Sunday, 21 February 2016

The Emperor's New Clothes

"After the theatrics of reform negotiation are over and the dust has settled, we're presented with 'the deal'. Thin on both substance and treaty change, we're left with the echoes of on-message careerists to tell us about how wonderful the emperor looks in his new clothes"

You may not want to look too closely at what Cameron has to offer. It's not a big deal.

This weekend, we appear to have been lied to by our own Prime Minister. No matter how he positions it, his deal is impotent and largely irrelevant and in spite of what he's insisting, it doesn't appear to be legally binding. Some great analysis is being done on and I'd urge you to read it:

Dave's dodgy deal - part 1


Dave's dodgy deal - part 2

Reinforced by a wall of careerist sycophants, a million miles away from the nationalistic Bloomberg rhetoric warbled to the party faithful just a few years ago, Cameron is pretending that he has substantive reform. Even without analysis, his face says it all. Parents learn 'that' look - you know, the one where you ask your kids if they've done their homework and they swear that they have when you know darn well that they have not.

It's no small irony that the only solid thing about these reforms is that they could be used as a foundation stone for a competent Leave campaign to launch an effective counter (although I'm not holding my breath). Yet at all levels, there appears to have been a shameful abandonment of the principals at play here; we must address the issue at hand - the health of our relationship with the EU - and not muddy the waters with other tribal indulgences. Time and time again political parties and their members have failed to rise above their own self interest, failing to recognise that the referendum is something entirely separate altogether.

Ukip antics

I'm at odds with Ukip over the central issue. I see the referendum for what it is, a question about our membership of the EU. The vast majority of Ukip members I've spoken to believe that freedom of movement and EU membership are one and the same, supported by the constant rhetoric about immigration on TV by Nigel Farage.

Whilst I'm not going to belittle their concerns, it is indeed a very odd world where a nation cannot control who flows in and out of the country, FoM and EU membership are not the same thing. Trying to pretend they are is a perversion of the referendum question which then subsequently dramatically scales up the complexity and generates an awful lot of wishful thinking about our next steps.

Pointing this out has lead on many an occasion to gross hostility, accusations of Remain collusion and hysterics about hijacking the Leave campaign, as if the matter were one solely of Ukip party possession. Trust me, it's not.

Labour contempt

Equally frustrating to watch has been former sceptic Jeremy Corbyn. On the matter of the EU, Hilary Benn has worn him like a glove puppet. In spite of his known previous position, Corbyn has failed to engage at all in any capacity with the core arguments in the referendum debate. Instead, he's more content with trying to frame the whole issue as a matter of Tory in-fighting and xenophobia in order to score points. If that's all he has to say on the biggest political issue of our time, then I question his relevance to UK politics. He seems incapable of recognising that he needs to be part of the conversation in order to make the party credible again. Apparently not - and perhaps that's what he means by 'the new politics'.

Considering the party's record over the Lisbon treaty, perhaps this contempt for the whole issue is to be expected.

Liberal Democrats

No only joking.

Conservative duplicity

This is a party that have for years played the Eurosceptic card to keep the grass roots in check, yet have acted as Europhiles at every opportunity in parliament. That members were prepared to wait and see the results of Cameron's negotiation strategy shows what a continually deluded bunch these people really are. After the antics of Heath and Major, just what did they expect?

Funnier still, the likes of once sceptical Nick Herbert rolling over and forming 'Conservatives for Reform in Europe'. This delightful 'bunch' recently issued a letter praising the reforms attained by the Prime Minister, whilst snootily pouring scorn on those who would inevitably disparage the deal regardless.

The important and deliciously ironic point is that the letter was accidentally issued prior to the reforms being achieved so they can't have seen the deal themselves. You can't condemn people on the one hand for insincerity yet heap praise on a deal which has yet to be done - if you do, you end up looking like a right Herbert.

Kuenssberg points out what a bunch of twits Nick Herbert and friends are.

It must be revealing for many of the core party members, to see the elected abandon representation of their interests and cling to the PMs ankles wherever he decides to go. No wonder conservative blogger and columnist Tim Montgomerie has become an ex-conservative. The effects could well tear the party apart for a decade. In the same way that an elite and out of touch Labour party suffered a seismic anti Blairite shift after the grass roots were ignored for so long, we can only expect the same to happen to the Tory party.

The PM must surely know this but feel that the future of the EU is really worth the sacrifice.

The Project

If the quotes from Jean Monnet are to be believed, then the imposition of a supranational entity on the citizens of Europe for their own good was a pre planned event, crafted with guile and implemented with deceit. After a series of harrowing wars across the continent, the enemy was perceived to be nationalism and it had to go. The people couldn't be trusted with democracy, it had to be replaced with a system that enforced arms length guidance that could not be influenced by the dangerous wants of petulant men.

When we look at the EU, that is exactly what we have. A distant body which takes its mandate from an elite political class who have reinforced its being by handing over national powers piece by piece. At the time of the treaties in question, little if any consultation has been made with the people who's democratic rights have been continually eroded, with the meaning of the treatise not spelt out in language understood by the average person but in disorientating legalese.

Cameron demeans sovereignty

Historically, debate on the matter has been largely avoided, yet when it has been engaged, it's been demeaned or misdirected. Looking at our current situation, we have the Prime Minister 'battling for Britain' (hold back the laughter please) over a series of faux 'reforms' which under scrutiny will not hold legal sway and will very obviously fail to make the changes that people really want. Everyone knows it, even he knows it, yet he continues to suggest that he's obtained a good deal. His over-riding desire is not for reform but to say just enough to keep us part of 'the project'. I sense a small amount of desperate panic in his tone as the middle ground he's been walking begins to crumble beneath his feet.

Most alarmingly, on the Marr show today, Cameron was prepared to say that black was white on the matter of sovereignty, suggesting that to become sovereign somehow meant less control rather than more. The fact he was allowed to get away with it by Andrew Marr is just as bewildering. Ever focussing on 'Europe' as if it were some magical pot of gold at the end of a rainbow rather than the ailing economic wilderness we can all see it to be, he repeatedly pointed to our wedded future as some safety blanket or panacea for any of the well drilled fear points he could remember. Strikingly, there was no sense of acknowledgement from the man that there's a world beyond the EU. A world where, as a significant global power, we could rightly take our place as equals rather than behind the isolating curtain of the EU.

I've said it many a time but it's worth repeating. Our relationship with the EU has an air of business takeover about it. It's as if the majority of the current political class are caretaker managers in a company that has been snapped up. They see their role as keeping the existing staff at UK plc placated in order to maintain functional viability, whilst simultaneously facilitating the gradual cherry picking and asset stripping for the new owner. It simply doesn't occur to many of these MPs that we want them to run the country on our behalf, shouldering the burden of democratic accountability. In this analogy Cameron, discussing it on the Marr show, would be telling us that redundancy was welcome freedom and that the reduced competition brought about by the merger was some kind of strength that consumers would benefit from. It will never cease to amaze me just how much that man is prepared to lie in order to perpetuate the EU relationship.

You can probably guess, this blog post has been therapeutic for me. Lambasting the PM for his unprincipled weakness, his failure to secure any meaningful reform and the manner in which he continually bends the truth is one of the few ways I can actively vent my frustrations about the man. It's with much heavier heart that I find myself criticising ordinary people for demonstrating herd like mentalities at a moment where for once, power is equal. A referendum is not an every day event though and the legacy media have done all they can to contain the matter to their familiar boundaries of 'big beasts', Westminster bubble and sock puppet institutions like the CBI.

We will never get another chance to do this again. No other party leader will make the 'mistake' of allowing us a democratic say on the direction of the UK and the project. If we remain, we will become a marginalised ghost in the nether regions of the EU outer ring. Core Eurozone members will tighten up to protect their failing prospects and that will come at the expense of our country. I don't believe for one moment that the wealth and power of London's financial centre won't be in their sights. Let us not forget the economic powerhouse that we've become and have confidence in our future as an independent, globally focussed nation.

The leap question

Let's take a leap - a leap away from party centric attitudes and mindless herd-like group think. Yes, let's take a leap. Not in to the dark as David Cameron suggests, but off this sinking ship called the EU. Once more, let's take a leap - a quantum leap in to the global world of tomorrow, where we re-take our seat at the top tables and collaborate in an intergovernmental manner.

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