Thursday, 18 February 2016

Referendum Choreography

Phwoar! When David Cameron arrives for a meeting, you know he means business. In with a left, in with a right, and a left, and a right, and then rapidly moves away from the microphone. Inside and away from Public Relations, he puts his feet up and asks what they will talk about. The Fleetwood Mac of the EU remains quite positive that there will be an agreement, because he knows it has to look like a significant agreement by waiting a bit longer for the announcement.

(I am claiming ownership of any use by the BBC or Sky News or You Can Call Me Al Jazeera of 'Tusk' by Fleetwood Mac as background music when the agreement is hailed with fanfares and hyperbole.)

What annoys me about Labour defenders of the EU membership is that they seem obliged to give these Cameron negotiations credibility. I don't. They are not what he intended, with his election bluster, and they make a marginal difference. Yes, I'll concede a marginal difference, and one that frustratingly takes up valuable time at the EU, but does not justify by outcome the time taken. And none of this can bind the European Parliament element that votes after the referendum and not before. The BBC and other broadcasters are fed the news agenda by all this choreography, and haven't got the freedom to call it for what it is. They are forced to take the government at face value, and leave it to mainly Europhobes in added commentary to call it choreography.

It is quite possible to be pro-EU and regard Cameron's negotiations as a sham and choreography, a figleaf by which to claim something to get a pro-vote. I want a pro-vote on the basis of all the reasons for being in the EU.

First of all, watch the BBC 4 rerun of The Great War and realise that a political-economy across national borders, with supranational institutions, ties nationalities together. The EU might have a democratic deficit, but it has laws of liberal democracy for member states. The UK since Blair has been chipping away at freedoms and, as well as the European Court of Justice, the EU has been a resistance against loss of liberty. Furthermore it is good to have a transnational parliament. The democratic deficit is in fact the Council of Ministers, where executives decide like a mini-parliament. The answer is to strengthen the European Parliament, and have an elected Commission President, not lots of national parliaments.

Then there are the social benefits of the EU, and its dirigiste economic methodology, that does not mean a single market sinks to the lowest common denominator. It is capable of taking on transnational corporations that would seek to pit one country against another. The EU is a confederacy, and a model of a different way of organising politics. It is different from Russian autocracy and American unity but separation of powers and Chinese corrupt political monopoly.

I still favour Britain in the euro. Going in at the correct rate would give the euro ballast and indeed flexibility. In the long run, unless the pound becomes an international currency, we will be in the euro and will use it.

So I will vote in favour, and it would take an earthquake in politics to vote otherwise. The people in Europe are not some sort of alien race, they are like us in all diversity, as is the UK.

And what it we come out? First of all, if we come out, the UK will break up. Scotland will exit the UK and indeed Northern Ireland might well seek independence. In fact Northern Ireland would be put in a terrible position, given the need to be close to Eire.Silly Unionists (UK) expose themselves as the backwoods people they have been for a long time, more UK than the UK. And there won't be a recognisable UK.

If we come out we will still have to pay for access to the single market and have to accept its free movement of peoples. So we will not, so-called, 'control our borders' any more than we do now. The only difference is that we will have no input in to the decision making. Also, when we are out, the EU could become quite hostile to our claiming any part of the EU project from outside. Also, our international politics will be diminished, because the USA and Commonwealth countries will need to deal with the EU institutions and not the UK.

So there is no benefit being outside the EU. The pro-European side is simply not making the case. Being defensive, they are playing Cameron's game. Cameron is only taking Conservative Party politics into the EU agenda, and wasting its time. We should not be having a referendum; the referendum is gambling our UK future on the basis of Tory Party internal politics. I am having to swallow voting for Cameron in this referendum whereas every vote I cast I want to hasten his and his government's removal.

If Cameron loses the vote - we come out - he will have to resign. The Tories and what becomes remaining of Britain will have to be led by some nationalist Tory. This is why, in internal Tory politics, people like Boris Johnson and Michael Gove are weighing up in to which side to fall. But if Cameron wins it he will also do well to resign, because he will presumably be 'on a high' and there is a perceived weak Labour Party to take on as the alternative to the bitterness among Tory Europhobes that will wipe out Cameron's narrow majority. So there could be a big effort to repeal the Fixed Term Parliament Act after the referendum in order to make it easier to go to a General Election and get a bigger Tory majority under a different pro-European Tory leader, given that Cameron has said he wouldn't stand for re-election as Prime Minister. Rather than revert to patronage, a repeal of the Fixed Term Parliament Act might involve other legislation so that, for example, a simple majority of the House of Commons can call an election rather than two-thirds as the Act now stipulates.

Meanwhile the Chinese economy and society might go into one of its periodic meltdowns so we ought to stick with the EU on that basis if on no other. The UK banks are extremely exposed to a Chinese failure.


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