Kenny vs The Man from Brussels

The following text – an edited extract from a book by Dan Hannan – was set out neatly in chalk – in three meticulous columns of block capitals – in Trafalgar Square between 10am and 5pm on Sunday 29th May, by a man wearing old, yet decent, clothes and carrying a bed roll. He was brusk Scot, copying it out from a note book and seeking  financial reward in the manner of a pavement artist.  We put the first coin – £1 – in his pot. We wish we had given more, and would like to do so should he get in touch. 

EU Referendum – a case for Brexit – vote for democracy – vote leave on June 23rd.

kenny-intro-and-handHi folks! I’m Kenny from Scotland. I am homeless and I’ve been using my free time to do a lot of research concerning next months EU referendum. I hope the info I provide helps you make the right decision next month, or if you are another EU-country, inspires you to vote leave in your country, because our democracy and our rights are under attack by EU-bureaucrats, mega-corporations and their lobbyists. The 28 un-elected EU commissioners to not respect the law.

Why the EU can’t be democratic

On the 18th of April 1951, in the French Foreign Ministry’s imposing Solon de L’Horloge, six men gathered to sign an accord unlike any other. The ‘Treaty of Paris’, which created the European Coal and Steel Community – the first direct ancestor of today’s European Union – which not just bind its members as states. Rather it would create a new legal order, superior to national jurisdictions. The six men were the Foreign Ministers of the founding EEC members: Belgium, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, France, Italy and West Germany. This was the first treaty to which West Germany, recently under allied occupation, had acceded in her own name, and her Chancellor, Konrad Adenauer, was there in person, action as his own Foreign Minister.

When the time came for the the formal signing, though a problem arose. Last-minute negotiations and amendments meant that no official test had been prepared. The six members therefore signed an empty piece of paper, and left their officials to fill in the articles. As one historian of the EU puts it ‘the spirit of the accord stood surety for the letter’.

To British eyes, it is an almost perfect symbol for what has been wrong with the European Union from the beginning. The politicians have left the bureaucrats with, figuratively if not always literally, a series of blank sheets. The bureaucrats, unsurprisingly, have filled in the blanks to suit themselves. Again and again, the Brussels institutions have set aside both public opinion and the clear instructions of members states in order to advance their agenda of ‘more Europe’.

We tend to take ‘the Rule of Law’ for granted. Those four words slide so easily from our tongues that we rarely stop to consider the vastness of what they represent.

When the people in power can no longer make up the rules as they go along, much follows: free contract, free conscience, free speech and, ultimately prosperity, democracy and meritocracy.

In their great study ‘Why nations fail’, James A. Robinson and Daron Acemoğlu showed that in almost every age, people in power arrange things so that they and their heirs can systematically can enjoy the fruits of everyone else’s work. They call this the ‘Extractive State’. The alternative – the Rule of Law, secure property rights and mechanisms to hold those in power to account – came about only in modern times and largely in English speaking countries, though it later spread. They called this the ‘Inclusive State’. As individual countries, the 28 members of the EU qualify as Inclusive States. They are parliamentary democracies and independent judiciaries. They do not systematically expropriate their citizens, intern without trial or forbid emigration. They recognise civil rights and equality before law.

The European Unions founding fathers Jean Monnet and fellow Frenchman Robert Schumann (twice Prime Minister of France) understood very well that a scheme as audacious as theirs, the merging of ancient kingdoms and republics into a single state would never succeed if each successive transfer of power from the national capital to Brussels had to be approved by democratic vote. The EU is run, extraordinarily, by a body that combines legislative and executive power. The European Commission is not only the EU’s ‘Government’; It is also in most fields of policy, the only body that can propose legislation. The 28 commissioners are un-elected.

Elections alone do not make a democracy. There were elections in the Warsaw Pact states throughout the Cold War. There are elections in Iran today. For an election to matter, there has to be a meaningful engagement between voters and government.

The EU, is lacking in a shared sense of common identity, cannot fabricate such an engagement, to put it in another way. Democracy requires a demos: a unit with which we identify when we use the ‘we’. Take away the demos and you are left only with the kratos: the power of a state that much compel by force of law what it cannot ask in the name of civic patriotism.

‘That which is not explicitly prohibited is implicitly allowed’

English Common Law philosophy.

Britain’s legal system like her political system is organic rather than prescriptive. It was a product of unplanned evolution rather than conscious design. That is why in an EU, that is the ultimate expression of top-down planning, or bureaucratic fiat, Britain tends to feel more uncomfortable than other nations.

Faced with a proposal for some new regulatory power, or some new EU directive, the first instinct of a British MEP is to ask ‘what problem would this solve? Why do we need it?’ To which the unusual answer is ‘but the existing system is unregulated!’.

The idea lack of regulation might be a natural condition, that you shouldn’t need a licence from the government before embarking on a new adventure, is regarded as an Anglo Saxon eccentricity. In the mind of a Eurocrat, ‘unregulated’ and ‘illegal’ are almost synonymous concepts. That is the philosophy of an anti-democratic dictatorship.

The door out of this will be open on 23rd June next month. Let’s go through that door by voting to LEAVE.

  5 comments for “Kenny vs The Man from Brussels

  1. Tim Carpenter
    May 30, 2016 at 1:43 am

    A well articulated argument.

    Explodes the prejudices that often surround the homeless, too.

    • Paul Marks
      May 30, 2016 at 7:04 am

      Quite so Tim. I hope the man gets a home soon.

      And the basic point of the argument, that the E.U. is an additional layer of government controlled by persons that the British people can not get rid of who impose regulations without cause, is correct.

      The works of Christopher Booker and others have shown this – in great detail.

  2. Ayumi
    May 30, 2016 at 7:48 am

    Kenny! Who is this man?! Can we invite him to a meeting?

  3. Silva
    May 31, 2016 at 10:31 pm

    Thank you for sharing this story.

    I think whatever reasons we all have for wanting to vote in or out of the EU, me personally, my main concerns are with how can we make Britain a better and fairer place for all. I have to say, the line of social behavior we have been experiencing in Britain in recent years about immigration, IMO, is that we are walking a very thin line bordering racism or even worst. I have at times even pondered how far are we from the late 1930 Germany, when we seen the home office put out the “Go Home or Face Arrest” adverts back in 2013. As someone who was born in another EU country, with dual nationality through marriage and who have declared my oat to the Queen, having lived most of my adult live in the UK and having paid taxes and having my pension here for 26 years, I’m not convinced that leaving the EU will resolve the real issues.

    For example, if we look at Norway and Switzerland which have decided to stay out of the EU, like we will if we exit, in order to trade with the EU those countries had to allow free movement of EU citizens in and out of those countries to work and live, whilst in Britain we are not very informed about events in Europe, the fact is many of the issues affecting the EU economy over the years have been caused by the London Financial Banking industry, in fact it was the British government who pushed for EU enlargement to the East where most other EU countries without a vote were against it, I think many politicians in other EU countries will be very happy to see the back of Britain, if we decide to leave.
    To recap, voting out, IMO will not stop EU immigration into the UK if we want to trade with the EU.

    Another small point, Other EU countries (with exception of Germany) may not have the same immigration levels which we are seeing here in the UK, but as one trading block, investment in the EU block for decades has moved investment from those countries to Britain, yes, and now we have highly skilled & educated immigration from the EU, which technically other EU governments have paid to educate, for example NHS nurses and doctors, unlike the UK where British students have to pay for their own education and be in debt for the rest of their working lives, is it fair that other poorer EU countries should be subsidizing the British NHS and other UK industries when they loose the skilled and educated workers which they trained to the UK economy?

    Now, lets take a look at the real issues I think are affecting us here in Britain…
    Such as, high housing costs, Welfare cutbacks since 2010, NHS cutbacks, Growing Debt, Poverty, privatization of everything, etc… these problems are often blamed on immigration, but I would argue that this is not true, in fact I would say in order for British people to get their pensions, we need more people of working age to pay their taxes, and this can be achieved, either by having more children or by allowing more immigrates into the UK and pay those needed taxes, in fact, we could learn a thing or 2 from how the Germans are dealing with the pension question, they subsidize families having more children better and also by bring in more immigration, is Germany wrong? Unless I see other proof, I don’t think so, they do not have the social issues which we are seeing here in the UK right now with high housing costs or high public transport costs, in fact they haven’t even privatized the railways, and they also have kept a cap on rent prices… unlike the situation here in the UK, which most of us would probably consider, to be a soft touch when it comes to offshore taxation or offshore investors and investments, which have pushed up house prices uncontrollably, and have out priced the local British residents in every possible way.

    So why is Britain really affected by these social issues???

    IMO, I think there are 2 very similar issues at play here.
    First, is the Offshore investors, pushing up the house prices, I don’t consider this investment to represent the state of the real economy but a only bubble waiting to burst, in fact, IMO, it has already burst for most of us who are in poverty and struggling to meet our basic needs, specially disabled and unemployed.
    Second, and the most important issue IMO, is the way the UK governments have been getting into more debt every year, If i told you that HMRC has been paying rent for 600 of its offices to a company who is registered in an Offshore tax haven (Bermuda), what would you say to that?

    Let me try to explain what is actually happening, from my perspective, but you can research it better, years ago Britain and many other western governments doing the same thing, use to owe buildings such as Hospitals, Schools, Police Stations, and many other Government buildings, etc, now a days, governments instead of borrowing the money to build such new buildings which could be done at a fraction of the cost, then compare to anyone else borrowing such money, they are instead entering into PFI (Private Finance Initiative) contracts, and are these contracts, that are killing our economy and causing growing debt which we have today and in turn, causing all these social issues which we are experiencing today, despite the £30 billion welfare cuts since 2010, borrowing is forecast to continue to increase by £16 billion for 2018-2019, and if we look for example, at the status of the NHS, the NHS budget which should go to staff and patients, a large part is going to pay for such PFI contracts and other uncontrolled costs first. There is an interesting Panorama Video on Youtube about PFI which I would highly recommend you watch when you have a moment.

    To give an idea of the scale of the problem, according to a report in the Guardian back in 2012 these PFI repayments were at £301,343,154,097.

    IMO, if we the government was borrowing the money directly, to build these structures, this debt would be about 3 or more times less, and we would not have the welfare cuts and other social issues which we have today.

    I will share some links with you here, so you can research it for yourself.

    NHS for sale :: The Great PFI Swindle
    http://www.nhsforsale.info/privatisation-list/surgery/the-great-pfi-swindle.html

    Here is a list of PFI government contracts dated from 2012.
    http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2012/jul/05/pfi-contracts-list

    • Tim Carpenter
      Jun 18, 2016 at 6:21 am

      I agree PFI is a questionable.

      The govt spends money it does not have by borrowing on terms it should not, to get things it needs but can never own. Private companies borrow to fund all the time, but it takes the State, who is not spending or risking its own money, to truly mess it up.

      Invented by the Major Govt, but really kicked off under Blair-Brown.

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