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This site is closing!

This site is now closed – Visit my new blog, “What’s Next?” here.

Thank you to everybody who visited this site and voted to make this a top 50 Labour blog in it’s first year.

 

David Milband tells Total Politics that he would run for the leadership of the Labour Party again:

On accusations of a lack of commitment to winning the leadership: “That’s nonsense,” Miliband retorts. “I’m proud I did it and I would do it again. It’s a very important part of my politics that we’re a movement, not just a machine. When we are a machine, we lose. We’ve got to become a movement again if we want to win. And I want us to win.”

The European Council has published it’s communique for meeting of the 9th of December where David Cameron said “no” to a revision of the Treaty of Lisbon. It can be read here.

I will hope to debunk some common myths about the proposed revisions:

That signatories would concede sovereignty to the EU because of the following:

  • a) The UK’s national budget would be checked by the European Commission to ensure their compatibility with a technocratic and undemocratic set of rules

This simply isn’t true. The communique clearly states that:

The rules governing the Excessive Deficit Procedure (Article 126 of the TFEU) will be reinforced for euro area Member States. 

The requirements of the fiscal compact would only apply to the euro zone. It would only apply to Britain if we chose to join the Euro.

  • b) That Britain would lose control of its ability to fiscally expand because of the Treaty.

The document states that:

General government budgets shall be balanced or in surplus; this principle shall be deemed respected if, as a rule, the annual structural deficit does not exceed 0.5% of nominal GDP.

This would ensure that Britain could expand in period of growth, with increase tax receipts.

The document also clearly states that the  Excessive Deficit Procedure (Art. 126 TFEU) only applies to Eurozone members.

  • c) Britain’s budgets would be undemocratically rubber stamped by unelected bureaucrats. 

Again, simply incorrect. The document clearly states that:

We recognise the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice to verify the transposition of this rule (the fiscal compact) at national level.

The Court of Justice would examine whether the compact was transposed into national law, not adjudicate as to its implementation.

Vince Cable may resign

Hat-tip to Political Scrapbook for the image - Brilliant!

Will Hutton in the Observer says that Vince Cable is considering resigning over Europe:

furious when he learned what had happened. He will speak out aggressively against Cameron’s veto; his decision is whether to resign to do so or say so in office, courting his sacking.

If Vince goes nuclear will anybody be watching?….

Update: Vince Cable’s “representative on earth” Lord Oakeshott says that he isn’t considering his position. There’s a surprise.

Update II: Paul Waugh reports that Cable’s office say resignation claims ‘categorically untrue’ and that “Vince has no intention of resigning”.

Being Run Over?

Whilst I was driving home from University in Nottingham, I drove down the Aston Expressway into Birmingham. For those that haven’t driven on this piece of road, it is a three lane duel carriageway which has a central lane which changes direction based on the direction of heaviest flowing traffic. It looks like this:

At the time I was thinking about this quote from Nye Bevan:

We know what happens to people who stay in the middle of the road. They get run down.

 

I was thinking about this for about 10 minutes, and I realised that in Bevan’s time, this was most probably true. The world was a different place, with monumental struggles between democracy and fascism, and between communism and capitalism. If you were in the middle of one of those conflicts, then you would most likely be run down by an oncoming tank.

Today, politics is quite a different environment. Yes, much of the process has not changed, but there are no longer these large differences in ideology.

Anyway – Whilst I was driving down the Aston Expressway, I realised that I was, intact, driving along the perfect analogy for modern day politics. There are three lanes of traffic to the left, and there are three to the right. There is one in the middle, which is only active when the others are particularly busy. From time to time, it changes direction, but there is always traffic on it.

British politics is therefore much like the A38. Labour and the Conservatives will always enjoy around 30% of the vote each.

There will always be a Lib Dem wearing sandals, weaving in and out of the traffic, radically changing direction all the time.

There is UKIP, or the man standing in the tweed jacket on the wrong side of the road, shouting at the traffic to turn back.

Then there is the centre ground, which is where the 10% that can win you an election reside. They may change direction from time to time, but if you can be pointing in the same direction as them, come election day, they will vote with you and will win you an election.

It is the centre ground that Labour, and the Left needs to occupy to win elections. 

Peace in our time?

Image

A French Official today said this:

The UK is like a man who shows up at a wife swapping party without his own wife.

These were the famous words used by Lady Thatcher during her statement to the House of Commons on the 30th November. They also happen to be the words that could best come from anybody who is even moderately in favor of the European Union upon hearing of David Cameron’s European adventures.

It goes without saying that he has made a mistake. The short-term politics of it are for him good. Not only have Tory Backbench Eurosceptic come out to pile praise on their Dear Leader for saving them from the EU(SSR?), but Labour are now in a difficult position.

The Labour Party had been enjoying having Cameron between a rock and a hard place, unable to move and being slowly squeezed to death by the European project and various individuals who could charitably described as mad.

It is obvious that there needs to be reform of the EU, and of the Euro. Neither will be destroyed by Britain’s rather farcical attempt at preserving our national sovereignty.  A new European wide treaty was (and is still) needed. The proposed treaty would have bought the EU closer in terms of financial integrity, ensuring that current and future financial crises can be robustly dealt with.

The proposed treaty, it is said, included provision for a Financial Transaction, or ‘Tobin’ Tax. I am glad that we did not sign up to such a proposal, which would disproportionately affect the United Kingdom and the City of London. It is important that this is not imposed on the United Kingdom. Luke Bozier points out here that the City is responsible for more than one million jobs in the United Kingdom and creates tax revenue which is equivalent to the size of the budget of the National Health Service. We clearly cannot afford to lose those jobs or that income, and I applaud David Cameron for not signing up to that.

The really tragic part of the story is this. Cameron had to give some meat to the Tory Sharks. It was either concessions from France and Germany, or it would be small chunks of his political career. The 1922 Committee was said earlier in this week to be preparing letters to the effect of proposing a leadership election. We are once again being governed by a Party that is obsessed with an issue that the Public really don’t care about, much to our national detriment.

Cameron needed something that he could wave, to show that Britain wasn’t becoming an offshoot of France and Germany. He returned in triumph by openly admitting that he has wrecked proposals for an EU wide treaty. Britain is thus to be left behind as European Governments sign multilateral agreements to the effect of a treaty.

We will be the only nation not to sign up to this agreement. Our nation is slowly becoming more isolated under the Conservative Government.

And yes, I do call it a Conservative Government. We have once again seen that the Lib Dems in Government (“on your side”) are nowhere to be seen. It has been reported today that Nick Clegg was only told of the deal at 6am this morning, just before David Cameron held his press conference to announce his foolish mistake.

Be under no illusion, the Lib Dems are having no influence on the decisions that matter.

On the NHS, the £3.5bn reorganization is still going ahead. Tuition fees have been increased by 300% to £9,000, and applications to University are down by an average of 15%. The AV vote was lost. And now, to cap it all, the most pro-EU Party has supervised our withdrawal from Europe’s top table.

I am unsure as to whether Labour would have acted differently were we in this position. I do not know what Ed Miliband would have done if he were Prime Minister. I suspect that he would have been more generous to the EU, but that is only speculation, and I know that others in the Labour Party think that we would have acted differently.

The Party should remember this fact. We are now contributing £4bn a year to the EU in order to sit back and watch other Countries take decisions over our future. To coin a phrase, rather than sitting at the top table of Europe we in the kitchen, hunting for leftovers.

Cameron may be the Neville Chamberlain of the 21st Century. We may struggle to politically attack him over Europe.

But -

We can damn well try.

 

Update: Further detail on the treaty has been published by the BBC:-

 

  • a commitment to “balanced budgets” for eurozone countries – defined as a structural deficit no greater than 0.5% of gross domestic product – to be written into national constitutions
  • automatic sanctions for any eurozone country whose deficit exceeds 3% of GDP
  • a requirement to submit their national budgets to the European Commission, which will have the power to request that they be revised
  • eurozone and other EU countries to consider, within the next 10 days, providing up to 200bn euros to the International Monetary Fund to help debt-stricken eurozone members
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