Blog

  • courtesy of Pixabay

    Real junk food

    There’s a local ‘business’ in my constituency, the first of its kind, which was created just 18 months ago but has spawned more than 80 offshoots across the UK since it first opened its doors. This ‘business’ makes no profit, sets no prices for its services, and has no paid staff — yet its turnover […]

  • courtesy David Caster via Wikimedia Commons

    Which democratic deficit?

    Almost every democratic system has aspects which are questionable. The unelected House of Lords in Britain. The role of money in elections in the USA. The pros and cons of different electoral systems. And, of course, the EU. EU institutions certainly suffer from the problem of distance. They are inevitably and unavoidably more remote from […]

  • Made in Leeds

    Made in Leeds

    I was interested to see that a new local TV station, Made In Leeds, has set up shop not too far from my constituency office. Any media outlet that can offer a genuinely independent, local perspective is very welcome. But when local TV stations have popped up in Yorkshire at various times over the past […]

  • by JLogan via Wikimedia Commons

    Cracking down on tax dodging

    The total amount lost to national exchequers through tax evasion and tax avoidance is greater than all the public deficits of national governments in Europe added together. Dodging tax, whether illegally or via legal loopholes, is immoral not only in itself but also because of the damage it does to our economy. So Labour MEPs […]

  • Your Vote Matters

    Voter registration: use it or lose it

    As the old adage goes: decisions are made by those who show up. Sadly though, many people in the UK are unaware that in order to show up to vote on the big day, you first must be entered into the electoral register. National Voter Registration Day (5 February) has thus been created as a […]

  • EU flags

    Even UK deems Cameron’s reforms “unnecessary”

    An interesting — if somewhat surprising — document landed on my desk last week. In the second half of last year, EU member states quietly set up a working group to discuss how to improve the functioning of the EU. This was not some ad-hoc campaign organisation or think-tank. Rather, it was an official series […]

  • By Carlesmari via Wikimedia Commons

    Only 13.2% of UK laws come from what we agree in Europe

    The House of Commons Library has just updated its report on the percentage of law affecting the UK that’s agreed at European level. By looking at all Acts of Parliament and implementing measures passed in the last 20 years, they have come to the conclusion that an average of 1.4% of Acts and 12.9% of […]

  • Syriza

    The plight of Greece: beware facile comparisons

    Greece’s patience with austerity has snapped is the verdict of the Guardian. But has patience with Greece from its creditors also snapped? There is much sympathy for the plight of ordinary Greek citizens after one of the biggest drops in the standard of living in modern times, mass unemployment and cuts to even basic public […]

  • Image copyright Caitlin Childs - http://www.flickr.com/photos/nerdcoregirl/3135135560/

    Angling for bass protection

    When we talk about the impact of fisheries policy in Europe, it’s natural for us to automatically think of the influence it has on smaller scale fishing in our coastal towns, or the huge trawlers that head out into the deep sea. It’s important to remember, though, that fisheries policy also has a great impact […]

  • Photo from Wikimedia Commons

    A trillion euros of free money – but for whom?

    The European Central Bank today announced a €1 trillion quantitative easing programme. Quantitative easing — printing money to stimulate the economy — is conducted by means of the central bank purchasing assets. This raises the price of assets. Now, assets tend to be owned disproportionately by the well-off. So, in general, boosting the supply of […]

  • Tax calculator

    More on small businesses and VAT

    New Europe-wide rules for VAT came into force this month, having been debated and agreed by EU countries back in 2008. Among other things, the rules introduce a requirement for EU businesses selling digital services to charge VAT to online customers in other European countries at the rate that applies in the buyer’s country, rather […]

  • Photo via Number 10

    An opportunity for meaningful reform

    I’ve just published an article in Progress on why the vacuum created by Cameron’s dilemma over his party’s EU policy is an opportunity for us to achieve real, meaningful policy reform in Europe: The truth is that European reform is an ongoing process about policy, not a one-off symbolic event. The whole point of the […]