EU in ‘not about to lock us all up forever’ shock


12:48 pm - January 26th 2009

by John B    


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One of the most popular sports played by politicans across Europe is ‘blaming unpopular things on the EU’. The specific unpopular thing varies across countries: here, it tends to be Rules And Regulations; in France, it tends to be the ability to buy things without enormous tarrifs; while pretty much everywhere it’s immigration.

However, it’s only in the UK where we have a large, or at least vociferous, group of utter maniacs and obsessives who’re willing to blame absolutely everything that happens on the EU, and to view the organisation as a tool of the Devil, or possibly Hitler, to bring about a communist Hell, or possibly a Fourth Reich.

Today’s a great example. The EU Council has passed some very dull legislation on the sharing of criminal records between EU countries. The ECRIS system that it creates will enable the criminal justice authorities in (e.g.) Luxembourg to access the UK criminal records database for information on a particular suspect.

The legislation includes several pages of lists of possible types of offence; the idea is that the governments of member states will file their different criminal laws under the different types of offence listed in the legislation (so the UK offence of murder would be filed under 0801-00 ‘intentional killing’ or 0802-00 ‘aggravated intentional killing’, probably depending on the offender’s tarrif) . This is how you manage an information system that links together lots of existing databases with different fields. 

In some EU countries, things that are legal in the UK are illegal. Therefore, one of the headings in this database is  “Insult of the State, Nation or State symbols”. This seems unlikely to be very useful, save against serial travelling-to-countries-with-silly-laws-on-national-insults-and-insulting-them-ers. But it’d be logistically daft to exclude particular laws from the system on the grounds that it’s unlikely to be much use for them.

The system also tracks penalties given. Again, these vary significantly from country to country and crime to crime – so it ranges from penalty 1002, ‘life imprisonment’, to penalty 3017, ‘withdrawal of a hunting or fishing license’. In other words, if you’re convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment, this will be indexed under crime category 0801-00 and sentencing category 1002. If you’re convicted of trafficking in human beings for the purposes of organ or human tissue, banned from working with children and placed in a psychiatric institution, this will be indexed under crime category 0403-00 and sentencing categories 3014 and  7001.

So, that’s the scheme: if you’re done for soliciting a prostitute, or for breach of health and safety rules, or attempted murder, in France, then the French police will be able to look up whether you’ve been convicted of doing the same sort of thing in the UK or Greece, and how you were punished if so. All very sensible.

So I’m sure you’ll be shocked (shocked!) to hear that in UK right-wing blogland, this has been taken as an Evil And Sinister Plot to Criminalise Everything and Build An EU Database Of Subversives. People have based this on three main misunderstandings, all of which are pretty much unforgivable unless you’re an idiot or deliberately lying:

  1. They’re claiming this is a database. It isn’t: it’s a protocol allowing international access to existing national databases
  2. They’re claiming that people will be tracked for things that aren’t illegal. They won’t. If something isn’t on a country’s national database (like adult incest in France, or like holocaust denial in the UK), then the record doesn’t exist, and hence obviously won’t be tracked.
  3. They’re pretending that the punishment list is part of the crime list (and hence suggesting that if you’ve been banned from owning a firearm or from participating in sports for non-criminal reasons, you’ll be on the ‘database’). Again, since this is just an access protocol for national criminal records databases,  you won’t.

It’s a depressing indictment of our relationship with the EU – specifically, the non-stop, almost-all-fictional black propaganda that gets pumped out about the EU by more or less everyone (or at least, well-funded xenophobes and craven politicians who want to escape the blame for their own actions) – that the reaction has been ‘yes, you’re right, this is evil and must be stopped!’, rather than the correct ‘no, you’re a madman talking nonsense, of course the EU wouldn’t do that’.

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About the author
John Band is a journalist, editor and market analyst, depending on who's asking and how much they're paying. He's also been a content director at a publishing company and a strategy consultant. He is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy and also blogs at Banditry.
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Story Filed Under: Civil liberties ,Crime ,Libertarians

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Reader comments


John

I happen to agree with you.

However, a lot of these points – for example:

“They’re claiming this is a database. It isn’t: it’s a protocol allowing international access to existing national databases”

… are precisely the points made in defence of ID Cards. The principles objection to ID Cards, by contrast, is that the state shouldn’t be able to collate and share information on the individual, even when it holds that information already, in a variety of government departments.

Now, I’m personally ambivalent about ID Cards. My main objections to them are (a) cost and (b) that ID Cards unnecessarily upset privacy cranks.

However, I can’t see the liberal commentariat throwning a wobby over these information sharing proposals, the way that Tories do. That is because (to Liberals) ID cards are a product of the evil NuLabour and therefore to be opposed as a matter of principle. By contrast, only the Tories feel this way about the EU.

In short, the response is driven by tribal political loyalties, rather than principles.

The EU wants to prevent me from working more than 48 hours a week. Or is that a figment of my imagination?

In fairness the EU backed down from compulsory metrification but it should never have demanded it in the first place.

Yes, many claims about the EU are exaggerated but let’s not pretend that it doesn’t make various rules and regulations that are at best a nuisance and at worst economically damaging.

The principles objection to ID Cards, by contrast, is that the state shouldn’t be able to collate and share information on the individual, even when it holds that information already, in a variety of government departments.

Not sure this is true. A lot of people – probably more people than who oppose the db – are opposed to the whole concept of ‘papers please’.

The EU wants to prevent me from working more than 48 hours a week. Or is that a figment of my imagination?

Democratically elected MPs in European parliament voted that the working week should be capped at 48 hours with opt-outs abolished. Because EU decisions are also subject to the agreement of member states and the commission, and the UK as a member state opposes the abolition of opt-outs (along with Germany and France, who have opt-outs for particular industries), this isn’t going to happen.

So it depends on your definition of ‘the EU’, really.

In fairness the EU backed down from compulsory metrification but it should never have demanded it in the first place.

It didn’t. This is where “craven politicians who want to escape the blame for their own actions” come in – metrification has (rightly IMO, but that’s not the point) been UK government policy since well before we joined the EU.

My only problem with this is that the process of democracy with regards to the EU is painfully hard to follow. We have our MEPs but if the EU is discussing legislation we don’t like then where do you protest? How do you protest?

Obviously with so much euro-scepticism this is much harder than it has to be, and so in a sense those that argue about the EU being unaccountable or unrepresentative of the UK’s needs and thus don’t try to engage with the EU are kind of creating a self-fulfilling prophecy here.

“However, I can’t see the liberal commentariat throwning a wobby over these information sharing proposals, the way that Tories do. That is because (to Liberals) ID cards are a product of the evil NuLabour and therefore to be opposed as a matter of principle. By contrast, only the Tories feel this way about the EU.”

The idea of ID cards and the idea of appropriate authorities being able to look up very specific information on very specific systems for a very specific purpose are so far removed from each other that it’s amazing you’ve tried to make some kind of link here to defend Labour.

There’s problem an equally intellectually vapid but amusing counter-story about the Daily Mail et al. wanting to make life easier for paedophiles by letting them abuse kids in one EU country after another…

xD.

7. Alisdair Cameron

“They’re claiming that people will be tracked for things that aren’t illegal”
Err, not quite. By my reading, it would be permissable for the Uk to get alist of all those in contravention elsewhere of laws regarding ”Insult of the State, Nation or State symbols”. handy to know who the seditious types are, just in case they were thinking of popping over to Blighty.
1206-00 is Insult or resistance to a representative of public authority, which is rather an alarming ‘crime’ anywhere.
The legislation also covers ASBOs (despite their lower level of proof) and would also seem to contradict the (UK) notion of spent offences.

For the record, I’m broadly pro-Europe, but I wouldn’t be quite so blithe as John Band.

By my reading, it would be permissable for the Uk to get alist of all those in contravention elsewhere of laws regarding ”Insult of the State, Nation or State symbols”. handy to know who the seditious types are, just in case they were thinking of popping over to Blighty.

Not really.

It does include provision for coding such offences, which it has to because they exist in certain EU countries, but it doesn’t follow that the UK could get a list of such individuals, because this particular document is silent on the subject of how and under what conditions the system could be accessed.

That’s the important question here – how will this system operate in practice and under what restrictions.

“Democratically elected MPs in European parliament voted that the working week should be capped at 48 hours with opt-outs abolished.”

John, if you can write such a sentence with a straight face and not see what’s wrong with it you have clearly missed the libertarian argument. Of course there are right wingers who are against the EU for xenophobic reasons but libertarians tend to be anti-EU because they don’t like being told what they can and cannot do by any authority.

How dare they attempt to impose restrictions on my working hours? How dare they insist in a photograph of a cancerous tumour being printed on my cigar packet?

We will oppose illiberal legislation wherever it comes from and regardless of how the authority was constituted.

You’ve written an article to accuse critics of the EU of misrepresenting and exaggerating their claims. You begin with:

“However, it’s only in the UK where we have a large, or at least vociferous, group of utter maniacs and obsessives who’re willing to blame absolutely everything that happens on the EU, and to view the organisation as a tool of the Devil, or possibly Hitler, to bring about a communist Hell, or possibly a Fourth Reich.”

You end with:

“It’s a depressing indictment of our relationship with the EU – specifically, the non-stop, almost-all-fictional black propaganda that gets pumped out about the EU by more or less everyone (or at least, well-funded xenophobes and craven politicians who want to escape the blame for their own actions) – that the reaction has been ‘yes, you’re right, this is evil and must be stopped!’, rather than the correct ‘no, you’re a madman talking nonsense, of course the EU wouldn’t do that’.”

Do you have no sense of irony?

What’s you opinion on this:

http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/46253,opinion,justice-for-the-reporter-who-dared-take-on-brussels

11. Alisdair Cameron

@ Unity (8). Well, yes, but as it’s a protocol on sharing, why even bother coding country-specific offences? If an offence is country-specific and can’t be committed outside of that nation, why include it at all?
You are right in that it depends upon the practice, but this is the type of initiative where mission/function creep occurs. A decent protocol would not merely list ‘offences’ but also restrictions on sharing. The presumption as phrased is one that info is to be shared.

12. douglas clark

Pagar,

I really can’t see what is wrong with either limiting your working week to 48 hours. Or, perhaps more importantly, refusing to let you contract someone else to a + 48 hour week.. Your freedom is someone else’s exploitation, is it not? We are not all equal actors in the employee / employer relationship.

And, who is this ‘we’ of whom you speak?

Pagar @ 9: I see where you’re coming from, but:

1) in the absence of the restriction, people in real life aren’t free to work fewer than 48 hours if their employer wishes them to.

2) in the presence of the restriction, people in real life are free to work more than 48 hours as long as they don’t declare it on their timesheets.

Since nobody should be *forced* to work 48+ hours, the only people who theoretically lose out from the restriction are those who would choose to work over 48 hours. And the only reason they’d do that is to get more work done – in which case nothing has changed, except the hours they officially record.

The point about mentioning the democratically elected EU Parliament is that our elected representatives have passed laws regulating workplace conditions for 250+ years; if there’s nothing wrong with that in principle, there’s nothing wrong with this in principle (although it may or may not be a good idea in itself).

“The legislation also covers ASBOs (despite their lower level of proof) and would also seem to contradict the (UK) notion of spent offences.

Don’t think the latter is true – spent offences apply to job applications, vetting, etc, but the coppers still get to see your full record. There are ACPO guidelines on actually *deleting* convictions (which happens much later, if at all, than convictions becoming spent), and obviously anything that’s deleted will also be unavailable through ECRIS.

why even bother coding country-specific offences? If an offence is country-specific and can’t be committed outside of that nation, why include it at all?

Because (e.g.) holocaust denial is illegal in Germany and France, so it’s useful for a German court to be able to look up French convictions and vice versa.

16. Alisdair Cameron

@ 14. John, in that case it’s not country-specific then is it: if it’s in two countries.

Well yes, but that’s a giant strawman, as all the categories listed in the legislation include things that are offences in more than one EU country.

18. Chris Baldwin

“How dare they insist in a photograph of a cancerous tumour being printed on my cigar packet?” – Pagar

It’s not your cigar packet. It’s the manufacturer’s packet, which only becomes yours after it’s been printed.

David T wrote:

In short, the response is driven by tribal political loyalties, rather than principles.

Not really. It’s very hard to imagine any Labour government of the past, or indeed Tony Blair in his first term, wanting to introduce ID cards. It is hard to imagine that Labour would have supported them if Mrs T would have tried to introduce them.

I don’t doubt that there are plenty of people out there who, lacking an opinion of their own, will generally follow the views of their compatriots. This must surely apply to opponents of ID cards as much as any other mainstream opinion – these views will tend to attract the support of those who merely wish to hold the ‘correct’ opinions. This has little or no bearing on those who generally tend to form their own opinions for their own reasons.

As to whether this particular data sharing proposal is legitimate, I do have to wonder what it will be used for. I think it’s fairly reasonable that if, say, a rape has taken place and there are various individuals known to have been in the vicinity at the time, the police would want to check up on the backgrounds of those individuals. And it has to be reasonable that foreign suspects can be checked up on just as easily as British ones. Score one to the EU data-sharing approach.

Where things get a bit ropey is when convictions concern ‘crimes’ which are not really crimes against [fellow members of] society, but are political in nature. And this is the rub: it’s fairly easy for us to imagine how the rape scenario might play out – armed with the knowledge that an individual committed a string of rapes in his/her home country, it would make perfect sense to target the individual in a police investigation. But what might the police do with other information? Would someone with a conviction for Holocaust denial in Austria be discriminated against in a meaningful way in the UK?

In the first scenario (the rape investigation) it’s obvious that data-sharing leads to people being treated equally (committing a crime abroad does not enable you to evade detection). In the second scenario, it’s much less clear-cut – by definition, a UK citizen could not possibly have a UK conviction for the crime, but an Austrian might. Will the police, or any other public body which can gain access to the information, be able to make legitimate use of it?

There are risks in this legislation, though they could be mitigated with adequate safeguards. Likewise, ID cards could technically be implemented in a way that did not imperil liberty in the slightest, but such an implementation is light years away from what is actually being planned. It’s not entirely unreasonable of EU-sceptics to worry that British police forces may treat foreigners unfairly due to convictions they’ve received due to illiberal laws in their home country, and I’m tempted to agree with them.

John 12

” in the absence of the restriction, people in real life aren’t free to work fewer than 48 hours if their employer wishes them to.”

Not true. In the absence of the restriction an employer is able to specify the number of hours he wishes his potential employee to work and the potential employee is also free to enter into the contract of employment if he wishes to do so. By imposing the restriction the state is interfering in the freedom of action of both parties.

” in the presence of the restriction, people in real life are free to work more than 48 hours as long as they don’t declare it on their timesheets.”

And don’t get paid for their work? The fact that the restriction can be (and is) easily avoided does not make it good law. The state should never get involved in such areas- it is, quite simply, none of their business.

Chris 17

“It’s not your cigar packet. It’s the manufacturer’s packet, which only becomes yours after it’s been printed.”

Not quite sure what your point is here. The massive multi-coloured, veined tumour protruding from some poor soul’s neck is there because the EU has created a law that says it must be on my cigar packet. It does not affect my appreciation of the cigars themselves but I find it tends to put me off my cornflakes.

The point about mentioning the democratically elected EU Parliament……..

No such thing .It is not a Parliament the actual legislation comes form the Commission and evolves out of unaccountable bureaucracies . The Parliament only rubber stamps a given , calling it a Parliament at all is a con right form the start and in any case a democracy requires a demos which Europe does not have. Take a look around Africa and you will see that the fact of votes does not make a democracy. Calling it the Common Market was a lie and the sly evolution since though EEC to EU tracks the ambitions of the Empire builders pretty well. After the Lisbon lie when the referendum promised was not given on a flimsy pretext I would not turst a European advisory document on not sticking your head in an oven . It is not xenophobic to require an immediate and tangible say in the way your affairs are run or to see no need to jump when told to by foreigners .
To the question what harm does it do ( aside from the £5000 per household to keep them all in swill) I always say , you are probably right , why not give over the running of the country to France and get rid of this business of voting entirely . They have a nice country and like running things
Given that a pack of lies has been told about the destination of the EU we have to assume that a pack of lies is being told about he eventual destination of this sinister data sharing which , like every other insult to the intelligence is presented a harmless tidying affair . That as I recall was what Lisbon was called .
How exactly this will form part of an elitist plot to outlaw the country I am not sure . How precisely it will be abused and will result in a mess I cannot say. That it will cannot be doubted by anyone who follows the hideous coils of this organisation closing around the neck of the Nation

Have you ever considered doing a programme for Edge Media TV, Newmania?

You’d fit right in.

That is because (to Liberals) ID cards are a product of the evil NuLabour and therefore to be opposed as a matter of principle. By contrast, only the Tories feel this way about the EU.

This is nonsense David, liberals would oppose ID cards just as much if they were proposed by the Tories. It is interesting that you, as a Labour Party member, seem to expect liberals to be instinctively opposed to New Labour though.

“Since nobody should be *forced* to work 48+ hours, the only people who theoretically lose out from the restriction are those who would choose to work over 48 hours. And the only reason they’d do that is to get more work done – in which case nothing has changed, except the hours they officially record.”

Some of us like to work longer hours to (a) receive more money and (b) compete with our rivals. Restrictions on working hours unjustifiably prevent us from doing either of these.

“The point about mentioning the democratically elected EU Parliament is that our elected representatives have passed laws regulating workplace conditions for 250+ years; if there’s nothing wrong with that in principle, there’s nothing wrong with this in principle (although it may or may not be a good idea in itself).”

What is the point of deciding such legislation at an EU level? Why can’t national parliaments just decide on these things? What business is it of representatives of other countries to vote on the working hours in my country and vice versa?

Some of us like to work longer hours to (a) receive more money and (b) compete with our rivals.

If you mean overtime, then that’s true for a (although there aren’t many 48+ hour jobs where overtime is paid). If you mean promotion, then it isn’t. And b is complete nonsense: there’s absolutely nothing preventing you from doing so.

What business is it of representatives of other countries to vote on the working hours in my country and vice versa?

What business is it of MPs in Yorkshire to vote on working hours in London?

26. Shatterface

I’m losing track. We are against a national database but in favour of international databases now?

We don’t want our government monitoring activities which are legal here but a foreign nation might find those activities illegal and so might want to know about them?

“What is the point of deciding such legislation at an EU level? Why can’t national parliaments just decide on these things? What business is it of representatives of other countries to vote on the working hours in my country and vice versa?”

Because the whole idea of the European single market, is that you have a single market, with a single currency, and With the same rules throughout.

The Tory party took us into Europe without giving the people a say, and Mrs Thatcher rammed the European single act through parliament on a Friday afternoon when most MPS at gone home.. Its a bit much that they now winge about it.

I hope Europe falls apart and country’s go back to governing themselves, but then the first to winge will be the Right wing when they can’t sell their products in Europe.

We don’t want our government monitoring activities which are legal here but a foreign nation might find those activities illegal and so might want to know about them?

No, we don’t want that. But luckily, this legislation has nothing to do with that: it’s about telling foreign nations about convictions for criminal offences in the UK.

29. Shatterface

Nobody is ‘forced’ to work over 48 hours but many are paid shit wages that make life unlivable without taking on extra work.

Most people in my office work 37 hours a week but many have second jobs – and we’re nowhere near as shittily paid a security guards, cleaners, etc.

That’s the important question here – how will this system operate in practice and under what restrictions.

When I worked in a job which involved access to that sort of information we had to be able to produce an operational justification. e.g. if a suspect got into a car you could run the registration through the machine but not if someone took out your wing mirror but didn’t stop. The latter query would have been a disciplinary or even a sackable offence. The logs were audited on a regular basis. So, unless the guidance has changed radically, random fishing expeditions to see if someone was convicted of being disrespectful to the Luxembourg national flag, or whatever, will remain off limits.

What it probably means, in most instances, is that if the fuzz are surveilling the local gangland Mr Big and he meets up with a German national, they’ll be able to dial him up on the database and find that said German national has several convictions for, say, heroin trafficking.Then they can infer that the ‘big job’ they’ve heard is in the pipeline involves a shipment of heroin. This would be quite useful.

Apropos, the holocaust denial thing it’s hardly difficult to think of instances in which it might be useful for the police to know someone has a conviction in that area but they do have to have an operational justification to go looking. I’d be surprised if the bit of Special Branch which looks after the far right doesn’t have contacts with their opposite numbers on the continent about that sort of thing already.

In terms of the LPUK bloggers going mad about this, they’ve made a specific error:

They’ve counted ‘penalties’ (such as ‘fines’) as ‘crimes’ and not read the bit at the top that says quite clearly the point here is to give penalities & crimes pan-european codes so that when criminal records are shared, the crimes are properly understood.

Really it’s just very very sloppy research and knee-jerk reactions. Bad for the blogosphere, and I think they’ve let themselves down.

I blogged about this a few minutes ago not realising something was already posted here.

“If you mean overtime, then that’s true for a (although there aren’t many 48+ hour jobs where overtime is paid). If you mean promotion, then it isn’t. And b is complete nonsense: there’s absolutely nothing preventing you from doing so.”

I was thinking of jobs that pay high salaries due to long hours worked e.g. city law firms.

“What business is it of MPs in Yorkshire to vote on working hours in London?”

I agree with this point, I’m all for maximum localisation.

However, to answer from the perspective of someone who isn’t, Yorkshire and London are in the same country. People are far more willing to have laws voted on by other people in the same nation state than the same Continent. Indeed, following your logic, why not allow the Chinese or Argentianians to have a vote on our laws and allow us to vote on theirs? Do you really think people would be happy with that?

There isn’t a European nation but there is a British nation. Why else do you think there is a Eurosceptic movement but not a Yorkshire-sceptic movement?

“And b is complete nonsense: there’s absolutely nothing preventing you from doing so.”

One way to compete is to work longer hours – it allows you to get more work done for clients in a shorter period of time.

You are still avoiding the principle issue – why should I be denied the choice to work longer hours without having to fiddle my timesheets?

You are still avoiding the principle issue – why should I be denied the choice to work longer hours without having to fiddle my timesheets?

Because the harm issue outweighs the principle issue.

If you work in a City law firm and wish to work more than 48 hours in a week to gain an advantage over your colleagues, under the EU legislation there would be absolutely nothing preventing you from doing so (literally: it’s not an offence for the individual, and the company can only be expected to act if it *knows* you’re working over those hours). You lose nothing.

If you work in a City law firm and don’t wish to work more than 48 hours in a week, then you can use the EU legislation to protect you from having to do so. This may mean you get less work done than someone who doesn’t mind doing the extra hours (although based on my experience of working in extreme-long-hours cultures, it probably won’t: for most people most of the time, late working is about looking like ‘the right sort of person’, rather than actually achieving anything productive), in which case you’ll probably perform less well than them. But you get to keep the job (at least, unless there’s a redundancy process and you’re identified as a bottom-tier performer), and hence have lost nothing. Whereas under the current legislation, you’d be fired.

There isn’t a European nation but there is a British nation. Why else do you think there is a Eurosceptic movement but not a Yorkshire-sceptic movement?

Hmm. Are working time regulations devolved in Scotland and Wales, or is that a reserved issue?

36. Shatterface

I’m not interested in whether rich people CHOOSE to work themselves to a heart attack or not but I am concerned if poorer people are effectively FORCED to work longer hours in order to make enough money to live on: it’s this exploitation that the law is supposed to prevent.

Longer hours bring lower wages for those on the povert line.

I’m not interested in whether rich people CHOOSE to work themselves to a heart attack or not but I am concerned if poorer people are effectively FORCED to work longer hours in order to make enough money to live on: it’s this exploitation that the law is supposed to prevent.

That’s an accurate and more succinct summary of what I was trying to say @ 33, good stuff.

Richard,

What business is it of representatives of other countries to vote on the working hours in my country and vice versa?

Because ‘we’ agreed with them that they could do so.

With respect you lost me there Richard. There are a lot of problems with the EU, but that we freely signed up to it isn’t among them.

There isn’t a European nation but there is a British nation. Why else do you think there is a Eurosceptic movement but not a Yorkshire-sceptic movement?

Note that there is a movement for Cornish self-government!

“With respect you lost me there Richard. There are a lot of problems with the EU, but that we freely signed up to it isn’t among them.”

We freely signed up to what was then a free trade area. Fact is that most people in this country, while against EU withdrawal, want a “looser” relationship with the EU i.e. open markets but fewer European regulations. The idea situation would be to have the sort of agreement that EFTA members have with each other (but not the agreement they have with the EU via the EEA).

“If you work in a City law firm and wish to work more than 48 hours in a week to gain an advantage over your colleagues, under the EU legislation there would be absolutely nothing preventing you from doing so (literally: it’s not an offence for the individual, and the company can only be expected to act if it *knows* you’re working over those hours). You lose nothing.”

I was talking about firms competing with other firms rather than people within firms. If a 48 hour week was adopted salaries would go down and business would be lost.

“’m not interested in whether rich people CHOOSE to work themselves to a heart attack or not but I am concerned if poorer people are effectively FORCED to work longer hours in order to make enough money to live on: it’s this exploitation that the law is supposed to prevent.”

Then find a way to prevent exploitation that doesn’t involve shafting people who choose to work longer hours.

In addition to my above comments, if a 48 hour week would be harmless to the economy, why has the Labour Government maintained our opt-opt?

“We freely signed up to what was then a free trade area. Fact is that most people in this country, while against EU withdrawal, want a “looser” relationship with the EU i.e. open markets but fewer European regulations. ”

Classic right wing free trade bullshit. “We demand the right to have total access to sell our goods in your country, but you can have no influence over our country. ”

It is the old right wing demand of free movement of capital, but not people.

Richard that because this country has a culture of long hours which gives it a competitive advantage ( not in the public sector of course). This legislation is of course an attack on freedoms as a Company will not be able to operate in such a way as to allow it without opening themselves to legal action.
This , should it be allowed , will not be optional and what will happen is what always happens . People that work for Large companies will get made unemployed people that work in the public sector will get featherbeded and those of us in small companies ie the ones who pay for anything will be working all night same as before . Johns idea that a Company will be able to trade with long hours expected and avoid getting in the merde is a fantasy.
UK Liberty you jest , we signed up to a Common Market we did not sign up to having continental socialism imposed on us by unaccountable foreigners. How can you say such a thing when the Labour Party and their Liberal lackeys denied us a referendum on the basis that they were going to lose it . At least it was nice and simple I suppose

Johns idea that a Company will be able to trade with long hours expected and avoid getting in the merde is a fantasy.

I spent a month working on secondment for a consulting firm in France. The idea that a company will be able to trade with long hours expected and avoid getting in the merde is *what fucking happens*.

“How can you say such a thing when the Labour Party and their Liberal lackeys denied us a referendum on the basis that they were going to lose it . At least it was nice and simple I suppose”

Priceless! The Tory troll wants to lecture on a referendum.

Did the Tory party offer a referendum when they took us into the EU?
Did the Tory party offer a referendum when they signed the European single act?
Did the Tory party offer a referendum when they signed the Marstrict treaty?
NO, NO , and NO

The Tory party has NEVER offered the people of this country a referendum on Europe so their whining for a referendum now is classic Tory hypocrisy.

Doesn’t stop the point being true though, does it Sally? Crying hypocrisy is fairly hypocritical in itself if you view their argument being there to hide their own historical failings.

I spent a month working on secondment for a consulting firm in France. The idea that a company will be able to trade with long hours expected and avoid getting in the merde is *what fucking happens*.
literally: it’s not an offence for the individual, and the company can only be expected to act if it *knows* you’re working over those hours

Well that sounds solid and we all know how well EU law has meshed with UK law in the past don’t we
Explain to me then where this work will be coming from unless it is from the Company ? Explain how it will be that the Company is subject to virtually strict Liability for all employee injury , for example is discovered to have had people there all weekend as a regular practice and someone goes nuts and take them to court . You are sure are you that the fact the Company knew what was happening was inevitably complicit in it and allowed it will not get them into the picture .I think I might just want the opinion of someone who had an even better background than the none whatso-fucking -ever you bring to the table .

I `ve got a good idea , why not do something really radical and have debated in fucking Parliament where we can get some fucking scrutiny and see who is fucking responsible. Or is that a bit democratic for you ?

* he said sweetly *

Classic right wing free trade bullshit. “We demand the right to have total access to sell our goods in your country, but you can have no influence over our country. ”

Actually we’re saying that they can have total access to our markets too. How is that unfair? They don’t put taxes on our imports, we don’t put taxes on theirs.

“It is the old right wing demand of free movement of capital, but not people.”

Actually I think you’ll find restrictions on movements of people are popular across the population – about 70% in most opinion polls. I doubt that 70% are all right-wing. Conversely I suspect there is much less support for restrictions on capital – people don’t like being told how much money they can take abroad or being forced to pay more for cheap foreign goods.

By the way, are you capable of arguing without shouting and insulting everyone? You seem to have one mother-sized chipon your shoulder judging by the nature of most of your posts.

Sally whatever the motives of Heath he had the overwhelming backing if the Conservative Party at the time on the basis of a verty sound belief in free trade modernisation and security . I think sacrificing the country wasnot concieved of by the rank and file . Time shall we say , have changed , you cannot as a Conservative MP attend any party meeting now without being repeatedly asked when we are going to re negotiate . Wilson did not demur except on the terms of entry and not on the grounds of democracy but on the grounds of the deal we got . . The way this was finessed though Parliament was an astonishing story of secret collaboration between Labour pro marketers and Heath .
Labour MP`s went though the entire process not being there is sufficient numbers to avoid disposer of vote rigging . It is a dark chapter admittedly and very like the recent Liberal manoeuvring on Lisbon. Its odd to look back and se Enoch Powell and Tony Benn united against it , no wonder so many were persuaded that it was a lunatic fringe . That line of attack has persisted ever since

So I accept some of what you say but you are playing a game with time The left of the Labour Party then were the most opposed to Europe . By the time of Masstricht the Conservative Party were certainly a lot more Euro-sceptic than Labour and today they are the only Party that cares about national sovereignty at all. Its an interesting tale ,but the fact is it has happened, and a long time ago.The Conservative Party are now in the happy position of reflecting the views of the British people while the other two have to lie and obfuscate

“Doesn’t stop the point being true though, does it Sally? Crying hypocrisy is fairly hypocritical in itself if you view their argument being there to hide their own historical failings.”

No it is not true, but then I would not expect you to undertand. No, not the great fence sitter of old England. There is never a Tory troll that Lee won’t go out of his way to defend. The great university debater who believes in absolute nothing except that the quality of the debate must be paramount. Becuase anything else means making a stand or taking sides, and poor little Lee can’t do that.

Sometimes, just sometimes, the internet hurts any faith I have in humanity.

Becuase anything else means making a stand or taking sides, and poor little Lee can’t do that.

As I understand it Sally you and I are on the same side here so you have not picked the best moment to accuse LG or doctrinal impurity.

Hugs XX

Whenever I listen to one of Sally’s ironic trolling rants in which she appears to believe she is being awfully clever, I can’t help but imagine her as Angelica out of Rugrats. I don’t quite know why, but it seems apt.

Oh great, now we’ve got an alliance of someone who believes that the UKIP party political broadcast was real and someone who believes the Jewish Lobby is a threat to us all.

Can they combine to form a superior fighting force?

54. douglas clark

Richard @ 47,

You really are advocating your opinions without recognising any counter-arguements, aren’t you?

You have completely avoided the question of the inherent lack of balance between employer and employee, in any modern era economy, haven’t you? This was a failing, starting around post 2., when you started to want to work your fingers to the bone on behalf of your employer:

The EU wants to prevent me from working more than 48 hours a week.

But you move on, don’t you? By post 31, you are a committed slave:

Some of us like to work longer hours to (a) receive more money and (b) compete with our rivals. Restrictions on working hours unjustifiably prevent us from doing either of these.

Post 32: Yess…Master.

One way to compete is to work longer hours – it allows you to get more work done for clients in a shorter period of time.

Post 39: – two quotes, just for variety:

If a 48 hour week was adopted salaries would go down and business would be lost.

and

Then find a way to prevent exploitation that doesn’t involve shafting people who choose to work longer hours.

Post 47: You have your own plans, ha ha., ‘Just let me move my gold, master.’

Actually I think you’ll find restrictions on movements of people are popular across the population – about 70% in most opinion polls. I doubt that 70% are all right-wing. Conversely I suspect there is much less support for restrictions on capital – people don’t like being told how much money they can take abroad or being forced to pay more for cheap foreign goods.

Which I think truly says what a completely wrong headed person you actually are. I bet none of the UK diaspora living throughout Europe would agree with a word of that.

Money makes the world go ’round, etc…

Avoid the heart attack and you’ll be fine, mate. And stuff the common working man.

“You have completely avoided the question of the inherent lack of balance between employer and employee, in any modern era economy, haven’t you? This was a failing, starting around post 2., when you started to want to work your fingers to the bone on behalf of your employer:”

I don’t work my fingers to the bone, it’s just that the nature of my work sometimes requires me to work longer than 9:30-5:30. This may be because I either have to work non-stop or because the afternoon is quiet and then work arrives in the evening. The firm where I work would be severely damaged if a 48 hour week limit were introduced. The employer-employee relationship doesn’t interest me, I just resent being told how many hours I can work. I do not feel exploited, I get paid a decent amount for working the hours I do, an amount that would go down if this legislation was introduced.

“But you move on, don’t you? By post 31, you are a committed slave”

Nope, if I wanted to I could move to a job with nicer hours and less work. Problem is I wouldn’t get paid as much. That’s the great thing about the current op-out we have, I get to choose.

“Post 47: You have your own plans, ha ha., ‘Just let me move my gold, master.’”

How about addressing the point rather than making silly comments?

“Which I think truly says what a completely wrong headed person you actually are. I bet none of the UK diaspora living throughout Europe would agree with a word of that. ”

How am I wrong-headed for factually pointing out that opinion poll show a majority in this country are opposed to uncontrolled immigration despite the fact that the majority of the population is certainly not right-wing? Indeed, many in the UK diaspora name immigration as a reason for emmigrating!

“Avoid the heart attack and you’ll be fine, mate. And stuff the common working man.”

No chance of a heart attack, my hours aren’t THAT long. And I have no wish to stuff the common working man, I’ve always found him to be a very sensible person. Indeed, many small-businessmen earn no more than the “common working man” and would be damaged by the opt-out being ended. It isn’t just the rich who have to work long hours.

“You really are advocating your opinions without recognising any counter-arguements, aren’t you?”

I recognise the counter-arguments, I just happen to have philosophical, practical and personal objections to them. I don’t believe it is the government’s or EU’s business to limit hours, I believe ending the op-out would harm our economy and I’m damn sure ending the op-out would negatively affect me, and I ain’t one of your capitalist exploiters.

The Working Time Directive is an attempt to restrict working hours on a pan-EU basis.

Part of the intention is to “create a level playing field” economically among EU nations but I would argue that such a result is a) impossible and b) undesirable.

Neither a supra-state authority nor a national government (nor anybody else) should legitimately be able to dictate to me how many hours I contract to work for my employer. That is a personal matter between me and them and there is no coercion involved on either side.

Provided the contract created does not harm the public good (and it does not) it is a consensual contractual arrangement freely entered into by both parties and the ability to transact such contractual agreements is a fundamental human right.

It’s simple really.

58. douglas clark

Richard at 56,

You really aren’t up for metaphor, are you? It is pretty obvious that if you really, really did work your fingers to the bone then you’d be dead of gangrine or some such, shortly thereafter. So, my metaphor failed.

Let me try to work through this.

You say:

The firm where I work would be severely damaged if a 48 hour week limit were introduced.

Can I suggest to you that they ought to be paying a living wage for reasonable hours, and not expecting anyone to have to do ridiculous hours to feel worthwhile? Can I suggest that you are, in fact, being exploited?

Let me tell you a story.

I had a friend that worked for a company called, oh, I conveniently forget. They had a base in Ayrshire, and he bloody loved them. And I do believe he made a tad more than the national average wage. .And they worked him to a joke of what I imagine he once was – take that as read – just before they pulled out. He was just as ambitious as I suspect you are. And he ended up dead at 59. Dead before his time and worn out through loyalty.

We had him for the last few years of his life, and never ever did he say a word against the company that had killed him. Stockholm syndrome, we called it

Onwards and upwards:

Look, I want to address the point you are making about freedom of capital and the relative lack of freedom of labour, but you are making it very difficult.

You say:

How about addressing the point rather than making silly comments?

because you are some sort of silly comment yourself. As far as I can see. It seems to me that when it comes to emmigration, we are quite satisfied, we the Brits should be able to retire to Spain or Italy or wherever we like.

You said:

Indeed, many in the UK diaspora name immigration as a reason for emmigrating!

As though that was some sort of victory for common sense, or something.

Do you not see the fundamental iniquity of that?

I may want to go to Europe, but fuck these Europeans coming here.

It is a perpetrated nonsense, on here and elsewhere.

Look, I am asking you to look out for yourself, and not buy into a masochistic relationship with an exploitative employer.

For they’ll be around far after you.

Look for a better job.

59. Shatterface

…OT, I know (though so is almost everything written above: how did we get on the 48 hour week?) but now those who fail to pay child maintenance may lose their jobs if they depend on driving: how will this help their kids? They will also lose the right to travel abroad, though convicted criminals will not.

This is what ‘joined up government’ entails: absolute power over every aspect of your life.

“Can I suggest to you that they ought to be paying a living wage for reasonable hours, and not expecting anyone to have to do ridiculous hours to feel worthwhile? Can I suggest that you are, in fact, being exploited?”

I get a very decent wage for the hours I do. I would still get a living wage if I worked fewer hours, I just prefer the extra cash.

“Look, I want to address the point you are making about freedom of capital and the relative lack of freedom of labour, but you are making it very difficult.”

I think the problem we have here is that my original point on this issue was aimed at something that sally said. She appeared to paint about 70% of people in this country as “right-wing” for opposing mass immigration but not free movement of goods. I should have just ignored the trolling.

Funnily enough opposition to entry to the EEC was a strange alliance from the off . Tony Benn , Enoch Powell , the respectable left of the Labour Party and the a miscellany of right wing objectors ….oh yes and De Gaulle of course whose opposition to our entry indefatigable . Basically its the political establishment who like it as it gives them a seat at what they see as a top table -plus all sorts of personal goodies . A Gallup Poll in 1970 showed that15 % of the country were in favour of another attempt to join and the issue did not figure at all in the election

This shows the extent to which it has always been a project driven by and for an elite who do what tey want and ask afterwards as many times as is required Labour and Conservatives were involved but the villain in chief was indeed Heath..

Interesting views

Educate us please


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