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18 March 2011

In which I complain about David Mitchell versus Nigel Farage on 10 O'Clock Live. Just because it bugs me. (Very boring post, don't read it).[More:]

I've actually grown to like UK satire show 10 O'Clock Live a lot: it's topical and funny. But the interviews really bug me. Yes they're pretty smart for comedians, but they're just not journalists, and they let the interviewees slide off the hook with the greatest of ease.

In particular, he let Europhobic politician Nigel Farage get away with the assertion that we could be outside the EU "like Norway and Switzerland" and enjoy free trade without being subject to European laws.

Norway is linked to the EU via the European Economic Area (EEA) treaties, Switzerland by the Swiss-EU Bilateral treaties. Under both of those, European competition law automatically becomes part of their national law, without them getting any votes or vetoes on it. Switzerland has a theoretical right to abandon entire treaties, but the economic consequences of doing that would be devastating: that's not really any different from our own ability to leave the EU.

Under both treaties they get the four freedoms which guarantee "free movement of goods, capital, services, and people". In other words, they also have to allow in dirty EU foreigners who can steal their jobs.

Both Switzerland and Norway are members of the Council of Europe and therefore subject to the European Court. (This actually has nothing to do with the EU at all). So, Norway and Switzerland are just subject to those evil rulings about prisoners having the human right to vote as we are.

This idea that we can walk out of the EU and get free trade with it on any terms we like is absolute bollocks. Yes, the EU has free trade with non-EU European states. But they don't hand out extra privileges to non-members. When a big entity negotiates with a little entity, the little guy doesn't get to dictate terms.

If we leave the EU for EEA or Swiss-style trade agreements, we don't magically get absolute sovereignty back. Instead we give up all our vetoes and voting rights, in exchange for contributing less to European funds.

Instead of letting interviewees walk all over them, I think if 10 O'Clock Live want to do serious interviews, they really need to hire a proper journalist with a reasonable level of wit and let him or her handle it.

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