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Europe/Cameron – Can someone please explain….

by Barry
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I admit that I have been a bit absorbed in work and Severn FM recently but I have to say the whole European/Cameron situation has me baffled.  Before he went out to the summit last week, the overwhelming opinion was that if he gave into anything that harmed the City of London then that was a bad thing, he had to protect Britain.  And in this I wholeheartedly agree.  However, from what I can tell, he did this, and now he is being put through the ringer for doing it.

I am not really a fan of Europe, and what gets handed down to us, though like anything else in Politics, there is probably a whole host of issues that I do not realise that come down from Europe, but on the whole, I see a lot of money going out there, and not much coming back.  Especially considering that we are not part of the Euro (and what a blessing that decision has been). 

I’m not normally in the habit of defending Tories, but in this instance, I think someone needs to explain to me   current turn of events is so bad.  But one condition please, can it be real factual issues and not just the “it might”  or “well, possibly….”.  Will we stop trading in Europe? (I don’t think so).  Is it important that the City of London as a financial institution is protected? (Yes it is).  If Europe comes up with a good idea for a law can we just copy it anyway? (yes we can).

So, can someone explain what I missed?  Please do educate me!

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Richard Bard December 12, 2011 - 9:47 pm

I’m baffled too. I thought we had a veto, but it seems the others are going ahead without us. So it’s not a veto its an opt-out.

You can see what a problem Cameron had at the meeting, he wanted to protect the bankers in the city and the answer comes back “but they caused the problem!”

After the Exchange Rate Mechanism collapsed did those that went into the Euro really think it would be easy? I like the divorce analogy, they went into the Euro thinking it would have to work as it would be so difficult to return to national currencies, just like people used to stay married simply because divorce was so difficult.

I’m all for a united Europe, in fact I’m all for a united World, but it’s not going to happen anytime soon so let’s go back to the common market.

There you go Barry, no answers just lots more questions. Sorry.

Eddie December 13, 2011 - 2:32 pm

To say he wanred to protect the bakers is political guff. I’m sorry to see it here. Cameron really had very little choice, and imo a labour leader would have done the same.

Lets not forget that even had we agreed and signed up, it would make no diference to the current crisis. Countries like Greece are in exactly the same position as they were last week, standing in line waiting for us to hand them more money, and then saying we can’t change our system.

Barry December 13, 2011 - 5:12 pm

Eddie, I think you absolutally right, and I think you may have taken the wrong inference in what I wrote – I support Camerons actions, and think he did the right thing. And even better, he did what he told us he would do. What is more, many UK residents are totally supportive.

Our position in terms of trade is no different, we are still a member of Europe (if we like it or not). I think this is a good oppotunity for us to determine just what value being a EU member really is, as you say, I think we run our relationship at a deficit!

Would a Labour leader have done the same? I think only a few members of the shadow cabinet would have the balls (Clue is in the statement).

Joe K December 16, 2011 - 2:28 pm

Ed Milliband is such an easy target (see what I did there…), but it’s just an established fact now that whatever Cameron does, it will be the wrong thing for Ed.

I like Europe (or, if you prefer, ‘the mainland’), and I never thought all Britain’s problems were to do with a ‘global crisis’, but I think that, as with Westgate, whether we’re in our out won’t make a lot of practical difference. The other countries have enough problems to deal with that we aren’t likely to benefit from any bailouts anyway. So it’s a ‘meh’ from me…

James December 21, 2011 - 12:24 am

One question I would like to have an answer to is this: Does the City of London work in the ‘national interest’ or does it work in its own interests? Given the furore over excessive bonuses, short selling and tax payer funded bank bail-outs, it’s clear to me whose interests they are serving.

The renegotiation of our relationship with the rest of the EU is a veiled attempt to strip away employee rights such as the minimum wage and paternity/maternity. The CBI will remind us that such measures will make the UK more competitive but who are they kidding? How can any EU member state compete with China, India, Brazil, Russia or any other developing economy on labour costs?

This race to the bottom may be good for balance sheets in the City of London but will further impoverish British families and increase unemployment. If the UK is to become more protectionist, it will need to re-learn the art of manufacturing, grow more of its own produce and become less dependent on mainland Europe and the rest of the world.

Eddie December 22, 2011 - 9:16 am

I’ll answer that James. NOBODY works in the ‘national interest’ , never have and never will.

The rest of your post is not imo worth answering because it is simply wrong

James December 23, 2011 - 9:06 pm

That’s right Eddie, it’s also referred to as the Privatizing of profits and the socializing of losses. You consider that fair? And since when was labour cheaper in the UK than in the developing world? How is that “wrong”?

The reason the government/media are so focussed on the ‘European problem’ is because the current administration was so preoccupied with deficit reduction, they forgot about growth. Rising unemployment is of little interest to those in power. It’s not good enough.

James December 31, 2011 - 8:31 am

Barry, to return to your original point, there are no simple answers. We are already out of the Euro so why are we worried about the Eurozone? Cameron is worried because roughly half of our trade is in the Eurozone. If the Euro currency collapses in 2012 (as it might), it will have a disastrous impact on UK jobs and our balance of payments. It exposes all the world’s wealthiest trading nations (G20). In short, what is bad for the Euro and the Eurozone is bad for the UK. As of 31/12/2011, the bets are on the ECB bailing out the Euro currency which would be the best outcome for British jobs and therefore the national interest, regardless of what ‘experts’ in the City might think.

There is evidence of UK jobs ALREADY being lost in the past due to our veto on what used to be called the ‘social chapter’ hence my concern over it now given that we are in the early stages of austerity measures. The UK was considered a soft target for multi-nationals because it was cheaper/easier to lay off British employees than their continental counterparts (I have witnessed this at first hand so am happy to substantiate this if asked). In this context, I think our Deputy PM is right when he says we need to be careful what we wish for. As a country, we will find it increasingly difficult to compete with emerging economies so in this respect, there is a strong argument for staying in the world’s largest trading block.

This is why I don’t share your enthusiasm for being out of Europe, not that this is possible geographically, historically, politically or culturally. And besides, being adrift in the ‘mid Atlantic’ sounds a bit isolationist and chilly by my reckoning :o)

I agree that Britain SHOULD stand up on its own but I think this is quite idealistic even for a county built on trade. Whether we like it or not, we live in a globalised world [that the British empire helped to manufacture]. If protectionism makes us more economically/ecologically sustainable, then I am all for that. I just don’t think that is possible right now and the City will fight tooth and nail to preserve the status quo, no matter how damaging that is for UK unemployment!!!

We need good trade links with the continent and as anyone with any commercial experience will know, these can only be built on good relationships between people. Telling our European partners how clever we were to stay out of the Euro aint exactly helping and to my mind, seems almost child-like in the “I told you so” kind of way. Instead, we should maintain solidarity and adopt the Cameronesque “we’re all in it together” approach. The original premise of European unity was built on peace and security; we should not forget that.

As for the City, they need to pay their dues. Twice as many Britons favour a transactions tax (of less than ONE PER CENT!) than Britons who don’t; this shows that many of us have not forgotten what caused the credit crunch and the manner in which large financial institutions were bailed out. Our Eurozone partners are in tune with thinking on the ground here; this is reflected by the German and French governments who have been more forceful advocates for regulation in the markets. Given the FSA is being closed down, that suggests our own government agrees, despite Cameron’s almost Churchillian persona in Brussels. In general, countries on the northern European mainland are holding the centre ground and that is where I want Britain to be in the political and commercial sense.

I think this also demonstrates why the political centre ground is not getting sucked into this Euro-phobic nonsense. Those that advocate an exit from the Single European Market do not even have a coherent basis to launch a referendum, let alone any consideration for what happens next. The current administration is struggling to keep a lid on rising unemployment now so what makes us think things will magically get better if Britain abandons the European project. I think most people would prefer to be lead by politicians who put people before profit and put national interests before their own. If this is not what people perceive and experience, those politicians and their political parties will be shown the door courtesy of the ballot box.

I think one final point needs to be made. Barry asked if he could be educated and I think this speaks volumes about the (lack of) debate and understanding on ‘Europe’. Children are leaving our schools with little basic understanding of the European institutions and the void has been filled, in part, by some quite dreadful media coverage that has focussed on petty things like banana regulations and so forth. I’ve noticed this drift even amongst younger politicians on the centre-right, who seem very different to those in Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet who were true stalwarts of the Single European Market. This does need to be addressed by the educational establishment. Reading some of the current media coverage that compares the EU with the Fourth Reich isn’t constructive and I hope the language will be toned down; I live in hope that this ‘us and them’ nonsense peddled by the British media is nipped in the mud. As Richard hinted in his post 12/12/2011, we need a united world, not a divided one. Working people should stand together in solidarity, regardless of their race/creed etc. I for one, have more in common with working people in the Euro area than the political elites who ‘govern’ us.

Barry December 31, 2011 - 1:35 pm

Some interesting points though in reading your post I did have an interesting thought. We (myself included) keep battering the banks as the basis for the crisis. And quite rightly they should have had better processes in place to ensure recipients were not given loans they could not service. BUT, what about the people who too out the loans themselves? Either they took them out knowing they could not repay them which is decitful, or they took them out not knowing, which means they were negligent! The banks should have look after themselves and not given the loans, but should these people not shoulder some of the responsibility as they should not have asked either?

As for Europe, I have never been convinced of its true value to the UK, it is essentially a negative relationship for us, considering the money we contribute to what we get back. As simply a manufacturing base (of “run of the mill” items), then the world has moved on and the UK is not in that market now, the UK is much more suited to High end and High Skilled manufacturing (automotive, defence, aerospace etc). Will this change if we are within or without Europe, no it will not. Tomorrow will come and trade will still exist.

A suggestion was mooted many years ago while in a Mess Dinner that we should become the 52nd state of the USA, and when you look at it there are a lot of advantages, we are closer to Washington that some of the US states, we speak the same language, we already have a “special relationship” (cough, honest). Our Armed Forces already work very closely together as do many of our other institutions. It would make a lot more sense to do that 😉


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