It’s a sorry state of affairs for an avowed socialist to find himself in agreement with David Cameron, but as one of the few Eurosceptic EU Lawyers out there it happens to me more times than I’d care to admit. However, David Cameron’s latest attempt to win over the Euro-phobic right of his party has even this Eurosceptic scratching his head.
It is a particularly poor negotiator who goes into a negotiation without knowing what he wants, however for the moment, at least, David Cameron’s position appears to be exactly that. What precisely is David Cameron going to go into a negotiation and ask for? The UK already opts out of Economic and Monetary Union; the Schengen Area; and the Charter of Fundamental Rights. We opt-in to Freedom, Security, and Justice. Defence and Foreign Policy could easily be opted-out of, but it’s so unsubstantial it hardly seems worth it. David Cameron would, surely, be wary about negotiating in the Citizenship policy area for fear of harming the single market.
”Let’s opt out of plant patents – that’ll keep Nigel Farage happy!”
That leaves tinkering at the edges: the Common Agricultural and Fisheries policies; various EU quangos such as the European Space Agency, European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, or the Community Plant Variety Office; or perhaps renegotiating the odd veto in certain policy areas. Such modest reforms would neither placate the Eurosceptics to David Cameron’s right, nor look like a substantial win for Britain by the Prime Minister.
I’m in no doubt the the European Union is in dire need of substantial reform. But one man’s crusade to secure a few more opt-outs isn’t going to curb the rampant and unaccountable bureaucracy that is the European Commission; it won’t close the legitimacy gap between citizens and the European Parliament; it won’t reorganise the hierarchy of norms, or restore sovereignty to Member States; and it won’t halt the proliferation of nonsense decisions and garbage jurisprudence from the Court of Justice of the European Union. In order to achieve any meaningful reform of the EU, David Cameron needs to be a team player – and not a pariah on the lunatic fringe.
It comes as little surprise that the Labour Party front bench works on a one-week basis, with little regard to consistency of message or coherent policy making, but today’s policy of the day (doubtless dreamt-up this morning over a bowl of granola and grapefruit) couldn’t help but make this author chortle.
Last year, this blog featured a defence of the Government’s so-called “Pasty Tax”. In addition to the various good tax-economy reasons for the proposed budgetary measure; taxing pies, pasties, and sausage rolls made good sense as they’re generally bad for you and their consumption ought to be discouraged. Of course, the two Eds clearly disagreed – visiting a Greggs to highlight the fatty, salty, pastry goodness of a good meat pie.
How, therefore, does this square with Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham’s call, today, for unhealthy breakfast cereals to be banned? It is undoubtedly concerning that breakfast cereals targeted at children could contain as much as 40% sugar. Burnham’s proposal (which isn’t a ban, but a modest cap of 30% on the amount of sugar in a breakfast cereal) is a welcome contribution to the debate as to how to tackle the UK’s woeful health record. But perhaps Mr Burnham should have a word with his bosses before they next get a greasy whiff of an opportunity to score a cheap win over the Government by endorsing the virtues of the foods that are high in salt and almost 25% fat.
Ever wondered what the difference between a “gay” and a “homosexual” is? Thankfully, in Ireland, we have Supreme Court authority on this important distinction.
In his dissenting judgement in Norris v. A.G.  IESC 3;  IR 36, Henchy J. discussed the campaigns of David (now Senator) Norris and the personality trait that distinguishes the plaintiff from a “mere homosexual”:
His subsequent public espousal of the cause of male homosexuals in this State may be thought to be tinged with a degree of that affected braggadocio which is said by some to distinguish a “gay” from a mere homosexual.
For those readers born after 1878, OED defines braggadocio as:
1. An empty, idle boaster; a swaggerer.
2. The talk of such a person, empty vaunting.
So there you have it!