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10 reasons why Daniel Hannan needs a new record on the EU


8:21 am - December 23rd 2009

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contribution by Left Outside

Tory MEP Dan Hannan has a dreadful top ten reasons to leave the EU (H/T Thomas Byrne). I hold no love for the EU but I hold Dan in even deeper disdain. This list has not changed my mind.

1. Since we joined the EEC in 1973, we have been in surplus with every continent in the world except Europe. Over those 27 years, we have run a trade deficit with the other member states that averages out at £30 million per day.

Correlation is not Causality. Perhaps, just perhaps, not being in a free trade area with other European states would have lead us to run a worse deficit with the rest of the world. Perhaps, just perhaps, allowing UK Governments to protect inefficient UK firms would have lead us to run smaller surpluses with other continents. I certainly don’t know; evidently neither does Dan Hannan.

2. In 2010 our gross contribution to the EU budget will be £14 billion. To put this figure in context, all the reductions announced by George Osborne at the Conservative Party Conference would, collectively, save £7 billion a year across the whole of government spending.

To pretend that it is possible to work out the exact gross contribution of the UK to the EU is to ignore all the economics you might have ever learned. You would have to map the workings of a continent-wide multi-national economy. Dan Hannan doesn’t believe any state planner can do that (and they can’t) and I don’t believe he can (and he can’t).

3. On the European Commission’s own figures, the annual costs of EU regulation outweigh the advantages of the single market by €600 to €180 billion.

The fact that this figure is so different to the one above suggests that, rather than working from a coherent set of beliefs, Dan is picking whatever Euroskeptic statistics catch his eye.

4. The Common Agricultural Policy costs every family £1200 a year in higher food bills.

Probably true actually. I’ll let Dan have this one (how magnanimous of me!). The CAP is an interesting bugbear of just about everyone on the left and right and if Dan Hannan could provide some sources – which he hasn’t done – he may even be able to prove the figure given is accurate or at all relevant.

5. Outside the Common Fisheries Policy, Britain could reassert control over its waters out to 200 miles or the median line, which would take in around 65 per cent of North Sea stocks.

And yet, we would still be faced with a situation where fisherman are fighting for the right to overfish their waters. The EU is dreadful at managing its fisheries, but Dan has provided us with no reason to convince us that the UK in a condition of anarchy could do better. Although its entirely possible to manage natural resources by voluntary arrangement, important matters also lend themselves to global or regional governance too.

6. Successive British governments have refused to say what proportion of domestic laws come from Brussels, but a thorough analysis by the German Federal Justice Ministry showed that 84 per cent of the legislation in that country came from the EU.

No! For Christ’s sake he can’t believe its fair to compare one analysis of Germany’s legislative position with our own?! Oh, propaganda you say? Well that’s fine then, continue!

7. Outside the EU, Britain would be free to negotiate much more liberal trade agreements with third countries than is possible under the Common External Tariff.

Possibly, but would we have? Before joining the EU we were still set on a semi-Imperial trajectory. Dominions, colonies and the common wealth gained preferential treatment and our post 1930s Ottawa Conference world may not have given way to our free trade heritage as Dan Hannan fantasises.

8. The countries with the highest GDP per capita in Europe are Norway and Switzerland. Both export more, proportionately, to the EU, than Britain does.

What?! Nor-massive Natural Gas reserves-way and Switzer-banking hub-land? Once again, I think Dan is confusing correlation and causality.

9. Outside the EU, Britain could be a deregulated, competitive, offshore haven.

The idea that we are not an already heavily deregulated economy is a little silly. We are far from the ideal Devils Kitchen or Charlotte Gore might want to see, but compared to the actually existing capitalist world we are not overly burden by regulation (I’m a little lost as to how Dan thinks leaving the EU will make us more offshore than we already are).

10. Oh, and we’d be a democracy again.

This seems somewhat at odd with point 9. The great deregulated, competitive offshore havens tend to be fairly undemocratic. Whether it is illiberal but tidy Singapore, wealthy but undemocratic Hong Kong or sponsored by Lord Ashcroft Belize the “deregulated, competitive, offshore haven[s]” Dan describes are rarely democratic. I know I’ve harangued Dan for his confusion of correlation of causality but there are lots of reasons to suggest that liberal economics and democracy are not particular compatible.

Conclusion
Contrary to what you have read Dan Hannan is an intelligent man, and he must surely know that some of his Top Ten reasons to leave the EU are based on distortion and outright speculation. He knows that even those that are based on actual facts are so augmented by guesswork and historic counterfactuals that no one could seriously consider them for inclusion in any sort of Top Ten.

This post was about firing up a base of Euroskeptics who will believe almost any anti-EU propaganda fed to them. Sadly it appears that Dan Hannan is far more interested in being popular than in being accurate.

There is also a point-by-point rebuttal by Shamik Das at Left Foot Forward
——–
Published also at Left Outside blog

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Reader comments


I think you’ll have to do a better deomlition job than this.

1 – agree with you, we’re in deficit with Japan too no doubt!
2 – the contribution to the EU *budget* is a matter of fact, isn’t it?
3 – these are the costs borne by business of conforming to EU regulations which otherwise they would not have to bear (number is from the competition commissioner) so a different concept from 2 altogether
4 – everyone agrees on this
5 – more or less agree with you
6 – relates to 3, though agree the %age game is silly
7 – who knows, but you can’t rule it out so glibly and given free trade was the zeitgeist of the 80’s onwards it seems more than likely
8 – agree with you
9 – we would at least have the choice, wouldn’t we?
10 – isn’t that Tony Benn’s point too, not just Hannan’s?

Of course the reason why both Benn and Hannan hate the EU is that it is an insuperable barrier to any sharp move for the UK to *either* left or right…

3 “which otherwise they would not have to bear” – assuming that the UK had no regulations of any sort on anything, *and* that none of our export markets had any regulations of any sort on anything. Which is a stupid thing to assume.

Otherwise, yeah. This piece is weaker than Left Foot Forward’s demolition job yesterday.

(I hate the way websites force you to add “http” to links. No, I’d like to fucking *telnet* to that site, obviously. Stupid geeks and their Aspergers-y rule-following. Corrected link here.)

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this post is that none of your points of rebuttal are actually rebuttals; they’re a combination of “I’m no expert, but neither is Hannan” bluster and “WTF?”-type dismissal.

Just to take a couple of examples, To #6 your “rebuttal” is, “For Christ’s sake he can’t believe its fair to compare one analysis of Germany’s legislative position with our own?!”. But that doesn’t actually answer his point, far less disprove it. In the absence of any similar governmental studies in this country, the German example is actually highly relevant.

Or #7, where Hannan says that without EU membership we would be free to neogitiated liberal trade pacts with other countries. Obviously whether we actually went on to do this would depend on who was running the country – but unless you’re expecting it to be Harold Macmillan or Anthony Eden I can’t really see what all that stuff about “post-Imperial trade preference” is supposed to mean.

At least Nosemonkey, the post you linked to, actually answered these type of objections to EU membership, rather than just asserting that they are crap without any proof. I could go on but this is your comment box not my blog, so I won’t.

I wrote this in under 20 minutes on an evening after I just got in from a 50 minute trek home from work in the snow. What I wanted to try to show was that one of the “UK’s Top Euroskeptics”TM couldn’t put together even 10 reasons which pass though a basic logic or fact check.

Left Food Forward’s piece is very good. But it was such a pitiful list in the first place I think Left Foot Forward have given it too much credence in writing such a thorough deconstruction. Its propaganda, not a policy position. It needs to be mocked as much as deconstructed.

Well he is winning my vote, the question is of course will the EU benefit us, not the million who want to come here for work or benefits.

Right now all I hear in my area is Polish, when I visit the job center the Polish employment line is long , the line for me to get work as a cripple is closed until April, they need the adviser to help get the Polish people back to work.

god help us all.

Hannan is a self-serving cretin and nothing he says is to be taken in the least bit seriously. And I wish you’d find out at least a few basic facts about the CAP before expressing opinions on it.

2. Of course we can work out what the gross contribution is. The Government sends a cheque of that amount. We know very well what that is.

3. An entirely different point and one that anybody who had ever learnt any economics (as opposed to forgetting it) would recognise. There are costs and benefits to all actions. What we’d like to know is what actually are they?

Can we stop pretending that there is a UK government contribution to the EU? The UK government collects money that is destined for the EU. It is not and never was the UK government’s money, even though Mrs Thatcher kept saying it was. It’s a bit like saying that all income tax collected from Londoners belongs to Boris.

The EU is a lot better at spending money than the UK government, which uses it for things like ID cards, e-borders, CCTV, PCSOs, illegal wars and all the other wonderful things “we” apparently need. I’d much rather the EU had it.

Fine bit of fisking that and we’ve not had a Hannan post for bloody ages.

BURN THE WITCH!

But it was such a pitiful list in the first place I think Left Foot Forward have given it too much credence in writing such a thorough deconstruction. Its propaganda, not a policy position. It needs to be mocked as much as deconstructed.

Exactly.

“The EU is a lot better at spending money than the UK government, ”

What? What is it, 41% of the EU’s income is spent on the entirely vile and counterproductive CAP? To name but just one program?

Jeepers, not even I believe that the UK government spends £250 billion* or so on things that are actively harmful.

* 41% of the budget that is.

@4, ITYM in the absence it *would be* relevant. Nosemonkey’s post has a plethora of studies and proxy measures, all of which demonstrate conclusively that 80%+ estimates are ridiculous nonsense.

41% of the EU’s budget is spent on the CAP because the CAP is the only actual policy area run by the EU. So of course it takes a large proportion of its budget. To keep trotting out the percentage (which is much lower than it used to be) is not a valid argument for or against the EU or the CAP.

“To keep trotting out the percentage (which is much lower than it used to be) is not a valid argument for or against the EU or the CAP.”

Eh? That the only “actual policy area run by the EU” is entirely vile, counterproductive and crap is not a valid argument against the EU? Or CAP?

That the one policy area they’ve managed to get their hands on they’ve managed to entirely fuck up to the detriment of the lives of hundreds of millions of human beings is not an argument against them?

What, you think it’s an argument in favour of them getting their hands on more policy areas then?

Don’t you eat food then Mr Worstall?

“Don’t you eat food”

???

CAP is solely responsible for the existence of food? Before CAP there was no food? In those parts of the world without CAP there is no food?

Jeepers.

Good article. One small correction @ 10. Belize is very much a democracy and always has been since independence. Democratic and independent enough to nationalise Lord Ashcroft’s telephone company earlier this year, in fact.

“9. Outside the EU, Britain could be a deregulated, competitive, offshore haven.”
Shorter Hannan ” Lets have a race to the bottom.”

Oh, and in addition he is saying “lets get our sovereignty back, so we can give it away again in extreme free trade agreements. See, that is why I take with a large pinch of salt all the blah, blah, blah about sovereignty from the Right wing. They would just give it away to GAT and free trade agremmnets that also destroy our right to govern ourseves.

You can’t be for extreme free trade and democracy at the same time. The two things are condritictry. But the Right does not really belive in democracy, they just want far right wing policies and if they can only get them by giving our sovereignty to unelected American multi nationals then that is fine by them.

While I am a fan of Dan’s I have to admit to not knowing where his £1,200 figure for the CAP comes from. This blog’s favourite pressure group, the Taxpayers’ Alliance, produced a report (http://www.taxpayersalliance.com/CAP.pdf) that put the cost at £400 per year.

That said, I do agree with a lot of his points – although in terms of deregulation I get the feeling he’s hoping that we would follow a ‘small government’ path upon leaving the EU, which isn’t overly likely.

Back from work and another 50 minute walk through the snow, and the nice looking Chianti I was given by work is corked.[1] Merry Christmas!

Anyway, back to Hannan.

My beef boils down to one thing. Given that Point 10 is mostly rhetoric, we have a top nine reasons to leave the EU. And they just aren’t that good. Even a cursory glance would tell anyone whose mind is not already made up already that its a poor list. It lacks references (the CAP figure for example), it lacks logic (the fisheries proposal for example), it relies on counterfactuals which prove very little (the import/export surplus/deficit point for example).

I would have loved to have spent more time really fisking but Left Foot Forward got there first.

@Tim Worstall I can understand you taking Dan’s side, if you are in fact taking anyone’s side, but you must be disappointed that one of the figureheads of the “UK out of the EU” club has put together such a poor list. Also:

“Don’t you eat food”

???

CAP is solely responsible for the existence of food? Before CAP there was no food? In those parts of the world without CAP there is no food?

Jeepers.

LOL

[1] I’ve opened an Aussie Shiraz so I should be okay now.

“While I am a fan of Dan’s ……..”

So we can ignore you then.

“such a poor list”

Disappointed yes.

1) Arguing that trade surpluses are a good thing is terribly stupid. Surprised to see him making that mistake. Imports are the point, the benefit, of trade. Exports are just the shite we do to pay for them.

2) Gross contribution isn’t important. Nett is, maybe.

3) This is important for it talks to the nett costs of the whole shebang. Which as every fule kno is about what are, well, all the costs and all the benefits. The cost of regulation is obviously a cost of the system. Some like to think that Germany not invading France again is a benefit of the EU: I prefer to point out that last time they actually took France and won’t make that mistake again. Obviously not worth the candle.

4) That’s been around for a while that number. It’s, I think, a Think Tank number but no, it’s not TPA. But generally regarded as sound. £25 a week per household.

5) You’re right about Ostrom….or even Hardin. We’ve a Commons Tragedy here and it clearly needs managing. The successful fisheries are those that go with an Ostrom/private property type mix (Faroes, Iceland etc). And that also requires that it’s done reasonably locally (note that Ostrom herself doesn’t think that the informal collective agreements can work over a few thousand participants). Not centrally for 500 million people. So it won’t be solved while it’s the EU trying to do the solving. In short, it’s not just that the EU have been crap at this it’s that the EU is the wrong scale to try and deal with the problem.

6) But he’s right: the Government always has refused to say….

7) No, he does have a point. for we’d still be WTO members. You have to treat all WTO members the same and you can’t put trade barriers up to a WTO member. The only legal direction of movement is down.

8) Well, he’s wrong actually, it’s Luxembourg. BTW, finance is a smaller part of the Swiss economy than it is of the UK’s. Their exports are more like German: capital machinery.

9) We are heavily regulated: see point 3).

10) Eh? Democracy and light regulation are incompatible? You’re aware that Sweden and Denmark are more lightly regulated (even if more heavily taxed) than the UK in many ways? No minimum wage etc? And you’re aware that their tax systems accord more closely with market liberal economics than our own? Lower taxes on capital, lower taxation of corporate profits? Taxes mainly levied upon incomes and then even higher again on consumption? Exactly what a liberal economist would propose for an open economy?

My own list would go on a bit about Roman and Civil law and the near insane task of trying to graft one onto the other. And I’d be a great deal ruder. For example, I tried to get UKIP to use this as a poster idea: A photo of Barroso with the caption “Would you buy a used Constitution from this man?”

Well, it made me laugh anyway..

” Eh? Democracy and light regulation are incompatible?”

Try again, What I said was …….Democracy and free trade are incompatible.

If you have given the people’s rights to regulate themselves away by signing up to free trade agreements with other countries, then you don’t believe in democracy. Thatcher talked about socialism by the back door. Global Free trade is a right wing wet dream by the back door.

Which is why to start with Conservatives were such supporters of the EU. They liked the idea of free trade in Europe, and being run by un elected bankers. This is why Conservatives like trading with China, a military dictatorship that outlaws unions, and most regulations. They see the way it is stripping away workers rights in the west. ……(If you don’t obey we will move your job to China.)

The great race to the bottom is now on.

Ok, lets hear 10 reasons to be IN the EU…………….

Correlation is not causality. Exactly what Ed Wegman said when he critcised many of the paleoclimate community for their lack of understanding of statistics.

When it comes to fish stocks Canada and Norway appear better at this task than the EU.

Peter Shore and Tonny Benn have criticised the EU for a lack of democracy. Even Shirley Williams respected Peter Sore’s arguments.

The EEC/EU developed before international trade talks such as GATT and WTO .
Therefore how much benefit does the EU actually provide now, to the UK.

Surely one of the problems is the high unemployment in the EU. Increasing the skill base of the EU and removing any laws which increases the cost and deters employment, surely should be greatly reduced. The danger is that in France much graduate employment is dependent on who one knows. The various employment laws deter small and family companies fron expanding by taking on more staff.

The danger is that the EU benefits middle class people who work for the state sector,not working class people employed in industry or agriculture.

“If you have given the people’s rights to regulate themselves away by signing up to free trade agreements with other countries, then you don’t believe in democracy.”

Eh? Free trade is simply saying that of the various car manufacturers around the world I should be able to choose whichever one I wish for the car that I’m going to buy. Ditto pizzas, vegetables, windmills, banking services and any and every thing else.

*I* get to choose, I the consumer. I get to vote with my money.

Now, if you’re saying that democracy is incompatible with this, that which car, vegetable, pizza, windmill or banking service I should be *allowed* to buy is to be determined by, what, it’s not even majority vote now, is it? , *democratic means* then, well, you can fuck right off with your tyranny of the majority and I’ll take the free trade thank you.

Democracy is great for many things but determining what manufacturer I can buy my ice cream from doesn’t strike me as
one of them.

“Eh? Free trade is simply saying that of the various car manufacturers around the world I should be able to choose whichever one I wish for the car that I’m going to buy. Ditto pizzas, vegetables, windmills, banking services and any and every thing else”.

Er no it’s not. Freee trade means aligning or ideally abolishing import and other taxes such that goods flow dependent on market forces, rather than regulation. Strangely, despite us bothe being in the EU, I’m not allowed to buy turkish cigarettes on the internet, so it’s not quite happened yet.

“*I* get to choose, I the consumer. I get to vote with my money.”

Yes, it’s all…… I got mine, fuck you, with you people isn’t it.

You don’t give a flying toss for the people who have to make your car, pizza, corn flakes. Those are the people who get screwed over in your Rand …..race to the bottom.

“well, you can fuck right off with your tyranny of the majority and I’ll take the free trade thank you.”

Thanks for proving my point. Just as I said….. Democracy and free trade are incompatible.

“You don’t give a flying toss for the people who have to make your car, pizza, corn flakes. Those are the people who get screwed over in your Rand …..race to the bottom.”

Well the people you buy stuff from benefit from the exchange. Otherwise they wouldn’t do it. Hence global trade is one of the best ways of raising up the standards of the least well off in the world. As for race to the bottom, it is pretty much the strategy of all those horrible scandinavian countries like Sweden and Denmark: deregulate but redistribute.

I do feel sorry for people like Sally, whose arguments are so threadbare she can only attract attention by means of her foul mouth. Her latest outburst is totally incomprehensible.
Can she please express herself in proper English so as to facilitate rebuttal….

“Er no it’s not. Freee trade means aligning or ideally abolishing import and other taxes such that goods flow dependent on market forces,”

What do you think market forces are other than the expressed will in aggregate of individuals?

Sally is a US right wing troll-bot, programmed specifically to make the left look dumb.

Merry Christmas.

cjcjcjcjcjcjcjcj is a UK right wing troll-bot, programmed specifically to make the right look dumb.

Merry Christmas!

“Hence global trade is one of the best ways of raising up the standards of the least well off in the world”

Those Chinese dissidents must be delighted.

Sally is a US right wing troll-bot, programmed specifically to make the left look dumb

But there right-whingers who speww bullshit every day for a living like Rod Liddle, Melanie Phillips, Carole Malone, Richard Littlejohn and James Delingpole – funny you never say anything about that…


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  1. Liberal Conspiracy

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    Daniel Hannan is a gimp. http://tinyurl.com/y8zrpo3 http://tinyurl.com/yefu725 http://tinyurl.com/yagk8e5

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