Friday, January 25, 2013
Should we let the tabloids lead us by the nose out of the EU?
People are a bit surprised that the last two Any Questions audiences have not been anti-Europe, and have shown no enthusiasm for Dave's EuroReferendum wheeze.
This may be because people who want to go to Any Questions programmes are bit less likely slavishly to follow the mindless anti-EU line peddled by the Tory press.
By my calculations the Sun, Mail, Telegraph, Times, Star and Express have a readership of 18,756,000, and the Guardian, Mirror, Record (Scotland) and Independent have a readership of 4,722,000.
The data is here for the 12 months to December 2010. They seem to have stopped publishing the data now.
So right-wing daily papers have 75% of the market, and leftish papers have 25% of the market.
For every person reading leftish papers, there are 3 reading rightish (or rightist) papers.
This is a sorry state of affairs. In a decent democracy, we would expect a normal bell shaped curve of political opinion, reflected by a 50:50 split between rightish and leftish papers. The 3:1 skewing that we find in reality means that there is a steady and continual emotional and political pressure on people to dislike the EU, regardless of any benefits that Europe may give us.
Which are listed by the excellent Simon Sweeney, Lecturer in international political economy, University of York, in this letter to the Guardian:
What did the EEC/EU ever do for us?
Not much, apart from: providing 57% of our trade;
structural funding to areas hit by industrial decline;
clean beaches and rivers;
lead free petrol;
restrictions on landfill dumping;
a recycling culture;
a ban on growth hormones and other harmful food additives;
better product safety;
strongest wildlife protection in the world;
improved animal welfare in food production;
cheaper mobile charges; cheaper air travel;
improved consumer protection and food labelling;
single market competition bringing quality improvements and better industrial performance;
break up of monopolies;
Europe-wide patent and copyright protection;
no paperwork or customs for exports throughout the single market;
price transparency and removal of commission on currency exchanges across the eurozone;
freedom to travel, live and work across Europe;
funded opportunities for young people to undertake study or work placements abroad;
access to European health services;
labour protection and enhanced social welfare;
equal pay legislation;
the right not to work more than a 48-hour week without overtime;
EU-funded research and industrial collaboration;
EU representation in international forums;
bloc EEA negotiation at the WTO;
EU diplomatic efforts to uphold the nuclear non-proliferation treaty;
European arrest warrant;
cross border policing to combat human trafficking, arms and drug smuggling;
counter terrorism intelligence;
European civil and military co-operation in post-conflict zones in Europe and Africa;
support for democracy and human rights across Europe and beyond;
investment across Europe contributing to better living standards and educational, social and cultural capital.
All of this is nothing compared with its greatest achievements: the EU has for 60 years been the foundation of peace between European neighbours after centuries of bloodshed.
It furthermore assisted the extraordinary political, social and economic transformation of 13 former dictatorships, now EU members, since 1980.
No wonder the neo-liberal tabloid indoctrinator/editors hate the EU.
What about the financial costs of the EU? Our net contribution is £7bn out of total government expenditure of £695bn.
If in the next 5 years intelligent people manage to disseminate the information on the Simon Sweeney list, we may be able to avoid crashing out of the EU in an ignorant fit of tabloid passion.