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When Euroscepticism becomes Euro-Paranoia


This is an absolutely absurd piece of fodder. It turns out the most powerful man in the UK is Jose Manuel Barrosso. A BBC poll put the head of the EU Commission at the top of the list of power-brokers in the UK. The spin being put on it by Nick Robinson is that it is a signal of many peoples view of the EU as too powerful (given he got 22% of the vote, that seems unlikely).

Commenting on the Who Runs Britain? poll, Roger Knapman, leader of the UK Independence Party, congratulated those who voted for Mr Barroso.

"Of course it is the only chance you'll get to vote for him or for that matter against him," he said.

"He is now a bureaucrat perceived as the most important man in this country and that is quite shocking."

But former Europe Minister Dennis McShane said it was "an urban myth" to suggest that Britain's laws were decided by Europe.

The UKIP are gloating and government quick to rebuff talk of increasing loss of sovereignty. Clearly this is all a bit of festive fun to fill up space left absent by the lack of news. I am just interested to see that a fifth of the UK population reckon that Europe runs the UK. That is a very extreme view when one considers the lack of power Barrosso himself has over UK legislation and activity. He may have poo-pooed the attempt at a budget but by no means has he usurped the major powers in business and politics to shape the agenda and political outcomes in the UK.

The EU witch hunt goes on in the UK and Tony must surely be happy he wont have to produce an EU constitution on his watch. The result is baffling though. I for one do not for a second think that Barrosso has such influence and power on UK affairs to be ranked higher than Parliament or Blair, since Blair holds a veto over much of Barrosso's initiatives in the Council/Council of Ministers. As I alluded to in the title, this smacks of increasing Europaranoia in the UK. There is an increasing tendency toward broad anti-EU sentiment. Perhaps as the UK economy seems to slow slightly and other factors influence decisions, such as CAP changes, enlargement, those in the UK feel its time for the EU to disband.

The fact is that, to my mind, it is simply paranoia. For its serious defecits of democracy, its blind spot to trade-distortion, its rather nasty trade stance and commissioner, it has still helped unite a continent in peace. Its many deficiencies can be overcome in time and with suitable participation. Becoming paranoid about its every move loses sight of the benefits its has brought.

The rest of the results are here, my own favourite is the British People in fourth:

1. Jose Manuel Barroso - 22%
2. Rupert Murdoch - 15%
3. Parliament - 14%
4. The British People - 12%
5. Gus O'Donnell - 10%
6. Terry Leahy - 7%
7. Tony Blair - 7%
8. Google - 6%
9. Gordon Brown - 4%
10. Shami Chakrabarti - 4%

Interesting that Blair's cabinet secretary came in ahead of him.

I would have split between 3/4 if I had to vote. If the British people included the courts and Law Lords then it would have got my vote.

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  1. Anonymous Anonymous | 6:21 p.m. |  

    Thursday, January 5
    UKIP admit to rigging BBC poll
    A BBC poll revealed this week has named EU Commission President Jose Barroso as the most powerful man in the UK.

    Barroso, was voted the man with the most power over Britain in a Today Programme Listeners Poll on ‘Who Runs Britain’ following a debate on the programme with daily items presented over several weeks.

    The poll, which saw Prime Minister Tony Blair trail home in seventh position behind the likes of media mogul, Rupert Murdoch and Tesco chief executive Sir Terry Leahy now appears to have been rigged by UKIP supporters.

    UKIP and Daniel Hannan, the fiercely Eurosceptic Conservative MEP have both admitted to the Guardian that they separately sent emails encouraging supporters to vote for Mr Barroso.

    UKIP's press officer in Brussels, Gawain Towler , said: "It would be a lie to say that people weren't encouraging each other - of course we were."

    Mr Hannan said : "I had no idea Ukip were doing it. I was going to take sole credit for it. I heard the programme and thought why not tell people?"

    UKIP leader, Roger Knapman who it seems was also in on the ploy sent a message of congratulation to UKIP supporters, telling the BBC:

    "It is the only chance you'll get to vote for him [Barroso] or for that matter against him.

    He is now a bureaucrat perceived as the most important man in this country and that is quite shocking."

    In response to the result, former Europe Minister Dennis McShane MP said that it was "an urban myth" to suggest that Britain's laws were decided solely by Europe.

    Source: Guardian, 5 January 2006

  2. Blogger Cian | 12:09 a.m. |  

    Yup, i spotted that this morning, I still think that the poll reflects some willingness of enough people to believe that the EU is remotely running the rest of the union's member states.

    And in the UK it is certainly running the risk of turning paranoid if it hasnt already.


  3. Anonymous Anonymous | 12:13 a.m. |  

    I am a european investor in the UK. Over the last 20 years my family's companies have invested £75 million. We provide employment with decent (european style) conditions to our 328 employees. In recent years (particularly when the UK didn't set a course to join the euro) we stopped our investment as we now perceive the UK economy as a lopsided bet on a japan-circa-early-90es-style property bubble.

    Accordingly we have divested any real estate in the UK which we feel is "irrationally exuberant" and is very likely to crash. We feel that this is true even with the stimulus of running a very aggressively competitive tax and worker rights regime within the single market in effect taking investment which would otherwise be in other european countries to the UK.

    Given this fact we are alarmed by the hysterical quality in British euroscepticism. We feel there is a public hysteria whipped up by the Murdoch press which may sell newspapers but its not in the interests of this country. The influence R Murdoch has over Britain via the Times the Sun and Sky over Britain is of Berlusconian proportions.

    We have already drawn plans to reduce our exposure to the UK for purely economic reasons, we may well relocate entirely in Bratislava, Slovakia if the same nationalistic rhetoric persists in making us feel that there is a risk of withdrawal. So far we have found that new europe has much better educated and productive people and policies that are in line with reality.

    The UK is becoming bureaucratic not due to Brussels, its the unresponsive overpriced and low quality services and property but also there is widespread dishonesty in Banking and insurance and business services, it is generally bad value for money. Banks in particular are a law on to themselves. The personal loan bubble is likely to burst along with the housing one.

    The fact that UK employees have much less security and rights than the rest of the EU has made up for the currency risk so far, but if this overpriced and overconfident country continues its direction in pulling out of the EU project this will give us reasons to pull out our investments from the UK altogether to avoid the dangerous direction to anti-eu-populism that is now prevalent.

  4. Anonymous Anonymous | 12:47 a.m. |  

    I'm currently working here in the UK and .. I found my self really surprised..

    No need for any poll... Rupert Murdoch runs this country.. Trust me, he is much more powerfull than Berlusconi (and behind the scenes, I must say..).

    I'm afraid the brits have lost their sovereignty long time ago.. Sad..

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