I learnt the habit of listening to the radio whilst still at school. That was long enough ago, I am afraid, for me to remember the heartless closing down of the pirate radio stations and the inception of radios 1, 2, 3 and 4.
In my last year or school I was able to stay up much later and I was wont to listen to the BBC’s “World Tonight” on R4. This was then presented by a forgotten luminary of radio, Douglas Stewart, whose mellifluous voice introduced the programme: “The World Tonight, Douglas Stewart reporting…” And by and large what one got was reporting that was, for the most part, scrupulously fair rather than lopsided analysis from a consistently Marxist viewpoint that is what passes for radio current affairs today. I grew up on Douglas Stewart and so one has a keen ear for the appalling bias that is today’s BBC.
So I still try to listen to this neglected outpost of the BBC’s radio output, now the home of Robin Lustig, who is by no means as bad as some of the other presenters earlier in the schedules. Last night he had John Redwood on, probing the issue of how we are going to secure the repeal of and control over various areas of legislation that are now within the exclusive power of the European Union.
Sadly Lustig never got round to the killer question, the one that represents the flaw, nay the torpedo below the water line of this particular policy. This is: what happens, what is Plan ‘B’ for when the EU refuses to countenance any repatriation of the powers sought, or even the change of one jot or tittle of the existing onerous burden of the contested regulations? So, we never got the answer in which all who are interested in Conservative policy and whether that policy has the least bit of credibility are very interested.
We did get promised that we would discuss these matters with our partners, would persuade them to let us have our Sovereignty over such matters back. John Redwood then made the assertion which, I am afraid, is simply so much pie in the sky, to the effect that we would want to negotiate a series of ‘opt-outs’ and that these would not be difficult to negotiate.
It is at this point that I am bound to say the Conservative party’s policy simply has no credibility whatsoever.
The EU is not about to start yielding up control over policy over which it has worked so hard to garner complete control, especially because, if it gives into one EU Region, it is going to find a huge queue outside the door of other EU Regions with a shopping list of ‘opt-outs’ that they in turn want to negotiate with their masters. This is where we enter the fantasy world of Conservative policy on the EU: this is simply not going to happen. Rather the policy will be taken out on to a future Conservative government’s own poop deck and there shot in the manner of the late Admiral Byng, pour encourager les autres.
The chances of the EU agreeing to this are the same as The Huntsman becoming the next Pontiff: zero, zilch, nada, rien….If the EU was even to contemplate this, it knows only too well that that would undermine the entire framework which they have so relentlessly and ruthlessly been constructing for fifty years and it simply is not going to happen and for the Conservatives to think it is going to happen when they snap their fingers is, I am afraid, an Onanistic Fantasy.
As I have argued here several times before, in order for such a policy to be credible and effective, there has to be a clear Plan ‘B’: what do we do when the EU says “No”?
If they refuse to contemplate an opt-out, what then? Do we try and blackmail them into agreeing by threatening to veto all future business? That did not work under Jelly Fish Major and will not work now. Do we just throw up our hands and say: What a terrible nuisance! And subside in a heap?
Neither of those is in the least bit credible and the EU knows it and will call our bluff.
The only credible policy is that we would then have to say: give us our country back or we will leave. Only then might they listen. And if they do not get the hint, then it is time to leave and close the door behind us. That is the only thing that will give us these powers back.