK's presence in the EU is not currently vital. It helps certainly, but the EU would survive without us.

Which would leave us where exactly? Penned in by a bureaucratic behemoth, and with no influence over the EU. Which leaves us with interests in America and the Commonwealth.

America: I'm fairly sure there's a large proportion of the population who do not wish for further Americanisation, for assorted reasons [I'm sure I could find a poll somewhere to suggest this, but polls can, and do, suggest anything the makers want]. And of course America is a continent [or two], not how much some may argue otherwise. It's insular, it's distrustful and bemused by those beyond its borders [heck, in some cases beyond the state line]. If the UK's lucky it might become a pet project. If it's not, then we're just another country.

The Commonwealth: The more successful ones are learning to make the most of the environment around them. They are independent, with no reason, other than sheer waning momentum, to have anything to do with this country. Trade reflects demands. Demands shift. So the more prosperous Commonwealth members will drift off to new markets, and the less-developed ones will still struggle on, although if they ever prosper, they'll do it far away from us.

I think people who wish the UK to stand alone probably imagine the country is stronger and more independent than reality suggests. If they are successful in triggering the UK's exit from the EU, I think both the country and economy will enter a period of shock. This could be very damaging. Would staying in the EU have been less damaging? Would further integration with the EU have caused less damage? One could not know, but you can bet it's what the cannier tabloids would be printing.

Can the country resist the lure and threat of what might have been? Hopefully, in both cases.

Though through some curious quirk of fate, the new EU constitution defines the processes required for exiting the EU. This constitution being the one that the major parties hope will fail, either before it gets here or at referendum. It's odd that UKIP are so ardently opposed to the very thing that could enable an easy exit from the EU.

As for the economics of joining a single currency: I don't really know enough about it. Part of me thinks it should be possible, and it is probably a good idea. Part of me says why bother to change. As long as it's run like the Bank of England currently runs the pound, which is to say, apolitically, and pretty predictably, then it should be all right. As for how and when to join - I don't really know this either [but I've never paid that much to attention to economic theory after discovering it's largely "it'll be what you think it'll be"]. It's like crazy golf - one just needs to get the timing right [though I'm not sure what bouncing of the sail of a windmill does for an economy. Perhaps the crazy golf analogy isn't the best, as they only time I've ever played it I was told to hit the ball hard, which was closely followed by "not that hard". It's quite embarrassing having to retrieve a ball from the garden of the pub next door. But at least it went through the windmill].

And then really annoying thing is realising he's voting against me - due to the wonderful size of the constituencies. But still the one I'm in only runs from Oxon down to the Isle of Wight and over to Kent, whereas the neighbouring one runs from Gloucestershire to Gibraltar.

Ok, so this is not a stunning rebuttal [a], but that's in part because I partly agree with some of what was said. I think what irks me most this that AB is openly voting for the UKIP as a protest vote. This coupled with the two faces of the UKIP being Robert Kilroy Silk and Joan Collins.

RKS: apparently he used to be a Labour MP, when he's thorough Tory. There was also that incident that got him removed from presenting, which according to him, was not his fault, as although he had written that article, and previously had it published, it was his PA's fault for sending out the wrong text [the article in question related to his views of all Arabs. They weren't particularly complimentary. The newspaper involved does not run to an online archive. I also can’t find a serious RKS site].

Joan Collins: An actress of indeterminate age, who was last in...80s television series Dallas [or was it Dynasty?]. Given that I thought she lived in America, but have been informed that she lives in France, I'm not terribly sure why what she says is so important. Does anyone know the rules on ex-pat's eligibility to vote? And if she does live in the Eurozone, it's strange that she wants another country to leave the EU completely.

[a] I only did debating for a very brief period in school, and my main skill there was being able to see the holes in every argument [including ours].

But what would I know, I only voted Lib-dem: because it's neither Tory nor New or old Labour, and the Greens are too rabidly anti-science [and had a candidate called Xanthe. Which is similar to Greek root for yellow. Hence there's lots of nice sulphurous chemicals related to urea with similar names. And it is a bit pretentious, although I am aware that describing it as that is being judging the woman (presumably) by her parents, which isn't a very nice thing to do. Ok, so the Green's blatant aiming for the other-50s vote, by saying more pensions for all, regardless, had more to do with my decision].

Basically, the EU is not great, but it might be. Not being in the EU is probably worse, and being outside the surviving EU could be very damaging. The only way to restrain this being is to be part of it. For a start that means getting the newer states to gang up against France. Which as the Iraq saga has demonstrated, there is will to do so. Make France (and certain others, but mainly France) see that the common agricultural policy is not viable spread across the block, and if it’s not across the block then that’s flouting the EU’s written desire for fairness and equality. Also it’s not very kind to anyone beyond the block, so there are ethical considerations [beyond “but America does, so why shouldn’t we?”]. Most other countries were forced by the EU to modernise their agriculture. France evaded this, and continues to do so.

I think the EU needs a counterweight to the Franco-German axis, and until Turkey comes on the scene, this probably needs to be the UK. And with luck, the Franco-German axis is still as tenuous as it has always been. I’d hope the UK could be in position to help clarify the role and structures of the EU, and thus hopefully improve it.

If we ignore it, it’ll only get worse, and take us down with it. If we work with it, both sides can improve. And in terms of current sheer awkwardness, perhaps France ought to be the one considering leaving the EU.

Moving on...

This week's observations and oddities.
- It's very odd having an election and then not knowing the results.
- During this week I have, at various times been stuck in an office in which the heating is on, and the openable windows can't be opened, as then the clients might notice it's right next to a railway [because the building shaking 6 times an hour is pure coincidence]; been hauling around railway sleeper-sized pieces of wood; peering down a centreboard case, and discovering the extracted centreboard is nearly as tall as I am; found that the pretty red beetles I keep seeing around annihilate anything vaguely related to a lily; melted part of a plastic basket containing clothes pegs; been trying to watch the transit of Venus at the time ("it doesn't do much, does it?"); kept meaning to write stuff in this blog, but somehow not having the time, and yet persistently be late doing other things because I'm on the computer; felt guilty for not going swimming, and still not going; find I'm now the proud owner of an avocado plant - I only did it as an experiment to see if it would sprout, I didn't think of whether I wanted a tropical tree or not; make snide comments about an article on the BBC News website entitled Warning about forged £20 conman. What, it's just a £1.99 conman that's been dipped in gold paint? Shocking.
£6? For just that? Remind me not to have children anytime soon. My set were nicer anyway, even if they did lack anti-suffocation holes. Actually mine are probably squirreled away somewhere by my mother in preparation for grandchildren. Hope springs eternal. Picture liberated from the ELC [purveyors of fine quality, if over-priced, fridge magnet letters, as seen in all the best houses, and student kitchens], click for access. But apparently they've changed the shape of the letters so it's harder to use a p as d, q as b, etc. Though t as f, and y as h were always a bit dubious.- Plant pots come in a bewildering array of shapes and sizes. Trying to stack them neatly requires sorting them. This requires sorting them by size, shape, make and drainage hole pattern [1]. This makes quite a lot of categories. Yes, I was running out of lawn. I think this household must have bought a lot of different plants from different sources (and I'm being to wonder if some got inherited). And that's not counting the packs of pots people have decided we needed. Having done this, I then tried stacking them: half magician hiding the ball that he's palmed, half Fisher-Price toy[2]. I'm not sure that I wish to know the implications about my personality that grading pots and sorting information in hex[3] in the same day suggests.

[1] You wouldn't think it matters would you? Well it doesn't, until you try stacking them.

[2] Good god, they do a "Pooh-Stack 'N Hide Honey Pot". Only from the people who brought you Eeyore in purple (grey's such a dull, depressing Eeyore-ish colour you know). This means that somewhere out there (probably in Hammersmith), there's bound to be someone selling genuine plastic Pooh-sticks [bet they don't float. Not that it matters; the player either takes so long to cross the road over the bridge that the twig is long gone when they reach the other parapet, or they get run over in their eagerness. And of course the game, if played frequently enough, always descends into arguments over whose twig it is].

[3] Numbers come first right? Please say the numbers come first.


Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?