As I noted recently, the Bruges Group, which calls itself a “Eurosceptic think tank”, is in reality a repository for screaming Europhobia: its website is littered with articles telling how “Brussels” is going to take away our jobs, our prosperity, and possibly our livelihoods. It will allegedly increase our taxes, impose a terrible burden of regulation, and is part of the great global warming conspiracy.
And for any railway enthusiast, the article that leaps out from that website frontpage is called “On The Wrong Track” by one John Petley. Petley has in the recent past been associated with the UK First Party, a group that has split from UKIP rather in the style of the Judean Popular Peoples’ Front. Ukfp supporters are wont to call UKIP “EUkip” as if they were Europhiles.
His article is shot through with the kind of guff that makes analysis rather like shooting fish in a barrel. He tells us that in the UK, “We ... encouraged competition long before the EU told us to”, except that the EU didn’t “tell” us any such thing. What did come out of the EU was Directive 91/440, which forces running and infrastructure costs to be accounted separately, and thus enables competition to occur.
Petley tells that the EU would prevent a vertically integrated railway system to be adopted in the UK, but this too is bunk. All that is required is that separate accounting, which at present means Network Rail (NR) look after the infrastructure. Over in France, most trains are still run by SNCF, with RFF looking after the tracks, although both are effectively public bodies. We could do the same. End of story.
The rest of the article is similarly shot through with holes, although one stands out: Petley tells that “A European Commission proposal ... which, if implemented, could ... ”, demonstrating an ability to scaremonger that could have come from the Paul Dacre book of hackery.
Otherwise, the usual keywords abound: “regaining control”, “freedom”, and of course the reminder that we gave these rotten garlic crunching foreigners railways, so they should remember who’s the boss. It’s the standard paranoid stuff: the EU is full of folks talking foreign, and the idea that it’s a club where the UK is a prominent member does not enter.