Thursday, January 24, 2013

Well, what about THAT speech

I  have spent a good part of the day watching the British political scene exploding with excitement because the Prime Minister made a speech in which  he said very little and that already predicted. The Conservatives are either whooping with joy or having a cat fight in the case of Louise Mensch and Nadine Dorries.

Whoopee, they are saying, we have a truly eurosceptic Prime Minister who has shown the way out of the European Union; and, whoopeee, they are saying with more justification, we have just outmanoeuvred UKIP. Others seem to think that he might have destroyed the Conservative Party or as good as won the next election. Blah-blah-blah!

Thank goodness for Mary Ellen Synon who points out in the Spectator
What the Commission won’t come out and say – because it would hand another weapon to eurosceptics – is that it is legally impossible for any EU institution or EU member states to hand back powers to Britain, even if they want to.

Legal mechanisms for handing back powers – ‘competences,’ in the jargon – do not exist. A whole new treaty would have to be created, re-jigging the legal basis of the EU. Is that going to happen? No. Anyway, it would be the work of a generation, not of the few years between now and the middle of the next Government.
Or, in other words, the talk about handing back powers or negotiating them back or whatever one wants to call it is fudge. I am not sure that admitting it would hand another weapon to eurosceptics since, as far as I can tell, many eurosceptics or people who call themselves that have not understood this.

We are, however, being given a slight indication as to how the forthcoming campaign to keep Britain away from negotiating her way out will be run. The Telegraph has an article on the front page, entitled  Merkel hints at deal for Cameron after EU referendum promise. Actually, I had already seen a gleeful comment about this by the highly esteemed Matthew d'Ancona who suggested that the other side had blinked. I responded by suggesting in turn that this is the projected campaign: there will be hints of compromise, faux vetoes and cosmetic changes (as real ones are not possible), all to convince us to vote to stay in. So far, I have had no response.

Meanwhile, what of UKIP? Well, they seem to be stuck in two modes, both unhealthy and unhelpful. Nigel Farage is telling all and sundry that the promise of a referendum, maybe, in 2017 is a victory for UKIP. This is being repeated ecstatically by his acolytes. Others are snarling that one cannot believe anything "Dave" says. The second one may be true but since he said nothing much of substance it matters little. The first one is rubbish. By focusing on a campaign for a referendum instead of an exit strategy UKIP has been comprehensively outwitted by the Boy-King (and what a sorry state of affairs that is).

In the past, the argument "vote UKIP - get Labour" could be answered with "and so what?". No longer. Vote UKIP - get Labour and no referendum has changed the game. It is entirely possible that for the first time in its twenty year existence UKIP will actually lose votes in the next general election.

That leaves the one or more organizations who were set up to campaign for a referendum and in that name have muddied the waters, fudged the issue and siphoned off resources. They should now declare victory and retire from the field. I see a squadron of pigs taking off in the distance. The main purpose of every organization is to prolong its existence beyond any need for it. We shall hear many and excuse from the likes of the People's Pledge (or the East European Furniture Polish, as I like to call them) why they should carry on "with their work".

I find that having written all that, there is no need for me to quote from the speech at all. Well, really everyone knows what he said.


  1. I followed the link and read Mary Ellen Synon's article. Although short, it said everything that I have come to understand from reading her, your and Mr North's articles on the subject. What surprised me was the vehemence of some of the disagreeing comments. There appear to be many who truly believe that renegotiating powers is possible. One commenter goes so far as to say "full competence to break every treaty rule that exists, if the precious Euro is under threat" as if this unsubstantiated comment is enough to claim a precedent.

    It seems to me that if this level of disagreement is typical of the populace in general then we have a lot of persuading to do and this will include trying to explain arcane aspects of EU law which is not a subject most people want to hear about.

  2. I know THAT speech was the big news yesterday, and it certainly shook up the politicians, the media and the commentariat both here and there. But even if Cameron would have been able to force real negotiations it is all way into the future. On the other hand, something did happen yesterday that is of more direct importance to the EU/eurozone:

    In another far away country the local parliament of Catalonia voted with more than 2/3 majority for sovereignty. They have de facto abrogated the agreement regarding the constitution of 1978. A referendum will take place next year. Questions like who will take care of the Spanish debt (questions that were ripe already in the 18th century - don't the EU fathers & mothers know any history?)
    is going to move to the forefront (again).


    1. Thank you yet again, Mikgen. This will be followed up.

  3. I suppose that UKIP would counter by saying that there will only be a referendum if the Conservatives win the next election, and after a renegotiation. Therefore folding their tents now would be a little premature, and anyhow people support them for more reasons than just Europe.

    For my part I think their continued existence is likely to make the outcome they purport to want less likely, and it would be best if they were to disband themselves. But as you say most organizations exist to continue existing.

    1. Indeed. And that goes for the other pro-referendum organizations who have helped to muddle the issue in people's minds.

  4. "vote UKIP, get Labour and no referendum has changed the game"

    I don't think it has, because the alternative is "Vote Tory and get a meaningless referendum" for all the reasons we know.

    And a fair number of sceptics will be thinking "Dave promised a referendum before and wriggled out of it, he could easily do so again". People haven't forgotten old "Cast-Iron", fool me once etc etc.

    It may change the game for the ignorant or the uncaring, but they were going to vote Big 3 anyway, so their game doesn't matter.

    1. Well, Weekend Yachtsman, we shall see. As a matter of fact I know a number of people who have always voted UKIP and are now thinking of voting Conservative because, you see, they have looked at the facts. By changing their campaign to one for a referendum from one for withdrawal, UKIP has said that if a party promises a referendum that is, in itself, a good thing. See Farage's chirpy comments yesterday. By helping to fudge the difference between a referendum and an exit strategy, UKIP has helped to build the idea that if a party that does not offer a referendum, in this case the Labour Party wins, that means people have voted for staying in the EU. All this leads to one conclusion: if you want even a small chance of getting that referendum and/or starting the process of exiting, you have to vote Conservative this time round. It might be a good idea if you stopped being quite so contemptuous of other people. They often know as much if not more than UKIP members and have as much understanding of the issues.

  5. If I understand it correctly what he did say was that he wanted to be in the single market and nothing else. If I am correct then that condition already exists under the guise of EFTA/EEA so why not a referendum now; single market or EU, simple question. If Cameron really meant what he said he would have come clean and told the nation that negotiation on repatriation of powers and reform of the EU was completely out of the question as there is not the will or the mechanism to achieve that. So a referendum would be held in this parliament. What he was really saying and doing was making a promise that was empty, deceitful and obfuscating. He knows that he will probably not ever be in a position to call a referendum and in the rare even that he is it will be so far in the future that the UK will be even more mired in EU regulation that will be next to impossible to extricate from and even more entrenched in the integration process that escape is virtually impossible. The speech was meaningless and I am astounded that the bulk of the people have not seen through the deception. Still the people even hacks and other politicians are either irrational, ignorant, apathetic, gullible or dogmatic/prejudiced in views or a mixture of all of them that perhaps it should not surprise me at all.