Cameron’s EU Reform Plan

The Plan is full of X, Y and Z. Details still unresolved. Nonetheless Westminster, and its entourage (the pundits, the analysts, the press) speak of little else today. I ask myself what there is to analyse? It is all fundamentally ‘no change’.

Everyone knows this is true, yet we continue to discuss the machinations of this phantom deal, mostly because the politicians flit about hopping on and off fences, allowed to speak or not allowed to speak, doing so anyway, or not. All this is mere facade and we all know it.

It is Cameron’s party political machinery pulling the strings of its puppet MPs. The threat from the right needed to be countered so the party leadership came up with a political response. Cameron has been able to silence opposition while posturing his way across Continental Europe. The exercise has all been little more than an expensive and time-consuming smoke screen, deflecting attention from a more pressing political agenda.

On the whole Conservative MPs speak their minds only when the party leader allows them to. The rewards for obedience include political appointments and party political favours. The penalty for disloyalty is years in the political wilderness. This is why on the whole Conservative MPs are acquiescent when it comes to toeing the party line.

So much for party politics, which so often amounts to little more that parlour games. Yet the fundamental issues are deadly serious. The public knows this and deserves better. Instead of tinkering with the terms and conditions of EU membership we should all be working hard to find some sort of solution to the major issues of our times.

As the government would have it the major issue is ‘how can we get out of taking in any more migrants than the paltry 20,000 in five years that we have so far agreed to’. What a shoddy, shameful and ineffectual angle that is. It panders to people’s fears and does nothing to come up with a solution.

If every nation plays beggar-my-neighbour in this way it will do nothing at all to solve the problem of the large number of people on our doorstep desperately in need of help. There is no getting away from this humanitarian crisis. We ignore it at our peril. The right approach is to use international co-operation to find a humane and equitable solution.

The issue is war and the fallout of war. If we do nothing to help the victims of war not only do we advertise the morally bankrupt nature of our foreign policy, we also further endanger our nation by pushing victims into the hands of opportunists, criminals and tyrannical forces. If we want peace we have to seek peace. We endanger our national security by turning our backs on our obligations.

I have taken very little notice of Cameron’s many trips across the European Union, ostensibly arguing the case for defending the right of this little nation to go it alone if it wants to. I am bored and ashamed of that very meagre and egotistic exercise. In part because it is so paltry and inhumane, but even more because it will do nothing at all to keep us safe or prosperous or influential in world terms. Rarely have I seen a more meagre display of unenlightened foolishness. The solution to the problems that we face is self-evidently more not less international co-operation. We should stay in the EU and do all we can to promote peace in the region, in the meantime sharing in our international obligations.


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