Some lines have been crossed in today’s news in the UK about European Union politics.
First we have Liberal Democrat (yes, you read that right, Liberal Democrat) transport minister Norman Baker having a go at an EU transport white paper:
We will not be banning cars from city centres anymore than we will be having rectangular bananas
There’s more coverage from BBC and EUObserver. I don’t know whether Baker was poorly briefed, as the paper talks about petrol/diesel powered cars and not all cars to which Baker’s quote refers. Anyway, if we still do use petrol cars in Europe’s cities in 2050 that will be an indication that all of our climate change policies have gone entirely wrong and the world will be on the way to burning up at that point. Plus as London’s air quality is chronically bad and breaches EU standards, it’s not as if Baker has any sensible policy grounds to oppose the greening of EU transport, whether for cities or anywhere else. Seems like Tory EU-phobia has touched others in the coalition…
That’s of course unless you’re Neil Stock, Conservative leader of Tendring District Council in Essex. In this piece in The Guardian about how Jaywick, covered by Tendring District Council, is the most deprived neighbourhood in the UK, Stock says:
It is depressing being number one, because we do take this issue very seriously. It’s a problem beyond the scope of a district council. We need national and European intervention [my emphasis].
In short the message to the EU: give us some cash to help us sort our deprived areas, but don’t ever dare tell us how we should live. No contradiction, surely?
Trust me, at a local level many Tories are happy to work at a European level if it benefits their local area – hence why in the East of England they fund a Brussels office.
Don’t get me wrong – I don’t deny that Tendring could do with some assistance. I was just rather surprised at how openly this Tory had said it!
We are working very closely with both Tendring and Essex to ensure Jaywick’s voice is heard as the current Assisted Area Status map comes under review as part of the forthcoming MAFF review.
Rather than direct financial aid from the EU, Tendring and others require relief from state aid rules to allow joint public-private investments to be made.
Yes, Norman Baker was wrong, but not sure that you can compare a badly briefed minister with a council leader fighting for his local residents.
I’m not sure that council leaders and junior ministers get the same “line of the day” briefing in a morning.
Besides, it’s our money in the first place. Why shouldn’t areas in need here get our money back?