Martin Kirby Column; Eurotrash, A Safe Bet and Useless Information
WE DON'T NEED EU ANY MORE
Anyone who's watched the movie; The Life Of Brian, will remember the scene where John Cleese's character asks; "what have the Romans ever done for us"? Expecting the answer to be "nothing", he is surprised by the number of positive things named by his audience. In frustration, he snaps; "But apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, viniculture, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us"?
I mention this because on many occasions, I've questioned what the EU has ever done for us and I've yet to be given one positive example, let alone anything like the list of Roman improvements.
Foreign Secretary William Hague has said the British public's disillusionment with the European Union is "the deepest it has ever been", and that people felt they did not "have a say" over decision-making in Brussels. Too damned right, Will.
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But it's the cost of being in this overbearing, elite club where we are not even welcome, that gets my eurogoat. The website thisismoney tells us; 'Contributions from Britain to the EU budget have outstripped the benefits received in every single year of membership. In total, since 1979, Britain has paid-in about €260 billion (£228 billion). It has received back in benefits just €163 billion (£143 billion). The difference of €97 billion (around £85 billion at the current exchange rate) has been Britain's subsidy to the European project'.
Would the UK sink into oblivion if we left the EU? No, we would manage to rub along somehow, just as we have for centuries, without outside interference and without having to throw more money into an ever-deepening hole. Twelve years ago, Denmark's refusal to join the single currency was supposed to be a disaster for the country, yet I haven't noticed large groups of Danish refugees arriving in Britain, and we still buy their bacon.
The Prime Minister constantly hints at the possibility of a referendum on our EU membership at some time in the future – just far enough into the future for him not to have to worry about making it happen because he knows that, by then, Labour will be back in the driving seat. We need that referendum now, and if only people were as up in arms about the waste of our money - money which could be put into things such as the NHS - as they are about the fate of badgers, we could force the coalition government to get on with it.
I repeat; what has the EU ever done for us?
SADDLED WITH ANOTHER BOOKIE
Being of the 'anything's better than empty' persuasion in respect of our city centre shops, it would be hypocritical of me to complain about the old PriceLess shoe store on Southgate Street being given a new lease of life.
It's just a pity that the store will become yet another bookie's shop, now that Paddy Power is moving in.
Given that the former Lloyds TSB branch, almost opposite the new Paddy Power emporium, is now Ladbroke's, Gloucester is rapidly becoming a turf-accountant's paradise. I'm not suggesting that people are more likely to be encouraged to gamble after Paddy Power opens than they are at present, but you have to wonder where all the cash comes from to keep these places going. I certainly can't afford to throw my money away on horses. Yet you can walk past almost any betting establishment at any time of the day and it will be obvious there are more than enough punters to go round.
At least the situation gives me a golden opportunity to trot-out an old favourite; "Yesterday, I backed a horse at twenty to one. It still hadn't crossed the finish line at half-past four"!
TAKE NO NOTICE
This poster is in my local GP's reception area. It seems to me that any British Citizen who has moved abroad will have trouble reading it!