For those of you reading this that might not know too much about my background, I have taught various combinations of Constitutional Law, EU Law and Advanced EU Law at UWS since 2007. In addition to this, I am also currently an external examiner for Constitutional Law, EU Law and Advanced EU Law at another University in Scotland. In other words, I have been heavily involved in the area of EU law in both a research and teaching sense for a number of years as part of my day to day job.
The EU is a complex organisation that is not simple to explain in all of its intricacies to a lay person who doesn’t have hours upon hours, days upon days, or even weeks upon weeks to devote to learning all about it to gain a balanced and fair understanding and opinion. Sadly, the general lack of specific knowledge on matters EU naturally leads a lot of people to be sceptical and negative about the organisation. This is understandable – I mean, who wouldn’t be negative with often (incorrectly) cited terms such as ‘federalist’, ‘lack of democracy’, ‘sticking its nose in’, ‘benefit tourism’ etc. etc. Sadly though, this is a problem created by a combination of various individuals in Government and the media, who do not responsibly report on the European Union.
I have long tried very, very hard when teaching EU Law to inform, without giving my own opinion; to create a balanced perspective on matters such as the creation of EU Laws, Immigration, security and defence, and the rights and responsibilities associated with EU Citizenship. I ask students to leave their preconceptions at the door when entering my EU Law classes and keep an open mind, then at the end of the course to make an informed personal opinion as to if they truly do believe that the EU is a good or bad thing for the UK.
This is why when stories such as this one come out, they really annoy me:
In case the article is removed, I would like to share a couple of quotes from it to remain here for posterity:
A report on UK immigration has caused a row within government because Tory ministers believed it was too pro-European, sources have told Newsnight.
The leaked Home Office report draws together evidence from 67 businesses, think tanks, unions and experts.
It concludes the influx of EU migrants has had a largely positive effect, and cites evidence suggesting they are less likely to use benefits than Britons.
The report was re-written twice….
…..Whitehall sources have told Newsnight that the Home Office balked at the initial draft.
Home Secretary Theresa May sent it to the Home Office implementation unit, which rewrote it with more sceptical and negative comments.
The new text could not be agreed on within government and the report was eventually given to a Cabinet Office “star chamber” of civil servants to rule what stayed in and what was left out.
I have a hard enough job as it is trying to foster into large numbers of impressionable students the balanced perspective that I do, without this sort of trash going on. I personally consider it disgraceful that a report is commissioned, with the evidence that follows coming from a large number of relevant sources, which doesn’t ‘fit’ with the Government’s agenda, and so they simply refuse to publish it. Instead they want to deliberately manipulate the content of the report to put in negative rhetoric and spin.
Sadly this is not the first time this sort of nonsense has gone on, and it likely won’t be the last. What is even sadder is that few people will have noticed the news report, and even fewer will care or remember anything about it in months or years to come, yet a large proportion who may eventually see the headlines from the final ‘report’ in all of its manipulated glory, may take from it the negative ‘evidence’ and continue to hold their overwhelmingly negative viewpoints.
A very sad state of affairs, given how important (in my opinion) the UK retaining membership of the EU is in reality.