The deep unpopularity of the EU
Much as I admire Dan Hodges, I can’t share his enthusiasm for the government’s mooted scheme to snoop on our internet activity. No I don’t buy the line that “If you’ve nothing to hide you’ve got nothing to be afraid of.” No I don’t believe that allowing nameless authorities to spy on our private communications will prevent another Soham or another 7/7. On the contrary, I think giving the state more power over our last bastion of free speech and free ideas will only serve to threaten our security and our liberty, not protect it. And I’m frankly amazed that any MP would wish his or her name to be associated with the push for this tyrannical, Big Brother charter. That’s why I Tweeted yesterday to ask whether anyone knew which of our politicians had been behind this assault on our freedom and our privacy. The super-switched-on @welshtoy knew the answer, as she so often does.
Had I troubled to read the ever-reliable Richard North’s EU Referendum, of course, I would have known the answer even before that.
It emanated – duh! – from the European Union.
But, whether the case has been made or not, these are EU-inspired plans so they are going ahead regardless. This development is an integral part of the EU’s Internal Security Strategy, launched by Cecilia Malmström, EU commissioner for home affairs, without fanfare in November 2010.
What is now happening at the UK end is that the British government – in common with other member states – is working with and assisting the EU commission in trialing “EU-led operational programmes”, each member state developing the individual building blocks which go towards making up the integrated EU policy.
The internal policy is in turn part of the overarching European Security Strategy, set up in December 2008 and, with an eye on controlling terrorism and cybercrime.
Latest of the developments, happening only last week, was the launch of a Cyber Crime Centre, a working division of EuroPol, which will build up to a vast EU monitoring facility, announced by commissioner Malmström in a Brussels press conference on the Wednesday.
Initially established with a staff of thirty in the Europol facility in The Hague (in the former Gestapo building), this can only be a temporary home. Its expansion and extending remit will require a massive, purpose-built facility in the not too distant future.
Here you start to see possible links with the British initiative, which focuses on GCHQ in Cheltenham as the monitoring centre. What better home could you find for the European centre than the self-same GCHQ, thus bringing in EU money to help support this extremely expensive government operation?
And this is how the EU pork-barrel works. A member state happily works away developing EU policy, apparently unilaterally, all to provide a template which the EU can then adopt. The reward comes with the allocation of an agency or EU facility and the cash that comes with it.
Similar rules apply to another of the Coalition’s recent policy gaffes: the pasty tax. As the excellent Christopher Booker pointed out in his column last Sunday, this too emanates from the EU not from our own government. (Or rather, the entity we risibly assume is our government).
The question I would like to ask here – it’s one that Booker and North often ask too – is: “Why?”
Consider the flak the Coalition took this week over the pasty issue. David Cameron was made to look remote, snooty and rather ridiculous with his “I did eat a pasty once. In one of the emporia at a northern railway station, I believe. And most delicious it was too!!” man of the people defence. Osborne lost some of his (surely undeserved in the first place) reputation for budgetary competence. It was generally agreed to be one of the Conservatives’ worst weeks since the general election.
Yet at no point did any of their spin merchants or strategists seek to limit the damage by letting it be known that this stupid, unpopular, cheeseparing regulation was European in origin. Nor did anyone in the Coalition let slip that the Big Brother charter too was a European plan rather than a Coalition one.
This is bizarre, is it not? Here we have a Prime Minister who claims not to be a Europhile but who, apparently, would prefer to see his personal reputation and his Coalition’s reputation take several massive hits rather than allow public opprobrium for deeply unpopular measures to be directed towards the institution that devised them: the EU.
I’m sure Sue Cameron has a point when she says that it’s Whitehall, not our elected parliamentary representatives, which really calls the shots on how our country is run.
But it’s worse than that: those Whitehall bureaucrats are merely enforcing the will of EU technocrats.
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