It was strange going into work on friday. It felt like a normal day, and that nothing had changed. No one was talking about politics, they were rather more interested in what was on at the cinema and what was in the latest edition of the National Enquirer (sigh) And yet, watching the news sites and the various politics blogs it felt like something big had happened. Most people haven’t noticed yet though. They will in time.
With the benefit of hindsight Cameron was never going to do anything else in Brussels. As the paid servant of our feral financial sector, he had to protect their privileged position in the international economy, although whether Britain being on the margins of the EU will be more beneficial for them as the lightest of light-touch regulation being proposed by Sarkozy is a moot point. He did what generations of Tories have always done, act in the interests of his class.
I can’t imagine he thought that Britain would be utterly isolated though. It appears that every other country in the EU will go along with the proposals, and even the non-Eurozone members are going to subject themselves to the ‘fiscal dicipline’ of the new EU treaty arrangements.
The reaction has split along (mostly) predictable lines. The EU bureaucracy are doing lots of sneering about this being the end of the British influence, and the Labour Party are joining in, although not that enthusiastically. I really can’t imagine what a Labour Prime Minister would have done had they been in Cameron’s shoes.
The British Eurosceptic right (and scandalously, some of the left) are doing lots of crowing. They think, with good reason, that this is the first step to full withdrawal. Britain’s inevitable marginalisation under the new treaty could well cause a permanent rupture further down the line. Bill Cash is rubbing his hands with glee. Nigel Farage thinks this is just the beginning. Cameron is likely to get a hero’s welcome from his own MPs upon his return to Parliament next week. He has placated them and shored up his at times times tenuous grip on the party.
They will expect more. Give em an inch………
What of the Lib Dems, the Mambo’s all-time favourite political party? One would assume, if their previous statements were anything to go by, that they would be having none of this as it completely goes against their oft-stated unconditional love for all things EU and European. Well, interestingly, the arch-Europhile Nick Clegg has gone along with it and it is claimed he is ‘fully behind’ his Prime Minister. That beggars belief in all honesty. I can only surmise that base political calculation has motivated yet another Lib Dem capitulation. If Clegg and senior Lib Dems in the cabinet opposed it openly, presumably it would be the end of the coalition. Another election would probably have to follow. The Lib Dems would be annihilated and the days of Lib Dems in ministerial cars and bestriding the international stage (however impotently) would be over and the party condemned to the margins of British politics. The Lib Dems now need Cameron rather more than he needs them and know they will have to go along with pretty much anything. Something I’m guessing that Cameron and that arch-Machiavellian Osborne are becoming increasingly aware of.
And I’m sure that the naive dolts who voted for the Lib Dem bastards at the last election, under the misapprehension that they were the ‘progressive alternative’ to the big two, will now recognise that the Lib Dems are dogshit.
How should the left, the Mambo’s natural constituency, be reacting to developments? Well I need to be clear on one thing. Cameron getting his veto out and waving it about in front of the ladies is a disaster for those of us who don’t see world in the same way that Norman Tebbit does. The only beneficiaries of this will be the hard right. They are now dictating the terms of the debate. They have got what they wanted. They want out of the EU so they can create their neoliberal, anti-immigrant, anti-union dystopia with dashed nuisances like human rights, health and safety at work, concern for the environment and basic rights for workers being crushed by a firm Thatcherite fist. Reading between the lines on the Communist Party’s website, for instance, they seem to be rubbing their hands with glee that Cameron is doing their work for them. The twats. I also think it is a little bit paranoid and conspiratorial for them to be talking about a
“long-planned coup against the sovereignty of the peoples of Europe.”
I think the Euro elite were happy with things ticking along as they were a couple of years ago to be honest and their reaction to recent developments at the moment smacks of panic and desperation, not a ‘long-planned coup.’ That sections of the organised left think that advocating EU withdrawal is a serious strategy reminds me why I despise them so much.
But on the other hand, we need to be clear about something else. The new treaty is a disaster for the left across Europe as well. As Owen Jones has already pointed out in the New Statesman today:
“Consider this: as Paul Mason has written, “by enshrining in national and international law the need for balanced budgets and near-zero structural deficits, the eurozone has outlawed expansionary fiscal policy”.
Read that last bit carefully. Left-wing governments of all hues will, in effect, be banned by this treaty. If the French or the German left returns to power in the near future (and both are in a good position to do so), it will be illegal for them to respond to the global economic catastrophe with anything but austerity. An economic stimulus is forbidden – because the treaty has buried Keynesianism.”
Clearly Merkel and Sarkozy wish to use the new treaty as an opportunity to embed their preferred economic model into the very workings of the EU. Which is another reason I am so bemused that the Tories are opposed to it!
In respect of Jones’ article, the only note of caution I would sound is that any new stability pact could well be as flimsy as the last one. These things are always ‘flexible’ and will depend on the politics of the moment. If the consensus changes and pro-stimulus ideas and forces are in the ascendancy across the continent, I’m sure that that those terms of the current agreement no longer deemed useful would be quietly ditched. Just as they have been by Eurozone members ever since the Euro was introduced. Austerity will fail. At some point someone they will have to try something else, whether they want to or not. Austerity and balanced budgets are enshrined in the treaty. For now. That can change.
The key to Jones’ article is that he states clearly that the way to oppose it is to
“unite with the European labour movement to stop this total disaster in its tracks”
a sentiment that I endorse entirely. The way to oppose this is to fight it across Europe, not withdraw and hope that by some miracle the Socialist Republic of Britain can somehow be created in glorious isolation from the rest of the world’s travails.
It just doesn’t work like that, comrades……….
What has happened has been bad in so many ways. It’s a reminder who is shaping the world right now. And it isn’t the left.
What a pessimistic note for me to end on.
NB: I just want to thank Shiraz Socialist for posting my earlier EU article on thursday. It wasn’t one of my best efforts, and most of it was just guesswork, but they posted it and it was a nice surprise to see it on another blog. Cheers chaps.
Update: Clegg is now opposing Cameron’s use of the veto. The guy is an unprincipled tosser. The Lib Dems look sad, desperate and pathetic.