Saturday, 16 January 2016

Fraser Nelson is paddling in the shallow end


You would think as an editor of a prestigious title you would want to be at the very sharp end of one of the most critical debates of our time. Not so Fraser Nelson who sees fit to present us with entry level waffle at the shallow end of the debate.

I could spend time deconstructing the preamble, but it's the usual kind of Westminster bubble fluff which is noticeably crass and not worth our time. So too is the nonsense about Article 50 over which he has already been taken to task. What concerns this blogger is the boilerplate nonsense about the Norway option.
The same detailed questions now confront those advocating a “out” vote. Their goal would be for Britain to sign its own free trade agreements with everyone, including one with the EU. But, as Norway found, these come with strings attached; it ended up having to swallow the very EU regulations and directives that we are trying to escape. To Jens Stoltenberg, Norway’s former Prime Minister, this was “fax democracy”: an awful system where supposedly sovereign nation was still given edicts by Brussels. Worse, Norway still has to pay annual dues to the EU, working out at £81 a head. Not so much cheaper than Britain’s £105 a head.
This comes straight out of the europhile handbook and Nelson has swallowed it wholesale and without question - which is a basic dereliction of journalistic obligation. For starters, Jens Stoltenberg is the europhile's go-to guy for anything pertaining to Norway, which is pretty much the same as asking Nick Clegg.

As to swallowing "EU regulations", volumes have been written about the origin of single market laws, and indeed Norway's influence at the very top tables where the laws are made, in which Norway enjoys a free vote and a veto, and extensive involvement in the consultation stage. This is before such laws get anywhere near the EU.

In this, Norway is consulted in committees before it goes to a vote and laws don't go as far as a vote unless there is a consensus. Norway's ability to negotiate its own deals, especially regarding energy - and its relations with Russia, means that it has leverage. Britain would have similar.

The politics are far more complex and nuanced than simply holding a vote. You'd have to have a pretty shallow understanding of how things work to believe it was straightforward. Certainly, the tired old "Fax democracy" canard has been debunked time and again.

As to how much of the law Norway adopts, we asked Efta directly how many laws are in force. The answer given was 21% - which is neither here nor there - and would not matter if it was 100% since the rules are made globally and extend well beyond the confines of the EU. To even begin to discuss regulations in such juvenile terms betrays a lack of understanding of what regulation is for, how it works and why we need it.

The question is one of having a voice in how the laws are made and direct access to the bodies that make it. As we have seen, the EU restricts access to such bodies and overrules our vote as EU members - while rigging the appeal mechanism. It is lacking transparency and democracy. It is barely spoken of by our media because most in the media are every bit as crass as Fraser Nelson.

As to how much we pay, that's a whole other argument, which again has nuances that Fraser Nelson, being such a shallow individual, is only dimly aware of. Had Nelson done even the basic checks he might have consulted any number of bloggers who have written on this matter at length - bloggers who have shown a great deal more journalistic integrity (and curiosity) than Nelson - or he could even have read the Christopher Booker column if he dare not stray out of his comfort zone.

By wafting into eureferendum.com to reassert his idiotic position on Article 50, we see a man with no integrity and no real sense of obligation to the truth. We see is a lazy hack who expects his readers to unquestioningly absorb his flatulence and thank him for his contribution.

Like so many of his ilk, he assumes expertise in an issue where he has barely a basic grasp of the issues and wouldn't have the first idea where to look. He swallows the propaganda wholesale and republishes it verbatim. And this is the editor of The Spectator.

What we are actually looking at is the Tory propensity to problematise Brexit in the eyes of the Tory tribe. The euroscepticism within is for presentation purposes only and is largely with a view to bolstering his personal interests. It is grovelling tribal sycophancy and nothing even approaching journalism. It is contemptible - and so is Fraser Nelson.

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