Tuesday, February 23, 2016

My first brush with Brussels - but why I'm still IN

My first collision with the European Commission was over a planned directive to impose a interim analogue TV transmission standard on all European broadcasters. It was loaded in favour of European electronics companies Philips and Thomson, it was a means of attacking Rupert Mudoch's SkyTV and it was driven in a thoroughly technocratic way by an EU commission officer called Eamon Lalor.

As I tended to in my journalistic life I got rather obsessed with the story. I even door stepped Francis Ford Coppola at a trade show in America and got a quote from him on the madness of what the EU was trying to do and the harm it would do to the development of the television industry.

I say this because I know that Brussels bureaucrats can drive businesses and policy makers demented with rules and regulations.

But. There was always going to be a but. Lalor was defeated. The dead hand of the Commission does respond to reason. Good policy can follow bad. British influence in Europe won the day.

I've also dealt with the petty minded officials in local authorities and in regulators in the UK government, procurement rules in the NHS, the regional development agencies and other regulators.

So as we approach this decision on the UK's membership of the European Union I don't support REMAIN out of naïveté.

I'm also not playing any kind of games. This week I've heard it said that Nicola Sturgeon says she's in favour of voting REMAIN, but secretly wants England to vote LEAVE. That Jeremy Corbyn wants us to leave, but it's all part of his bigger plan to shift the debate to the left. That Nigel Farage secretly wants an IN vote, to sustain his sense of purpose. Don't even get me started on what George Galloway is up to.

No, I'm for staying IN because I genuinely think it's better for our economy, our standard of living and for being a full part of a global community where we can exercise our hard and soft power. 

I've done a debate tonight on PURE FM in Stockport with Louise Bours UKIP MEP and had a foretaste of what's to come. Fear, hyperbole, exaggeration and a dismissal of facts that don't suit. To be fair, she brushed off the rubbish that Iain Duncan Smith came out with about Britain being more at risk from terrorism in favour of more positive vision of the future. But she was still wrong.

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