Thursday, 25 February 2016

Dumb and Dumber - The Tory Eurosceptics of Barnet

I know quite a few people who are going to vote Out in the EU referendum who are intelligent people, who can present coherent arguments to justify their decision to vote OUT. It would be highly insulting and quite wrong to brand all who want to pull out as a "bit dim" or incapable of making rational rather than emotional decisions. I have to confess that most of the arguments my friends have made, who want to leave, seem to me to be based on emotional rather than solid economic or factual reasons, but that isn't to say there are not arguments and there are not people who live in Barnet who can present them.

Sadly the Barnet brigade of the Conservative Party who are supporting the Out end of the argument do a rather good impersonation of Dumb and Dumber. First of all, look at this map of Europe. Have a look at the bit shaded blue.
click on image for readable version
Click on image for a readable version
 The Orange bits are all of the countries which are currently members of the EU. What does the map tell you? Well it seems our local Tory MP, Matthew Offord is not really up on Geography. He has said on his website "we are an island nation. We have access to overseas markets that those in land-locked Europe can only dream of." Now how anyone can look at the map and conclude Europe is landlocked is beyond me. Granted that the Czech republic, Slovakia, Austria and Luxembourg have no coastline, but can anyone with even a basic education claim "Europe is landlocked". It will come as a very big surprise to countries such as Ireland, Malta and Cyprus who are islands. It is a fact that there is no major trading partner of the UK that does not have a closer EU member with a coastline. I've no idea why Matthew Offord made such a claim on his website, but it is clearly plain daft!

Then there is his old buddy from Barnet Council, former Tory GLA member Brian Coleman. He has been on Twitter chastising his former friend Mike Freer, MP for Finchley for his decision to support the Stay in camp.

I am going deaf from the noise of Lady Thatcher spinning in her grave

Brian Coleman clearly wants you to believe that Lady Thatcher was an anti European. Nothing could be further from the truth. Thatcher signed the single largest piece of Pro Federal Europe legislation into law. That was the Single European Act.  What did this do?
"A core element of the SEA was to create a Single Market within the European Community by 1992, a date by which, it was hoped, the legislative reforms seen necessary would have been completed. In order to make this objective possible the SEA reformed the legislative process by introducing the Cooperation procedure and by extending Qualified Majority Voting to new areas. Measures were taken to shorten the legislative process. The SEA intended to remove barriers and to increase harmonisation and competitiveness among its countries."
How anyone can claim that someone who signed legisation called "The Single European" act which enacted this legislation, would not be supportive of an in vote beggars belief. Thatcher won three elections and had sizeable majorities (far greater than Camerons). She campaigned for the Yes campaign to stay in in 1975. Despite the hyperbole of those such as Coleman, Thatcher was an arch pragmatist. Whatever your view of her, she always acted in what she perceived was the best interests of the UK. She clearly wasn't a Euro Federalist, but was most definitely a very pragmatic pro European, who saw the benefits of UK membership.

If this is the best the anti European Tories can do, then we are in for a hysterically funny campaign. One of my Tory friends who was on the train and saw Offords quote told me "It is a bit embarrasing really, I am surprised he hasn't reworded it". It would be nice to have a sensible debate about Europe in the London Borough of Barnet. I would suggest anyone thinking of organising such a public event to give these two a wide berth. Barnets answer to Dumb and Dumber really wouldn't help anyone make their mind up.

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