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Richard North, 31/01/2013  


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The thing that struck me about the Commons debate on "Europe" (the bit I could tolerate) was its flatness – the lack of knowledge, imagination or of anything new to say. Whatever debate there is, it isn't being driven by MPs, who really do have nothing to offer except the same old, derivative mantras.

For that debate, you are going to have to go to the blogs that the MPs don't read, such as Boiling Frog who has put up Part I of a further exploration of Article 50, taking on board the two-year negotiating period, and the response of the "colleagues".

By coincidence, we also see a piece from Helen Szamuely in International Business Times, also on Article 50, this one in relation to an exit strategy.

There is more wisdom, information and knowledge in these two pieces – both of them worth studying and keeping - than you will find in the hours of speeches from the ranks of dismal MPs who spoke today. None of these have spent any time learning the history of the EU, nor the dynamics of the Community. The shallowness and the misinformation from people who would lecture us on what we should do is, frankly, offensive.

Therein lies much of our problem, especially with the likes of John Denham and Paul Blomfield who are so free with the insult "europhobe", men who complain of resentment towards the European Union, while speaking glibly of peace in Europe through their insults.

These MPs in particular are a disgrace, but there is not one I would give time to, from the pompous Ben Gummer to the well-meaning but naïve Andrea Leadsom and the insolent Emma Reynolds. None have taken the trouble to keep themselves properly informed. They have nothing to tell us.

Bizarrely though, information in this country is not at a premium. The ignorance of the "ordinary man" – even those who claim to be educated – is largely self-inflicted. It matches that of the MPs who claim to represent us. The information is there to be had, not least through the modern miracle of the internet and search engines, but it doesn't get to them.

In fact, it is through that miracle that we can watch our MPs in action live. With a slight tweak in technology, two screens can be fitted to one computer – as I have done, which allows me to watch the ghastly proceedings on one, while working on a document on the other.

Unfortunately, the technology does not bring the quality automatically. That, one has to search out, and too few people are doing that – especially MPs and their assistants and advisors. They should not be surprised, therefore, if they are progressively left out of the real debate. Worthless prattlers, they really are a waste of space and time.

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