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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

"Fire up the FCO word-processor"

Europe Minister Geoff Hoon has a ludicrous letter in this morning’s FT about our poll. It prompts the thought - who the hell writes these things?

The FCO press office is still churning out stuff which could have been written in the 1980s. In his letter Hoon says he was “disappointed to read about the concerns of some business people in relation to the pace of reform in the EU.”

Now, there’s something about the tone there that is vaguely reminiscent of Brecht’s line about the Government dissolving the people and electing a new one. Hoon certainly won’t be as “disappointed” as the majority of businesses are with the Government’s total failure to do anything about the spiralling cost of EU legislation.

But worse is Hoon's claim that “current research” suggests that 3 million British jobs depend on EU membership. Errrrr – no actually. Quite apart from the small point that we are not calling for Britain to leave the EU, the Foreign Office have definitely been touting the “3 million jobs claim” about since at least the year 2000.

In fact, if we remember right, Simon Buckby of Britain in Europe (remember them?) originally ran a bonkers ad campaign featuring a giant axe and the claim that “8 million jobs” were dependant on the EU. Then the ads got pulled after the man whose research it was supposedly based on (Martin Weale at NIESR) branded Buckby “worse than Goebbels” and said he had completely distorted his work. The Advertising Standards Authority said it was "misleading".

But now Hoon has decided to dust it off the old FCO word processor for some reason. Instead of actually engaging in the debate they still think they can just pump out a bunch of scaremongering stats. Welcome to the Foreign Office… the local time here is about 1986.

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