Tuesday 9 June 2015

Dave's EU-Turns

A month into Dave's second term at it's handbags at dawn in the Tory party already. What a shame. Rattled by last week's announcement of 50 No-Ultras that they exist, Dave did a characteristic volte-face. In an attempt to appear tough and in control - his re-election campaign did, after all, promise "strong leadership" - he declared that all ministers would have to toe the party line when the referendum comes round. Then, 24 hours later with much gnashing of teeth, he'd changed his mind. Except, of course, all along he'd been "clear" that his threat to use collective cabinet responsibility to squeeze out dissenters was in force only for the period of the renegotiation. Whether there will be a free vote as per Harold Wilson 40 years back is yet to be decided. Nothing to see here then.

The problem with Dave, as this blog has long argued, is that our Prime Minister is a flake. He is a weak leader blessed by two fortuitous circumstances. The first, which is down to him, is his sole discernible talent of looking the part. He's posh without sounding snobby, he speaks plainly, avoids wonkish terms, and does not have the weird Westminster accent many of the front bench opposite has. He appears dynamic and at ease in the company of the big beasts of the international circus, and a lot - too many, as it turned out - think he really does mean well. A countenance absolutely appropriate to our heavily mediatised age. The second are those pesky events, which as Frankie Boyle points out, have almost contrived to make Dave appear as an evil genius.

I've long hoped, forlornly up until now, that Dave will one day be exposed. That his legion of weaknesses will not so much be unveiled as do a full military tattoo in the parade ground of public perception. It didn't happen in the general election, but the EU negotiations might have him. But it's not terribly clear what Dave's objectives are. This list, gleaned by Policy Network suggests:
* New controls to stop “vast migrations” when new countries join the EU
* Tighter rules to ensure that migrants come to work, not as “tourists planning to cash in on free benefits”
* New powers for “groups” of national Parliaments to block “unwanted EU legislation”
* Freeing businesses from red tape and “excessive interference” by EU rules, as well as “turbo-charging” free trade deals with the USA and Asia
* British police and courts “liberated from unnecessary interference” from the European Convention on Human Rights
* Power “flowing away” from Brussels to Britain rather than “increasingly centralising laws”
* Ensuring that Britain is “no longer subject” to the EU treaty objective of “ever closer union”
If this is the list, there are a couple of problems. Firstly, the European Commission aren't the people to speak to about the European Convention on Human Rights. They are entirely different bodies. 

Second, when it comes to "unwanted EU legislation" and rules responsible for "excessive influence", Dave will have a tough time. The majority of these laws and regulations are promulgated because the vast beast that is the European single market requires them. For it to work properly, it needs to ensure its legislative underpinnings are standardised and enforced across member states. And, despite what the Europhobes like to think, it's very hard to maintain the existence of a market without a political dynamic developing toward pooled sovereignty. While some eurocrats may dream of a superstate, its DNA is inscribed in the billions of transactions that take place across European frontiers. That in mind, some member states will be mindful of Dave trying to maximise the benefits of being in the world's largest trading bloc while minimising the responsibilities that come with it. If the Tories, for instance, decide EU employment legislation is too "restrictive" and that the right to a decent working environment is so much red tape, are other EU states going to be sanguine about any competitive advantages this affords a semi-detached UK? Definitely not.

And so Dave has allowed himself to concede a set of EU negotiations he cannot possibly achieve. The best he can hope for are some quite marginal tinkering with social security rules here, some free movement delays on new members there. He is entering this completely unnecessary process in bad faith, and this could well be the occasion where - at last - his vapidity is well and truly found out.


jim mclean said...

Not a bad piece but I prefer the Daily Mash one, Dave has morphed into John Major.

jim mclean said...

Apparently it was a victory for the Left, Left votes up, right votes down, problem is multi parties in a FPTP system, transferrable votes maybe.?

Paul said...

A rejection of article 1 of Lisbon on "ever closer union" would be interesting, since the article actually reads:

"This Treaty marks a new stage in the process of creating an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe, in which decisions are taken as openly as possible and as closely as possible to the citizen."

So article 1 makes no claim about closer union between states. It's about pepople, and it's about devolution of decision making.