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Cameron is out of the Champion’s League

December 9, 2011

Not even Jose Mourinho, the special one, would have had the nerve to return from a European 26-1 defeat and claim victory. But Cameron’s gall, it seems, knows no limits.

He will return, no doubt, to much flag-waving by his own backbenchers. “We’ll burn that bridge when we come to it” seems to be the genius strategy that his own party will applaud enthusiastically. But how sensible is it?

For months now he has told the nation that a stable, viable Euro is in the UK’s National Interest; that uncertainty in the Eurozone was affecting our employment figures, our growth, our prospects; that the EU is our main trading partner by a clear country mile. Last night he sat down with that trading partner and a few hours later told them to take a running jump.

The door is over there, David. (photo: ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)

For months now he has told the nation that, when it comes to domestic fiscal policy, “we’re all in this together”. This is the logic used to justify austerity, misery, child poverty and unprecedented cuts to our public services. Ordinary people being asked to pay for catastrophic errors of judgement which were wholly outside their control – whether one subscribes to the view that it was the Bankers “that done it” or that it was irresponsible politicians.

But, when asked by the larger community of nations of this continent to apply this same principle, a 0.05% tax on financial transactions and tighter regulation of banking in exchange for a return to stability and growth – measures which should have been welcomed – that logic failed. He drew an intractable line in the sand. And so, the rest of Europe said: “You are the Weakest Link. You leave with nothing. Goodbye”.

Yesterday, The Sun newspaper – that Euro-pandering, leftie mouthpiece – predicted three possible outcomes to the negotiations:

OPTION 1: DREAM FOR DAVE ~ A TREATY is agreed by all 27 EU members to enshrine fiscal union in the eurozone, with concrete safeguards for Britain’s demands also agreed.

RESULT: Cameron returns a hero. Most Tory backbenchers are happy, calls for a referendum are silenced and business is delighted the euro is saved.

OPTION 2: PM PUMMELLED ~ THE eurozone members sign a treaty among themselves. Cameron is isolated and gets no guarantees for Britain.

RESULT: The euro gets propped up in a shaky deal and a two-speed Europe begins, with Britain cut out of key decision making. Cameron faces open revolt in Westminster.

OPTION 3: CAM CALAMITY ~ NO agreement is reached and Britain is blamed for ruining the euro’s chances. In weeks it breaks up in chaos as countries default on their debts.

RESULT: The world plunges into recession and Cameron is blamed. Clegg pulls the Lib Dems out of the Coalition and the Government collapses.

Cameron’s actions leave the UK teetering between option 2 and 3. I have no doubt that The Sun’s headlines tomorrow will hail him as some sort of Churchillian hero. But make no mistake – they had it right yesterday. Even Thatcher, the lusty centrefold of right-wing Euro-scepticism, never walked away from a negotiation in such destructive a manner.

Cameron plays "a blinder". (Photo: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Cameron will claim that he did it in the National Interest. As if the National Interest is a term interchangeable with the interest of the City of London. Was that theory not blown apart in 2008 when the financial sector cost the country the largest single rise in national debt ever experienced?

How does one reconcile taking the risk of causing a global catastrophe to protect some Holy Sovereignty, while supporting the appointment of unelected leaders in Greece and Italy? While handing over the reins of domestic policy to wealthy lobbies? While surrendering foreign policy to Washington?

I need not discuss the deal in question. The truth is, even if one U-turns as fast and as often as our pirouetting Prime Minister, there is still a 50-50 chance they will end up facing in the right direction. Whether the deal on offer would have been good, bad or indifferent for Britain is irrelevant now. Cameron’s actions have denied the nation the opportunity to hold that debate.

Sweden, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic are not convinced by the deal being offered. So, they have said they have to take it back to their sovereign Parliaments to consider it. All their options are still open – including saying “no”; using the veto; walking away.

So, ask yourselves this: Why is it our Prime Minister alone that has decided to make the decision on the spot, there and then, at 4am? There can only be one answer: It is the difficult discussion with his Coalition partners, the Opposition and his own backbenchers which terrifies Cameron.

He did not adopt this defiant approach because he is brave. He adopted it because he is a coward.

Different strokes for different folks.

25 Comments leave one →
  1. December 9, 2011 5:39 pm

    1694 saw an early implementation of a financial transaction tax in the form of stamp duty at the London Stock Exchange.

  2. December 9, 2011 5:48 pm

    depressing news that reinforces the view tht Cameron’s definition of the UK’s best interests is no more than whatever suits the short-term profiteering of the City :(

  3. Jack permalink
    December 10, 2011 10:44 am

    I believe Cameron was backed into a corner because, the Germans and French believed a referendum on Europe was a real possibility in the UK and thy knew it would be unstablizing for Europe, thy want us out to brake us. Thy want to attack the city. We must now pull together and show the world we are Great Britain

    • December 10, 2011 10:53 am

      Cameron was backed into a corner because he stood up in the House of Commons a month ago and promised a referendum if there was a treaty change, thinking there wouldn’t be one in the immediate future. He was wrong.

      • December 10, 2011 12:11 pm

        and why would an attack on the City be a bad thing for the UK? Might be academic once the bankers and dealers realise that their raisin d’etre en Londres is disappearing and move themselves to Frankfurt to trade with Europe

  4. Clear Voice permalink
    December 10, 2011 2:19 pm

    I agree. Cameron is a total coward. Everyone agrees that the city needs tighter regulation (except the very few who profit from their more dubious activities), and this unelected Prime Minister had the option of laying the deal before Parliament, who could have considered it properly which is what we elect them to do.

    He was clearly afraid that the ensuing discussions would break the coalition, and rather than risk revealing its various factions he stormed out leaving Britain isolated and open to ridicule. ( you can’t meet in this hall = it’s my bat and I’m not playing anymore…)

    I was living and working in mainland europe during the Major years, and saw clearly how our xenophobic mentality was viewed by our neighbours, (“up yours Delors” etc on the front page of the Sun didn’t help any). Frankly, under Major’s government it was embarassing to be British. Tellingly both Merkel and Sarkozy kept referring in their speeches to David Cameron, rather than Britain, so perhaps they have spotted what the rest of us already know, that this man is not acting in our interests. We are now on the outside of a very compromised Europe, and not in any position to influence its stability or to prop up the markets on which we so much depend.

    Will the USA come to our rescue? Somehow I don’t think so. Especially now that we no longer have aircraft carriers and spare military capacity to uses as a bargaining chip. China? India? Who exactly so we think we are?

    We are alone and friendless, and years of work towards an entente cordiale and the possibilty of genuine partnerships have been wasted.

    • December 10, 2011 5:03 pm

      Agree completely – I spent most of the 90s in living and working in mainland Europe where people essentially felt sorry for the state of our nation and asked me hoe the UK had come to such a sorry state. – the 2010s will see even more pity for us misfortunates.Future historians may well cite the UK as an example of what happens when the nasty Right and its paymasters take control of a country. I say UK but that might just be England if Scotland, Wales and Ireland achieve autonomy

    • December 11, 2011 3:20 am

      Jepzy Buziek said at the Press Conference ‘UK is still a Member of the EU and I the door is always open’. Unelected Coalition PM? Well if it was is because there isn’t a Constitution isn’t it. In another country they will call it a Coup d’Etat. But weren’t the LibDem Lib-Dem or are they fascist in sheepskin? Sort it out. Just pull out and call a reparation election or by six month time the New Con will have complete the task. (to bring back the clock)

  5. Tony Glover permalink
    December 10, 2011 4:26 pm

    This perfectly nails the situation!

  6. December 10, 2011 7:49 pm

    There is still too much of a ‘Rule Britannia’ attitude in Westminster Palace. Yes, a lot of the EU’s problem lie at its origins, and I believe it grew too fast. However, it is now the UK’s main trading partner, I’d hate to see what would happen if Britain left the club. David Cameron has screwed up big time!

    • December 11, 2011 1:32 am

      well yes, shame he behaves as if he did it in the UK’s best interests, reinforced by the usual lick-spittle suspects who will triumphantly applaud all his excesses :(

  7. December 11, 2011 3:22 am

    Jepzy Buziek said at the Press Conference ‘UK is still a Member of the EU and I the door is always open’. Unelected Coalition PM? Well if it was is because there isn’t a Constitution isn’t it. In another country they will call it a Coup d’Etat. But weren’t the LibDem LibDem or are they fascist in sheepskin? Sort it out. Just pull out and call a reparation election or by six month time the New Con will have complete the task. (to bring back the clock)

  8. December 12, 2011 12:46 pm

    There’s a fourth option, perhaps not surprisingly, ignored by the Sun.

    The finance marketeers have a predatory preference of choosing the weakest to attack.

    Where lies the UK now with a real debt ratio higher than any of the PIIGS – will we have to pay higher service charges for the marketeers protection racket (is this what Cameron means by saving the City is in the national interest?) – or will they decide to feast off a crippled Bulldog?

    • December 12, 2011 1:04 pm

      good point, I wonder just how much the racket will be charging for an isolated UK’s sovereign debt, is Osborne already on the phone to Wonga?

  9. December 12, 2011 6:43 pm

    I was interested to hear you on WHYS today, but came away from it more confused than ever about your stance on Europe. During the programme you clearly think that all right-minded people believe a massive error has been made by Cameron. However :

    …..The Frenchman said it wasn’t what Cameron said, but the way he said it… Hmm.. we’ve never spoken the same language, so nothing new there

    …..The Norwegian said that his fellow countrymen had been asked if they wanted to join and replied ‘do we cocoa – we prefer democracy and we’re fine outside’…

    …..The Irishman boasted about how democratic his country’s approach to the EU is while forgetting to mention that they were made to re-run their referendum until they gave the right answer and look at them now…

    Before the broadcast and having read Let Them Eat Cake I’d thought you were angry that Greece has been bullied into deciding against a referendum by threats of excommunication, whilst at the same time being allowed a massive, unsustainable bailout conditional on spending the cash on arms from France and Germany.

    I’ve given it a lot of thought and read a cross section of opinion from the rational to the hysterical, pro and anti and it’s far too simplistic to say that Cameron is wrong because he was simply pandering to both the City and the Eurosceptic wing of his party. I’m as angry as many about the excesses of the former and no fan of the latter (and in fact ambivalent about Cameron himself) so I’m no longer clear where you’re coming from, if it isn’t based on some specific but undefined personal dislike of the man and the bad boys in the City …. and more than one comentator has said that the City may be more damaged by the Cameron action than if he’d meekly rolled over…. It’s also been said by many better informed comentators than me that whatever Cameron had done, the so-called solution on offer is nothing of the sort – rather it’s short-termism shoring up of a bust currency and completely fails to address the problems faced by (so far) Greece and Italy.

    It’s easy to sneer at jingoistic gunghoism (!), but I worked in the City during the 3-day week glory days and where we are now is something we can deal with. Decision is better than dithering.

    Seriously, you aren’t holding back about what Cameron’s doing wrong, but how would you sort it?

    • December 13, 2011 3:35 am

      My thoughts are clear and consistent. I don’t necessarily think the plan proposed is a good one nor am I happy about the democratic deficit in the EU. These issues make it more, not less, vital that politicians like Cameron stay at the table and fight for a better solution. Why is this difficult to understand?

      If I were involved in a joint venture, in which I had a lot riding, and I thought my partners had it wrong on an issue, the worst possible thing I could do is refuse to discuss it, stand up and leave them to their own devices. It is also the weakest thing I could do.

      Further, and equally important, I am very nervous about a Prime Minister who seems to have been captured by a particular group of quite extreme interests within his own party, just because they happen to rate well in opinion polls at this moment in time. I think that sort of pressure combined with, what Cameron has shown time and again to be, quite an immature and petulant personality is a very dangerous combination.

      Finally, I dislike hypocrisy. For Cameron to pretend that his stance was a strike against an autocratic, federalist Europe is disingenuous. The fact is that, had the rest of the EU agreed to his demands regarding the protection of the very narrow interest of the financial sector, he would have quite happily put pen to paper on the rest.

      I hope this makes things clearer.

    • December 13, 2011 3:47 am

      I should add, in the interests of full disclosure, that I find everything about Cameron absolutely odious. From the personality and behaviour which reminds me of alpha males who torment weaker kids in school, his condescending attitude to women, his sense of entitlement, his circle of friends and neighbours, to his capitalizing of his poor boy’s illness and death. I could not have conceived of a more pitiful specimen of humanity to lead and represent the country which I call home.

      • December 13, 2011 4:23 pm

        Awe c’mon sturdyblog; I look for blogs with straight talking commentators, don’t start mincing your’s!

      • December 13, 2011 4:33 pm

        *chuckles

      • December 13, 2011 11:13 pm

        Ah, subjective revulsion. I get it. But I sure you could – ‘have conceived of a more pitiful…’ etc – if you really tried. Old Wotsisname in the last administration, for instance – only more so. Politicians, eh? Who’d have ‘em in charge.

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