NHS Hagiographers Continue To Use Commonwealth Fund Survey As A Shield Of Bias Confirmation

NHS commonwealth fund study analysis 1

Britain’s NHS idolaters cling to the Commonwealth Fund’s rosy but skewed assessment of the National Health Service like shipwreck survivors cling to floating wreckage

Brexit is not the only issue which reveals the intellectual limitations and paucity of vision of our politicians. Simply whisper the letters “NHS” and the vast majority of parliamentarians instantly turn into zombies, mindlessly repeating the same worn-out old paeans of praise to centralised government healthcare as though they were under the control of a hypnotist.

There are few better demonstrations of this pathology than yesterday’s segment on BBC This Week, in which Andrew Neil questioned uncritical acceptance of the Commonwealth Fund study (the only survey which routinely rates the NHS favourably) and Kate Andrews of the IEA gamely tried to advance the heretical notion that Britain might do well to learn from other advanced countries when it comes to organising healthcare delivery.

This went down like a lead balloon with bipartisan couch-warmers Anna Soubry and Alan Johnson, whose minds are both welded shut against any information that might suggest that the NHS is not, in fact, the “envy of the world”. Neither host Andrew Neil nor Kate Andrews are able to break through this veil of self-imposed ignorance:

From the segment:

Andrew Neil: Let’s just take the Commonwealth Fund now, because you politicians on both sides, you’re always using it —

Alan Johnson: Well, it’s the only one —

Andrew Neil: No, it’s not. It’s the only one in which the NHS does well, and actually in the Commonwealth Fund it measures inputs, not outputs, not patient care. Indeed, on the patient care – on actual health outcomes – even in the Commonwealth Fund the NHS comes tenth out of eleventh. The Guardian remarked on the Commonwealth Fund: “the only serious black mark against the NHS in Commonwealth Fund research was its poor record of keeping people alive”.

Alan Johnson: Yeah, America came eleventh, by the way, but…

Kate Andrews: Why America? Why not Germany or Belgium or Switzerland or France?

Alan Johnson: Because you came on here and said Trump has a point, are we supposed to talk about Sweden when you said Trump has a point?

Kate Andrews: You’re right, I did say Trump had a point, this whole point is that the NHS is failing, that doesn’t make America any better. Look, I’m from America, I’m not coming over here saying look, adopt the American system”, as I said in the video I wish both countries would look at Switzerland. But let’s stop painting this black and white decision because it’s not about USA versus NHS.

Alan Johnson: The Commonwealth Fund is the only one who measures things like health inequalities and fairness and how it affects the poorest —

Kate Andrews: What is fair about thousands more people in European countries surviving? What is fair about that? What is fair about the fact that 13,000 more people in Germany every year will survive the five most common types of cancer? What is fair about that?

Alan Johnson: [Becoming more incoherent and hysterical with every passing moment] You quote that without saying — as if the NHS was very keen for people to die of cancer —

Kate Andrews: No, of course they’re not, but we can do something about this —

Alan Johnson: One of the biggest problems is early reporting, is people going to their GP, particularly men —

Anna Soubry: Absolutely, it’s the biggest factor.

Kate Andrews: Great. Well, you need access to the GP, don’t you? You need shorter waiting times.

Anna Soubry: We have – please, please, don’t tell me that you don’t have – depends on where you live —

Kate Andrews: The waiting times for this country are appalling compared to their European counterparts.

Anna Soubry: [Disingenuously talking about same-day emergency appointments rather than scheduled GP appointments] Excuse me. Your GP, it depends exactly where you live, because certain GP surgeries like mine, I can see my GP if I want to on the morning that I have – I can ring up and can get in straight away. It depends where you live —

Kate Andrews: That doesn’t sound like a very fair system. It doesn’t sound like a postcode lottery is a very fair system.

Anna Soubry: No, it’s not a postcode lottery.

Kate Andrew: Well he [Alan Johnson] is talking about fairness, and that’s what the NHS is good at, but you were talking about a postcode lottery system. There’s nothing fair about that system, and there’s not a lot that’s very good about it either.

So the NHS is perfect, equality of dismal outcome is preferable to aspiring toward excellence, and if you are one of those people whose deaths would have been prevented by another, superior healthcare system it’s your own stupid fault for not seeing your GP (the unnecessary gatekeeper to practically all NHS care) on time. So say Tory wets and Labour centrists alike.

This is mental subservience to the Cult of the NHS, pure and simple. Every day, the high priests of the NHS surpass themselves in new feats of bias confirmation. One might think that the NHS coming second from last in the rather key metric of keeping people alive might give pause for introspection, but throw up any fact or scenario which suggests that the NHS is inferior and immediately two things happen.

Firstly, up goes the wall of ignorance and denial. Why are you fussing about health outcomes anyway, they splutter. Don’t you know that fairness, ease of access and cost-effectiveness are the only metrics worth considering? And if that doesn’t work, then out comes the good old US/UK false dichotomy, where NHS defenders pretend, quite slanderously really, that anybody who questions the NHS model or expresses an interest in learning from other countries secretly wants to emulate the US system.

Kristian Niemietz has also been fighting this lonely fight against uncritical acceptance of the Commonwealth Fund survey for a long time:

The Commonwealth Fund study is the outlier among health system rankings, because it pays little attention to outcomes – it is mainly based on survey responses and general system characteristics. But it has one category which does relate to outcomes, and in that category, the UK comes out 10th out of 11 countries. So even the preferred study of NHS cheerleaders confirms that in terms of outcomes, the NHS is one of the worst systems in the developed world.

Niemietz concludes:

The jingoism of Little Englanders is sometimes unedifying, but it is not nearly as cringeworthy as the NHS patriotism of the left. The NHS is the country’s most overrated institution. It is the Carling of healthcare systems. It achieves nothing that dozens of other healthcare systems do not also achieve, and usually better – and it’s time we admitted that to ourselves.

I made the same point in a television interview several years ago, pointing out that if you want to make a staunchly internationalist, post-patriotic left-winger sound like the stereotypical swivel-eyed Ukipper all one has to do is whisper the letters “NHS”, at which point they will immediately start ranting about British superiority and exceptionalism, waxing lyrical about how we alone have unlocked the secret of compassionate, universal healthcare delivery, while the other, benighted nations of the world look on at us in envy.

If the NHS is ever to be meaningfully reformed, if healthcare outcomes are ever to improve in Britain relative to the countries which are overtaking us, this wall of ignorance and denial must be torn down. But just from the facial expressions and physical demeanour of Anna Soubry and Alan Johnson in this BBC This Week segment, you can see that they will not be reasoned with. And if politicians who style themselves as pragmatic centrists cannot take the emotion out of an argument and drop the NHS hagiography for an honest discussion of healthcare reform, what chance is there?

This is a cult, plain and simple. When people cannot look dispassionately at a government service but instead debase themselves by sanctifying it (as though universal healthcare were in any way unique to Britain), observing its holy days, quoting its founders and worshipping its historical figures, what you have is a cult.


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Alan Johnson’s Permanent Revolution

Despite Owen Smith’s imminent, glorious defeat at the hands of Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour leadership contest Take 2, New Labour grandee Alan Johnson is in no mood for acceptance and reconciliation.

In fact, as the Telegraph reports, Alan Johnson is still firmly stuck in the “denial” stage of grief for the stalled New Labour centrist agenda to which he dedicated his political career:

Moderate Labour MPs must wage a remorseless campaign to undermine Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership “year after year” or the party will die, Alan Johnson has said.

The former Cabinet minister called on his colleagues on the centre-Left to “recapture this party” from Mr Corbyn and his socialist allies by emulating their record of opposing previous Labour leaders.

Mr Corbyn is expected to be re-elected as party leader next week, with another landslide majority from members, but he lacks the support of most of his own MPs.

The Labour leader admitted on Saturday to making mistakes and disclosed that he would be making a peace offer to MPs in an attempt to persuade his critics to return to the shadow cabinet.

However, Mr Johnson, the former Home Secretary, condemned Mr Corbyn as “useless”, “incompetent” and “incapable” of running a political party, and called on rebels not to give up their efforts to oust him.

So it’s to be a permanent revolution, then – at least in the puffed-up, self-important world of Alan Johnson’s imagination. Labour MPs should continue to loudly and proudly wear their contempt for their core voters like a perverse badge of honour, be it on Brexit or their preferred choice for leader of the party. The PLP should ruthlessly pursue its own agenda while still demanding and assuming the support of the CLPs who stated their preference for Corbyn, and who will become increasingly enraged by any further attempts to remove him. What could possibly go wrong?

Back on planet Earth, though, the groundwork continues to be laid for the PLP’s abject, humiliating capitulation to Jeremy Corbyn – as this blog has discussed here and here.

Labour’s centrist MPs have severely tarnished their reputation by opportunistically exploiting the EU referendum result to rise up against their party leader, and then failing to put forth any better candidates than the hapless Angela Eagle and the detestable Owen Smith. They have no real political capital left to spend, and while the Corbynite dream of mass deselections may still be out of reach now, another mass rebellion of the centrists would all but guarantee a severe grassroots response.

Besides, all this talk of petulant, hysterical and unending opposition to Corbynism is a bit rich coming from a man repeatedly urged to step up and challenge for the Labour Party leadership himself, but who lacked the courage and willingness for self-sacrifice to answer the call even once.

If Alan Johnson really wants to recapture the Labour Party from the Corbynites, he might consider sitting down with a notepad and pen and trying to come up with some attractive new centrist policies which don’t simply look like splitting the difference between Margaret Thatcher and Michael Foot. Want ordinary people to be enthused by centre-leftish policies? Then stop making them such a darn fudge. Stop desperately chasing votes and start crafting the policies which might actually win votes.

But why go to the trouble of doing anything constructive when one can just carp from the sidelines?



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Philip Hammond’s Weak Diplomacy And Our Friends In The European Union

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If the Foreign Secretary sincerely believes that other member states would punish us for leaving the European Union, he hasn’t been doing his job cultivating strong diplomatic relationships and standing up for Britain

Alan Johnson and Philip Hammond both clearly attend the same branch meeting of the Dewy-Eyed European Union Cheerleaders Association, because both politicians – one Labour and one Conservative – are both now peddling the same pathetic line to the media, namely the suggestion that Britain amicably leaving the European Union would be like “sticking two fingers up” at our allies and inviting some form of deserved retribution in return.

Alan Johnson writes in MailOnline:

In terms of our own borders, Britain is actually in the best possible position – in the EU, signed up to the Dublin Accord but outside Schengen.

Thus economic migrants have to register in the EU country where they first arrive (thousands have been deported from Britain in the past 20 years for breaching this requirement), and a visa is still required for anyone outside the EU to enter this country.

Furthermore, it was because Britain was part of the EU that David Blunkett was able to persuade Nicolas Sarkozy to, in effect, move Britain’s border from Dover to Calais.

If Britain put two fingers up to the 27 other nations in the EU the first reaction of the French would undoubtedly be to end that arrangement, thereby ending the security barrier that that arrangement offers us.

This was tremulous, scaremongering nonsense when the same idea was advanced by Conservative MP Mark Field, and it is tremulous, scaremongering nonsense when it comes out of the mouth of Alan Johnson, too, having been comprehensively refuted and debunked by many people, not least on this very blog.

Meanwhile, Philip Hammond – who one might have expected to know and conduct himself better, given the fact that he currently serves as Foreign Secretary – echoed the same cheap catchphrase to MPs in Parliament.

The Telegraph reports:

The Foreign Secretary has told MPs a leave vote the EU would be seen as “two fingers to European leaders and we can expect the same in return.”

He says that if Britain votes to leave the EU “the mood of goodwill towards Britain will evaporate in an instant”.

This is essentially an admission of incompetence by the Foreign Secretary. What Hammond is suggesting to us with this cheap attempt at scaremongering is that he has so mismanaged our relationships with key European allies, and so misled them as to the nature of British public sentiment toward the EU and the consequent possibility of Brexit, that our perfectly amicable and controlled departure would come as a complete shock to them.

Furthermore, if Hammond’s words are to be taken seriously, it means that he has presided over the worst diplomatic failure in recent British history – namely the failure of a declared nuclear power, as well as a leading military, economic and cultural power, to command such respect on the world stage as might survive us leaving a supranational arrangement which we no longer believe works in our favour. Is that really what the Foreign Secretary wants to tell the British people?

Europhiles and Remainers can’t decide whether Brussels is friend or frenemy; whether the other EU member states are dear friends who would be sorry to see us go, or bitter rivals who would seek to punish Britain for rejecting their vision of a politically unified Europe. And it is about time they made up their minds.

As this blog recently pointed out:

Of course, the cynical pro-EU “Remain” campaign tries to have it both ways. When it suits them in their campaigning, the EU is a happy-go-lucky club of like-minded countries who frolic and trade with one another. But when that hopelessly naive, childlike view of Brussels is questioned by eurosceptics and Brexiteers, out comes the other portrait of a snarling, vicious EU which will ruthlessly destroy Britain if we continue to drag our feet or think about leaving.

Good cop, bad cop. Europhiles will normally try the “good cop” routine first when engaging with undecided voters. But this tends to come unstuck as soon as eurosceptics and Brexiteers counter with their own positive vision of Britain restored as a sovereign democracy playing a full and engaged role in global trade and world affairs.

Since the pro-EU crowd are unable to share their own repugnant vision of a politically integrated Europe for fear of scaring people away, they are instead forced to go negative, hence the rapid and disconcerting pivot from “See how nice the European Union is, and all the wonderful things it does for us” to “If we try to leave the EU, they’ll rough us up”. Truly, their position is less a serious argument about governance and diplomacy, and more the tortured thought process of a battered spouse trying to rationalise staying in an abusive relationship.

In many ways, it is unsurprising that there is so much confusion over what would likely happen in the event that Britain declared our intention to leave the EU following a “Leave” vote in the referendum. Few journalists have taken the time to assimilate the information and share it with their readers, which then positively begs unscrupulous Remainers like Philip Hammond and Alan Johnson to exploit the public’s fear and ignorance.

The excellent Brexit blogger Ben Kelly lays the groundwork – and demolishes a lot of misconceptions on both sides of the debate – in this piece at Conservatives for Liberty, well worth quoting at length:

Negotiations undertaken after citation of the withdrawal clause of the Lisbon Treaty will be a matter of practical politics. Although the application of EU and international law is not a settled issue, especially in this as yet untested area, the notion that the EU would refuse to cooperate, or even seek to “punish” the UK in the event of secession – thereby clearly violating EU law as well as failing to comply with international law – is beyond the realm of realistic politics.

Although Article 50 negotiations conducted under a framework of treaty law will be first and foremost a political matter, it is clear that lawyers will be consulted regarding the laws application. What we can be certain of is that – as Sir David Edward, the first British Judge of the European Court, has said – EU law requires all parties to negotiate in good faith and in a spirit of cooperation.

Article 50 requires the EU to conclude an agreement with the seceding state, “taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union“. Notably, Articles 3,4 8 and 21 of the Treaty on European Union require the EU to “contribute to … free and fair trade” and to “work for a high degree of cooperation in all fields of international relations, in order to … encourage the integration of all countries into the world economy, including through the progressive abolition of restrictions on international trade” and to adhere to the “principle of sincere cooperation […] in full mutual respect” and “assist each other in carrying out tasks which flow from the Treaties.”

Moreover, the Vienna Convention of the Law of Treaties obligates negotiators to act in “good faith” and “good faith” itself is an underlying principle of international law, and certainly a principle of WTO law.

The EU negotiators must therefore endeavour to reduce trade restrictions in accordance with treaty provisions and, crucially, their actions are justiciable. If EU negotiators were to veer away from treaty provisions, or indeed if any other EU member sought to impose sanctions or restrict trade, the UK could opt to lodge a formal complaint with the European Court of Justice (ECJ), and block the discriminatory action.

It must be remembered that during the Article 50 negotiations the UK remains a member of the EU and enjoys the full rights and privileges of membership. The Commission itself may be legally obliged to step in and begin infringement proceedings against the offending member state.

It may amuse lazy political commentators to paint the hypothetical future Brexit negotiations as some kind of zero-sum game, trial of strength or fiendishly complex case study in Game Theory, but this would simply not be the case. The truth would be altogether more boring and pragmatic than the europhile naysayers would have us believe, with both sides obligated to negotiate with one another in good faith.

Kelly is right to eschew the tub-thumping “they need us more than we need them!” kind of language as he builds his case, but nonetheless it is worth pointing out that in the event of Brexit negotiations being initiated, all national governments would come under huge and sustained pressure by their local business leaders and lobbyists to avoid taking any retaliatory or counter-retaliatory action which might lead to the throwing up of onerous new barriers to trade.

Given the amount of money and reputational capital that many multinational companies are willing to spend lobbying and campaigning for a “Remain” vote, it is not unreasonable that they would make equally strong representations to the British and EU member state governments to ensure a smooth and orderly Brexit – one which this blog firmly believes is best accomplished by following a fully worked-through plan like Flexcit, in which we would minimise economic disruption from leaving the EU’s political union by maintaining our EFTA and EEA membership.

Those people on the Remain side who seek to dumb down the argument and reduce the nuanced situation of Article 50 Brexit negotiations to a cartoonish “sticking two fingers up at Europe” / “get punished by France and Germany in response” are being deliberately misleading in attempt to distract from the paucity of their case. But worse than that, they are also subscribing to the fatalistic, anti-British mindset which states that our country – the fifth largest economy and one of the most consequential actors on the world stage – is actually nothing more than a minor, third-rate country, easily bullied by its peers.

But remember: by peddling this nonsense, EU apologists like Philip Hammond and Alan Johnson are not merely demonstrating their lack of faith in Britain (particularly concerning coming from a Foreign Secretary). They also reveal their lack of respect for the intelligence of their fellow citizens, whom they lazily assume can be swayed and manipulated by their base scaremongering and dark warnings of EU reprisals.


British Foreign Secretary Hammond attends a news conference in Riyadh

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Forget Migrant Benefits In The EU Debate; What About The S-Word?

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The EU debate is about so much more than relatively petty questions about migrant benefits and immigration. But few from the official “Leave” campaigns are willing to broaden the debate

It is rare for this blog to find itself in agreement with Labour grandee Alan Johnson, chairman of the “Labour In For Britain” campaign group.

But Johnson is absolutely correct in his criticism – expressed on the Andrew Marr show today – that the EU debate has been narrowed down to an insultingly simplistic degree.

LabourList reports:

Johnson, who is leading Labour’s campaign to stay in the EU, appeared on The Andrew Marr show this morning to make the case for Britain to stay in the EU. He pointed out that issues like climate change can only be solved by countries working together, and that the EU was an essential “political union”.

He slammed the Prime Minister for narrowing the debate, saying there has been a lot of focus on Cameron’s attempt to ban migrants who are in work from receiving benefits until they have been employed in the UK for four years. Cameron is thought to have abandoned these plans in favour of imposing new limits on benefit payments to out-of-work migrants instead of those people in jobs. Johnson said this focus had distracted from other important issues.

Forget the orchestrated shenanigans over David Cameron’s supposed tussle with other EU leaders over migrant benefits – this is a ridiculous sideshow obsessed over by a credulous media, as my Conservatives for Liberty colleague and editor Ben Kelly wearily points out.

But Alan Johnson’s broader criticism is devastatingly accurate. From the outset, particularly on the “Leave” side, the Westminster campaign has been incredibly myopic and unimaginative.

We should expect no better from the prime minister – David Cameron is an avowed europhile, has stated numerous times that his preference is for Britain to remain a member of the EU, and has been unable to force the words “campaign for Brexit” from his lips even as a remote hypothetical. And thus it is no surprise that Cameron went in to the renegotiation with no set demands (contrary to the media narrative) but simply with a begging letter to Donald Tusk pointing out areas for discussion.

And those areas do nothing to assuage the concerns of the thinking eurosceptic or Brexiteer. Because the real problem with our continued membership of the European Union is not immigration, welfare, fiscal policy, social policy or the euro. The real problem is the little-mentioned S-word: sovereignty. Because this one word encapsulates all of the many ways in which the EU infringes upon our democracy.

It’s not about Schengen, or the single market – Britain is already outside the former and a full member of the latter. That’s why when David Cameron comes back brandishing something called “associate membership” we should be immediately suspicious, because it will essentially be a formalisation of the status quo, with all of the existing drawbacks of Britain’s EU membership hardwired into a future new treaty, with a few extra problems sprinkled on top as a garnish.

The fundamental issue of sovereignty will go unanswered, because David Cameron is not even raising it as part of his sham renegotiation, and while the overly credulous may believe that a toothless and unenforceable exemption from “ever closer union” is some kind of great victory, it ignores the fact that our union with Europe is already far too close. The EU remains an explicitly political union (as Alan Johnson happily states in his Andrew Marr interview) and Britain remains firmly part of it.

Neither Leave.EU nor Vote Leave hammer the sovereignty aspect, having decided that scare stories about what the EU will do to “our NHS” (genuflect) and other public services will do more to win over the bovine masses. But sovereignty is the key.

Is Britain to be a real democracy, accountable to its own citizens once again? If so, then we need to recognise – and repeat endlessly – that national democracy and the European Union are fundamentally incompatible.

As the preamble to the Bertelsmann Stiftung report “A Fundamental Law of the European Union” (soon heading our way via the Five Presidents Report) explicitly states:

This proposal for a Fundamental Law of the European Union is a comprehensive revision of the Treaty of Lisbon (2007). Replacing the existing treaties, it takes a major step towards a federal union. It turns the European Commission into a democratic constitutional government, keeping to the method built by Jean Monnet in which the Commission drafts laws which are then enacted jointly by the Council, representing the states, and the European Parliament, representing the citizens. All the reforms proposed are aimed at strengthening the capacity of the EU to act.

It’s right there in black and white – a major step towards a federal union. The EU will drive a wedge between nation states and their citizens by enshrining and expanding the model whereby national governments sign off on laws and policies initiated by the EU Commission, while the people will have redress only through the European Parliament, thus (hope the federalists) gradually legitimising the Brussels and Strasbourg parliament.

But you’ll hear none of this from the major “Leave” campaigns, and certainly from nobody within the Conservative Party. The only real exception at present is the small but growing group of campaigners and bloggers coalescing around Dr. Richard North’s site eureferendum.com, who do a good job holding the media to account and pointing out lazy thinking and writing (sometimes including this blog) which unwittingly aids David Cameron’s agenda.

At least the Left and the “Remain” camps are able to appreciate that the EU referendum is a fundamental question of who we want to be as a country, and where we believe democracy and decision making should rightly sit. They have their particular vision – abhorrent to me, but clear and unambiguous – that the UK is a weak and ineffectual country incapable of robustly defending our own national interests, and that the fifth largest economy, formidable military power and cultural beacon that is the United Kingdom can only survive by dissolving our political identity into the European Union. And they will be repeating this message from now until referendum day.

The “Leave” campaigns have no similar clear vision. They believe that the referendum can be won by reducing the great questions of democracy and Britain’s place in the world to a tedious, nitpicking discussion over how many migrants can be kept out of Britain, or how much money saved by renegotiating the terms of our surrender. Alan Johnson’s view is utterly wrong, but at least he has the confidence to state his case.

When will the Leave campaigns appreciate that the referendum cannot be won if people believe that leaving the EU is a leap into the unknown, or when the only ones talking passionately about Britain’s place in the world are the europhiles?

When will the Leave campaigns stop their myopic obsession with issues like migrant benefits, an arbitrary issue picked by our devoutly pro-EU prime minister, which are only designed to distract our attention from the ultimate deal – associate membership – which will ultimately be presented?

And when will the Leave campaigns get over their overriding fear of the S-word?

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Labour’s EU ‘Remain’ Campaign Launches With Their Weakest Argument

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Claims that Britain being in the EU “keeps us safe” are completely without basis. Nations are more than capable of co-operating on national security without dissolving into the same flawed political union

If the slavishly europhile “Remain” campaigns are putting their best feet forward and leading with their strongest arguments then perhaps there is hope for we eurosceptics after all.

Last month, the farcical launch of Britain Stronger in Europe was tarnished by the somewhat unwilling presence of Lord Stuart Rose as campaign chairman, and then rendered ridiculous by “youth ambassador” June Sarpong’s confused non-endorsement in the press.

And now, with today’s launch of Labour In for Britain, the Labour Party’s own pro-EU campaign group, the europhiles decided to lead with the weakest of all their weak arguments – that leaving the EU would somehow be injurious to Britain’s national security. And they are quite willing to exploit the recent shocking terrorist attacks in Paris to do so.

Alan Johnson, chairman of the Labour In for Britain campaign, writes in the Mail:

We should be in no doubt that these are dangerous times. 

The tragic events in Paris, and the government’s recent confirmation that seven terror plots have been foiled in the UK in recent months, have underlined the threat that violent extremism poses to us here at home.

For some, the answer to this is to withdraw from Europe and to try to combat the threats we face on our own. 

So no positive vision, then. Just a lot of scaremongering followed by the reassurance that we can avoid being blown up in our favourite clubs and restaurants for the low, low price of the surrender of our democracy, sovereignty and right to self-determination.

Of course, Johnson never explains why leaving the explicitly political construct known as the EU would mean that Britain has to withdraw from Europe the continent, or Europe the home of our friends and allies. But then it is very much in his interest to conflate all of these things and falsely imply that leaving a political union means cutting ourselves off and standing alone in the world.

From a man who is constantly lauded as one of the Labour Party’s finest assets, a fundamentally decent man of irreproachable morals, this is really dirty and opportunistic stuff from Alan Johnson. Apparently there is no moratorium on using a mass killing for political gain when the people taking advantage of our shock and grief are do-gooder left wing types who think they know best for us.

Johnson continues:

Our campaign will focus on the economic security of British workers – the millions of British jobs that are linked to trade with Europe, and the employment rights that are enshrined in EU law. 

But we will also be laying out the ways in which Europe protects British citizens and keeps us safe.

First, working with our European partners provides us the best way to stop would-be terrorists entering Europe [..]

Second, thanks to the European Arrest Warrant, pushed through in 2004 under a Labour government, we are able to more effectively bring would-be terrorists to justice [..]

Finally, it should not be forgotten that Islamist terrorism is not the only threat we face. At a time of deep instability on Europe’s borders, Britain benefits from its ability respond collectively.

The Brexit campaign group Vote Leave are also pushing the security aspect quite hard, so it is unsurprising that the pro-EU groups want to cut them off by claiming that it is their position which will keep Britain safe. Unsurprising, but wrong.

And Johnson concludes:

By sharing intelligence, pooling resources and working together, European countries add value to each others’ efforts to keep the peace. A Brexit would leave us all more vulnerable.

Damningly, it is never explained why all of this co-operation is dependent on Britain remaining part of an ever-tightening political union with its own parliament and courts and government.

Alan Johnson never explains why our intelligence and security services rely on our EU membership every day to protect us from terrorist attacks. Because they don’t. This co-operation – and any other matters of vital national security – would go on regardless of our future relationship with the EU, because that’s how mature democracies work. Europe will not simply go off in a sulk and stop sharing intelligence with us simply because we decide that we no longer want to be just a star on the EU’s flag, because they need our military support and intelligence capabilities far more than we need theirs.

Don’t forget – Britain’s closest military ally and intelligence sharing partner is not any one of the European Union countries, but rather the United States. We host US air bases on our territory, we embed our own armed forces with theirs (and vice versa) on active operations and we buy and sell weapons and equipment to America. On the intelligence front, GCHQ and the NSA work together hand in glove – sometimes too closely, to the extent that they conducted mass surveillance without our knowledge – and are indispensable partners.

The closest of military allies and vital partners in global intelligence sharing – somehow the UK and US are able to maintain this partnership without a joint legislature handing down laws to Congress and Parliament, a judiciary sitting above our own respective Supreme Courts, or a shadow government running a large and expensive bureaucracy on our behalf.

And yet the europhiles will declare with a straight face that we desperately need this cumbersome, irrelevant and antidemocratic sideshow just to be able to ensure military and intelligence sharing co-operation with a country separated from us by just twenty miles English Channel. What nonsense.

So, Alan Johnson: why is it that Britain is able to maintain our closest and most strategic partnership in the world with the United States without ourselves becoming the 51st state, while a lesser degree of co-operation with the other countries of Europe is somehow impossible unless we dissolve ourselves into the same ever-tightening political union with them?

Truly, the security aspect is the weakest of all the pro-EU arguments, and yet it is the one with which Labour chose to lead. And the only possible calculus for doing so must have been the belief that people were still so shocked and traumatised by the recent terrorist attacks in Paris that they would be susceptible to scaremongering tactics which openly suggested that a vote against the European Union is a vote for more Paris-style attacks on our own city streets.

That tells you a lot about the intellectual weakness and desperation of pro-EU case and the “Remain” campaign as a whole. But it tells you even more about today’s grasping, manipulative and utterly shameless Labour Party.

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