When will he learn? Usually, the ramblings of Christopher Booker are something not worth the trouble – the times he appears on this blog are small compared to the waves of guff emanating from the Telegraph – but every so often, he drops a clanger and lets slip just how little research he does, and therefore how little he really knows, on those issues where too many still trust him.
No Brussels constraint on this place
And today’s clanger is on the subject of Europe. Booker has railed against the EU for decades, and if today’s effort is anything to go by, the experience has left him unable to distinguish between fact, and what he would like that fact to be. His beef, as so often, is the idea that EU regulation – to which the UK is a contributor, let’s not forget – is intruding on the independence of Parliament.
Booker’s chosen subject is circus animals, and the idea that their use should be banned, and moreover would be, if only those rotten Eurocrats would let us. He describes how there was great support in the Commons for a motion in favour of such a ban, then suggests that the Government has hidden behind the potential of legal challenges to obscure the dastardly hand of Brussels.
Unfortunately, Booker also quotes directly the EU regulation concerned, numbered 1739/2005. A summary of this is available online, so his assertions can be checked against reality. So what’s it all about? “EU Regulation 1739/2005 laying down animal health requirements for the movement of circus animals and animal acts between EU Member States”.
So it’s a regulation to ensure decent standards of welfare for circus animals that move between EU countries. It has nothing to do with what happens within any one country. It has nothing to do with countries’ own Governments deciding of their independent will not to allow circuses to use animals in their acts. It does not prevent the UK making its own rules on what happens in the UK.
All of which means that Christopher Booker is, once more, talking out of the back of his neck, and Telegraph readers are being blatantly misinformed by a pundit who passed his best-by date many years ago. He might find useful the wise words attributed to the late Denis Thatcher: “Better to keep quiet and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt”.