Friday, 21 February 2014

"Nigel Farage 'can hardly wait' to debate EU with Nick Clegg"

From the BBC:

UKIP leader Nigel Farage has accepted a challenge from Nick Clegg to have a public debate on the merits of the UK's membership of the EU.

"I can hardly wait," he told LBC radio, saying the deputy prime minister was "all over the place" on the issue.

In

The Lib Dem leader threw down the gauntlet to Mr Farage on Thursday, saying he was the right person to debate the issue of Europe with the UKIP leader.

At the debate itself, Nick Clegg will open by stating that half of UK exports go to other EU member states and then drawing the unsubstantiated conclusion that "three million UK jobs depend on EU membership".

Out

Nigel Farage might mention that other member states have every interest in keeping free trade with the UK because following Clegg's logic, about four million jobs in other EU countries depend on exporting to the UK, but the likelihood is that he will respond with the entirely irrelevant fact that Norway and Switzerland export more to the EU per capita than the UK, entirely glossing over the fact that small countries always export (and import) more per capita than large ones.

In

Nick Clegg will then completely change the topic and say that the EU has guaranteed peace and freedom in Europe for sixty years. Instead of the UKIP leader pointing out that this would have happened anyway, the Western world being largely peaceful, the UKIP leader will go off on a tangent and say that we should be thanking NATO, an organisation which most people have forgotten still exists.

The Deputy Prime Minister is widely expected to extol other supposed benefits of EU membership, such as free movement of people, goods and services.

Out

Mr Farage is again expected to miss the obvious point - that these could be negotiated anyway on a bilateral basis on terms to suit ourselves - and will instead trot out some populist, borderline xenophobic nonsense about "millions of immigrants from Roumania and Bulgaria" and point out that most voters thought that free movement of people and capital was a disadvantage of EU membership, not an advantage.

Having thus gained the upper hand with the last few people still paying attention, Mr Farage will then throw it all away by putting in a special plea for the UK financial sector and saying that EU capital and supervisory rules would "throttle Britain's banks", something which most sane people would be fully in favour of.

Shake it

Similarly, Mr Clegg will lose what little sympathy he has managed to elicit for the integrationist cause by pointing out how many people from Middle England now own a holiday home in France or Italy and then going completely off piste by claiming that the EU is combatting global warming.

The debate is likely to continue in this fruitless tit-for-tat vein for until the last viewer or listener has switched over to another channel.

All about

Neither politician is expected to mention the amount of money which the other has claimed in salary and expenses from the EU because neither wishes to remind voters about how well they have done for themselves out of politics.

Pundits expect that no more than half a dozen people will change their view on the EU one way or another and the majority will decide that the whole thing is a complete wank fest, although Farage hopes to strike a chord by closing his arguments with the completely baseless claim that "Britain is a small, overcrowded island".

13 comments:

View from the Solent said...

I've always wondered about 'half of UK exports go to other EU countries'.

Is there a breakdown anywhere that shows how much of that half goes to Europort for transhipment? Or is that half based on final destination?

Mark Wadsworth said...

VFTS, yes there is a breakdown somewhere.

A fair chunk of goods going UK to Rotterdam are promptly transhipped, so the true UK to other EU country export figure is more like a third of our export of goods (from memory).

UK exports of services are far more global in reach, of course.

The Stigler said...

Brilliant.

My feeling with UKIP is that they're a home for people who know there's something very wrong with the 3 main parties, but it's really not a good place to be.

Cooking Lager said...

Both will win. Both will remind voters that it isn't a binary choice between Cameron or Milliband.

Clegg has nothing to lose on the EU debate itself because he has already lost it. Most people dislike the EU. He might even get some positive points in that make people think.

For UKIP, all exposure is good in convincing people they are worth the candle and not a wasted vote. That a vote for UKIP puts Milli in No10 to deny the voter a referendum.

The debate is a winner for both of them and isn't really about the EU. It's about the protest vote that was once the LibDems and is now UKIPs.

Mark Wadsworth said...

CL, that's some truth in that - bu if so, why is Farage demanding that this be a four way debate with Mili & Cam? Does he over-estimate his own importance?

But I don't get this bit:

"That a vote for UKIP puts Milli in No10 to deny the voter a referendum."

That's what the Tories say, the Lib Dems and UKIP won't say that and certainly not Mili.

Mark Wadsworth said...

TS, ta and agreed, UKIP were fun years ago but now it's just tired Home-Owner-Ist, all-things-to-all-men clap trap.

Cooking Lager said...

@Mark, Farage isn't demanding a four way. He's taking an opportunity to call Ed & Dave chicken. If he gets a debate, great and above and beyond what is expected. If not at least he's got an attack in, because that's what protest parties do. It's a no lose outsider strategy, call people that won't debate with you chicken. If you get the debate, you appear on equal footing with them, if not you offer an explanation that favours you. You don't say "I'm not invited because actually I'm insignificant", no it's because they are chicken.

As for the second point, maybe my grammar was unclear but I was pointing out what UKIP in some ways will be refuting, not advocating.

But the interesting bits of the debate will be nothing to do with Europe. It will be Nick doing a reasonable bloke schtick trying to claim back a protest vote he lost when he took his zweiteliga team to play with the ersteliga team. I hope Nige turns up with a pint of bitter and a fag in his mouth and tells a filthy joke about nuns and soap.

Mark Wadsworth said...

CL: "If you get the debate, you appear on equal footing with them, if not you offer an explanation that favours you.

You don't say "I'm not invited because actually I'm insignificant", no it's because they are chicken."


A good point well made.

Re humour: Farage seems to have lost his likeable side and he's lost the plot a bit over the last few years. I can't remember a good Farage joke for ages.

But Clegg was never likeable or a protest figure in any real sense in the first place. At least Farage can sustain the illusion that he is still in touch with the common man, Clegg never could.

So I shall assume that both will lose the debate, where you think that both will win.

The Stigler said...

Cooking Lager,

It will be Nick doing a reasonable bloke schtick trying to claim back a protest vote he lost when he took his zweiteliga team to play with the ersteliga team.

The lib dems are basically knackered for decades. They were always the party of middle-class leftyism that could promise rainbow skies and gumdrop smiles and well, everyone's realised they're just like the rest.

It's why Labour is going to walk the next election. The LDs will still keep their seats, but the Tories are going to lose a lot of votes as lefty LD voters switch to Labour.

Bayard said...

"But Clegg was never likeable or a protest figure in any real sense"

That's because he's from the same cloning factory that produced Cameron, Miliband and Blair. Practically the only good thing you can say about Brown is that he wasn't.

James Higham said...

I'm expecting Nigel to be gagged etc. Clegg will be lauded.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, yes, Nick is a banker-EU clone.

JH, Farage will not be gagged, because TPTB can now rely on him to torpedo his/our own case as per usual, it's almost as if he doesn't want to convince the majority of a perfectly simple argument.

Boris Johnson copied his style of foppish-gentleman-buffoonery but actually got into a position of power, where he has achieved the sum total of precisely f- all.

View from the Solent said...

Thanks Mark