Governance of Britain

“Fears and Fantasies”

Speech to UKIP Meeting

bw2-006by Prof Stephen Bush

April 18, 2001, Chester Town Hall

Ladies and Gentlemen

We have all been delighted to hear Jeffrey Titford on “Britain outside the EU” – a position for our country that many throughout the land ardently desire.  Indeed it is worth noting that if 35% positively wish to leave the EU – as they do – perhaps only 5-10% really wish to remain in – the other 55% or so are resigned to staying in or don’t know.

I want this evening to expound on the theme of converting enough of those 50% resigned to staying in to give those of us who want to free Britain from the EU a clear and stable majority of voters.

With all the visible damage which membership of the EU has caused us – destruction of our fishing industry and theft of our fishing rights, distortion of our farming and now its devastation over wide tracts of the country, application of EU competition policy which always favours the Germans and the French when clashing with Britain, continual pressure to cede rights over immigration and asylum and over parts of the criminal law, EU trade policy which frequently pushes us into conflict with our natural trading partners across the Atlantic, metrication – all these are becoming visible to the man-in-the-street.

So why doesn’t the man-in-the-street positively demand that we leave this awful incubus and resume our rightful place as an independent country, free to arrange our affairs in the light of the circumstances of the time?

Well, we have to acknowledge a number of basic facts.  First most people – say two-thirds – oppose changing the status quo unless it brings them personally a material gain – say a pay rise, or unless the status quo is particularly damaging to them personally.  This can work in our favour of course – as with the £.  But it is also the reason why British politicians – Labour and Conservative go to extraordinary lengths to conceal the vast changes which are being put in place by the EU – Euro army, Euro police, Euro law and so on.

The second basic fact is the extraordinary loss of national self belief on the part of the British people, and particularly the English people.  This loss of national self belief varies across the generations.  It is least in those, now over 70, who were young before Suez: it is greatest among those who, like leading members of the present government – Blair, Brown, Straw, grew up in the sloppy 60’s and the chaos of the 70’s.  Mercifully there are indications that the generation born after them – now in their late 20’s and early 30’s – take a harder, more realistic view of the world, both inside and outside our country.  But everyone since 1961 (our first application to join the EEC) has been fed a diet of fears and fantasies which have taken their toll on national self respect and which to eradicate will take unremitting effort by everyone here and elsewhere who believe in the cause of an Independent Britain.

Current British political establishment Fears

I would like to spend a moment or two on describing these fears and fantasies as they are expressed by the current British political establishment – and then to propose a programme to deal with them.

So far as our relations with Europe and the EU are concerned, politicians’ basic fear is being outside, alone, excluded – a sort of political agrophobia.  This is compounded by another fear which is not particular to politicians – the fear of redundancy – of having nothing to do in a modern society where increasingly people can and want to take charge of their lives, in the light of the benefits and opportunities produced by technology – in travel, communications, food, health, housing, leisure.

The EU represents a giant employment project for politicians – unending series of meetings, committees, commissions, in gracious all-expenses-paid surroundings.  While the European Commission likes to claim it isn’t very big – 20,000 civil servants – in fact the major administrative cost of the EU lies in the member countries – one EU civil servant can easily generate a 100 million forms to be filled up several times a year like a fly laying hundreds of eggs which hatch and lay hundreds more each.  Possibly one third of the Treasury’s time, of the DTI’s time, of the Home Office’s time, half the Prime Minister’s time, half the Foreign Office’s time, three quarters of MAFF’s time are taken up dealing with unwanted initiatives, regulations and directives emanating from the EU.

EU politicians may not be able to do anything about unemployment among their electors, but by George, they can and do a lot about their own.

There is thus an enormous institutional reluctance among all but a tiny few professional politicians to give up the EU, and this extends to their corporate business allies seeking knighthoods and other forms of preferment in the gift of politicians.  The patronage wielded by politicians in this regard is itself a form of corruption, controlling the actions of individuals by the hope of preferment.  I would like UKIP, or any other party, to vest recommendations for honours in a commission wholly independent of the Prime Minister.  Even in Switzerland, as we have recently seen in their referendum on opening negotiations to join the EU, the political and corporate classes are desperate to get in on the junketing, but fortunately for the Swiss people, their referendum-based democratic system prevents their doing so.

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