Wednesday 22 June 2016

Its a shambolic way to run a country: But it works. EU really, really needs to lighten up. 

The biggest disaster that occurred in post-war Europe was Britain not being a part of the EEC. 
If the UK had been in from the start then perhaps the spirit of compromise would have been more prominent during its foundation and evolution.

The UK has and always has had, a wonderful sense that strict rules aren't really necessary. As long as a solution to a problem could be found,then a way of getting to that solution would be devised.

For example, The USA left the UK with a huge bill and a big war. To prevent this happening again, the Dominions appeared. No one really wanted them, but it was a way of having crown controlled territories with limited independent rule. And that allowed the colonial era to carry on for another 100 years from the 19th into the 20th century. Some countries were Dominions. And some were not. Some Dominions had their own embassies and consulates in foreign nations and some did not. 
It wasn't a very nailed down system. South Africa was the first 'self-ruler'. And they immediately went off invading their neighbours, and inadvertently and unhelpfully, expanded the British Empire.

The UK is one country. And also it is four countries. And little that applies to one of them applies to the others.

For example, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales each have their own form of devolved education. The government of the UK has an education minister. Who is only responsible for education in England. 
Scotland has quite a different system to England..Northern Ireland has some 50% of pupils attending Catholic managed schools. 95% of schools in Northern Ireland are segregated. Catholic and Protestant. Integration, despite a lot of effort post Good Friday, does not really occur. That set up is totally alien to English schools.
Higher education tuition fees differ significantly in the UK. English students can pay up to £9,000 a term. In Northern Ireland the cap is a maximum of £3,800. Wales is also £9,000 but a grant of up to £5,190 can be applied for. In Scotland they are free.

English law applies to all the UK. But as common law. Northern Ireland and Scotland have their own courts. Scotland has its own legal system that has some differences to England's.The United Kingdom,despite being one country, does not have one legal system, under one ruling government.

The UK does not even have one ruling government. The election winning government does have all the power. It controls the cash, It sets the taxes. It declares the wars. But the devolved institutions have limited power too. And limited responsibilities for managing them. At present Scotland has a ruling party that is almost wholly opposed to its own ruling government in London.

At the current UEFA championships England, Scotland Northern Ireland and Wales compete separately. In the UK football in Scotland is totally separate to Football in England. Wales is part of England's football leagues. Cardiff and Swansea can play in the Premier League. Glasgow and Celtic were refused access. 
The UKs athletes compete in the Olympics as the UK, under Team GB. 
{the term Great Britain excludes Northern Ireland. But N.I. are in Team GB..hope you following all this,EU.} There is no England cricket team, It is the England and Wales team. Scotland and N.I. have their own teams.  In Rugby each national team competes separately.

The Channel islands are not a part of the United Kingdom. They are considered a part of UK territory for war purposes. An invasion of Sark is an invasion of the mainland. The channel islands use UK postage rates, which are applicable to all home nations. A stamp in Guernsey is valid anywhere in the UK. Despite the channel islands not even being anything to do with the UK and not even in the EU. Southern Ireland cannot receive 1st class mail. They are 'abroad' and use continental postage rates.

And UK currency is the acceptable currency of the Channel Islands. But the channel Islands produced notes are not legal in the UK. But can be exchanged 1 for 1 by the banks.

The official notes produced by the Bank of England are only legal tender in England and Wales. Scottish and Northern Ireland notes are not legal tender anywhere. Not even inside their own countries. Isle of Man notes don't even have the word "Sterling" and are not acceptable in the UK. {But, as you can gather from the pattern here} UK banks will exchange them one for one. And anyone accepting a note can freely exchange with their own bank or the bank of England at a one for one.

Transport. Policing. Health. All different. 
What does the UK government actually do for all? 
Declare war. Sign EU treaties. Attend summits. Benefits and pensions and it sets the minimum wage,. Something that should be absolubtely be devolved.

The EU also has all this mish-mash itself. Some countries are in some bits and not in others. Some laws apply and some don't. Some taxes are applicable to all and some are nationally set within limits.Some tiny countries are free of duty and taxation and some are not. Some have opt outs from certain legislation and some do not.

The difference between the UK and the EU, is no one much cares about all this in the UK. Its a totally different system for buying a house in Scotland. So what? People just deal with it. There is no move to unify the systems.

Even the unfairness in tuition fees and hospital parking fees isn't really an issue. Its who's picking up the bill for it all that is the contentious part. The idea of having different ways of doing things in the different Home Nations, isn't of any real concern.  Many people in the UK would be unaware of many of the things above. It isn't an issue that comes up often. And its all historical, anyway. It stems from our organically created single country combining different nations over a very, very long period of time.

So, EU. Its a shambolic mess that no-one would want to replicate. We know that. 
But that doesn't mean it doesn't work. And all the EU nations have formed in a similar fashion, over a similar time frame as ourselves. And all have oddities and exceptions and contradictions.

So..if some want to do one thing and some want to do another...find a way of dealing with it.
And that way, the whole survives.

And, surprisingly often, prospers as a result.


Nick Drew said...

Nice survey, BQ - the rich tapestry of, errr, life

In Rugby each national team competes separately ... - & you missed another anomaly: Ireland N + S play as a nation in Rugby Union!

(why? because it's a middle class sport and the middle classes cheerfully overlook borders when it suits some higher purpose)

dearieme said...

"English law applies to all the UK. But as common law. " Oh no it bloody doesn't. Act of Union 1707; Scotland runs on its own Roman law system.

TheFatBigot said...

Oh dear.

1. English tuition fees are capped at £9.000 per year, not term.

2. As has already been pointed out English law does not apply in Scotland. Not at all. That is why Scotland always has two justices in the UK Supreme Court (and had two Law Lords prior to the establishment of the Supreme Court). One or both give the leading judgments in any case of Scottish Law that comes before the Court.

3. The English common law applies in Wales, but Welsh statute law is a combination of Acts of Parliament of the UK Parliament (except those that specifically do not apply to Wales) and Acts of the Welsh Assembly (which can amend the common law). So far Wales has not had its own Supreme Court Justice(s) because prior to devolution English Law was Welsh Law - although it is more accurate to refer to it as the law of England and Wales.

4. Northern Ireland's common law is a fusion of English & Irish common law. Northern Ireland's statutory law includes not only laws of the UK Parliament that apply specifically to Northern Ireland but also historic statutes prior to it being part of the UK, Acts of the Northern Ireland Assembly and a variety of statutory laws passed when Northern Ireland had various degrees of self government. That is why Northern Ireland has a UK Supreme Court Justice who gives the leading judgment in any case involving Northern Irish law.

5. Not all Welsh football clubs have the right to play in English leagues.

6. "Team GB" is the short-hand term used by the UK media for the Olympic team representing the UK. It has no "official" standing, it is just jargon. "Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the description given to the UK team by the International Olympic Organisation. There is nothing sinister in it.

James Higham said...

That's why we must be Out, to get such things straight. Or become EUSSR and that is not rhetoric. My Russian friends of a certain age are looking on, incredulouly. Why would you want that? I just shake my head and mutter.

Nick Drew said...

Here's a good quote (albeit from a leftie academic)

"demoralised by Margaret Thatcher’s electoral supremacy in the 1980s, the British Labour party turned towards both European integration and human rights as new sources of intellectual inspiration and authority. The party slowly gave up its traditional support for parliamentary sovereignty and replaced it with a more liberal understanding of rights, where constitutional constraints are accepted as legitimate and necessary. Many other leftwing parties in Europe – such as the French socialists and the Italian communists – did the same.

I believe this was a Faustian pact. The left traded its commitment to the supremacy of the ballot box for a more nebulous idea of “locking in” good policies through EU laws."

Electro-Kevin said...

The British people have been made to believe that our country does not work. It is not the EU that this post needs to be directed at but our own people.

Part of the project has been to cultivate a disrespect of the nation state.

CityUnslicker said...

That is a lovely post that shows the difference between Common and Napoleonic law.

Under common law, it is a mess and no one much cares and we muddle through.

But Napoleonic law does not allow mess or compromise. Sadly Europe is made for common law but operated under Napoleonic law.

that is why it will fail and it is best to be out and start afresh with out own system than be dragged down by it.

Electro-Kevin said...

I've taken the old lady next door to neutralise Bob Geldoff's vote. And her sister to neutralise Sam Cam's.

I feel better now.

Electro-Kevin said...

City Unslicker. If you think that's a mess you want to see the back of my car now.

Bill Quango MP said...

Thank you all.
I knew I would be corrected on many points.That was rather the point. To show there are significant variances between what is nominally one nation. And not each individual difference. Health and safety - BQ industries have fallen foul of Glasgow CC's regs that were different on Fire suppressants IIRC - which I don't. Its all quite confusing. And this is just the broad overview. Dig into something complex such as policing within the regions and could be writing forever.
The legal which is a minefield even for the experts, can see the corrections.

We could add in British territory too, if we really wanted to confuse the issue. Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands. Irish citizens traveling by sea do not need a passport to enter the UK, and vice versa. The common travel area.

Back to the actual point.Do we care? Do we care that Irish EU citizens don't need a passport but Romanian ones do? Not a jot.

Jock McJock said...

"English law applies to all the UK. But as common law. " Oh no it bloody doesn't. Act of Union 1707; Scotland runs on its own Roman law system.

Agreed which us why the Scots have more in common with Europe (Auld Alliance) than the Anglo-American system. Ironically the 1707 Union was all about a trade pact - access to the English north american markets - which then become a political and monetary union.

So claiming that the UK "works" while the EU doesn't is a touch on the myopic side.

Hope you Bexiters win - as we're off to get a better Union than this ramshackle "english" way of bodging it while expecting no criticism to be levelled at the ruling classes.

We'll happily leave you to sort out your own self-induced mess.

Sebastian Weetabix said...

Jock McJock: hmm...I think there was a bit more to it than a trade pact. Often forgotten by the National Socialists is that the Scots Pound disappeared in 1707 & we adopted the English pound. Debts & Darien, see. The exchange rate was 12:1.

I chuckled grimly when the fishy pair talked about sterling being ours.

Nick Drew said...

it works, it works!

@ start afresh with out own system

great freudian typo there CU, I love it