Wednesday, 10 May 2017


Will Ivanka Trump be selected as the next Director of the FBI after the suspicious sacking of Comey? I'm surprised the Land of the Free doesn't have 2 week consultation periods and notice.

m heartily sick of the same old discredited mantras popping up on Facebook from Ultra Brexiteers.
  1. Unelected EU bureaucrats, 
  2. EU interfering in our laws. 
  3. EU accounts have never been signed off, and
  4. A 2nd referendum is anti-democratic.
Addressing these fallacies in order:

Mrs May was not elected PM by the British electorate, she was voted for by party members. The number of public electoral votes by virtue of which she is an MP for Maidenhead was some 35,000. The PM determines which portfolio each minister receives, not the electorate. Constitutionally, the PM or a minster need not even be an MP (numerous Lords have been ministers and indeed PMs).

The European Commission is the main administrative body of the EU. It proposes and drafts new laws, and implements and enforces EU laws that have been passed by MEPs. It does not make laws. There are as many Commissioners as there are member countries - one per country - and they are nominated by the elected PM of each member country. They can be removed by the MEPs for misconduct. Like the handing out of UK ministerial portfolios, the President of the Commission determines which portfolio each Commissioner receives.

The President of the Commission (aka Jean-Claude Junker) is nominated - on the basis of consensus - by the PMs of the member countries and ratified by the MEPs, which are our elected representatives. They are quite at liberty to vote down a nominated President.

The President of the European Council (aka Donald Tusk) has no legislative function and is again nominated by the heads of state of the member countries. The President of the European Council used to  be a rotated among the heads of the EU member countries but, with the increase in the number of members, the task of consulting with each and every PM of each state became too time consuming and needed a permanent position.

So, without becoming a fully fledged state - precisely what  the Brexiteers don't want - the EU could not be more democratic than it is. In some respects it arguably is more democratic than the UK's own system.

Taking the 2nd point - EU laws

Official EU voting records show that the British government has voted ‘No’ to laws passed at EU level on 56 occasions, abstained 70 times, and voted ‘Yes’ 2,466 times since 1999. In other words, UK ministers were on the “winning side” 95% of the time, abstained 3% of the time, and were on the losing side 2%. The number of No votes has admittedly  increased in recent times. However, there have been a number of occasions where the UK voted No to a proposal that opinion polls at the time showed that the majority of the UK electorate actually supported.

The people who complain most about EU interference in our laws are invariably unable to provide a single example of an EU law that adversely affects their daily life to the extent that it makes it necessary to leave the EU.

Now for the EU accounts:

The European Court of Auditors checks the EU’s accounts and delivers verdicts on them annually. It actually gives two different opinions on them: whether they’re accurate and reliable, and to what extent there’s evidence that money is being received or paid in error. The auditors give an opinion on the accuracy and reliability of the accounts when they present an accurate picture of the EU’s finances and follow the rules of financial reporting. This has been the case since 2007.

If they’re mostly fine, but have some problems, the auditors give a “qualified” opinion. This was the case before 2007. If they have extensive problems, they give an “adverse” opinion on the reliability of the accounts. This has never happened.

The same opinions are delivered on the ‘regularity’ of the accounts—whether they’re free from significant errors. The Court of Auditors has always given an adverse opinion on this ever since it started giving opinions in 1995.

While the EU is ultimately responsible for its own budget, the majority of the spending is implemented by member countries. Both the EU and member states make a similar amount of errors. In the UK’s case, the Public Accounts Committee has criticised the government for designing programmes which add to the complexity of EU spending, and showing a “distinct lack of urgency” in tackling that complexity and reducing the penalties the UK needs to pay back to the EU. In any accounting audit there are always overspends, funds allocated where they shouldn't have been, etc. - it's not an indication of fraud. It's interesting to note that the UK own accounts aren't even made public.

Lastly, a 2nd referendum being anti-democratic.

Leaving aside for the moment that at the 1st referendum we didn't know the terms or consequences (other than alarmism from both sides), if a 2nd referendum is anti-democratic, then, by definition, a 1st referendum must also be anti-democratic, which is ludicrous. Democracy is a process that takes cognizance of changing circumstances, not a binary event for all time. Each  time we elect a new government we change our minds based on evidence. The argument that consulting the people a 2nd time is somehow antidemocratic is specious at the very least and fascist at worst - it's denying the electorate the chance to change its mind, which is the essence of democracy.

Indeed, Mrs May herself has said that if she wins the next election, she will allow another vote by MPs on the 2004 fox hunting ban. If MPs are allowed to change their minds and overturn previous votes, then why shouldn't the electorate have that opportunity too?

Given the amount of misinformation filling the minds of a large section of the electorate, isn't a 2nd referendum justified solely on that basis alone?

It just goes to show that misinformation, like conspiracy theories, never goes away and there is a large number of the electorate that fervently believes that the EU is run by unelected bureaucrats (aka civil servants), that 2% is far too great a number of our laws to be interfered with by the EU (even though the chances are they support a good proportion of that 2%), that the finance system is a basket case and that the electorate can't be allowed to change its mind.

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