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Politics of misdirection
Recent shenanigans in politics reminded me of a saying: “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies.” And David Cameron walks in with his much awaited speech on Europe. One can understand that with the rise of UKIP and the gradual deterioration in the polls, the Tories had to do something. The speech went down very well with the faithful, and it even fooled many in the country including many in the media – but then we also have a saying: ‘duniya Jhukti hai, jhukane wala chahiye.’ The result being that in that masterful moment he caught Ed Miliband off guard – even though the Labour leader has had all the time in the world to have his position clear. The Prime Minister basically mugged Ed at PMQ in full view of the masses. The polls suddenly saw a rise of 5% leaving the Tories about 6% behind Labour. So what do we make of this speech?
Let’s dissect the thrust of the speech that the Prime Minster will engage with the EU in order to significantly change the very nature of the EU as well as repatriating significant powers back to the UK. Sounds great (and in all honesty something that is required) until you realise that it takes another 26 countries to agree to each and every change in the treaty. Whilst I accept that there is always a miniscule chance that such a proposition might become a reality, I am also reminded of the saying, ‘when pigs will fly’. The Prime Minster is so sure of his position that he has confirmed an in/out referendum – which is great. The only problem being that his ‘cast iron’ guarantees don’t always mean much – and neither do those from his side kick, Nick Clegg the Deputy Prime.
The bold move by the Prime Minster will no doubt give him short term gains. However within a week already doubts are being cast by his own back benchers in terms of whether he can deliver the significant changes yet to be negotiated with the EU. The Prime Minister has been bold also in stating that if the negotiations are fruitful then he and the Tory party will campaign for a ‘Yes’ vote to stay in the EU. However he has also so far refused to answer one simple question, ‘what will he do if the negotiations do not live up to expectations?’ i.e. The logical answer should be that he would then campaign for the ‘No’ vote and take Britain out of the EU. He has however refused to clarify this aspect and that in my view undermines the very credibility of his speech.
How will this impact Britain? In the short term the multi-national companies that might want to consider long term investment into Britain will have to re-think if it is in their interest, and that of their shareholders, to take such a risk. After all, they can quite easily select one of the other 26 countries that give them similar benefits to the UK. This uncertainty for the next 4 plus years is of no value to anyone. It would have been more true and bolder had he sought the in/out referendum during this Parliamentary term. It seems that was too much of a risk given the public opinion on Europe – a referendum now would give a total majority to the ‘Out’ campaign.
At this time I am reminded of the words of H. L. Mencken who said: ‘the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary’. It works all the time and we the people get duped thinking we are actually making a difference.
So what can rattle the Prime Ministers cage further? What about the Bulgarians and Romanians? Well just to be clear our Home Secretary Theresa May has stated that they will gain the unrestricted right to live and work in the UK from December 2013. Therefore there is a real danger that Spring 2014 might well turn into an emerging nightmare for the Prime Minister. He is of course hoping that these migrants will choose to go to other EU countries. There is a huge difference between ‘hoping’ and the ground reality of what might actually happen. Needless to say, if there is any type of immigration surge into the UK, it will begin to undermine the weak cotton stitching done to hold the Tory Party together.
The truth of the matter being that Britain should have, and should still strive earnestly to forge a very powerful partnership with India. Of all the BRICs countries, India affords Britain the best opportunity in securing a readymade back office enterprise with a populous that is now becoming affluent and wanting key products and services from the west. Britain hitherto has failed to take full advantage of its unique relationship with India.
The EU represents a costly misdirection from our failing economy. It will give the Prime Minister a short period of time to gather his thoughts and troops, but I fear it will be his own party that will end his dreams before the year has ended. As I conclude I hear on the grapevine that Adam Afriyie MP is being groomed to potentially take over from David Cameron. I would have thought Priti Patel might actually make it in that mix as well. Hold your breath, the Tory roller coaster is about to take off, yet again.