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Saturday, 3 December 2011

Conservatives and Europe: More of the Same

Jacques Delors - one of the all-time heroes of the European Project - has taken the opportunity of a press interview to damn the present condition of the EU, the establishment of the euro under a fake prospectus with a plenitude of false data, and the dangers of the 'Germanic view' of financial discipline.

Meanwhile the German view is absolutely prevelant in negotiations on the future of the whole project: in the absence of the current expectation by market participants that Germany would in the end 'rescue' at least a core of the present eurozone there could not be any 'value' in the euro or in any bond issued in euros. The immensely effective and intellingent - though often obtuse - French state machine that Napoleon established on the remnants of Louis XIV's omnipotent bureaucracy has failed to marshal arguments that can trump Bundeskanzler Merkel's simple housekeeping economics [which is massiviely supported in Germany]; so France will agree to a German plan, with minor modification. The full concept of fiscal union will take years to implement, and will probably cause the eurozone to shed up to a dozen member states on the way, but it will eventually come about.

The little-used second verse of the British National Anthem says:
"May She defend our Laws,
And ever give us cause
To sing with heart and voice
God save The Queen."
Successive premiers have advised the Queen to breach that sentiment, and probably her Coronation Oath; to which she has dutifully acquiesced in line with her clear understanding of her constitutional duty. It is probable that her Diamond Jubilee will be accompanied by the increase of the power of Brussels over Britain, even though the UK will not be joining the euro and may even be repatriating trivial aspects of labour law. In those terms it is a sad thought that in the jubilee year there will be almost no reference to the third verse of the anthem, in which is a plea that the Almighty will deal with those who would undermine the Monarchy:
"Confound their politicks," and "Frustrate their knavish tricks."

Cameron will not see his policy as a knavish trick. He will be persuaded - as his predecessors were - that there is no future for the United Kingdom outside the EU. So he will risk his already-tenuous popularity, and probably his position, in the pursuit of what he will perceive to be the national interest. It is not easy to imagine such a smooth operator adopting the role of a martyr, but it is probably going to be his fate; and his Liberal Democrat allies will do nothing to save him from the dilemma that will send him down that path.

Tory Eurosceptics demand 'repatriation' of powers from the eurorats of Brussels. This is such an arcane demand, in the current situation of the European Union, that the British Prime Minister can only make himself a figure of ridicule in his peers' eyes if he does anything significant to pursue their demands.This incredulity would apply not just to the leaders of the other EU members, but to Putin and Hu and Singh and Obama who are all being advised that a stable Europe is necessary for their own countries' economic success. So Cameron will go the way of Heath who lied systematically about the implications of EEC membership; of Thatcher, who talked tough yet signed up to the EEC becoming the EU; and of Major who flannelled and equivocated while he squeezed the UK into the Maastrich Treaty. Blair's 'offence' in agreeing to the tidying-up excercise of the Lisbon Treaty was relatively trivial and was popular in his own party. The last three Tory Prime Ministers eventually ignored grassroots opinion in their party to drag the United Kingdom more inextricably into the European system [whose surviving founders, not least Delors, now regard with despair]. Cameron will continue in that tradition, whetever rhetorical devices he may deploy while he diminishes his credibility among his rank-and-file as he is pushed along the lonely and painful route that lies ahead.

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