My friend José Manuel Barroso has a point

The EU has just told Britain to top up her net contribution to the EU coffers by another 20 per cent or, in absolute numbers, £1.7 billion. The deadline is 1 December.

This being close to a by-election in which Ukip is leading the Tories by 13 points, Dave felt called upon to throw that extortionist demand back into those Euro mugs.

“If people think I am paying that bill on 1 December, they have another think coming,” he intoned, both mendaciously and incorrectly.

The mendacity should be visible to the naked eye. Dave pretends to be someone he isn’t: a statesman capable of facing up to the EU.

If he were such a statesman, he would have simply refused to pay the money, full stop. Being what he is, a cynical, self-serving spiv, he only said he wasn’t going to pay on 1 December.

Like someone responding to a ransom demand, Dave complained he hadn’t been given enough time to put the sum together. “C’mon, at least give me until the middle of the month,” seems to be the implication.

His outburst is also factually incorrect. He won’t be paying anything on any date – we will. I know this thought may sound quaint to our spivocrats, but they actually don’t own public funds. The public does. We. Us.

We’re the ones picking up the tab for Britain’s EU ‘contributions’, which is more accurately describable as us paying protection money without getting the protection.

The arrangement has been depicted in various films and TV shows, starting with The Godfather and starring fine Italian-American actors. The difference between a Mafia shakedown and Britain paying the EU is that it’s generally believed that we proffer our hard-earned voluntarily.

That, of course, is another lie. I for one don’t recall consenting to pay a part of my income to subsidise the Common Agricultural Policy, which is to say French farmers. I already pay them enough each time we go to our local market in France.

Anyway, José Manuel quite reasonably said that the shakedown “should not have come as a surprise” to Dave.

He was absolutely right, though not exactly in the way he meant it. Barroso was suggesting that the demand naturally flowed out of all sorts of agreements Britain had entered into, which is God’s own truth.

But it’s only part of the truth, and an infinitesimally small part at that.

The shakedown is a natural aspect not only of the EU, but also of any other giant socialist project, which is exactly what the EU is.

Tossing aside the mythology of socialism and focusing instead on its essence, we’ll identify a plethora of traits. Then we’ll realise that the EU shows every one of them, in spades.

Politically, socialism (and so-called social democracy dominant in all Western European states is no different) is all about transferring power from the periphery to the centre – both geographically and, more important, essentially.

While enveloping itself in the smokescreen of slogans along the lines of ‘all power to the people’, socialism takes power away from the people and concentrates it in the hands of a small, more or less homogeneous elite.

Aggressive socialism effects this transfer quickly and violently; ‘democratic’ socialism does so gradually and bloodlessly.

But the result is the same: whatever power people think they have is illusory. They can’t, for example, vote the ruling elite out. They can only shift power from one party within the elite to its virtual twin, albeit bearing a different name.

One key lever the elite uses to prise power away from the people, in whose name it supposedly governs, is financial. It’s in the elite’s interests to take as much money away from those who have more of it than others, for money spells independence from the state.

The less money people have left, the more they are dependent on the state, which is precisely the idea. That’s why, for example, the state constantly increases the underclass dependent on it directly and wholly.

To any reasonable person, such social engineering is ruinous financially and, even worse, corrupting morally. But the state has its own reason, its own inner imperative, and, when judged by its own criteria, it proceeds from unassailable logic.

Exactly the same principles apply internationally. Socialists have always craved a single world government, a global cosmos activating the same mechanisms as each national microcosm.

The logic of socialism demands an ad infinitum growth of the state. This presupposes the government outgrowing its national boundaries and removing itself even farther away from the people it governs.

If a national state applies socialist principles to bullying its subjects, the resulting supranational entity applies them to bullying its constituent national states.

Money plays exactly the same role here, but obviously on a much grander scale. Just as a socialist state seeks to renders its financially virile citizens fiscally impotent, so does a superstate, in this case the EU, seek to lessen the power of the financially stronger states – especially those outside its Franco-German elite.

Hence our money will go straight to Germany and France, who’ll get it in the form of rebates. A socialist nation state taxes its wealth producers at a higher rate than everyone else; the supranational state the EU is in all but name taxes a temporarily more successful Britain in favour of the temporarily less successful France and Germany.

When our economy has been brought down to the level of France, it’s conceivable that less money will be extorted from us. There would be no point: Britain will have lost even a semblance of financial independence and hence room for manoeuvre.

Whenever we contemplate the EU’s actions, we must remember that, like any other socialist enterprise, the ends it pursues aren’t so much economical as political. Money is only a tool, or rather a weapon.

So Barroso is right: since Britain is the only European economy that seems to be growing at the moment, it has to be brought down a peg. Otherwise, Ukip and much of the Tory party would start getting ideas beyond their station.

They would find it easier to argue that Britain would be better off without the EU, which of course is true in any case. But the point is that the EU would be worse off without Britain, and this is the only point that matters.

It would be easier for Dave, Ed, José Manuel or whomever to argue that Britain needs the EU if we were as impoverished as France is rapidly becoming.

Hence the new shakedown. And hence also Dave’s frankly pathetic objections to it.

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