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Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

Where can we live but days?

steepholm steepholm
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Bullshit Diary - 3
Not for the first time, I find myself agreeing with Jeremy Corbyn.

On the one hand...

... I don't like or trust the EU, especially in terms of its lack of democracy and its willingness to negotiate free trade deals involving assymetrical arrangements for US corporations to sue EU governments should they put their citizens' interests ahead of those of said corporations. (And if that's not what's in TTIP, they're doing a very poor job of advertising what is in TTIP.)

On the other hand...

... the Brexiters are a such a motley bunch of capitalist ideologues, racists and chancers that I find it hard to imagine delivering the country into their hands either. Corbyn talked about the consequent "bonfire of workers' rights", but to that we might add the bonfire of environmental and social protections.

As for the economics - I don't know, and I'm not convinced anyone does. On balance, I'm inclined to hold my nose with Corbyn, or abstain for the first time in my life, or perhaps donate my vote to my daughter, who'll be a few weeks short of her majority on 23 June, and is after all likely to be affected by the outcome for longer than I am.

Meanwhile, I have largely stopped logging things under "bullshit arguments" because life is too short, but I was struck by Stephen Kinnock's response to Boris Johnson's pointing out (correctly) that the US would never dream of pooling its sovereignty in the way that membership of the EU entails, to the effect that it already does so by being a member of NATO and the WTO, as if those were in any way comparable. I despise Johnson, but I also don't like having my intelligence insulted by Kinnock. There are far more effective ways he might have answered (for example by pointing out that the USA's size and wealth allow it to do things that the UK never could) than with this childish misdirection.

That was topped today, however, by Angela Eagle, who apparently said:

“There are no countries that trade with the European Union that don’t have to accept free movement, that don’t end up paying virtually the same that we pay into the European budget."

China? Japan? The USA? They have to accept free movement and pay into the EU budget in order to trade with the EU? Please.

So far this debate has sucked harder than a vacuum pump.

Well, The point that Boris Johnson missed was that the various states that make up the US have already yielded their sovereignty to become the USA.

One thing that the anti-EUers seem to have forgotten is that before we entered the EU, we still had the remnants of a Commonwealth. We weren't plucky little Britain going it alone, we were a country still supported by the aftermath of an Empire. Also, I am very aware of the evils of the TTIP and have been doing what I can to raise awareness of it, but do you think we stand a chance of standing up to America if it was just the UK negotiating with them?

Well, The point that Boris Johnson missed...

Snap! We appear to have been writing the same thing at the same time!

(no subject) - heleninwales, 2016-04-20 10:48 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - steepholm, 2016-04-20 11:07 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - heleninwales, 2016-04-20 11:15 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - steepholm, 2016-04-20 12:16 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - ashkitty, 2016-04-20 08:05 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - ashkitty, 2016-04-20 08:07 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - shewhomust, 2016-04-20 01:24 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - veronica_milvus, 2016-04-20 05:00 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - shewhomust, 2016-04-21 03:59 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - steepholm, 2016-04-21 04:02 pm (UTC)(Expand)
I'm unhappy about allocating my vote on the basis of whose advocates I find more sympathetic: but one thing that inclines me to vote 'stay' is the way the Brexit camp argue, not necessarily correctly, that a vote to stay is a vote for environmental regulation, controlled working hours, free(er) movement of labour etc. Oh, really? I'll have one of those.

As for the US, surely the counter argument is not that they have surrendered sovereignty by joining NATO and the WTO, but that the 50 states have surrendered sovereignty by joining each other. The rallying cry of 'States' Rights', as I recall, was associated with the right of the southern states to maintain segregation).

Exactly! As you say, all this "red tape" that the Brexit camp wish us to be free of includes the regulations about working hours, the environment etc.

(no subject) - steepholm, 2016-04-20 11:04 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - redbird, 2016-04-20 12:19 pm (UTC)(Expand)
The USA is a federation, and thus an enormous free trade area, with pooled sovereignty. Not necessarily a pro-EU point, mind you.

I'm with Corbyn on this, but I too wish there were more positive arguments. I just feel Gove and Boris and pals are peddling a nastier, stinkier form of bullshit.

The positive arguments is that we retain all the benefits we have gained since 1975. Trouble is, most people don't know what those are.

Another thing that would never happen in the US is a referendum! We would never decide by popular vote to be part of NATO or WTO.

Well, no more did the UK when it jointed NATO and the WTO. But I think it's fair to say in any case that the US is a more thorough-going democracy (e.g. the head of state and upper house are elected, neither of which is the case here), so perhaps it seems superfluous.

(no subject) - plicease, 2016-04-20 04:23 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - steepholm, 2016-04-21 04:14 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - plicease, 2016-04-21 05:05 pm (UTC)(Expand)
If the UK exits I will have to leave. And I assume all the UK citizens who have retired in Spain will have to come back (which so far no-one seems to be talking about).


I get a vote and I know how I will vote.

Why would you have to leave? Are you here as an EU national? Even if you are, as far as I can see even the furthest reaches of the Brexit campaign aren't proposing to deport EU nationals who are already here. But you're right that there'd be no obligation on Spain, etc., to show similar largesse. After all, at the moment the UK gets the better of the deal, importing fit young tax-payers and exporting retired people for foreign health-case systems to take care of.

(no subject) - splanky, 2016-04-20 07:19 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - steepholm, 2016-04-20 09:21 pm (UTC)(Expand)
Helen etc. are right. The political struggle that the US went through in turning 13 jealously independent colonies into one country bears striking resemblance to the situation of the EU, particularly in terms of the fears and concerns of the states. It finally took a civil war to change the prevailing opinion that the US was a federation of separate states into a view that it was one nation. It was at that time that people stopping saying "The United States are ..." and started saying "The United States is ..." We still have some people bleating "states' rights" today, but those of us whose state governments are not neaderthalish (e.g. not North Carolina) see very little difference in whether our regulations come from a distant federal capital or a not particularly small home-town state capital.

To the worry about giving up sovereignty to the EU, the response that the UK has already done so by joining NATO or the WTO, not to mention the UN so apparently they didn't mention it, is a very old response and totally disingenuous. They're not remotely the same thing. The argument is that in the modern world, no country has complete freedom of action. True enough, but it doesn't follow that the proper response is to give up more of it. Besides, being constrained by other countries is hardly a function of modern economics. Louis XIV could do whatever he wanted, but other countries could and did wage war against him in response, which seems to me a negative externality worth taking into consideration.

As a historical analogy, certainly, the history of states/federal rights in the USA is a telling one, and of course there have been many in the past (though they're keeping quiet now) who have been quite open about their wish to see a United States of Europe - a phrase that I think may have been coined by Churchill as a desirable outcome, though God knows he's had so many phrases childed upon him that I wouldn't put money on it. But neither Johnson nor Kinnock was referring to the past US so much as to its present incarnation, with their eyes on Obama's imminent visit (where he is expected to urge voters to stay), and such interventions as this morning's letter to the Times by eight former Treasury Secretaries, a move I suspect will put more people off than it persuades, as such external interventions tend to do.

(no subject) - kalimac, 2016-04-20 03:47 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - steepholm, 2016-04-20 03:50 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - kalimac, 2016-04-20 04:32 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - heleninwales, 2016-04-20 07:20 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - steepholm, 2016-04-20 09:15 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - kalimac, 2016-04-20 09:51 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - steepholm, 2016-04-20 10:00 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - kalimac, 2016-04-20 10:21 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - steepholm, 2016-04-21 06:36 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - kalimac, 2016-04-21 11:46 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - steepholm, 2016-04-21 04:10 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - kalimac, 2016-04-21 05:13 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(Deleted comment)
Yes, and Germany is a confederation of Lander - but both are also states, and it's in that capacity that they're being discussed by Johnson and Kinnock.

(no subject) - kalimac, 2016-04-20 09:54 pm (UTC)(Expand)
You might find this helpful. It looks at the relationships between the EU and Norway, Switzerland, Canada and Turkey, and shows why those models don't work for the UK. No country has gained full access to the free market without accepting free movement etc.


Thanks, I will certainly look at this. (It seems then that when Eagle wrote "There are no countries that trade with the European Union" she meant "There are no countries that have access to the single market"?)