Wednesday, May 09, 2012
Vince panders to the Torygraph
a dreadful piece in the Daily Telegraph pandering to their eurosceptic readers. He rails at European legislation which he characterises as over-regulation and micro-management. He is disingenuous and wrong about the origins of EU laws, the character of them and their substance. He fails to mention the way that European legislation is produced, based on treaties freely entered into by the UK, proposals widely consulted on before draft directives emerge from the Commission and then discussed, amended and adopted by Parliament and Council. Britain is part of all these institutions but Vince's account will only confirm the fantasy of some evil Brussels bureaucrats pursuing some hideous agenda of domination. European directives, adopted by the democratic process summarised above, typically establish agreed objectives but leave the exact method of achieving them to member-states. The habit of British civil servants of adding unnecessary detail when directives are transposed into British law is famous and is known as gold-plating. Our wretched national parliament compounds the problem because it fails to scrutinise or challenge the drafts produced by the civil service and signed off by ministers. As to his argument that British workers have the right 'to choose' to work more than 48 hours a week, Vince misleads the reader. The 48-hour limitation is an average measured over a long period of time (I forget how many months). In other words there is flexibility within the directive. I will be surprised if the party's newly created Working Group on Work / Life Balance shares his view. Furthermore spreading work among a larger group of people instead of the unbalanced mixture of the overworked and the unemployed has social and economic benefits - less mental illness, lower social security payments and higher spending to fuel growth. I have always known that Vince was eurosceptic but I thought he understood economics.