Friday, 22 January 2016

Bent banana histrionics


The Daily Express is outraged.
A vote by MEPs in Strasbourg backed proposals to subject household oven gloves to industrial safety standards. Oven gloves for protection will have to go through rigorous testing to ensure that they can withstand heat of up to 200 degrees centigrade. It is believed the change could force up the price of the products by up to 20 per cent.
The new EU legislation stated: "In order to ensure a high level of protection, the scope of this regulation should include products which are explicitly described and marketed accordingly by their manufacturers for private use to protect against heat."
Decorative or "artisanal" oven gloves "for which the manufacturer does not explicitly claim a protective function" were excluded from the rules. And an attempt to apply the same standards to washing up gloves and umbrellas was voted down.
I do not believe we need EU rules on what we wear in our homes to do the washing up Tory MEP Vicky Ford. Ukip MEP Jill Seymour said: "First the EU came for your vacuum cleaner, then your oven and now in a new bout of craziness, even our oven gloves. What is the EU going to restrict next ? Soap?
First off the bat, without even looking this smells very much like the adoption of a new or harmonised ISO standard. I expect there already is a level of regulation in this regard and like many other votes we have seen just recently, not least the level of sugar in baby food, is just a move to harmonise European standards with the global standard.

But let's suppose for a moment we could take this entirely at face value. Who cares? Apart from Kipper MEPs and the nihilistic, and ever so slightly dim, Vicky Ford?

One of the best things about living in the West is the fact that much we buy in the supermarkets we can buy on the assumption that it is safe to use or consume, and that it is fit for purpose. One might think it a good idea that *oven* gloves could, y'know, withstand high temperatures? And one might expect that if they are labelled as "protective gloves", maybe they ought to protect against injury.

As to whether this increases the cost, we are not exactly talking about one of lifes staples here. How often does one purchase oven gloves? 

As to what else the standards apply to, that is maybe something worthy of debate, but classification of goods and testing is a huge part of what a single market is. So when thicky Ford asserts that we do not need such rules, she is manifestly wrong. If rubber gloves are used with household chemicals then the whole point of them is to protect the hands - and if they claim to do the job of protection then they should be classified and tested as such. 

Then to invoke Pastor Martin Niemoeller in reference to OVEN GLOVES is just surreal. I'm not going to go to the barricades over oven gloves. But Seymour also asks, what is the EU going to restrict next? Soap? Well, that really depends on the kind of soap and what it is used for and how it is marketed. And no, soap won't be next because if she thinks back, soap has already been regulated and she got her undergarments all bunched up over that as well.

This is the same Jill Seymour who saw fit to get worked up about the EU nodding through a raft of updates to aviation safety regulations, requiring helicopter operators to add engine management devices. Seriously, how DARE they make our helicopters safer? The bastards.

Meanwhile, on this blog we are trying to establish the origin of the processes by which some of these standards come about, where we discover a very serious democratic deficit in a regulatory system that is totally off the media radar. This makes for a serious case for leaving the EU, yet all we get from the kippers is silly and embarrassing histrionics.  

If anything it is Ukip that demonstrates why the EU parliament is entirely the wrong vehicle for scrutinising regulation and EU law, in that the process and the people are not remotely equipped for the job. As dense as Ukip MEPs are, they are not that far removed from the institutional norm.

There is a serious case to make that too much is happening without democratic oversight and regulation is a major area of concern. What we definitely don't need is is the Leave campaign and those associated with it discrediting the seriousness of the cause by hyperventilating over total nonsense. If EU critics cannot do better than this in the public eye, they have no right to be taken seriously.

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