"Booze Cruise" ruling exposes Europhobe ignorance in the UK

 by Martin Belam, 24 November 2006

There are some stories that are virtually guaranteed to bring out the worst of Europhobia in the British, and depriving them of their divine right to cheap booze'n'fags is one of them. However, the reaction in the forums on the BBC and the Daily Mail to the news that the European Court had not ruled in favour of Brits being able to buy cheap mail order ciggies from elsewhere in the EU was as ignorant as it was savage.

Typical anything to help the English rejected by Europe.
- Peter, Spalding, England
I'm in agreement with most posts here.
If we are a part of Europe we should be treated like all the rest of Europe. Instead out government decides we are only 1/2 in so that they can continue to bleed us.
Questions need to be raised on this and answers need to be given.
- Mark, Leeds
Common Market - what Common Market? Ripped off again - time to get out.
- Sp, Southampton

I also liked this contribution on the Daily Mail site:

Never mind booze and fags, I can't think of anything that is cheaper here than on the continent - except perhaps wages.
- James P, Canterbury Kent

I guess as a Daily Mail reader he also believes that the country is being "swamped" with economic migrants from the former Eastern European states now in the EU - presumably being attracted by the terrible conditions, low wages, and high prices in the UK


I was surprised that the BBC had initially left their forum on this topic reactively moderated - because with a bit of provocation from a poster claiming to come from Belgium it didn't take long for the Brits to rally round and start bringing up the one topic that Brits alone specialise in when talking about Europe - the Second World War

If only we'd left you to the mercy of the German army.
Kev Sutton, Stoke, United Kingdom


I see this morning that the Have Your Say in question is now fully moderated, and that "Watch Your Mouth" has caught all of the trolling.

Occasionally yesterday there would be a lone sane voice in the anti-European diatribes - even if their name was unpronouncable

Let's take a sober look at this comment from Chris J Green: "No one can be suprised at this ruling. Once again the EU are controlling us here in the UK."
This pretty much sums up the ignorance in most of the Europhobe responses.
The ruling has the opposite effect. It is actually a victory for anti-EU people, because it says that the setting of excise duties are a matter for national governments, not the EU. That is, the argument about how much tax levels is with the UK government, not EU
asefvasdv adfbadfb, Purley, United Kingdom

Of course, it is no wonder that this state of ignorance about the scope and relationship of the different European institutions exists in the public mind in the UK. After all, the Daily Mail could have portrayed this decision as a victory for the right of sovereign nation states to set their own rates of customs taxation, and explained that the decision of the European Court was one that defended Britain against the threat of harmonised taxation from Brussels. Instead they chose the headline "Euro judges block cheap online booze"

It is worth noting that if you are ever reading a story about how Brussels is imposing some ridiculous legislation or other on the British you can check up how accurate the reporting is in the Euromyths section of the European Comission's UK site. It describes its function as:

The European Commission's Press Office in London monitors the British press's highly distorted coverage of the European Union. Euromyths are scare stories based on hearsay, rumours and half-truths, many of which have been repeated so often that they have become accepted truths within the public and media consciousness. The A-Z that follows is often ridiculous and sometimes amusing. But the serious question here is about the journalistic integrity of a press that denies the British public the truth about the policies and institutions of the European Union.

Here is where you find out the background on some of the stories that have generated press hysteria in the UK over straight cucumbers and bananas, covered up barmaids, Mother Christmas, and banning bright British smiles.


Regarding bananas:

Commission Regulation 2257/94


which states quite clearly: "free from malformation or abnormal curvature of the fingers"

That some are myths is beyond dispute, just as some are denied and then turn out to be true.

>> That some are myths is beyond dispute, just as some are denied and then turn out to be true.

But the story in the British press is always that the EU has a regulation ordering "straight bananas" - which is not the same thing as Commission Regulation 2257/94, which sets out the criteria for dividing bananas on sale into three different quality classes. The lowest, Class II bananas, are quite clearly allowed to be very curvy (and roughed up) indeed ;-)

"This class covers bananas which do not qualify for inclusion in the higher classes but satisfy the minimum requirements specified above.

The following defects of the fingers are allowed, provided the bananas retain their essential characteristics as regards quality, keeping quality and presentation:

- defects of shape,

- skin defects due to scraping, rubbing or other causes, provided that the total area affected does not cover more than 4 cm2 of the surface of the finger.

Under no circumstances may the defects affect the flesh of the fruit."

>> But the story in the British press is always that the EU has a regulation ordering "straight bananas"

Strange. There was me thinking that the central point about the story was EU obsessiveness with minutiae. Thank you for putting me straight, or should I say putting me free from abnormal curvature.

>> or should I say putting me free from abnormal curvature.

LOL :-)

The things you find when browsing the web. Ah how nice to see the web bloggist that picks and chooses his comments to suit whatever paticular rant they are on that day. Perhaps if you were a proper journalist you would have posted the series of comments that led to my angry reply. But that wouldn't be as sensationalist would it. Interesting that the gist of your article is that the media puts things out of context. Pot, Kettle and Black.

Well, maybe, but only if as a 'proper' journalist I was writing 'proper' news. This is more like an opinion piece really, isn't it, and obviously we have a difference of opinion here about what is 'sensationalist'.

I think it was pretty 'sensational' to put your name on a public forum and express the opinion that the brutal Nazi occupation of Europe and ensuing attempted genocide were a small price worth paying in order to shut up a couple of European voices on a message board that you didn't agree with...

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