Sunday, 29 June 2014
Cameron contrives UK's humiliation
The Times is said to have once headlined a story: "Fog in Channel - Continent isolated." A similar, doubtless apocryphal, story speaks of a proud mother watching her solider son marching past with his squad and remarking: "They're all our of step but Jim."
With similar self-centred blindness, Cameron's defeat, by 26 to 2, in his opposition to the proposal to adopt Jean-Claude Juncker as the next president of the European Commission is hailed as a triumph by Britain's sycophantic right-wing press. Truly a triumph of perception management.
Cameron's first, and now little reported, mistake was to take the Tory's MEPs out of the European Parliament's major Centre-Right grouping, the EPP, and into an obscure and very right wing party which I believe Nick Clegg once described as a "group of nutters." Now, being no longer a member of the EPP Cameron complains of their choice, when, of course, had his group remained a member he would have had the opportunity to influence it.
He and his supporting press chorus conveniently forget that the EPP is still the largest group in the European Parliament, and therefore their choice is certainly a move in the direction of making the EU more democratic, a direction which we claim to favour.
The second error is the unpleasant personal nature of Cameron's attacks. Mr Junker may not be many people's first choice as guest at a dinner party, or even a kitchen supper, but Cameron should realise that the infantile antics of House of Commons PMQs is not everybody's, or even most people's, preferred mode of conducting politics.
In Europe, coalitions are the norm and "quiet calm deliberation" is the preferred mode of making progress.
Much play is made for the need for reform of the EU. Well, everything could be improved, and I could give a list. But in my view the EU works pretty well. From the sublime avoidance of major wars to the less consequential by very pleasant and welcome cleaner beaches, cheaper mobile charges, strengthened equal pay legislation, cleaner air, more recycling, better labour protection and enhanced social welfare, support of student and apprentice exchanges, to mention but a few, what's not to like?
Mr Cameron would be well advised to turn his attention to UK, which in my view is much more dysfunctional, with its growing inequality, potentially explosive housing boom, increasing homelessness, and judicial system which far too often imprisons the innocent and seems unable to pin down some of its more richly resourced customers, again to name but a few.
These are the things of which Cameron is "in charge" and no perfidious foreigners are preventing him from tackling them.