The Slog looks at the dozens of potential outcomes next May, but bemoans the lack of radical awareness….and finds himself depressed by the lack of any real choice. Whatever happens, it seems, the chances are it will get murkier than ever – and most of us aren’t going to like it.
I continue to wonder if politicians ever listen to anything they’re told, or even read newspapers. In a long and hopelessly lightweight profile of Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond in today’s Sarky Telegraph, Mr Hammond says that EU immigration reform is “nowhere near as black and white” as Brussels-am-Berlin pretend. Personally I think it couldn’t be more black and white: Both Merkel and Juncker have gone out of their way to make clear the the Union’s ‘four basic freedoms’ are non-negotiable….and one of them is free movement across borders. Were they to change this, the next country to ask for it would be France, followed closely by Greece. But Phil guffaws his way through the interview, concluding “It is not the case that Britain will be unable to actively reduce the number of migrants coming to the UK”. I give up.
Other bits of the article are amusing in themselves in the degree to which utter drivel is presented as fact. It refers to ‘Vladimir Putin’s aggression in Ukraine’ when in all fairness what the bloke has done is demonstrate that two regions of the country overwhelmingly want to be Russian, he didn’t shoot down the MH17, and like any responsible leader he is alarmed by an increasingly Imperial EU creeping further and further into former Soviet territory. Were Putin in a stronger military and fiscal position, he wouldn’t have let EU officials into a non-EU country in the first place. And of course – given the opportunity – he is a hardline Russian nationalist and allround egomaniac who’d quickly become a nuisance. But nobody wants to ask whether the partly artificial destruction of the oil price by the US is aggression….although it obviously is.
Oddly enough, Putin objects to free movement across the borders of the old USSR…which, um, is in tune with the Cameron/Hammond strategy of changing EU freedom of migration. But last night, the Prime Minister’s approach was to compare the RF with the Third Reich. A parallel with the 1930s Capone mob in Chicago would’ve been a more accurate one. Better still would have been for Dave to have shutTF up for once. But you see, Cameron must show that he is tough. He must jut out his jaw, furrow his eyebrows, and stride purposefully into every bear-trap in order to show that he is well ‘ard, ‘im.
My dilemma remains this one: I can’t stand Cameron, but I’d rather not have a Government run by Boris Johnson with help from Faisal Naraj.
I had some good friends round for supper last night, and after some small talk – followed by taking the mickey out of awful television programmes – things rapidly turned to the EU, Juncker, Cameron, Miliband, next May’s general election, and the British economy. There was 100% agreement about Juncker (he should resign) and Miliband (ineffectual) but not much else. I confess to having been once again disappointed by the easy acceptance of UK recovery – 3 out of 4 insisted that UK salaries were growing in real terms – and complete blindness about our appalling export performance. The two blokes agreed that the only way left for Britain now was some kind of benign dictatorship, the electorate being clearly incompetent. But as usual, I was on my own on the subject of Boris Johnson, Newscorp, and Britain rapidly morphing into a corporate dictatorship that was anything but benign. The one thing everyone felt with complete raging certainty, however, was that Rebekah Brooks was guilty and should be in prison.
As for other Establishment figures, there remains far too much respect and trust. Johnson remains squeaky-clean and refreshingly honest in their eyes. Cameron is felt to be doing his best under hopeless circumstances. And George Osborne gets praise for “proving the doubters wrong”….an observation that left my teeth rattling in frustration.
But mainly, it proved what I have felt for six months now: the Labour leadership simply isn’t making any impression on middle England. Much as I admire the loyalty shown by Ed Miliband’s Twitter supporters, it is misplaced. They correctly divine that he is being typically rubbished by the right wing press, but fail to see what makes his image incredible: that he talks about giving money away (but not how to change the economy radically to make some for most rather than a few) and limp-wristedly tweets bromides. Obviously, his advisor’s have joined the Slog’s Unbeliever tendency, because his “comeback” speech – how many comebacks is that now? – was riddled with specific things he’d do….but (a) not how he’d afford it and (b) nothing one could call genuinely radical.
The fact remains that, unless some enormous sea-change comes along – a mass Tory breakaway to UKIP, the collapse of the EU, or the final realisation that every central banker in the world has been lying through his teeth – we’re doomed to another hung Parliament next May. The one of those three Domesdays I find the most likely is the EU’s demise, purely because Italy ought to go bang well before next May, France is in far deeper merde than most observers realise, and stability in Greece should not be assumed.
The EU ceasing to exist has so many ramifications, they could fill a very thick book: but I think the two UK Parties it would hit right on the chin are Labour and UKip. Miliband would be seen to have got it wrong, and Farage would lack both anything to say…and any leverage. The split in the Tory Party would be ended, it would lurch further to the Right to mop up more of Nigel’s Smarmy Army – and so long as Osborne’s false growth scam hadn’t been found out, then I suspect the Conservatives would win easily.
So in theory then, it would be better if the EU survived past next May. But if that happened and Farage got together with the likely largest minority Party, the ScotNats, Cameron would fall (hurrah) but Farage would be in (boo) and the SNP would leave us all in a dilemma about the Pound and the economy (boo). So actually, it’d be far better if the EU fell (hurrah) and Farage was marginalised (hurrah) but then we’d have a clear majority for corporate dictatorship (double-boo).
I don’t call this ‘damned if you do and damned if you don’t’: rather, to me it’s a case of ‘disenfranchised whatever happens’. And that’s yet another reason why, as things stand today, it’d be pointless of me to cast a vote in the next General Election.