CityCyclingEdinburgh Forum » Debate!

Do we need an EU referendum thread? (Brexit thread)

(3967 posts)
  • Started 6 years ago by I were right about that saddle
  • Latest reply from LaidBack

  1. chdot
    Admin

    "Farmers wouldn't receive a single penny from a UK govt to replace subsidies if we left"

    I can see why you might believe that - the Brexiteers are (predominantly) the champions of the 'free market'.

    However, (curiously!), they have 'promised' (not that they are the 2018 Government or anything...) to pay farmers the same as they get now!

    Posted 5 years ago #
  2. ih
    Member

    " Why do they have to move an entire Parliament to Strasbourg every year. "

    A Newsnight (or similar) programme explained that a few weeks ago. Originally, the parliament was going to rotate among the original 6 members starting alphabetically so Belgium was first followed by France. I think the answer was they just couldn't be ar**d after the first two. And France is unlikely to give up on Strasbourg now. It does seem to be the most obvious inefficiency. I think it moves every month btw not annually.

    I'm for remain although I have to say my reasons aren't based on a hard headed analysis of benefits (which I genuinely believe is impossible and hugely uncertain anyway) but on fluffier reasons such as it's better to have a mechanism for working together, a restraint on jingoistic fascism, peace, environment, etc.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  3. Roibeard
    Member

    My primary concern with the European Union is as follows, so please do correct me if I'm wrong!

    The UK is governed by the largest block of elected MPs that can agree to work together. The Government then acts as it sees fit yet is constrained by all the elected MPs=Parliament (and the House of Lords) on certain matters. The Government has the power to do other things without reference to Parliament.

    The EU is governed by the European Commission, acting as it sees fit, yet is constrained by all the elected MEPs=European Parliament (and the Council of European Union/Ministers) on certain matters. The European Commission has the power to do other things without reference to the European Parliament.

    (Confusingly the BBC seem to be referring to the European Commission as equal to our civil service - although the Commission has civil servants, it appears to also include functions like our government ministers.)

    The Commission isn't directly elected, and the Commissioners must not represent their own country. The President is elected by MEPs, then the remaining commissioners are appointed by the Council (ministers of national governments), and accepted or rejected as a block by the MEPs. Similarly, the Commission can only be removed from office as a block (by MEPs).

    So, unlike the UK, the EU Government isn't directly elected, and can't be removed from office by the citizens.

    It's probably a matter of faith (as chdot notes), but wouldn't it be better to have a more democratic system of government?

    (Acknowledging, of course, that the UK Government is only a little more democratic being majority rule, and having an unelected upper house.)

    To be honest, this point doesn't seem to be being considered much in the rhetoric, so perhaps this is too subtle to matter?

    Robert

    Posted 5 years ago #
  4. kaputnik
    Moderator

    So, unlike the UK, the EU Government isn't directly elected, and can't be removed from office by the citizens.

    I think we need to bear in mind that Government ministers don't need to be elected and can be parachuted into the Lords and drawn from there instead. See also Lord Dunlop who is no. 2 at the Scotch Office.

    Also please send me, as a citizen, the forms to commence institution of the removal of the current UK government from office! ;)

    Posted 5 years ago #
  5. I were right about that saddle
    Member

    Is anyone able to explain why the SNP loathe and abominate the idea of being ruled by Westminster but love the idea of being ruled by Brussels?

    Min, I am a splittist, but not an SNP devotee. Perhaps I can help?

    The headlines are these;

    1) Membership of the British Union annihilates the statehood of the ex-state participants, England and Scotland, though some statehoods are more annihilated than others.

    2) Membership of the European Union is a voluntary agreement amongst sovereign states which can be ended at any time by a simple request leading to a quantum mechanically complex negotiation.

    So the two are very, very different. I dislike the British Union more than I dislike the European one and will probably vote Remain, largely in an effort to hasten the end of the British Union.

    I suspect the European Union won't last too much longer regardless.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  6. sallyhinch
    Member

    For all its problems, the EU is the only thing preventing us from entering a giant race to the bottom. When you hear business people talking about 'red tape', they're not talking about bent bananas, by and large they're talking about things like not forcing people to work more than 48 hours a week, giving them lunch breaks, providing maternity leave, animal welfare standards, clean air and water legislation and reducing landfill. Given what's happened with things like zero hours contracts, I'm fairly sure that the minute we pull out of the EU the pressure will be on from the more unscrupulous employers to dismantle all these things that are getting in the way of sweating every last short term penny out of their employees and assets. Once that's happened, the scrupulous employers will have to follow suit or go bust.

    The whole point of the EU is that it pools sovereignty so that countries can't start to undercut each other in this way. Sure we're competing with China which does not have all that legislation - but at the moment, if I want to buy something which has at least met a minimum ethical standard for workers, then a 'made in EU' label gives me some level of reassurance. The EU can also impose some of its standards on countries that want to import to it. Which is why our beef isn't laden with growth hormones the way it is in the US, and any genetically modified produce has to be labelled as such. At the moment, our workers' rights legislation is driven by stroppy French unions, not enfeebled UK ones; our food standards are driven by the Italians, Spanish and French, who actually care about what they put in their mouths; and our animal welfare standards are driven by animal-loving Brits who don't have the stomach for the worst excesses of factory farming.

    It's precisely *because* it's not fully democratic that it is able to drive up standards in the single market against market forces that would like to drag them down. Personally, that alone is enough for me to want it to continue.

    Obviously this lack of sovereignty/democracy would be a problem if the EU was making laws about other things (like the legal system, education, health) which aren't the preserve of the single market but it's not (a lot of things which seem to override our legal system are in fact the European Court of Human Rights which has nothing to do with the EU)

    Posted 5 years ago #
  7. PS
    Member

    I like the idea of Europe, but my main reasoning for voting remain is the pragmatic one that you are unlikely to get a good deal from a economic bloc that you've just given the finger to. Either we get an "all the cost/obligations but none of the say" deal or a some sort of trade restrictions that will help the EU countries poach inward investment, further damage UK manufacturing and make Frankfurt the financial centre of Europe.

    The EU's under a lot of pressure at the moment and that opens the opportunity for reform. The UK would be better off in it influencing things than sitting outside.

    Have to say I also actually like the idea of external checks on national governments.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  8. redmist
    Member

    Very interesting and thought provoking post Sally.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  9. "the EU is the only thing preventing us from entering a giant race to the bottom."

    I don't agree because I don't see much evidence of this.

    Historically, the labour and trades unions movements won us much of the 'benefits' we currently have - all pre EU. Go further back to womens sufferage if you like.

    For the first 20 years of my working life I was heavilly involved in the trades union movement.

    Some benefits did come from europe e.g. the Working Time Directive, but most things we fought for - pay, conditions,trade union rights etc had nothing at all to do with the EU.

    If the EU were "the only thing preventing us from entering a giant race to the bottom." things like zero hours contracts would not exist.

    Its an easy thing to say - that the EU keeps the UK gov't in check. The truth is it doesn't

    Workers rights are eroded year on year. Social security is eroded year on year. Human rights are eroded year on year - despite the EU existing now.

    I have not seen any evidence, not a single shred, of the EU keeping our government in check.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  10. Roibeard
    Member

    Incidentally I'm participating in the Edinburgh Uni EU Ref MOOC, but this thread is much more informative!

    @Sally What about TTIP, which would be negotiated at the Commission level (as I understand it)? And the commission is duty bound not to be influenced by anyone beyond the interests of the EU.

    Clearly the US wishes to negotiate such a deal with the EU, and I'd be quite happy to be at the back of the queue/line for this...

    @Kaputnik - ah, yes, removal of a UK government isn't possible by the citizens, thanks for the correction. I suppose we can (now) recall our MP. And I didn't know that the ministers aren't necessarily elected MPs.

    So we're less democratic than I thought, which may or may not change the argument.

    Robert

    Posted 5 years ago #
  11. "I have not seen any evidence, not a single shred, of the EU keeping our government in check."

    I think that becomes one of the 'things you only notice when it's gone' effects.

    I'd agree the EU is a bit broken at the moment, but I'd also agree that it may be better to fix it from within, and that the assertion we'd get a beneficial deal with the EU post-sticking-it-up-'em would appear a little flawed.

    That said, the Remain articles doing the rounds at the moment where they examine Norway and go on about it being outwith the EU, but having to comply with EU laws, and therefore having none of the benefits of the EU, but all the constraints, seems odd. If it was that bad for Norway then why don't they just join? (I suspect they'd be able to get in pretty quickly)

    And then Leave go on about the £350m per day, which is a nonsense figure as it takes no account of the rebate, and what the UK gets back over and above that, and yet they're promising that nurses and farmers will get ALL of that £350m.

    I did a cartoon of Blair and Major, as a very odd couple, promoting Remain, and someone on Twitter commented that that was enough to vote Brexit, knowing those 'idiots' supported Remain. He clearly thought I was a Brexiteer, rather than a disillusioned voter, and I had to point out that he was assuming BoJo, Gove and Farage weren't idiots (a few weeks earlier I'd done a cartoon of BoJo and Farage as well as it happens).

    Posted 5 years ago #
  12. Roibeard
    Member

    I suppose I'm also wondering what makes the EU government official more moral/enlightened/insightful than our homegrown variety.

    But perhaps that's down to being unelected and independent, where one doesn't have to appeal to the popularist vote/big business paymaster/party ethos?

    The parallel (perhaps slightly more on topic for CCE) is that, for example, Danish drivers are no better (or worse) than UK drivers, just that the infrastructure drives behaviour.

    Or from a good Scottish Calvinist perspective, surely all politicians (and people) are equally depraved, the UK variety are not worse?

    Robert

    Posted 5 years ago #
  13. Untitled by Anthony Robson, on Flickr

    versus

    Untitled by Anthony Robson, on Flickr

    Posted 5 years ago #
  14. sallyhinch
    Member

    Roibeard - TTIP is just one of a network of trade deals which all tend to be fairly unprogressive - they've been being negotiated for years and they have all sorts of clauses in them which effectively put the interests of the markets (in general, multinationals) over the rights of individual governments (or the EU) to restrict their activities - African countries have been suffering from regressively drawn up trade deals for decades, for instance. Whether we were in the EU or not, we'd probably end up signing something with America, China etc. which had similar sorts of clauses in them - in fact we'd have to as we'd just torn up an agreement with one of our larger trading partners. This is a problem with the World Trade Organisation (if you're looking for something to pull out of, that's the one to go for...) which has quietly signed up almost the whole world to a fairly neo-liberal agenda when it comes to world trade, but has done it such a dull and untransparent way, we've only just started to notice how pernicious some of these clauses are.

    Again, I think we'd be better off negotiating as a large bloc of nations, some of whom have extremely stroppy farmers and unions, with a fair bit of leverage over the US, than letting Cameron and his ministers do the deal. Especially now that TTIP is out in the open and people are alive to the sorts of deals that are on the table.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  15. amir
    Member

    +1 to SallyHinch's earlier post

    A big q may be what might be the effects of a Brexit on the stability of the EU and what effect would that have on us?

    Whatever the Leave side say, if the vote goes their way the markets will not like the resulting uncertainty at all. That will affect our pockets.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  16. amir
    Member

    "I suppose I'm also wondering what makes the EU government official more moral/enlightened/insightful than our homegrown variety."

    I don't know (long termism?) but there are positive examples such as the EU air pollution standards that the UK government (and the Scottish Government?) seem keen to wriggle out of.,

    Posted 5 years ago #
  17. And caps on banker bonuses...

    Posted 5 years ago #
  18. sallyhinch
    Member

    @EBC I think zero hours contracts came in because of the EU legislation protecting agency workers. Before then, you'd just be signed on as a temp, with exactly the same effect as a worker on zero hours - but even worse job security. EU legislation closed that loophole so zero hours contracts started to emerge. So the EU isn't perfect, because it didn't close down that option, but that's poor drafting, not a lack of protection in general.

    I agree that once our unions fought for and won loads of rights pre EU but they have had their claws comprehensively removed in the past few years because it's becoming almost impossible to legally strike (or we wouldn't have zero hours contracts for a start) and I doubt they'd be able to protect the rights we have gained from a sustained attempt to dismantle them. Look at what happened to the junior doctors - if a bunch of well-educated, articulate, essential professionals can't defend their working conditions, what hope do cleaners or shop workers have?

    Posted 5 years ago #
  19. Min
    Member

    Sallyhinch Given what's happened with things like zero hours contracts, I'm fairly sure that the minute we pull out of the EU the pressure will be on from the more unscrupulous employers to dismantle all these things that are getting in the way of sweating every last short term penny out of their employees and assets.

    Like with Sports Direct for example? Is it not the case that EU regulations favour huge companies who can afford to ignore them and simply pay the fine if/when they are caught out?

    Plus where can I buy products with a made in the EU label on them? If European companies want to not bother with paying people fairly and giving them holidays then they simply make their products in a non-EU country. Exporting horrible work conditions to somewhere else doesn't make them go away. they just mean we can't see them.

    All of the points you made are a nice idea in principle but I only see the EU making them worse and not better as in the example above by favouring huge multinationals over small companies.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  20. panyagua
    Member

    Another +1 for SallyHinch's posts. In fact, the first one is so good it deserves a much wider audience than CCE, in my view. Has it had one, or will it?

    Posted 5 years ago #
  21. For clarification, I tend not to believe a single word any politician says (Margo was an exception). I'm even a wee bit dissapointed in the rhetoric my own party's leaders (patrick and Maggie) have said on this particular subject

    I wholeheartedly agree with the principle of fixing things from within, but there comes a point whee that just doesn't work and I can't see it being possible. That happened to me about a decade ago with the labour party, more recently with westminster, and very recently with the EU.

    I suppose it really comes down to where we all decide to draw that line in the sand...

    Posted 5 years ago #
  22. PS
    Member

    If it was that bad for Norway then why don't they just join?

    There's some history in this article.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  23. sallyhinch
    Member

    @Min - agreed, we should be exporting EU practices to the rest of the world, not dismantling them at home. You have to look quite hard for EU-made products (and pay more for them) but they are out there. Or do the work to find companies that are employing people at decent wages overseas (Fairtrade is a good place to start). Yes, the big companies run roughshod over even the EU or try to but it's harder to lobby the EU than it is to lobby Westminster and we should be fighting to make all that much more transparent.

    @Panyagua - thank you! I've been thinking about posting something along those lines on my blog for ages, maybe I will.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  24. ih
    Member

    @Sally Your last three posts have put solid backbone into my fluffy remaining; thankyou.

    Also for others, the EU isn't as undemocratic as some would have one believe. An online document "How the European Union works" admittedly published by the EU, explains the institution and processes clearly. It's not less democratic than the UK, just different like for example the US government is different.

    If we brexit it will be entirely the politians' fault who have never in the entire time we've been members put forward the positives about membership, but have been reluctant sideline complainers unceasingly. Is it surprising now that those politicians who want us to stay are facing possible exit because of their decades of semi detached negativity?

    Posted 5 years ago #
  25. I were right about that saddle
    Member

    @sallyhinch

    Good post, thanks.

    It's precisely *because* it's not fully democratic that it is able to drive up standards in the single market against market forces that would like to drag them down.

    I suspect that non-democratic entities can be very stable and long-lasting provided that they have a powerful foundation myth and attendant ceremonies to bind people in. I'm thinking of the English/British state and the Roman Catholic church in particular.

    It's my belief that the EU doesn't fall into this category and hasn't enough popular goodwill to survive long without becoming properly democratic, certainly not in the UK. The founding nations may have Belsen-Belsen and Oradour-sur-Glane to look on and say 'never again' but I just don't think we have that level of commitment to what is repeatedly presented in the media as a commercial trading arrangement rather than an attempt to contain and manage the historical forces that led to war in the past and still exist.

    I'm furious that our politicians have failed to manage this situation by either persuading us that the EU's a good thing or effecting material change in its structure. They've just dumped this question on us, shrugged and wandered off to taunt us from the sidelines.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  26. I were right about that saddle
    Member

    This seems quite rational, too;

    http://www.scotlandineurope.eu/wee_bleu_book

    Posted 5 years ago #
  27. Min
    Member

    @Min - agreed, we should be exporting EU practices to the rest of the world, not dismantling them at home.

    No I do not agree. My point was the huge companies care not a jot for EU regulations. Export the regulations wherever you like, these companies will still ignore them. Meanwhile small businesses are stifled under a mountain of regulations that in reality, only they have to abide by. What is the point of it? It is just a vast bloated bureaucracy that only seems to serve itself.

    Sports Direct is almost certainly not an isolated case. And you can certainly keep expecting more horse in your supposedly EU regulated beef. And who knows what else?

    Posted 5 years ago #
  28. amir
    Member

    "I'm furious that our politicians have failed to manage this situation by either persuading us that the EU's a good thing or effecting material change in its structure. They've just dumped this question on us, shrugged and wandered off to taunt us from the sidelines. "

    +1
    I should be disappointed in them but I kind of expected this. UK politics is of low quality

    Posted 5 years ago #
  29. Min
    Member

    Yes, it has been pretty disgusting. Worse than the Indy ref IMO.

    Does it mean that it is actually unimportant whether we leave or remain?

    Posted 5 years ago #
  30. Stickman
    Member

    My point was the huge companies care not a jot for EU regulations. Export the regulations wherever you like, these companies will still ignore them.

    I don't think that's true.

    The UK insurance industry has spent the last 10 years and several billion pounds on implementing Solvency II, a major piece of EU regulation. These huge companies certainly aren't ignoring EU regulations.

    Posted 5 years ago #

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