There is no politician better at working themselves into a righteous froth of faux outrage than Iain Duncan Cough (for it is he). His carefully crafted explosion of rage at those who – rightly – doubt his protestations of past penury has now been repeated as he has joined all the other witless Tories and expropriated the language of UKIP to try and play victim while attacking the hated EU.
Nigel “Thirsty” Farage and his pals love to tell anyone who will listen that the EU, which they assert is “unaccountable” and “undemocratic” (where did Nige get elected to in 2009? Best not ask, eh?), is wont to undertake “power grabs”. Yes, “Brussels” just comes along and grabs things. And the UK is “constantly being outvoted”, although the last time I challenged a UKIP supporter for evidence, it went all quiet.
So yesterday IDS went to outflank Farage and his pals, telling anyone who would listen that the EU was making a “land grab”. It was? Whose land was it grabbing? Was an invasion force on the way? Were we about to be overrun by dastardly foreigners not speaking English and eating meals made with alien ingredients like fresh vegetables? Well, whatever it was, he was going to fight it.
Thus the supposedly Quiet Man was going to see off the dreaded Eurocrats, or maybe not: as with so much about the Tories and the EU, we are not being told the full story. As I pointed out yesterday, nobody is going to be stepping off the plane only to fetch up soon afterwards at the nearest payout window to fill their boots with benefits. IDS is not being totally honest (again).
UK citizens are free to live and work in any member state of the EU, and over two million of them do just that, with around 750,000 in Spain alone. IDS has not registered any objection to that, and neither have his pals in the press. The flip side is that citizens of other EU member states are free to live and work likewise, with many gravitating to Germany, France ... and the UK.
That’s part of the Single Market. We signed up to that – nobody forced us, and “Brussels” did not tell us to. And access to the benefits system – in every member state – is part of that. So UK citizens living abroad benefit again, but there’s no fanfare about that, either. We don’t take any notice of Johnny Foreigner complaining about Brits being allowed to undertake a “land grab” elsewhere.
And what IDS is not telling us is that Swanbourne Home Farms, part owned by his son and with his wife as a trustee, has over the past ten years trousered more than €1.5 million (over £1.25 million) in EU funds. What was that about land grabs? IDS is more than happy for his family to work the system for their benefit, but a Portuguese farm worker in the UK falling on hard times? Shove off back to the Alentejo, pal.
What you will not read in all those righteous editorials. No change there, then.