Sunday, February 04, 2007

Give us this day our Referendum

…and deliver us from evil?

David Cameron states in The Sunday Telegraph: ‘With reform, Europe can be a force for good’. Cranmer would like to respond with the equally fatuous declaration: ‘With wings, pigs can fly’, but he realises that this does nothing to move the analysis forward. What is interesting, however, is the implicit message of Mr Cameron’s statement, which must be: ‘Without reform, Europe can be a force for evil’.

We are already witnessing the German drive for a revived constitution and an ‘official’ history of Europe, which Professor Norman Stone has rejected as ‘quite absurd’. Such sinister moves have absolutely nothing to do with issues of economics or trade, and everything to do with defining the ‘soul’ of political union, the search for which Chancellor Merkel has dedicated her presidency.

Mr Cameron calls for a ‘new EU’, and one which rejects the old idea of ‘ever-closer union’. He decries the EU’s ‘endemic flaws’: its obsession with ‘centralisation’, debates ‘behind closed doors’, the ‘focus on itself rather than the world outside’, and also the EU’s determination ‘to press ahead with a new European Constitution’. He calls such an agenda ‘perverse’. Mr Cameron identifies the part played by the Common Agricultural Policy in global poverty, and therefore calls for major reforms, including reduced tariffs for African countries. In short, he calls for an EU of ‘flexibility…, economic dynamism and free trade’.

Mr Cameron thereby makes known his wish-list: open markets, a Europe of nation states, and a strong Atlantic relationship. The problems? His MEPs are still members of the EPP, which is constitutionally bound to the rejection of all three, and he fails to state what he will do to achieve his dream. How will he ‘modify’ the foundational principle of ‘ever closer union’? How does he propose to amend the Treaty of Rome? How will he handle the German and French repudiation of this Anglo-Saxon thesis? How does he propose to succeed where Margaret Thatcher, John Major and Tony Blair failed?

It is difficult, if not impossible, to view anything that Mr Cameron says on the EU as anything but sophistry and salesmanship. One wants, desperately, to believe him. But when one does, one is left disillusioned and disappointed.

Like the EPP debacle, Mr Cameron refuses to engage in the consequences of his rhetoric: how does he propose to repatriate powers? How does he propose to transform the 'Brussels culture'? At least Michael Howard had a manifesto pledge to repatriate British fishing waters, which would have had seismic consequences for Britain's EU relations, but Mr Cameron has ditched even that. Why does he not do the simplest thing, and promise us a referendum? Such a policy would be hugely popular, reinforce his democratic credentials, and scupper UKIP completely.

Until there is a policy explaining ‘how’, there is absolutely no credibility at all to be found in Mr Cameron’s EU rhetoric. What is certain, however, is that there is absolutely no point trying to pour new wine into old wineskins. They just burst (Matthew 9:17).


Blogger Bishop Hill said...

I think I'm right in saying that the pledge to repatriate fisheries policy would also have involved a change to a treaty - see here. So Howard was equally making empty promises.

4 February 2007 at 14:26  
Anonymous Voyager said...

France and Germany are already working on a joint history textbook for schools. I should like a copy - the bit on Napoleon at Jena, and French Occupation of the Rhineland and Ruhr in 1923 would be such interesting reading

4 February 2007 at 15:11  
Anonymous Ulster Man said...

At least Howard's policy HAD a consequence - treaty renegotiation. This would have had to follow the pledge on the CFP, or else.... yes, it must have been a threat to leave.

By reneging on the EPP promise, AND withdrawing from the CFP reform, Cameron offers nothing on the EU.

4 February 2007 at 17:19  
Anonymous Colin said...

His Grace asked the right question:

"Why does he not do the simplest thing, and promise us a referendum?"

And His Grace knows the answer to his rhetorical question: Mr. Cameron wants to win the anti-EU votes and wants to continue the pro-EU policy after his elections as PM.

4 February 2007 at 21:25  
Blogger Newmania said...

No Colin lovely David Cameron gilded youth and grail containing all our best hopes , is incapable of such cynical manipulation. He is understandably wary of firing up an EU debate in the Conservative Party because the appearance of disunity was so elect orally damaging.Thus a new generation know no PM but Blair . He has , with commendable strategic acumen , kicked into the proverbial long grass and rightly so .

People like me are right to remain within the Conservative Party and continue the tangible drift towards Euro phobic discrimination. This is the only way to withdraw and it may be soon , with the now unavoidable break up of the Union . At that time there will be am overwhelming majority in England in favour of such archaic notions as ruling ourselves through the mediating institution of Parliament. That is the time to shoot and score , not attempt vain glorious long range efforts like joining UKIP

Yes maintain the position but not at the risk of Brown premiership. The country is already at deaths door and Brown will surely pull us through. I am desperate that this valid Cameron critique does not stray into outright betrayal of the country.

Voyager- I am delighted tht French history will soon be taught . All those tedious lessons about the second world war will be replaced by a quick run through of the five or so mintes of spinless froggery that was their experience.

(Alsace Lorraine might be a bit of a point of contention )

5 February 2007 at 10:15  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Newmania - I was thinking about reading all those documents on the left bank of the Rhine written in French and all those Rhinelanders press-ganged into La Grande Armee to invade Russia by that French dictator

5 February 2007 at 11:49  
Blogger Newmania said...

Bravo Voyager .

On history.. I still treasure you post regarding taking boundaries back to their "Original" position.It was in the context of Israel but you broadened it historically to tremendous satiric affect. You have probably forgotten.

Excuse me your Grace for a brief aside.

5 February 2007 at 13:02  
Anonymous OIznop said...

I doubt putting new wine in old wine-skins matters at all. They may have burst 2000 years ago, but this is a different century, Archbishop, and the arguments have moved on. Wine is now put into bottles, and if new wine is put into old bottles, it's because recycling is good for the environment.

5 February 2007 at 15:00  
Anonymous Tejus said...

david cameron is rather like a more polished iain duncan smith.. the latter did not say anything.. the former says a lot and still says nothing..

6 February 2007 at 02:37  
Blogger Serf said...

I have examined in detail the idea that the EU can be reformed and came to the following conclusion.

If you want a Europe of Nations, with a free trading, liberty loving culture, why would you start from the federalist, non accountable, socialist morass that we have today.

6 February 2007 at 14:29  
Blogger Little Black Sambo said...

Mr Potatohead has lost my vote, which he was originally going to get. He is now arousing in me the same disquieting feelings of revulsion that I get from Blair, to the point that I cannot bear the sound of his voice.
As for the EU, OUT! OUT! OUT!

6 February 2007 at 18:55  

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