Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Prime Minister David Cameron signals he wants an in-out referendum on Europe set for 2017, after the next general election in 2015, his major speech is for the benefit of the Tory backbenchers, he is just playing for time!

Dear All

David Cameron, the Prime Minister is going to promise an in-out referendum by November 2017 on whether Britain should remain in Europe.

The European Union is a good idea; however, like all good ideas sometimes the application of the idea is flawed.

For many years the real test and challenge of the European Union should have been reform, the ‘club’ is also too big with 27 member states.

Cameron has problems with a hard core of Conservative backbenchers and is trying to buy time; his promise of a referendum only holds true if the Conservatives win the 2015 General Election.

Given the problems and unpopularity of the coalition, particularly with his Lib Dems partners, it is difficult to see how he gets a majority; the Lib Dems have politically died as by-election results show.

Nick Clegg sold his party’s integrity down the drain for a few cabinet positions.

It is easy to understand why the public is disillusioned with the EU because control of our own borders has been lost; leading many to say publicly that Britain has been swamped by people from outside.

The solution to this problem in part is an internal immigration policy in the EU so that criteria, conditions and quotas can be set up, and where needed; a government should have the right to restrict.

Cameron is to say:

"It is time for the British people to have their say; it is time to settle this European question in British politics."

Despite the bad things regarding Europe there are a lot of good which has been done such as the European Court of Human Rights, losing this would be a travesty for justice. The Conservatives keep floating a ‘Bill of Rights’, the idea has no traction because it isn’t about enhancement, it’s about denial.

Cameron hopes that playing to the gallery with what has been described as his "red meat" speech on Europe will be enough to satisfy the bulk of Conservative Eurosceptics and neutralise the threat from the anti-EU UKIP.

In truth, talk’s cheap, Cameron, Miliband and Clegg are all signed up to the European project; Cameron is buying time. There is much talk about renegotiation by Britain, but as many commentators say that will not happen, its sheer fantasy.

To fix his and Europe’s problems it must be done from within.

Up north as they say this speech has been seized by Alex Salmond and the SNP for them to open up a new front with arguments that the only guarantee of Scotland staying in the EU is for Scots to vote for independence.

The problem for the SNP on Europe then become more problematic, because if Britain isn’t in Europe, it means without a shadow of a doubt that Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon will be taking Scotland into the Euro.

Given the destruction of sovereignty and austerity in places like Greece which has been effectively asset stripped, no Scots will sign up to that agenda!

The people of Greece have lost their country.

Across Europe the problem is that banking reform hasn’t been done properly, so, to fix that problem, it would be better to have a 27 nation default and nationalization of all the banks to reset debt.

Once debt has been reset, then the next task of a ‘Marshall Plan’ is construction of a manufacturing base across Europe, and talks on splitting the Euro into two should be consider, Euro North and Euro South.

In his speech Cameron is going to argue that, with "courage and conviction", a better, more flexible EU can be created, one with which Britain is comfortable!

It is a straight choice, it’s either in or out, there is no third option to cherry pick the bits you like because the Europeans will not stand for it, it would be the thin end of a wedge which would cause chaos.

Cameron’s vision for Europe is said to be based on five principles: competitiveness; flexibility; power flowing back to, not just away from, member states; democratic accountability; and fairness.

He isn’t talking about people, he is talking about business, and if Europe is about anything it is supposed to be about a European Union of people.

Cameron is on a slippery slope, problems with Europe were left to fester, these problems trickled down to effective ordinary people and dissent broke out, once that happened it was hard to put the genie back in the bottle as the rise of UKIP shows.

For the Labour Party, Ed Miliband says the current situation would define Mr Cameron as "a weak Prime Minister, being driven by his party, not by the national economic interest".

He added:

“This speech will do nothing for a young person looking for work, for a small business worried about a loan, for the family whose living standards are squeezed. Britain needs a Prime Minister who is making change happen now in Europe, ensuring that we put jobs and growth ahead of austerity and unemployment."

If Miliband keeps sticking his head in the sand over European reform insisting everything is all right, then one morning he might wake up and find that a tipping point has been reached and events have ran away from him.

Cameron’s playing a dangerous game, he can’t stop the rise of UKIP no matter what he promises; their star is on the rise, if it continues they could replace the Lib Dems as the third force in British politics.

I am a big fan of Europe, but someone needs to go the European Parliament and fix the thing, no more expansion, hard decisions on the Euro, Marshall plan for Europe, nationalization of the banks, reset debt, internal immigration policy and a whole host of other things which don’t work and don’t gel.

Cameron is just playing for time; he is trying to win another Conservative election as leader, then bale out leaving the mess for someone else!

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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