Farrago is a good word to describe the hotchpotch of confused and conflicting ideas that UKIP claim to hold. Their aptly named leader provided a perfect example of this yesterday when he said:
"The EU states will simply never agree to give back powers to the nation states. The EU wants more power not less."
Where do we begin to unravel this strange utterance? I could start by saying that the "EU states" and the "nation states" he talks about in the first sentence are usually the very same thing, making the sentence complete nonsense. I could point out that the UK is itself an "EU state" so that, by Nigel Farage's strange logic, the UK "will simply never agree" to any repatriation of powers to itself either ... which is again complete nonsense.
So it might be better to ask why UKIP regard the UK as different to most other EU states. Nigel Farage has in fact touched on the answer without realizing it: namely that the UK is not a "nation state" at all, but a collection of nations.
UKIP's fundamental hostility to the EU stems from the fact that both the EU and the UK aim to do exactly the same thing. I fully agree with UKIP that we don't need both. I disagree with them about which one better serves the interests of Wales.
The principle behind both the UK and the EU is that countries are stronger when they act together on matters of shared interest. But there are some very fundamental differences between the two:
• The UK was mainly established and enlarged by force. The EU was established and enlarged entirely by mutual, democratic consent.
• The UK is dominated by one country which, with 83.9% of the population, can impose its wishes on the remainder of the UK irrespective of what the other parts of the UK want. The EU is not dominated by any country, the largest has only 16.3% of the population and its voting rights as a proportion of its population are even smaller.
The structures of the EU are carefully designed to give small countries a bigger say. In fact as individual member states of the EU, the countries of Britain would collectively have much more of a say in the EU than the UK has at present. The UK currently has one member of the EU Council, one commissioner and 72 MEPs. As separate member states Wales, Scotland and England would have three members of the EU council, three commissioners and probably 88 MEPs. On current parities, Wales would have 9 MEPs (the same as Lithuania) instead of 4, Scotland would have 13 MEPs (the same as Slovakia or Denmark) instead of 6, and England would have 66 MEPs (between Italy's 72 for 60m and Spain's 50 for 38m) instead of 59 ... although this would be rounded down for all member states as new states join because the maximum number of MEPs is limited to 751.
• And finally the UK is very much smaller than the EU. Why would anyone in Wales want to be in a single market trading block with England, Scotland and Northern Ireland rather than be a member, in our own right, of a single market trading block that includes most countries in Europe?