Saturday, 8 November 2014
Cameron paints himself into a corner.
So far I've regarded the threats of an "In-Out" referendum on Britain's continued membership of the EU as so much sound and bluster signifying very little. I have assumed that, if it were to take place, there would be some sham negotiations with he rest of the EU, tiny changes would be heralded as great victories (as per Harold Wilson's re-negotiation in 1975), the establishment, including the Tories, would close ranks, we'd vote overwhelmingly to remain in (again as per 1975, though probably by not so much as the two to one majority achieved then) and life would go on much as usual.
Recent events however, make me less sanguine.
First the Scottish Referendum has demonstrated quite clearly that we're no longer as dutiful and deferential to the will of the establishment as we were forty years ago. All three major parties, the banks, industry and, I think, the trades unions, all ganged up together to insist that the Kingdom was better off United and that a "Yes" vote for Scotland's independence would pitch them so far into economic outer darkness that they'd have to exist on gruel for the rest of their days.
True the majority voted "No," but the margin, though not as narrow as some of the opinion polls predicted, was narrow enough to have frightened the living daylights out of the powers that be. We may not be so lucky in a referendum on Europe.
Secondly, although Cameron is a skilful negotiator (he certainly stitched up we Liberal Democrats in the negotiations for the formation of the coalition, in particular on reforms of the electoral system and the second chamber) it is difficult to see how he can wriggle out of his commitment to end the free movement of labour, - or else, against the determined opposition of Angela Merkel and most of the other members,
Admittedly, the Tory PR machine is adept at turning a non-event (eg Osborne's claim that he has halved the surcharge on Britain's contribution when we should have received that amount as a rebate in any case) as a glorious victory, but there is a real possibility of Cameron's being forced to eat his words and campaign for a British exit.
So if we are to avoid Britain's' being cast into outer darkness economically, politically and probably culturally, it is more important than ever that the Tories should play no part in the next government.