Sunday, October 02, 2011

There may be trouble ahead

One of the more interesting aspects of British political life over the last decade or so has been the movement of the two main parties towards the centre,  it has as much to do with not upsetting all of the people all of the time as far as I can see. Well that combined with the acknowledgement that Britain has spoken out so much against extremes in politics, from South America to South Africa to the Southern Caucasus's that adopting policies to far too the right or left would be a surefire vote loser.

Against that background the reality from talking to people or gauging public opinion from messageboards or the radio is slightly different. Conservative voters breathed a huge sigh of relief when the Lib Dems grabbed the chance to share power with both hands, the Conservative's hadn't tasted power of any sort for a generation and the Lib Dems (in their original guise of Liberals) hadn't had any influence on British political life (a couple of bills in the 1960's aside)  since the old King was in short trousers. The 2010 General Election saw 71% of the electorate reject a fourth successive term in power for Labour, it also saw 64% of the electorate reject the Conservative's and 77% of the vote go to parties other than the Liberal Democrats, and so in time honoured fashion the winners were the two tallest dwarfs. The mood now is changing, Labour voters, the traditional Labour voters not the Johnny come Lately's of the Blair era are getting more restless, the Liberal Democrats can see their true core values being diluted in a period that will surely become known as 'Clegg - Lust For Glory' when it makes it to the big screen and then there are our friends on the right.

It would be true to say that those who thought having a Conservative PM in 2010 and for five years after would be a good thing are solely disappointed, nay pissed right off. In fact the only good thing for most Conservative followers to come out of the 2010 General Election is that Labour didn't win. The Greek situation saw levels of schadenfreude I have never seen before, the possible collapse of the Euro (a mistake from day one) and the potential domino effect on the EU (a good idea to begin with but now a money consuming behemoth) had them drooling, literally in some cases I think, the sound of keyboards shorting out as saliva hit the key across the land was deafening in August and September. Those who two years ago would have nailed themselves to the doors of Conservative Central Office in a show of support are disillusioned, they are talking of voting for UKIP in 2015, the only thing stopping them drowning in a sea of despondency is the lifebelt from the ship SS Anybody But Labour. 

Well David Cameron has ceratinly pissed on some chips this morning with his comments about the EU and I can't help wondering how little Willie must be feeling at the moment, or is ths a cunning Trojan Horse type of politics.

He has said would not support a referendum on UK membership of the EU. This comes after the number of signatures of a petition asking for a referendum reached the magic 100,000. Speaking at the start of the Conservative Party in Manchester, Mr Cameron said he does not believe the UK should quit the EU - and he played down the prospect of the Government repatriating powers from Brussels in the near future. And it got better, because to those on the right of the party who don't want anything to do with the EU, Euro or the EuroZone, he then added that the Government's immediate priority on Europe is to get the crisis in the eurozone sorted out and revive the continent's economy.

You see, that's what he meant when he said "we are all in it together". Not the haves and the have nots in the UK but the haves and the have nots from way down in Potimao in Portugal to Norwick in the Shetlands.

The Commons Backbench Business Committee is expected to set a date before Christmas for a one-day debate in the House of Commons on a referendum on EU membership. The vote will not be binding on the Government, but if MPs back a referendum, it will put massive pressure on Mr Cameron to put the issue to the country. The committee's Labour chairman Natascha Engel told the Mail on Sunday: "Given the crisis in the eurozone, this issue has become more relevant than ever. There is a clear majority of backbench MPs who want to debate this and we have to respond to that.

I know, Bill Hicks was right wasn't he, life is so fucking weird, we have a Labour MP keen to get out and a Conservative PM keen to stay in. Anyway Natascha Engel (no really) said, "The EU today is completely different from the one the British people voted to join in 1975. It is time to examine the position again. For years it has suited successive governments to avoid debating whether Britain should leave the EU. The whole purpose of my committee is to make sure the big issues of the day are aired in Parliament. People in pubs and shops all over Britain are discussing our membership of the EU and it is time MPs openly debated it too."

Well she's right of course, mention the EU to anybody who voted in 1975, particularly Conservative voters and they all say the same thing "It's not the Common Market I voted for."

But DC said on Andrew Marr Show: "It's not our view that there should be an in/out referendum. I don't want Britain to leave the EU. I think it's the wrong answer for Britain. What most people want in this country is not actually to leave the EU, but to reform the EU and make sure that the balance of powers between a country like Britain and Europe is better."

He added that he wanted to use future treaties to negotiate the return of powers from Brussels to Westminster, but he said this is an ambition "for the longer term" and there is no immediate prospect of treaty changes to make it possible. It did not form part of the current renegotiation of treaties which will keep Britain out of the eurozone bail-out mechanism, he said.

8 comments:

Span Ows said...

Good post. I'm presuming you agree with Cameron on this whereas I believe we'd be better off out. I know pulling out may not be the best thing but if the UK and it's people get to keep their money and it goes this up then at least we know it's most probably all our fault! :-)

Paul said...

Thanks Span. The 'better off out' debate is an interesting one, simply because people always cite Norway and Switzerland as the perfect model(s). Looking at Norway the other day though I see that their contribution to the EU (via the EEA) is set to triple over the next five years and that the only reason why they won't debate membership is because the Labour/Conservative alliance would be split internally - there are those on both sides of the argument in both parties.

As for Switzerland well I don't see how we can even compare ourselves with them.

Love the last line by the way, as Billy Joel once wrote, "Your mistakes are the only things you can truly call your own."

A Northern Bloke said...

It's like the point you made a few weeks ago, Paul. Nobody minds being being in a club if everyone pays a fair amount in. My perception is that we always seem to get the rough end of things in the EU. I may well be wrong but I think quite a few people feel the same way.

Paul said...

Hi Shy, I think you are correct. I think that in Britain the Corinthian spirit or sense of fair play is part of our DNA and we follow rules to the letter however absurd whilst our European cousins have always had a laissez-faire attitude.

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