Andy McSmith's Diary: No limit to the temerity of the EU - even our faulty kettles are at risk

 

A threat to the British way of life filled the front page of today’s Daily Express. “Now kettles face EU ban – Brussels meddlers in another assault on our way of life,” the headline declared.

Peter Wilding, who heads, British Influence, was not at all impressed. This was pure “scaremongering”, he retorted. But what Mr Wilding cannot deny is that Brussels has commissioned a report on the eco-design of various types of electrical equipment, in which it is alleged that kettles are among the worst-designed pieces of domestic equipment, that on average they break down within seven years, and one in 100 packs up within a year.

Anyone can see where this is heading: it is the start of a Brussels plot to deny the British consumer that inalienable right to buy a kettle that is going to pack up as soon as it has left the shop. Is there no limit to EU interference?

Under the yoke of Brussels

Meanwhile, John Redwood, an assiduous anti-EU Tory MP, has tabled a series of written parliamentary questions to wheedle out just how much we are under the Brussels thumb.

He asked government law officers how many new EU regulations have been transposed into British law since May 2010. The Solicitor General Robert Buckland replied that “the Law Officers’ Departments have not transposed any EU directives or regulations into UK law since May 2010”.

He asked individual departments to reveal how many times since May 2010 they have been hauled before the European Court of Justice by the Brussels Commissioners, using what are called “infraction” proceedings, for not complying with instructions coming from Brussels.

The business minister Matthew Hancock, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude, health minister Jane Ellison and international development minister Lynne Featherstone have answered. Their answers are: none, none, none and none. Mr Redwood is very clever. He will be able to explain how this shows that we need to get the Brussels bureaucrats off our backs.

In praise of knitting

The newly appointed minister for civil society, Brooks Newmark, has raised hackles by saying that charities should be “sticking to their knitting”. Frances Crook, of the Howard League, regards his language as “sexist”.

Does the minister think that charities hand out “baskets of home-made socks to the poor”, she asked? In fact, Ms Crook is missing a cultural reference. “Stick to your knitting” is a phase used by Tom Peters, author the business manual In Search of Excellence. It simply means stick to what you are good at. Nor is Newmark the first minister to use it. In the new book, How to be a Minister, co-authored by the former Labour cabinet minister John Hutton and Whitehall mandarin Leigh Lewis, there is the same advice, directed at ministers – “Sticking to your knitting has a lot to be said for it.”

A record for fickleness?

I mentioned the other day I had had the distressing experience of being unfollowed on Twitter by the chairman of the Conservative Party, Grant Shapps. I was walking along a Westminster corridor when a voice exclaimed: “I saw what you wrote!” It was the man himself.

He offered to follow me again, if I would follow him back. I agreed, and at 10.03pm an email told me that once again I had the honour of being followed by @grantshapps. But foolishly, I left it until eight o’clock the following morning to carry out my half of the deal. Too late: he had unfollowed me already.

I have now been followed, unfollowed, re-followed and re-unfollowed by Shapps. The address is @andymcsmith, if he wants to help me set a record.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence