We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

The state and its delusions of indispensability

Lord Mandelson sneered at Brexit supporters this week for failing to understand the complexities of modern trade and how leaving the EU would trigger years of renegotiations that would leave us with a far worse deal than we have inside the EU. Alas Lord Mandelson is a victim of the mandarin-centric fallacy that trade only happens after governments have arranged it in the best interests of their citizens.

Patrick Minford. Sadly the article is behind the Times pay wall but I am sure you get where this is going.

18 comments to The state and its delusions of indispensability

  • Laird

    Has Mandelson ever said anything intelligent?

    However, clearly the man knows where his bread is buttered. According to Wikipedia, he “is entitled to a £31,000 pension when he reaches the age of 65 years. This however is contingent on a ‘duty of loyalty to the Communities’, which applies also after his term in office.” So I suppose he has to enthusiastically oppose Brexit or risk his pension. But I wonder what would happen to it should Brexit occur notwithstanding his opposition.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    I get the Times and read the comments to Patrick Minford’s excellent article. One of the commenters, Christopher Sheldrake, made another good point: “This was the person [referring to Peter Mandelson] who forecast the direst of consequencies if we failed to join the Euro.”

    From now on, whenever I read of some eminent business or political type making a prediction of Brexit-induced doom, I’m going to Google them and see if I can find what they said about Britain joining the Euro. If I get enough entertaining results I’ll put them in a post here. No copyright on this game; all are welcome to play. If anyone in the Brexit campaign is reading this, you guys might consider doing a rather more systematic search.

  • Never trust a word a(n ex-)Commissioner says, Laird. They’re not “our men in Brussels”, they’re “Brussels’ men in Britain”. Here’s their oath of office (my emphasis):

    Having been appointed as a Member of the European Commission by the European Council, following the vote of consent by the European Parliament I solemnly undertake: to respect the Treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union in the fulfilment of all my duties; to be completely independent in carrying out my responsibilities, in the general interest of the Union; in the performance of my tasks, neither to seek nor to take instructions from any Government or from any other institution, body, office or entity; to refrain from any action incompatible with my duties or the performance of my tasks.

    I formally note the undertaking of each Member State to respect this principle and not to seek to influence Members of the Commission in the performance of their tasks. I further undertake to respect, both during and after my term of office, the obligation arising therefrom, and in particular the duty to behave with integrity and discretion as regards the acceptance, after I have ceased to hold office, of certain appointments or benefits.

    (Note, too, the “or from any other institution, body, office or entity”. This is – supposedly – Salter‘s impartial, uncorruptible, superman administrator, calmly soaring above the petty vicissitudes of fickle politics to guide his uncomprehending flock on the correct path. That oath, right there, is why we have to get out.)

  • JohnK

    I imagine the French eureaucrats have their fingers crossed when they take that oath. The EU is very much seen by them as a way to expand France’s influence. Napoleon’s revenge, if you like.

  • Regional

    In Sinny Astraya there’s a nookular reactor at Lucas Heights which provides isotopes for nookular medicine which the Luvvies want to close down. Meddleson came to Astraya and joined the campaign to close it and wanted Astraya to buy it’s isotopes from Europe. The ABC/Labor/MSM supported him. You reckon you’ve got whack jobs as politicians and journalists.

  • Lee Moore

    I’m much too cheap to pay to read the article, so apologies if I’m just repeating Minford’s points.

    1. It’s undoubtedly the case that an actively hostile EU could bugger up a number of things for the UK by not making reasonable agreements. eg in the area of air routes, landing rights and overflying etc. And it would be naive to assume that other countries will eagerly be rushing to help us out. They’ll be looking at what they can get in return for any deals we want.

    2. But as regards trade, both with the EU, and with other countries where Brexit would mean that we were lacking a trade deal pro tem, Mandelson is thirty or forty years out of date. Most British commerce is domestic, obviously. As far as international trade goes, Britain has a large interest in free trade for services (where membership of the EU is of little to no help) and for manufacturing (where EU tariffs, and tariffs in most other developed markets are courtesy of the GATT, very low indeed, far lower than when we joined the EU.) So suffering manufacturing tariffs, even if you think the seller suffers them, is loose change. Britain has no interest in breaching the EU’s agricultural tariff wall, because to the nearest decimal place, it doesn’t export agricultural products to the EU. So overall, no deal at all with the EU on trade and tariffs is a very cheap option for Britain. In fact it is quite hard to conceive of anything they could offer that would make it worth our while to accept a deal with them. Any deal with them would involve some sort of tying of hands on something, as regards the domestic economy, and why would one want to do that to save tariffs of 2% on the small fraction of British production that gets sold to the EU ?

    So there are no doubt several good reasons that could be advanced for staying in the EU. But trade deals is not one of them.

  • Patrick Crozier

    It would be nice to think that upon Brexit a British government would say: “We will go back to the free trade that served us well for nearly a century. There will be no tariffs, quotas or other restrictions. We will welcome goods and services from all corners of the globe. After all, we want your stuff. If others wish to place rocks in their harbours and impoverish their citizens that is up to them.”

  • Chip

    The parasitic administrative class is starting to destroy its host on both sides of the pond.

    I’m generally an optimist considering the light-speed progress we are making in technology but the awful destructiveness of the lampreys that pass as politicians and bureaucrats might carry the day.

    People like Mendohlson have been sucking at the lifeblood of the risk-takers, savers and tinkerers for so long they may actually believe they are indispensable.

    It might take a small revolution to prove they aren’t.

  • Roue le Jour

    Yanking the EU teat away from mandelson, Clegg and Kinnock is of course one of the more entertaining attractions of Brexit.

    Laird, I assume that 31k is tax free, as other EU payments?

  • Runcie Balspune

    years of renegotiations that would leave us with a far worse deal than we have inside the EU

    Failure to understand that the ability to negotiate trade deals is at the heart of this issue, we wont “re-” negotiate because current EU legislation is non-negotiable, and it takes a willfully blind Utopian of the most extreme sort to believe that taking away that ability is somehow more beneficial.

  • RRS

    To paraphrase a remark of De Gaulle:

    The ash heaps (pl.) of history are full of those systems by which some men would command other men; just as cemeteries are full of indispensable men.

  • AndrewZ

    Richard North argues that we would not need to renegotiate hundreds of trade deals because of the principle of “general presumption of continuity” in international law:

  • Fred the Fourth

    One of my favorite (if not perfectly accurate) memories is from the mid-90s, when the US economy was doing quite well.
    Some senior econ minister from France or Germany or the UK was quoted as saying “I don’t understand how the US can be doing well. No one in government there seems to be in charge!”
    At the time, I thought “talk about missing the point”. Now, sadly, even in the US someone in government seems to be in charge, and just look at the fine result.

  • RRS

    In a government representative of the “public” the aggrandized state becomes eventually a tyranny tempered only by its incompetence.

    – Walter Lippmann (267 – a free society in The Good Society)

  • Laird

    Nemesis, even though you said that flier was “for Natalie” I took a look at it, too. Most excellent. I like the slogan “It’s time to leave the EU and join the World.” Is that becoming a common phrase in the public debate? If not, it should be.

  • CaptDMO

    Modern trade only began getting “complicated” when the story of some transvestite bitch, with NO “credentials” made the disingenuous case why her father should be excused from the terms of
    his freely entered contract with the Dirty Jooooo businessman he had spent YEARS tormenting
    based solely on his religion.
    “Well, it’s COMPLICATED!”
    I wonder how many years of “F-you, I ain’t payin’ for that, whadda ya’ gonna’ do about it, pendejo?”
    it took to get there?
    Kind of like kid’s (or ANYONES) lemonade stands, and PTA bake sale fund raisers involving sugar cookies with peanuts.

  • Paul Marks

    I see so the German government, which largely controls the E.U., is going to forbid a Canadian style free trade deal – and thus cut off German companies from British customers (after all German companies sell far more to British customers than British companies sell to German customers).

    This would come as news to the person I was delivering leaflets with (for the “GO” campaign) yesterday.

    He had helped develop an anti bacterial polymer – but it can not go into production.

    It will take millions of Pounds to get approval from the E.U. – as is now compulsory.

    German industry must be protected from competition – which is the purpose of these particular regulations.

    Regulations that (as we in the E.U.) hit not just our trade with German – but our trade with third parties, and our domestic production.