As if anyone needed to know how clueless the Tories are on the issue that is causing them to scrap like ferrets in a sack once again, along comes an argument over something EU related to put them straight – and remind them how most of the Fourth Estate is incapable of mentioning the subject without descending into a jibbering froth. What has caused the latest outrage is benefits.
There is supposed to be a standard EU-wide test for deciding whether nationals from other member states are entitled to claim benefits. The argument is over the allegation that the UK is imposing an additional test, and it is being suggested that this is denying benefits to many who are entitled to them – like child tax credit, which, hacks take note, is an in-work benefit.
The whole business could end up in the European Court of Justice (ECJ), but the European Commission (EC) ruling has not been made public, so that is all we know thus far. But the press cannot merely report what is known and exercise patience, when there is EU bashing to do, and neither can the more excitable elements in the Tory Party, which apparently now include Iain Duncan Cough.
“Anyone who gets off a plane will be able to start claiming benefits immediately” a Government source has told the Mail (so remember, foreign speaking folks, don't use ferries or the tunnel if you want handouts), which, alongside a photo of Duncan Cough, who says “he will not 'cave in' to the European Commission”, gives readers a pretty obvious hint as to the source.
And the language is loaded: “claim benefits when they arrive ... people arriving in the UK to ‘rinse’ the benefits system ... will not be dictated to by Europe ... benefits tourism”. And the Mail signs off with the priceless “The meddling of unelected figures in UK immigration rules is also likely to provoke public fury”. Yeah, like Paul Bloody Dacre and his hacks. And their pals at the Express.
“The news is sure to put additional pressure on the Prime Minister”, observes Dirty Des’ supposedly upmarket title. But what neither title is letting its readers know is that this whole business just underlines the mentality that takes all the upsides of the EU for granted and then carps about everything else. Indeed, while the outrage is being stoked up on benefits, one other story is going almost unreported.
Fortunately, the BBC has picked up on a dispute concerning Spanish health services not always honouring the EU “Health Card”. The EU stepping in to defend visitors from other member states – ten million a year from the UK alone – receives no shock horror treatment, and, it seems thus far, no newspaper coverage at all. No objection is raised to EU action when the boot is on the other foot.
What you will not read in most papers today. No change there, then.