Saturday, 31 October 2015

Getting there...

A lot of my work from the last six months will form the basis of blog content for the main campaign website we have just released. When I set it all out logically on the site it makes me realise that we do have a pretty solid intellectual product and the resource to argue the points in ways that no other outfit can. If we had even a fraction of the budgets the main players have, we could win this.

We don't expect it to make a big splash in terms of broad appeal, but that was never our intent. It's pitched at a wholly different audience aimed at broadening the appeal of the message and setting out a progressive case for brexit.

I fully intend to feature all of our bloggers on it. I'm presently working on a sidebar and will be making a point of referencing our bloggers instead of mainstream legacy media sites. I'm hoping it will be at the centre of a feedback loop where your content becomes our content and vice versa.

I still have a few technical bits of tinkering to do behind the scenes and for some reason this sidebar refuses to work. I'm fighting some unfamiliar code with a headcold which I am unwisely nursing with a bottle of Glenlivet. Though even as it stands I think we have a pretty good site and it will improve as we add more resource to it. Again, suggestions and requests are most welcome.

The style of the blog will be a little less verbose than this one and I will try to keep the points concise and link to external sources rather than my long rambling essays. At some point soon I will, sadly, have to step down and do dayjob stuff so I will be recycling content from here and other places. We're certainly not short on pieces about Norway. What I do suggest though is that we start phasing the terminology over to The UNECE Option. That will take a little coordination on our part to make sure people understand what we are talking about.

Ultimately, our job is to raise the standard of debate among Leavers. The base is easily secured by the activities of Leave.EU but our mission to reach new ears remains the same. We have to win the intellectual battle and ensure we have a credible message and a workable alternative to the EU. As we saw from last week's Newsnight car crash, the establishment Tory campaign is not going to do us any favours and they won't attack their own. We shall have to force their hand in upping their game. We now have the tools and we can set the agenda. Let's go rattle their cages.

I could ask until I'm blue in the face for input. Only when a project goes live does the criticism come in thick and fast. Thus I am using such a dynamic to my advantage.

We have seen the Vote Leave Ltd website which is a bog standard template site with some boilerplate eurosceptic tract tacked onto it. We are not impressed. We have also seen Leave.EU, which is a good deal more sophisticated but is let down by second rate content and an ill-focussed campaign.

Clearly there is a gap in the market for a campaign resource site and that is what the Referendum Planning Group seeks to provide. Over the last few days I've been building

Eagle eyed Brexiteers will see straight of the bat that I have used exactly the same Bootstrap base template as Leave.EU for no other reason than it is a good platform from which to start. Content is king.

I am the editor of the website and will control the content, but unlike either of the main campaigns I see this process as a dialogue between our group and you the reader. Not only will constructive and polite criticism be welcomed, it will be acted upon or at least debated. First off, the Home screen needs to be a bit more than flat text and I am aware there are some aesthetic adjustments that need looking at which is why I am keeping this launch low key. I very much welcome suggestions. When we are satisfied we have a product worthy of making a noise about, we will coordinate on Twitter and go large with it.

The main campaign websites give the reader very little incentive to make repeat visits and are only concerned with linking to mainstream media sources. We are not concerned with mainstream media. Their content is worthless, their facts are wrong and we do not allow them to set our agenda. The gossip of the SW1 bubble is not our concern. Our campaign is a dialogue of the people, by the people and we take leadership from no-one. The agenda is ours to set.

For the time being, I don't need you to retweet this post and send it far and wide. This is an appeal to the readers I already have for their valued input and assistance. Meanwhile if any of you techies have any suggestions as to optimising the website, I am also happy to listen. I have never claimed to be the world's best web developer. Ultimately, I see this website as your website. I am your servant to command. It can be better, but you are the missing element.

The EU: Claims Vs Reality

There are a number of central claims to the Remain campaign. In this article we examine them one by one. Their claims just don't stack up.

"Around 3.5 million British jobs are directly linked to British membership of the European Union’s single market – 1 in 10 British jobs."

We're not sure this is quite right. We think it's closer to five million jobs that depend on free trade as part of the single market, and may be substantially more. But all anybody can do is guess. But really it's dishonest to say that these jobs depend on the EU. The EU is not the single market. We would retain single market access were we to leave the EU. No government would find it politically possible to close our markets, and the EU would have similar difficulties. It's in nobodies interests.

"The EU negotiates trade agreements with the rest of the world. Outside the EU Britain would have to renegotiate trade deals alone. While the EU is the world’s largest market, a UK outside the EU would not be a high priority for other counties to negotiate a trade deal."

This is dishonesty on stilts. Plenty of countries have free trade deals with powers like China. Moreover, we would not have to renegotiate trade deals alone. We can use the EU's own trade deals as members of the single market, but we may also choose alliances and coalitions at the WTO level to secure better terms. Brexit means we get to choose who we trade with and on what terms.

In recent years we have seen a departure of the US automotive industry to Mexico which trumps the US on free trade. Mexico has agreements with 45 countries, meaning low tariffs for exporting cars globally and favourable deals on the import of components, for which both the US and the EU have protectionist barriers. Mexico achieved this through a by a process of separate agreements, unbundled rather than the type of big bang deals the EU prefers. That is the new model of global trade. The EU does things the old way.

"British families enjoy lower mobile phone roaming charges, lower credit card fees, cheaper flights and proper compensation when flights are delayed or cancelled. These sorts of benefits could not be achieved by Britain alone."

Central to our case for leaving is that much of what we assume to be EU benefits are actually agreements at the global level. It's certainly no coincidence that Africa and China have recently dropped their roaming charges. It stems from a convention agreed at through the OECD. If anything the EU has caused significant delay to its implementation. Moreover, the level is in the detail. Often the EU waters down global agreements and environmental protections. We believe we should be dealing direct at the top table rather than going through the EU middleman. Here the EU is dishonestly taking the credit for a global revolution.

"Through commonly agreed EU standards, national Governments have achieved improvements to the quality of air, rivers and beaches. Good for Britain and good for Britons holidaying or living abroad!"

Most of these standards are agreed at the global level by the WHO, UNEP and major British NGOs. They are then adopted by the EU verbatim. All the EU does is either water them down or delay them. Some of these measures are actually counter productive or inferior to our own standards. Outside the EU we would have an independent veto at the global level. We need a stronger voice at the top table to make sure we get the right results for our unique island.

"The EU has taken on multinational giants like Microsoft, Samsung and Toshiba for unfair competition. The UK would not be able to do this alone."

They are right when they say the UK could not do this alone. But as we shift to a more globalised world, with a global single market emerging with truly multinational corporates enjoying the agility of global trade, even the EU cannot act alone. This is why, like roaming charges, there is a need for global cooperation. In terms of unfair practices, we need a much stronger role at the WTO. Soon we will see an OECD convention on tax avoidance. The EU can clamp down all it likes within its own borders, but in a global marketplace, we need full intergovernmental cooperation. Britain would obviously play a part in that.   

"Freedom to work and study abroad – and easy travel"

There is a broad spectrum of opinion on freedom of movement. On the whole we see it as a good thing albeit requiring a bit of an overhaul. As participants in the European single market we will probably keep open borders. Brexit will, however, give us the freedom to initiate reforms to the global asylum rules that tarnish the principle of free movement.

"The EU has helped secure peace among previously warring western European nations. It helped to consolidate democracy in Spain, Portugal, Greece and former Soviet bloc countries and helped preserve peace in the Balkans since the end of the Balkans War. With the UN it now plays a leading role in conflict prevention, peacekeeping and democracy building."

We think NATO can take more credit for keeping the peace. As for "consolidating democracy", it's a meaningless expression from an institution that is itself not a democracy. What the action in Libya showed us is that the EU is incapable of reaching agreement on a common foreign policy and could not obtain consent from Germany to bomb Libya. Thus the EU diplomatic machine was acting without a full EU mandate, while the military action was the result of intergovernmentalism under the NATO flag. We'll leave it to you to decide if that was a good idea. The point is, the EU could not reach agreement on military action - and probably never will. In this regard pooling of sovereignty leads to procrastination, self delusion and delay while people die. Britain is a much more effective global actor when working independently through the UN securing allies from around the world.

"Equal pay for men and women is enshrined in EU law, as are bans on discrimination by age, race or sexual orientation. This benefits Britain and British people who live in other EU countries."

We would argue that again the EU is a redundant middleman as far as this goes. Much of the work in this regard is carried out by the International Labour Organisation at the global level. Most of the EU regulations and human rights provisions mention ILO conventions and rules by name. In most instances, the EU is a law taker, not a law maker. We think Britain should be dealing direct. The EU likes to take credit for this work as our media is only dimly aware of the international dimension, but in reality is causes delays as the EU struggles to reach a common position. The law we implement is much weaker as a result of compromises. 

"As 28 democracies, and as the world’s biggest market, we are strong when we work together.
Britain is represented in many international organisations in joint EU delegations – giving Britain more influence than it would have alone. The EU has played a major role in climate, world trade and development."

They say the EU is the world's biggest market. But it's not going to stay that way. And really when you look at how trade is developing, the world is the world's biggest market! In a global marketplace, it's far better if countries with common interests can meet at a time of their choosing to remove tariffs and technical barriers to trade. A large body like the EU often dictates the terms and the timescales, often electing to push through big bang trade deals while the rest of the world progresses with one small deal, a sector at a time. That means any emerging industry that isn't at the top of the EU's own agenda loses out.

As a major technological and intellectual innovator, Britain needs to be taking a leading role on the global stage, convening meetings of those nations and non-state actors who have an interest in nurturing emerging economies and new ideas. We're not able to do that in the EU. Britain is better off freely choosing its alliances and coalitions - and it's always going to be more democratic if Britain has an independent vote at the top tables.

"Common rules for the common market make it unnecessary to have 28 sets of national regulations".

The assumption here is that only those 28 nations have a common set of rules. This is not true. Most of the regulations are made by global bodies, most notable, the ILO, the IMO and UNECE. There are sectors where there is a global single market emerging with over a hundred countries using the same regulatory frameworks. We would prefer that Britain was an independent actor at the top tables adding its considerable expertise to the process - and we want that process to be directly accountable to our own parliament. With the EU signing accords and conventions on our behalf, it is making decisions for nearly half a billion people. Even with the best intentions, the European Parliament could never truly protect the interests of all its peoples. The global regulatory precess is nowhere near democratic enough, and the EU is the chief obstacle to democracy in this regard.

"The UK is the second largest beneficiary of EU research funds, and the British Government expects future EU research funding to constitute a vital source of income for our world-leading universities and companies."

Try as we might, we have no idea why EU advocates seem to think Brexit means the end of all international cooperation. If anything, leaving the EU marks a new dawn in intergovernmentalism. The EU's research programmes are extensive and make a huge contribution but they are used as a means of strong-arming members into surrendering certain controls over their own affairs. It is our view that this prevents such cooperation from moving forward and expanding and really we should be looking at a global system that looks beyond the confines of the EU. Not forgetting of course that when the EU says it pays our universities - it's not lost on any of us that it is in fact our own money.


In conclusion we can see that the europhile case is built on the lie that the EU is the single market, and that Britain is weak and can't survive without surrendering it right to self-government. The case for the EU also seems to depend of obscuring the globalisation dynamic from view.

EU advocates seem to be predominantly inward looking on little Europe, seemingly unaware of globalisation. It is a myopic vision locked in the ideology of yesteryear and seems to ignore the last thirty years of technological progress that has seen developing nations bursting into the global market. Trade is global and so is regulation and we need new and more transparent institutions in light of that. Europhiles want their "European Community". We want a global community and a community of equals that works on cooperation, not subjugation.

Presently, our voice is silenced by the EU. At best we have 1/28th of a voice and only 1.2 MEPs per million people. Europhiles would call that democracy - but any system where the voice of over sixty million people can be overruled cannot by definition be democracy. Voting rituals alone don't make a democracy and when the voices of so many are drowned out, that peace the EU claims to keep will not last.

This referendum is a chance to correct a historical mistake and to retake our place in the world as a true democracy. One way or another we will eventually leave the EU. This referendum is an opportunity to do it peacefully, amicably and without disastrous repercussions. 

Friday, 30 October 2015

Lite blogging

I am stricken with the lurgy and there are times when it's best to unplug. This is one of them. The Vote Leave campaign has essentially sided with the PM on the Norway Option and now my inbox is full of bilge I don't have the strength to indulge. For my own sanity I am going to unplug for a couple of days to work on a new campaign website. It's almost finished and in fact would be finished if I didn't have to manually replicate the SQL database behind it.

We've seen the Vote Leave Ltd website and we're not impressed and though Leave.EU is competent web design, the content just isn't up to scratch. We live by two rules. Where design is concerned, less is more and ultimately, content is king. The new website will embody those principles and more to the point; will give the reader a reason to revisit.

Unlike Leave.EU and Vote Leave Ltd, we are not conceding the ground on the Norway Option and we're going to come back at them hard. Meanwhile, our operation is running on fresh air. If you fancy doing something useful, please do head on over to and hit the donate button. I can make the best website in the world but without backing to promote it, we will struggle to get the message out. If we want to win, we cannot afford to let the self-appointed SW1 crowd hijack this referendum.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

British influence?

Today I've been looking into various medical sector regulations and directives, again with the intention of demonstrating that the EU is a law taker, not a law maker. What we find is several strands of law, some which are readily replicated on a global basis, others... not so much.

For instance when it comes to standardisation of codes, procedures, equipment and terminology, it falls very much into the usual trade dynamics, where there are several mutual recognition agreements with countries around the world under the aegis of ISBT128. In that regard there is a semi-functioning global single market.

When it comes to ethics, practices, treatments and rights - fuhgeddaboudit! The likelihood of an ethical convergence between the USA and anybody at all is somewhere around nil. The Americans are staunch defenders of doing things their way. It's not surprising TTIP has stalled as many times as it has.

Meanwhile, the likelihood of convergence between Africa, Europe and Arabia are also fairly slim. Even within Europe we find several registered opt outs to global conventions and treaties. There are guiding principles forged by the WHO which are not binding but very much form the blueprint for new treaties.

Where rights are concerned we find they arrive in Europe as Council of Europe treaties, which is notationally intergovernmentalism. The Council of Europe is not an EU institution. In such efforts to bring about ever more precise human rights, we find than nation states can and do refuse to ratify such agreements. At other times they will sign but have the right of reservation and may list procedural opt outs.

There is actually nothing wrong with that in principle. Except of course that the EU is its own legal entity at the Council of Europe and may also ratify such treaties over the heads of member states. Thus while the non-signatories are not bound by the treaty provisions, the EU is bound by them and the EU makes directives to which the member states are bound - Another example of the democracy by-pass. So you might ask, what's the actual point of the Council of Europe ratification process if we end up obeying anyway? The answer... none at all.

Norway Option is still a go

Blowing our chances

Dominic Cummings and Vote Leave wussed out of a very winnable fight against the PM yesterday. They conceded the ground like the snivelling cowards they are, afraid to confront the PM on his most blatant lies. This is mostly because Dominic Cummings isn't intellectually equipped to understand such a things as a strategy and instead left the goal wide open for Lying Lucy Thomas to ask roughly the same questions we would ask. Which fictional free trade agreement is this Dom? Is there a real world example outside the realms of your imagination?

The real matter of course is that Cummings is a Tory after all - and breaking ranks and running a proper campaign would have meant calling the PM and liar and undermining his credibility. You won't catch one of the Tory inner circle doing that. Fortunately, we Norths will because we never back down and we've always hated Toryboys. They are cowards and they are not to be trusted. Meanwhile Leave.EU, as we see above, has fallen into the trap too.

So really, it looks like it is as we always thought it would be. We're left to make the running with the only Brexit plan worth talking about and the best team of bloggers on Twitter. Cummings doesn't own the space and nobody sane watches Newsnight so who honestly cares what the part timers say?

As we have noted about a billion times, it doesn't matter that the Norway Option is sub-optimal because it is a stepping stone as part of the Brexit process - thus none of the petty complaints really apply. It still offers the best reassurances that will likely secure a win vote. So what if the not yet official leave campaign can't get their tiny brains round it. We'll just take a leaf out of British Influence's book and carry on as if they'd never said a word. They ignore us, we can ignore them.

As for the europhiles, they'll say Vote Leave has disowned the Norway Option. Our reply is that they have not received the nomination, they are not the lead campaign and they are every bit a one man band as Ukip. The voice of Vote Leave is the voice of Dominic Cummings, nobody elected him, and he speaks only for himself. We couldn't give a tinkers damn what they say. Nothing they have even touches Flexcit.

As for the morons who retweet their memes, they're just noise and they're not the votes that matter. Our mission is still the same - to reach those voters an airheaded campaign like Vote Leave never could in a billion years of trying.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Cameron shafts himself

David Cameron says the Norway Option won't work for Britain. The Europhile view is that it would put Britain on the fringes of Europe without any real say. Yet when Mr Cameron presents his "reforms" he will offer us "associate membership" where we have more or less the same relationship with the EU, but as a second tier member, excluded from policy making that affects the eurozone, subject to all the rules of the EU with only a partial voice where we can be outvoted - and frequently are.

On the other hand, we can have the EEA\Efta Norway Option and have full single market access along with a veto over the rules, a full voice and an independent vote at the top table, and a chance to influence the rules before they are handed down to the EU.

If Cameron is saying the Norway Option is bad for Britain, it is for him to demonstrate why permanent subjugation and gradual removal from the international bodies that make the rules is somehow better. Of the two options on the table, I know which one I would choose.

We don't want to be globalisation's bitch

I am going to put this as simply as I possibly can. We need to leave the EU. Europhiles say we'd have to obey all the rules even outside of the EU. That's true we do have to obey quite a lot of rules - but the rules are global because there is an emerging global single market. The rules are the product of working groups, lobbyists, corporate trade associations NGOs and to a lesser extent governments.

Only when the rules are decided in the consultation process are they ever put to governments and blocs like the EU, which time most of the negotiating has already been done. When it gets as far as the EU parliament all they can really do is tinker round the edges.

To get the best for our own industries in forging the rules that will be obeyed by Australia, Canada, USA and the EU (to name a few), we need to be in at the top global tables with our own right of veto and an independent vote. The EU is not the top table.

This is a process that has been going on for decades and in the last twenty years has grown massively in size and scope, governing just about everything imaginable. In all the major global forums the EU has observer status and through a process of majority voting decides what the EU position is, and because we are in the EU we are forced to vote for the common EU position with no opt outs or right of reservation.

Supposedly Norway is the country that had no say in the rules, but on every single global forum we find Norway in at the top securing opt outs and negotiating better rules long before they get anywhere near the EU. Norway has a massive energy sector which gives it certain clout, backed by a large academic and industrial pool of expertise. Because it is not aligned with the EU in all matters it has its own agreements that the EU could not secure, not least cooperation agreements with Russia on energy and the environment. If Norway can, so can we.

As members of the EEA, (the single market) Norway has the best of both worlds, having full access to the market while having a much more potent voice at the top table in deciding which rules it will follow. For sure it doesn't have commissioners or MEPs, but really, it has no need of them. It protects its own interests by being fully engaged at the top tables.

Meanwhile, Britain has a muted voice being subjugated by the EU. The EU is very often a major cause of delay in implementing global conventions which means the rest of the world is already enjoying the benefits of global trade accords while the EU drags its heels. As bad as that is, the nso called reformed EU creates a two tier EU where non-Euro member states are pushed into a second tier of the EU and so we are in essence pushed away from the top table within the EU as well as all the global forums making us a third rate power.

They say we need to be part of a large bloc and pool our sovereignty in order to get the best, but in reality pooling our sovereignty translates into procrastination and delay as well as bureaucratic inertia. We don't get the best for Britain and the EU doesn't get the best for Europe as everything is compromised according to the lowest common denominator. Moreover, a bloc that makes majority decisions for nearly half a billion people, often excluding the wishes of entire nations cannot by any measure be considered a democracy even if it notionally has a voting process. Voting rituals do not necessarily constitute democracy.

Moreover, there are other ways to use leverage on the global stage, not least through the use of WTO coalitions and alliances - and when nations with common interests work together they provide a necessary counterweight to the EU's hegemony. There can be little worse than a world where one bloc holds most of the cards.

If we are to secure a global single market then we must be in at the top, shaping it so that everybody is heard and ensuring that those global institutions are transparent and democratic in ways there are presently not. We need a global community of equals cooperating rather than entire blocs being dictated to by a supranational elite. We need nations to be able to freely pick and choose who they cooperate with in whichever sector they please. Nobody benefits from building an iron wall around Europe.

This is the future of global trade and this is what we are presently missing out on. The EU is just a middleman that obscures all this from view, as this blog has gone to considerable lengths to demonstrate, and while we remain subjugated by the EU, an institution with every intention of replacing member states on all international forums, we will gradually be erased from the global stage. We will be globalisation's bitch and completely impotent on the world stage - and then we really will be "obeying all the rules without having a say".

The Norway Option is here to stay

Here follows as short extract from the Vote Leave newsletter.
The Prime Minister is travelling to Iceland today to warn about the dangers of the 'Norway option'. He claims that if the UK left the EU and negotiated a deal like Norway's there would be 'significant downsides'. This is disingenuous. The UK will not need to accept the 'Norway option'. We will be able to get our own deal. David Cameron should stop doing down Britain.

David Cameron wants Vote Leave to commit to the 'Norway option'. We have not and will not. After we Vote Leave, Britain will negotiate our own agreement - we will not just take one off the shelf. Many countries around the world and in Europe have a free trade deal with the EU without being subject to the supremacy of EU law. Britain can do the same.
Here we detect the dead hand of Dominic Cummings. This is ignorance on stilts for reasons outlined here. Only someone speaking from a position of supreme ignorance could assert "Britain will negotiate our own agreement". Easier said than done in the time frame allowed, and fraught with complexity which means all manner of uncertainty and disruption. That alone loses us the referendum as we are not able to specify the likely terms of separation.

By entering the campaign without setting out certain reassurances, the campaign content is left guessing as to what Brexit may or may not achieve, without any coherent message - producing a number of inconsistencies. The Remain campaign will take this apart with great ease.

From a technical and legal perspective, the Norway Option is the only option that could realistically be replicated inside the two year negotiation period under Article 50 which is why we propose it. It offers certain reassurances and guarantees. The model is a proposed as an interim measure in order to ensure continuity of the regulatory framework and access to the single market. Whatever Cummings has in mind can not make any such guarantees and leaves everybody guessing. That's a referendum loser right there.

By adopting the Norway Option we can then set about the process of further disentangling ourselves from the EU. Forty years of integration is not undone so easily thus the Norway Option is the most pragmatic way of doing it. It is sub-optimal, but that's really not the point. That only matters if it is the destination and not a stepping stone in the process. And that really is the point. Brexit is a process, not an event.

Even if the political meme that "Norway has no say in the rules" were true, it would still be the only safe route out of the EU. What it does give us immediately is a vote and a veto at all the top tables where the real regulatory agenda is set. That alone is worth having even if we have to make compromises on various eurosceptic sacred cows for the time being.

Strategically it's a better position to take because when Cameron does present something along the lines of associate membership and promotes it as the best deal for Britain, we get to offer more or less exactly the same but with independent voting rights and a veto on the international stage. The best of both worlds with no uncertainty. 

Failure to adopt the Norway Option as part of the process means the Leave campaign turns down the opportunity of having a debate we can win hands down and to open up a conversation about the influence of global organisations. The Remain campaign is not in the least bit equipped to deal with it, not least because they are barely aware it exists. We on the other hand have years worth of evidence with which to meet their baseless conjecture. 

But no, Cummings has spoken. We are instead going to play guessing games with vague aspirations based on a a whimsical idea of how things work which exists only in the imagination of one Dominic Cummings. What is notable here is the arrogance of the man in dictating the terms of the Leave Campaign. It should be noted that Vote Leave has not yet received the Electoral Commission nomination and he speaks only for himself and a handful of SW1 cronies, none of whom have a mandate from anyone. The Vote Leave campaign does not own the space or set the agenda either. 

In fact since both Leave.EU and Business for Elliott have been mute about the Norway Option, the PM and the europhile outfits are in fact attacking the RPG efforts, in that it is we who are pushing it hard on Twitter while the part timers pump out Twitter memes and the usual eurosceptic tripe. If the Norway Option didn't frighten their horses, why are they throwing so much effort into attacking it?

That said, there is no good reason to care what Cummings thinks or what Vote Leave says. We are here, we are not going away and as far as the internet is concerned, we will continue set the agenda because the others have no intellectual capital, and have thus far shown no leadership in setting out any ideas. They have done nothing to help those who are fighting and winning critical arguments. The kippers have gone AWOL and the part timers who retweet Vote Leave memes in that bovine way are not going to be able to fight the case made by Cummings not least because if he doesn't know what it is, how can anybody else?

Cummings can make all the pronouncements and decrees he likes, but he does not control the message and if he thinks he's we're going to drop everything and follow his lead then he is sorely mistaken. We cannot unite behind a flawed message and certainly not one devised by a treacherous thief like Cummings.

Why should we listen to these people?

The EU is saying it has reduced your roaming charges. Europhiles crow like this is a crowning achievement. For starters it's a little patronising to think we would gladly give up our status as a nation state in exchange for cheaper overseas phonecalls (the main beneficiary of which are MEPs) - but actually it's another example of the EU obscuring the international stage from view. Here we have Safaricom doing exactly the same, almost a year ahead of the EU - and here we find China following suit along with the Gulf States. Now why do you suppose that is? It's almost like the EU doesn't make the rules it implements!

Well, again, it doesn't. This is very much a global convention being put into practice, devised by the OECD and ITU. It could have happened a lot sooner were it not for the delays introduced by the EU.

As with the legislation on plastic carrier bags, the EU has proven it is well behind the curve in implementing global agreements and we could get the benefits of them much sooner while having a much greater say at the global level were we not in the EU.

Again we note that most MEPs are unaware of the global aspect, just as we noted yesterday that our own MPs remain clueless. As we have outlined many times, the EU is a redundant middleman that slows down global progress - and it even has the nerve to even take credit for such achievements. Meanwhile, our elected representatives who genuinely know nothing about it have the audacity to tell us where Britain's interests lie.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

All hands to the pumps? Not if we're in the EU.

This is an interesting document. Or at least it's interesting if you are at all interested in the control and management of ship ballast water and sediments.

Since the introduction of steel-hulled vessels around 120 years ago, water has been used as ballast to stabilize vessels at sea. Ballast water is pumped in to maintain safe operating conditions throughout a voyage. This practice reduces stress on the hull, provides transverse stability, improves propulsion and manoeuvrability, and compensates for weight changes in various cargo load levels and due to fuel and water consumption.​

While ballast water is essential for safe and efficient modern shipping operations, it may pose serious ecological, economic and health problems due to the multitude of marine species carried in ships’ ballast water. These include bacteria, microbes, small invertebrates, eggs, cysts and larvae of various species. The transferred species may survive to establish a reproductive population in the host environment, becoming invasive, out-competing native species and multiplying into pest proportions.

Scientists first recognized the signs of an alien species introduction after a mass occurrence of the Asian phytoplankton algae Odontella (Biddulphia sinensis) in the North Sea in 1903. But it was not until the 1970s that the scientific community began reviewing the problem in detail. In the late 1980s, Canada and Australia were among countries experiencing particular problems with invasive species, and they brought their concerns to the attention of IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC).

The problem of invasive species in ships’ ballast water is largely due to the expanded trade and traffic volume over the last few decades and, since the volumes of seaborne trade continue to increase, the problem may not yet have reached its peak yet. The effects in many areas of the world have been devastating. Quantitative data show that the rate of bio-invasions is continuing to increase at an alarming rate and new areas are being invaded all the time.

The spread of invasive species is now recognized as one of the greatest threats to the ecological and the economic well being of the planet. Or so they say. This rather sounds like one of those global problems requiring international regulation. And it very much is. The document linked to above is a submission made on behalf of Intertanko (The international tanker owners trade body) to the International convention on Ballast Water Management.

This is topical because this week is the 2015 Tripartite Meeting Discussions. The meeting was attended by 100 high level representatives of the industry, including chairmen and executives of the Round Table Associations (BIMCO, ICS, Intercargo and INTERTANKO) and OCIMF, IACS with its Class Society Members and CESS with the Shipbuilder Associations. The IMO adopt regular amendments to the Ballast Water Management Convention which is the baseline for all such regulations on the matter.

The regulations pertain to the types of water treatment equipment, the classification of ballast systems and the regions where ballast water can taken and dumped - and the permitted frequency. To give you an idea of the scope and complexity, it's worth a quick flick through the Norwegian sector management regulations and the risk assessments on the various protected species add another layer of complexity. It has many crossovers with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), consulting the EU and the US EPA - and the BWM convention forms the basis of their rules and subsequent regulations. Implementation of it is a deeply political process.

If we look at the specific tract of EU regulations we find that the EU does mentions the convention by name, thus again, any further revisions to the convention will eventually become EU law. So when we hear the meme that Norway doesn't get a vote it doesn't matter. They are involved in the global process along with a dozen other independent countries including Australia, which give rise to the revisions in the first place. 

While it is an international problem that requires an international convention it also requires local management while respecting the needs and requirements of habits, ports and shipping companies. While there are moves to sub aquatic national parks and protected regions, nation states may have their own respective special measures and already adequate protection systems. Norway is one such example, where it has been able to secure exceptions and opt outs according to its own unique needs. Where delicate habitats are concerned, one size most definitely does not fit all.

Now I could spend all day on this post and further expand on the dynamics, but I really urge you to explore the matter for yourself. Many of these organisations are entirely anonymous - and I'll bet they are as alien to you as they are to me. But if we scratch the surface we can see that they are blocs of very large household name corporates and oil companies and NGOs producing vast tracts of regulation independently of national governments.

Only when the regulations are drafted are they presented to blocs like the EU and nations like Norway for political scrutiny. It shows that the EU, as we have already outlined, is a law taker and not a law maker and it delegates the production of technical regulation in precisely the same way everybody else does. 

The notion that the European Parliament adds any substantial scrutiny in committees to such regulation is amusing. Insofar as MEPs and their aides like the technical knowledge, competence and basic sentience to apply themselves to such a task, the majority of the horse trading has been done at the international level.

Certainly those who would criticise Nigel Farage for not turning up to fishing committee meetings have only a limited understanding of how things work. Given how much is already decided, I don't think I would bother turning up either - and you would probably find me sat in a Strasbourg bar as well. (Though not the same one.)

If you want real influence you have to be supporting your own industries, urging them to get into the many trade associations who sit at the top table. That way you get to intercept potentially harmful regulation before it gets anywhere near the European Parliament. Any strata of regulation you care to mention and I can show you Norwegian involvement somewhere in the chain. 

To judge the process by way of who gets a vote and who bothered to turn up to a vote in the EU is a pretty poor judge of the process and it ignores the fact that most of the work has already been achieved by delegations from interested parties. The modifications to Ro-Ro ferry regulations following the Estonia ferry disaster is one such example

Of course, that europhiles and sceptics alike are largely ignorant of this entire process gives you an idea of how little the public understands the global dimension to the regulatory process and how much the existence of the EU obscures it from view, as we explored earlier today. In terms of having a seat at the top table, the back rooms meetings of the European Parliament don't come anywhere close. 

The fact that all these organisations exist with barely a mention in the media and are scarcely acknowledged by our political class - and wilfully obscured by EU functionaries - tells you that the global mechanisms of law making, opaque as they are, are not nearly transparent or democratic enough. The presence of the EU parliament in the process is neither here nor there when it comes to actual democracy in the process. The ability to veto and secure exceptions on a national basis is about as good as you can get at the moment and that doesn't happen for us specifically because we are in the EU. 

That is not to say we do not have our own delegations in at the top tables, only that where the issue is a core EU competence, or where the ECJ decides the EU can take over, we are forced to adopt their own position and those EU member states with no interest in the specific a matter can be used to bully us into taking a position that is bad for our maritime sector.

As we have noted, alliances outside the EU are our best defence against being bullied by the EU - and it is very necessary that there is a counterweight globally to the hegemony of the EU. To say that we can wield influence at the heart of the EU by being in a relationship where it can subjugate us at will is an abuse of the English language. 

From critical environmental issues, to maritime safety to working practices and labour markets, from car wing mirrors to sugar levels in food, we are seeing the globalisation of law making and while we are on a leash to the EU we are a second rate power on the global forums. In all respects we are seeing a global convergence of laws on critical matters, and that is no bad thing. But local control and an active role at the top tables is always going to produce the fairest and most democratic results. This is something not even a reformed EU can even give us. 

Everyone is wrong about the "tampon tax"

Because our media don't bother with foreign news, they wouldn't have noticed that both Canada and Australia had the "tampon tax" row back in summer. Those who make reference to it at all will claim that Canada abolished the tax. That is not in fact true. It's a clever piece of accountancy but it remains largely unchanged.

Course The Times along with our political class attribute it to the EU, but a quick glance at Google and we see that there is a long list of countries who apply taxes to that strata of produce which suggests it is very much the product of a global convention.

As far as we can tell it relates to how the materials are classified globally and registered with the WTO. The EU has probably done about as much as it can without escalating it to the classification level (World Customs Organisation - Code 19 IHS). The EU applies the reduced rate of VAT - which is as far as it can go unilaterally.

Once you change the WCO classification you can kill the taxes globally, but given that the material classifications apply to many other products - that won't be an easy task and won't be entirely free of politics. The EU may apply an accountancy trick to make it disappear off the agenda, but we need to turn to the global forums to resolve the issue rather than lobbying the EU to look into it.

Once gain the EU obscures the international dimension from view and it shows that our politicians and our media are not remotely equipped to inform us or make decisions on such matters. They are not endowed with the necessary knowledge to tell us how we should vote come the referendum. In this and all such instances, we should ignore them. Period.

Monday, 26 October 2015

What is Dominic Cummings afraid of?

We now have confirmation that the Vote Leave will not pursue the "Norway option". This is actually neither here noir there in that the group has not secured the electoral commission nomination yet and speaks only for itself. Not only will they not pursue it, Dominic Cummings is militantly against it.

Precisely why the establishment Remain campaigns want us to go down that path I don't know, and who says they do? Suffice to say that one way of the other the Leave campaign is going to have to specify eventually how it envisions our relationship with the EU. When it finally comes to this, having had no coordination in the campaign and having failed to set out a plan, Cummings will find that whatever promises he as made may not be possible, thus undermining all his prior efforts.

Certainly, we can see that the Remain campaign will lie through their teeth in attacking any option we put on the table, so why not go with the most politically realistic one? How well their rhetoric sticks depends entirely on the effectiveness of the Leave campaign.

I would argue that the Remain campaign are making so much noise about the Norway Option specifically because it's the most credible. Certainly it's the argument our team are most confident of winning and are fully prepared to fight. The "Norway has no influence" meme just does not stick whichever way you want to look at it.

It is a matter of legal and technical and historical fact that by any avenue an article of law becomes Norwegian law, Norway has been fully involved in the process, it does secure WTO reservations and it does have a veto.

Europhiles argue that Norway has "never used the veto", and that's largely because it doesn't need to. Measures often do not go to a vote unless there is a consensus in the committee stages. Moreover, Norway is involved in all the regulatory bodies thus ensuring it has a voice in shaping the regulations before it even enters the law making process.

Of course, this is not so easily communicated by way of cheap Twitter memes, specifically because Norway has many different types of vetoes and rights of reservation that are entirely context specific and we'd be here all night if I attempted to explain them.

There are examples of where the EU has pressed ahead with demands and Norway has rolled over. The end of the Efta blocs protectionist measures on alcohol imports is one such example, where Norway eventually caved into market liberalisation. But this all depends on who is in power in Norway at any given time. When it has a europhile party in power, they gladly drop their knickers on the EU's command, and so europhiles can say with some justification that Norway does accept a lot of rules without "having a say".

In supporting their hypothesis, there are any number of authority figures within Norway who would be only too happy to see Norway as part of the EU so will gladly repeat the mantras that Norway accepts laws without being able to block them, but these are the same politicians who wouldn't actually know if blocking such rules is possible because they didn't actually try - and some Norwegians are seriously pissed off about it.

We have written countless articles on Norwegian influence and anywhere you want to look, from sustainable development, human rights to food additives and car wing mirrors, you will see Norway actively engaged, often chairing international conventions. If Norway can, then the UK, the fifth largest economy in the world, most certainly can.

An effective Leave campaign with a decent budget should have no problems whatsoever exposing the pernicious lie that Dominic Cummings is evidently terrified of. Perhaps it's the "decent budget" aspect he's worried about what with all his Tory pals having their fingers in the till? I couldn't possibly comment.

But even IF the Remain campaign was right about this, we know the Norway Option is sub-optimal and it has not been suggested that Norway's relationship is the destination. It is merely the most headache free interim stage because Brexit is a process, not an event. It's the fastest way out of the EU with the maximum reassurance.

Cummings on the other hand prefers to wing it on the basis of only a limited knowledge - thus is most likely going to lead the campaign up the garden path, making unrealisable assertions that the Remain campaign will go to town on. Without the necessary expertise to counter it - and without his ambitions having any basis in reality, he alone will be the man who loses this referendum. I hope he can live with that.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

I really wish they'd stop this.

I have no idea if the above statistic is true or not. I have no intention of finding out either. I suppose I would start here if I had.

What these bozos haven't worked out is that falls in GDP as a percentage of global GDP applies to all the developed countries ... USA and Japan, primarily because developing countries (like China) are doing what developing countries are supposed to do... developing, which means their percentage share of world GDP is increasing - which means that developed countries percentage must drop.

But I am not going to wade into this debate. All I can do, and am willing to do, is sit back and watch the clowns fight it out, making complete arses of themselves. It doesn't actually produce anything or enhance anybody's understanding of the issues and forces the outsider to flip a coin as to who isn't the biggest dickhead.

In any such contest, that's not one grand larcenist Daniel Hannan is ever going to win. What it does do is provoke mongs of equal or greater magnitude, and no surprises that our friend Job Worth pops up to have a crack at it...

The most this elicits from me and any sane person is "meh". The point is, whether EU trade is 20% or 50%, it is large enough not to neglect and not in our interests to downplay. Our message is that it is entirely possible to leave the EU and maintain access to the single market, if not being actual members of the EEA - so trade and jobs are uinaffected. This is an argument Daniel Hannan himself has used, so why he's even bothering bickering over stats I don't know. He just doesn't think. It's no good setting out a message that we want to maintain good relations with the EU if at the same time we're sending out a vibe that EU trade is so insignificant we can afford to turn our backs on it.

All this kind of campaigning does is create a lot of useless noise that reaches no new ears and bores a lot of people so that they switch off. I suppose in this one instance it's better if Hannan does act as cannon fodder to keep dullards like Jon Worth off my lawn, (I don't have that kind of time to waste) but in terms of advancing our message, it doesn't help at all.

Leave.EU have been told about not playing this idiotic game, yet still they keep their house chimpanzee in charge of their twitter communications, and Vote Leave is busy making all the other classic careless mistakes we have spoken of ad nausaum. It is pointless trying to tell them anything so really unless you are prepared to pitch in, we can't count on any sane voices turning the tide.

There are days when my outlook is most belak, but when all of our bloggers are working in concert toward a specific argument on Twitter, we have shown that we can dominate and leave the main campaigns standing. Today has been one of those good days.

What we have seen is that eventually key campaigners are embarrassed into upping their game, so as much as we need to get our own EU alternatives out there, we also need to keep up the pressure on them. I believe Dominic Cummings has been getting a live fire schooling in how things work on the internet thanks to our team today.

We still need more people, but we're not recruiting anyone who happens to run a blog. We want you on message and we don't want to have to babysit you. You've seen what we produce so you can see we barely have any time for that. We can and will assist as far as we can but we want the best. We can help develop you but you will have to show a serious commitment. Leave the idiots like Hannan to argue the toss of how many camels can pass through the eye of a needle. We have serious work to do and we're not going to get any help.

The EU way is not the only way

One classic and exceedingly tiresome mantra of europhiles is that we need to be part of a large bloc to gain influence at the global level. With caveats, that's actually true. But where does it say we have to be part of the same negotiating bloc every time for every industry sector? Moreover, were is the advantage in doing that? Operating in strict regional blocs puts geographical limitations on things where no such limitations are necessary or desirable.

For this post, I'm going to borrow heavily from this paper outlining modes by which developing nations can increase their influence at the global level. At the WTO, Collective bargaining through coalitions, alliances or regional groups is a key mechanism that countries can use to influence outcomes in multilateral trade negotiations. For developing countries, membership in one or more coalitions can ease the challenges and constraints they face in negotiating and decision-making processes at the WTO, and boost their chance of influencing the agenda and outcomes of WTO negotiations in several ways.

First, coalitions can help countries build negotiating positions and proposals where their understanding of issues might otherwise be weak. By pooling resources, countries can gain greater access to technical assistance, share information, and gather more diplomatic and political intelligence. Second, by working together, the market size and political weight of a group of countries is greater than their individual weight. For instance, cotton producers of the world can easily conspire to compete with any major bloc.

Third, participation in coalitions can expand the prospect of representation of countries in key fora such as the WTO's "Green Rooms" and other small group meetings. Also, by nominating a suitable delegate to represent those groups, their interests can be represented in multiple places.

The Green Room refers to a process, rather than a specific location, in which heads of delegation seek consensus informally under the chairmanship of the Director-General. Ministers meet in a Ministerial Green Room in a bid to help find consensus on agriculture and industrial goods trade, while discussing the best way forward in future negotiations on services, rules and intellectual property. Ministers, ambassadors or senior officials who meet in the Green Room include the co-ordinators of all major groups in the WTO. This representation ensures that all positions, countries and regions, are represented in the negotiations.

Countries sometimes join coalitions simply to ensure that their specific interests are heard by that coalition or to raise their profile with trading partners. This tactic is possible because participation in most coalitions does not bind the member of the groups to that which a representative or other members of the group agree. Where countries seek an outcome to negotiations, the growing use of coalitions can be seen as advantageous because it can help build convergence among the broad WTO membership by facilitating learning and the forging of compromises

Finally, the growing use of coalitions is seen as a strategy for transforming the exclusivity of the WTO's "green room" process. Previously, closed-consultations included only a handful of developing countries on an individual basis. With the expanding role of coalitions, the composition of Green Room has grown such that key players and others relevant groups are more often represented, making for a more transparent, legitimate and effective consultation process.

However, there are guidelines to ensure that such broad representation always occurs (and there are many small group processes within and beyond the Green Rooms where it does not). Further, important systemic obstacles to effective developing country participation still remain and progress in the extent to which countries benefit from participation in small groups has been uneven. For instance, although some coalitions have improved their internal communication strategies and information dissemination, many such mechanisms within coalitions and their process for ensuring accountable representation remain weak. In addition, not all countries are represented equally in or by coalitions, and so still may lack a significant role in relevant debates.

That's where Britain comes in. Free of the EU we can pick and choose our alliances depending on the sector we wish to advance. Any coalition of developing nations that has Britain joining their cause is a bloc that carries weight in its own right. While we are not by any means a large market in the global sense, we have technical, intellectual and financial clout that is impossible to ignore.

On this blog we have spoken at length about the technical barriers to trade that stand in the way of trading with developing nations. Strategic investment partnerships at the global level are the they to opening up new markets, and more are likely to respect the distinct political and social distinctions than EU trade deals. The EU most certainly does not.

Selecting strategic partnerships is a more agile way to conduct trade and allows for concurrent development projects where Britain can act as a sponsor to coalitions of developing countries, and through its own free trade agreements can act as a proxy, helping developing nations gain access to new markets. We have often made reference to how remittances are the most effective means of developing emerging economies and strategic agreements on loosening of borders with partner nations does more for them than direct investment, and the relaxation of formal border controls in this regard actually helps prevent illegal immigration.

Leaving the EU does not mean an end to European cooperation, nor does it mean we would necessarily vote against the EU at the WTO, but independence at the very least gives us the option to protect our interests and do a better job of international development than the EU could ever hope to.

This way of doing things is also not limited to forming alliances with developing nations. There would be nothing stopping us entering alliances with any number of developed nations. Pick any you like. Cooperation on fishing via the NAFO with Norway and Canada gives us equal clout to the EU, and we can have that while perhaps choosing to ally with the EU against Canada on other matters. Opposition does not defacto mean hostility.

Clearly these global mechanisms do require improvement, but that is more likely to happen with Britain acting as an independent agent, and we can show global leadership in reforming WTO processes, and we can make it more fit for purpose ensuring that we get a better deal than the EU negotiating on our behalf every single time. There are plenty such instances where we have more business interests in common with Mexico and Indonesia than Bulgaria or Portugal.

The vision is one of a global forum where everybody gets a say, and alliances can promote global industries, bringing new partners into the fold, increasing their wealth as well as our own. It is a more modern approach than setting boundaries on an arbitrary geographical basis and nobody loses by industrial sectors advancing together rather than the EU walled garden doing its own thing and shutting itself off from the world.

The deal on the table come the 2017 referendum is to be on a tight leash to the eurozone, continuing to have only a partial voice and limited voting powers at the global level, largely because europhiles thinks we lack clout and that the EU is the only game in town. This is demonstrably untrue and a pretty miserable way of looking at things. In fact, as we see the new treaty consolidating power over the eurozone, it is likely that in financial affairs at the global level, our concerns come second to those of the eurozone. Our chances of protecting the City are slim without the leverage of a veto.

On the other hand, we can leave the EU, retain single market access and engage fully at the global level, partnering with anyone we so choose to bring about a global single market and to enhance those emerging markets that can pull Africa out of poverty. When you look at the two visions side by side, there is not contest. Staying in the EU is to turn our noses up at the opportunity of a lifetime, opting for a sub-optimal status quo that sees us gradually losing influence at the top table as the EU seeks to replace delegations of member states wherever the ECJ says it can.

As we have already examine, there is too much at stake to have all the major decisions made by large, ossified blocs and putting the decision making over our key industries into the hands of bodies who do not necessarily share our interests is in every sense dangerous as well as antidemocratic. Big bloc trade deals are yesterdays news. The future is a global market place of independent actors working together of their own free will rather than entire nations being subjugated to the supranational ambitions of an elite cult bent on building the new European empire.

We need to be heard as a voice in our own right, Europe needs us to do that and so does the world. In this we can show global leadership and perhaps shake the EU out of its stagnation in the process. The EU idea is one dating back to the 1920's, it's gone as far as it can and will find itself increasingly at odds with how things are done in the modern world. It's last hurrah was the creation of the Eurozone region, which will soon act as a single global entity, and while we cannot change that, and will have to cooperate with it, there is no compelling reason why we should be on a leash to it and settle for international obscurity.

It's not just a twist of rhetoric to say that europhiles are little Europeans closing themselves off from the world. That is a real and demonstrable mindset. It really is they who are the dinosaurs standing in the way of progress, and it is their paranoid superstitions and lack of faith in humanity that hold us back. David Cameron's offer of permanent subjugation shows a lack of faith in Britain's abilities to shape the world and asks that we settle for second best - to be part of of a globe where Mexico and Norway have a voice, but the world's fifth largest economy does not. Does that sound like a good deal to you? If you ask me, it sucks, and Mr Cameron can keep it.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Embrace diversity - Leave the EU

As promised, this post is a bit of an explainer. It is important that we have our facts right and I thought it was time to clarify a few things. It probably won't clarify anything except for the one point we make repeatedly. It is complex and messy and very easy to get it wrong.

A lot of Brixiteers have the wrong end of the stick when they say Britain has no vote at the WTO. It does. The European Commission negotiates on behalf of the 28 countries of the EU as a single entity and then compels member states to vote for the common EU position.

So then there's the question of how come Cameron has been signing trade deals with China when trade is an exclusive competence of the EU. Well, the short version is Cameron is signing trade deals, not trade agreements. We can make all the deals we like so long as they are inside the parameters defined by the agreements the EU makes on our behalf. Where imports are concerned, we can agree to import something only so long as the EU has agreed that Chinese production standards are recognised.

Eurosceptics carelessly state that outside the EU we'll be free to make trade deals with the rest of the world. It's a hackneyed piece of rhetoric that is not nearly precise enough. What independence means is that we will be able to freely negotiate the terms of trade and will have an independent veto at the WTO.

That said there are distinctions between a veto and a reservation, where Norway might well agree to a measure, conditional on certain opt outs, A measure can go forward but certain aspects will not apply to Norway. Britain has no such right of reservation.

Under these conditions Norway has been able to apply the reservation on trade agreements that all health sector personnel must speak Norwegian. The actual text has it as "Health personnel must speak Norwegian and have passed an examination in certain national topics. Course and examinations are held in the Norwegian language. Foreign examinations giving equivalent competence may be recognised. There are specific conditions relating to the approval of authorised health personnel as specialists within a limited area in the field of health. Information in patient records must as a main rule be written in Norwegian language."

This is not to say that the UK could not secure likewise but would have to go via the EU to achieve it rather than dealing direct. I can't actually say for certain if the UK does have the same opt outs and would welcome reader input on that score, but it's actually besides the point. Here we have a WTO agreement where Norway deals direct and clearly does get what it wants. 

And this is largely the point of Brexit, to have a fairer, faster and more democratic system of world trade rather than having to go through a middleman every single time. And when you're dealing direct, there is a shortened chain of accountability. Large blocs mean the compromises for expediency are often too great, and too much happens without public scrutiny or democratic oversight. 

One such example is the push for common sugar levels in soft drinks - a push headed by the BEUC, a super lobby group made up of NGOs and national lobby groups (instead of governments) from every EEA nation, including Norway. It is this body that submits recommendations and evidence to the WHO, who in turn form global conventions resulting in EU directives or regulation invoking Codex standards. When this comes to fruition, the only time our media will mention it is when it has already been implemented. Much of the process is completely obscured from view.

In reality the europhile claim that Norway has no voting powers on those regulations is really neither here nor there. It is in at the top helping to write the regulations - or at least Norwegian NGOs are. It can use its own powers of "veto" at the debate stage before any recommendations get as far as the WHO let alone the EU. Norway is involved at the WHO level and so it has influence there too.

What's problematic for us is that Europhiles often demand examples of where Norway has used a veto. If only it were that simple. In most cases, things don't even get as far as an official vote if there is a dispute, so if you want to find examples of Norway wielding its influence you have to dig right into the bowels of meetings concerning the most obscure and diverse subjects. The same is true of Britain. In our case, we are represented by "Which?" - who work closely with our own Department of Health.

This dynamic is also true of automotive standards within UNECE, which is a consultative process involving Norway, where again, it's not quite as simple as convening for a vote. Europhiles imagine the process to be much like the EU parliament where drongos sit there pressing buttons all day. That's why simplistic tweets can end up causing headaches. This is a field that requires a certain level of knowledge and a great deal of precision.

To say that we would have a vote at the top table is a nice piece of rhetoric, but how it works depends on which top table, which lobby group, which committee and on what subject. I could spend the entire referendum campaign trying to map the nexus of them, many of them overlapping and still not have moved out of the confines of one single industry. 

So what's the take home point from all this? Quite clearly we see that the EU is not the top table and in fact to have real influence, you need to be fully engaged in all of the respective global forums, some which span well outside just EEA countries, where non-EU states can forge alliances, sometimes following the EU's lead, but at other times moving to block the EU. It is highly fluid and the EU adds another layer of bureaucracy and delay.

The fly in the ointment for us is at the lobby group level. While the EU definitely does want to replace the member states at the UN/WTO level, it does not as yet have an interest in replacing member states or national NGOs from the consultation process - so in fact if we have bad, nannying and invasive regulation it's because we have bad nannying and invasive NGO's, not funded by the EU, but by our own government - or even worse... you, unwittingly.

The likes of Cancer Research can often be found submitting evidence to the WHO with regard to e-cig regulations. Unless you have a particular eye on such charities and NGO's and their position, you have no idea what is being done on your behalf. The obvious question here being to whom are they accountable - and the answer is nobody. To get better regulation there is a great need to reform the consultation process and put NGOs under greater scrutiny.

That begs the question as to whether it would be much different outside of the EU, and I would have to say probably not - or only marginally. Certainly democratising the process of global regulation is ambitious to say the least. So if it makes so little difference, why bother leaving the EU?

Well, turn it around. Why bother having the EU since all it does is delay the process and muddy the waters? The EU will take its lead from its own lobby groups, some of them EU funded, in order to arrive at the common EU position. If a coalition of NGO's and the WHO decide upon a convention that we will always adopt as law, why not do that via a global system that allows us to register reservations? Even our own NGOs have a fairly good idea where the red line is as our representatives are still children of their background. 

The effect of the EU on this process, by removing the right of reservation, is to create that European internal market, stripping away all those niggly little national exceptions, and while that's great in theory, in practice it eradicates all those idiosyncrasies that define our distinct identities, eventually creating a dismal monoculture, but also threatening things like patient safety and road safety - as there are clear cultural differences where convergence has to evolve rather than through force of regulation. 

There will always be strong arguments for regulatory convergence. Why wouldn't we want a European or global standard on labelling of medicine bottles? But these are real world practical examples. Where it gets dangerous is when areas of law are subject to the EU's ideology of creating a single state and a single European demos, where the ends justify the means. That will necessarily mean that reservations demanded for the sake of safety or preservation of valued cultural differences will take second place to the theoretical dream of a European monoculture.

It ignores the basic nuances that because we drive on the left and have narrower roads things will necessarily be different, and what works for most of Europe with its wide boulevards will not work for Shepton Mallet or Ripon. This is how we ended up with much larger lorries than our roads can cope with. We have lower bridges, narrow winding roads - and all of these things make up our heritage and our rural character. Gradually, our distinctiveness will be eroded.

At this point in the post it sounds like I'm about to break into a chorus of Land of Hope and Glory, but actually, identity and culture are still critical to tourism and agriculture is an adjunct to that. Certainly without WTO reservations, Norway wouldn't have agriculture to speak of. And certainly the long stretches of flat and open land in Eastern Europe cannot be regulated in the same way as Cumbria or the Somerset Levels. The flooding of 2014 are a clear example of what happens when remote regulation takes precedence over local knowledge.

Without a means of securing opt outs and reservations we only ever have legal absolutism - a system which all but exterminated small slaughterhouses in the 1990's. All very good for the giant corporates, but not so good for the small producers. When you see a label that says Lincolnshire sausages that no longer means you're buying sausages from Lincolnshire per se. It just means there's a massive rendering plant in Lincolnshire, probably owned by Americans churning out identikit processed foods by the tonne every day. All of our distinctions matter to us and who we are and they are essential to quality of life. 

Admittedly as the pace of globalisation speeds up and populations grow, necessitating larger and faster food production, some traditions will become extinct and progress will erase distinctions, but if we are going to have that global single market, it should be one geared to facilitate faster and better trade where everybody has a voice, and not driven by the paranoid zealotry of those who think Europe should be cleansed of its many identities in order to escape war. As an idea, it's toxic as much as it's complete bollocks. The only reason the EU has lasted this long is because it has successfully deceived its peoples that it is a trade bloc and little more. 

As much as it sounds like lofty and whimsical rhetoric to say we need to go global and we need to embrace globalisation, we actually do need to be thinking about how we can dispense with  the ideas of the last century and open up these global forums so that everybody is speaking on equal terms instead of forming gigantic bullying blocs who compete with each other, Reducing technical regulatory decisions to just a handful of remote powers is actually pretty terrifying.  

Do we really want a single entity making decisions for nearly half a billion people? Is that what we're calling democracy these days? If millions of people can have their landscapes and cultures threatened and even erased because several million more who live thousands of miles away say they must then to me that sounds more like the tyranny of the majority.  

We do not want every last detail of our lives reduced to a decision of bland managerialism. Without our distinctiveness, we are nothing as a species. For an institution that has been ramming diversity down our throats to the point of making it a thought crime to believe otherwise, it seems curiously committed to exterminating all those things that make us diverse. 

I want to keep a Europe where the French smell of garlic and make ponderous cars. I want to keep a Germany that makes bonkers techno and cars for arseholes. I want to keep an Italy that makes disgusting cheeses and bad pop music. I want to keep the Spain that makes awesome lagers and fish pies. I want to keep the Poland that does whatever Poland does so that one day I can go there and find out. I do not want a European monoculture and I think Europe will always be safer if Britain is allowed to be Britain. It's time to start trusting people and celebrating our nations rather than abolishing them. A Europe stripped of its distinctiveness and its democracy is a Europe that most certainly will go to war.   

Cameron has nothing to offer us that we cannot beat

For me, attacking the Remain campaign is more an academic exercise. It's an opportunity to learn and grow my understanding of how things work. In terms of campaigning, it serves very little value. Our success or failure hinges on whether we can can show that what Cameron puts on the table is a sham and that we have a better idea.

In fact, attacking the decoy campaign is just busywork that fills in the lulls in campaigning. The central effort has to be educating the public that there are no negotiations and that Cameron will call whatever he is presented as his great victory. It's actually rather a shame because working out the details of how global trade is done and how the EU works, along with examining the weird pathology of europhiles is far more interesting and a lot more rewarding.

That's the problem though. It's misdirection. The arguments over the respective merits of the EU are going to fall by the wayside and so are the central issues. Ukip had a major woody for the immigration issue over summer, but as predicted it has dropped off the agenda. As much as the media is bored of it and has moved on, the new parliamentary session has filled the airwaves with a different set of fads. A few more political rows like child tax credits and all this summers miserable images of dead foreigners on the beach will be a distant memory and the EU will spend our money to ensure it stays that way in the run up to the election. Moreover, even if this referendum were a question of issues, we would certainly limit our appeal by taking a specific position on a number of contentious issues. Certainly Ukip didn't think it through and nor did Vote Leave.

So really what we have to do is focus on the task at hand which is to undermine Cameron as a credible figure, expose the charade and ensure we have a better alternative to what Cameron is offering. What we can offer is single market access as well as a voice at the top tables. Europhiles say that we want to have our cake and eat it - to have all the benefits of the "EU" without the compromises. Well, put simply, to a large extent we can. We fully admit there is not going to be a bonfire of regulation but we will be in the driving seat where and when it matters.

If we discuss the EU at all in any detail it should be to demonstrate that the EU is merely the middleman, delegating to some pretty useless organisations to produce regulation and that power in the EU has only one direction of travel - upwards and to the centre. As much as it already has taken our vote at the top tables, it will not be satisfied until it has all of them. We can demonstrate why that is a very dangerous place to be. We can also show that those areas where it assumes sole competence it does more harm than good.

But more than that it;s about a competing vision. Our outlook is that global markets are going to require global governance and we cannot wall ourselves off from the world in a self-contained continental bloc and that we have to engage with the bigger and more dynamic global markets. To get the best from the new trading dynamics we need to be in at the top tables making our voice heard, picking those alliances best suited to our needs and protecting our interests where our individuality is threatened.

Now that we've had confirmation of what the EU has in mind for our future, we can see the proposal for what it is. A powergrab from the eurozone states and keeping the rest on a leash, where we will likely take a back seat to the needs of the Euro. That's third rate influence and europhiles are doing us a disservice by saying we can't manage for ourselves at the global level.

Norway;s independence means it has several cooperation agreements with Russia regarding the environment and natural resources, which the EU does not have access to which gives Norway certain leverage. There is no reason why we cannot pick our our alliances too. Certainly the EU is not building any bridges. There is no reason why the UK could not use independence to act as a broker. A long standing British tradition.

We must call out the europhile hypocrites. They say it's terrible for us to be like Norway as they have no vote at the EU level - yet somehow it's perfectly fine for Britain, the world's fifth largest economy, not to have an independent vote at the top tables where global trade rules are made. This is a bizarro logical inconsistency that they must explain. It's a simple choice - Cameron's bogus new deal which looks pretty much the same as the old one, or we can have all the benefits of an open Europe without being shut out from the global forum.

Being as objective as I can, I cannot see any advantage to being on a leash to the eurozone and Cameron is going to try and sell us the idea that this is somehow an improvement. Are we going to let him?