Sunday, 11 December 2011

Cameron’s Europe: Collective Fantasy vs. Reality

David Cameron’s Idiotic and badly-informed decision to leave Europe will be bad for the UK in the long run. All of Alex Salmond’s birthdays and Christmasses have come at once, as Cameron’s actions in Europe have greatly increased the likelihood of a “yes” vote to Scottish independence. Britain’s influence in Europe has been effectively marginalized and reduced to that of bystander status.

However Eoin Clarke argues that none of this will harm Cameron, and this is important. There are still many things which Britain does not lose from being the Third-Class European, such as free trade and free movement of UK citizens around the EU, yet this is not the full story. Although it is becoming clear that what is left of British business is quite fearful of what Cameron has done.

But nothing will have any short-term effect; that will come later. It will come through Japanese, Korean and American companies not investing in the UK. The UK will no longer be regarded as a springboard to Europe, and, of course European countries, from Peugeot to VW, are now also much less likely to invest in the UK. It also means that the UK has lost influence in resisting legislation which it considers to be contrary to its interests. The veto has been shown to be worthless, it is influence, alliances and diplomatic engagement which count in the EU. It is here where Cameron has been shown up to be a political lightweight by president Sarkozy. One could not imagine Gordon Brown, Tony Blair, John Major or Margaret Thatcher allowing that to happen.

Yet his misadventure may well play to Cameron’s advantage. The right-wing feral media, his own lunatic right and a number of “think tanks” will hit overdrive in an effort to present this loss as a victory. The City money pouring into Tory Party coffers at the rate of a million pounds a month will be used ruthlessly by the Tories to present Labour and the Lib Dems as people who would sell out Britain’s interests. The whole Europhobic culture of the Little Englanders will be ratcheted up in the coming months. Indeed Cameron may well use any short-term blip in Tory opinion polls as an excuse to call a general election which the other parties will not have the resources to fight, and before the economic consequences of his misjudgments start to come home to roost. The delusion of British independence will have obscured the harsh realities of an interdependent, globalised world. Exchanging some mythical  dictatorship by Brussels for a more real but less visible colonisation by Bejing is the reality. Cameron has truly sold out the national interest for the sake of short-term personal political gain. He will go down in history as one of the worst British prime ministers.

What to watch out for:

Cameron deliberately precipitating a general election by forcing the Lib Dems into a position where even they can no longer compromise. A manufactured election, catching the other parties on the hop and with a huge ratcheting-up in propaganda and right-wing media support, is what we can look forward to. Ed Miliband needs to start becoming more visible and more vocal. People will still be scared, frightened of the economic consequences of Cameron’s stupidity, he needs to be seen touring factories and businesses which do a lot of business with Europe, to drive that point home or he will be the first victim of a political ambush.

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