Cameron’s Proposals For “Reform” Are Not “Trivial”

I have serious difficulty understanding the perspective of some of those involved in the EU “renegotiation” debate. I am not sure what they are even trying to say, much of the time, although, to be fair, based upon the persistence with which I make certain points—without any perceptible sign of recognition—I do not doubt that the feeling is mutual.

For instance, the inconsistent Iain Martin, who in May wrote about the Chancellor’s desire to “go long” on the EU “renegotiation” so as to allow more time to secure a deal that would keep Britain in a “reformed EU”, but who now writes that the “moment of opportunity” to agree that “new relationship” is gone. Mr Martin offers no explanation why what he describes in his earlier article as the “historic prize” of a two-tier European Union is no longer on offer. Indeed, his assertion is particularly perplexing in the sense that Mr Cameron’s proposals for “reform” mesh almost exactly with a pre-existing EU plan to create a two-tier EU in which Britain is a second-class member.

Far more important, however, is Dominic Cummings’ scatter-gun campaigning. As Campaign Manager for Vote Leave Ltd., Mr Cummings should be helping to direct legacy journos who have so far struggled to comprehend Mr Cameron’s strategy towards a clear understanding of what has been labelled The Cameron Deception.

There are many things to be said about Mr Cummings’ performance to date—some of which I have said already; others of which I shall leave for future posts. For the sake of brevity, this post will focus on just one small point: is the man that several in the tame Tory media have garlanded as a “genius” just a little bit dim?

I have shied away from this assessment in the past, thinking that one who has worked within the machine of government—whatever else one may think of them—cannot be short a few brain cells. However, the following is causing me to reassess:

It is because I do read Vote Leave’s stuff that I am in a position to criticise. Based upon the above comment, one wonders: Does Mr Cumming’s read Vote Leave’s stuff?

On Monday, Vote Leave’s “Campaign News” posting said: “David Cameron’s demands are trivial. All the spin is to lower expectations so Downing Street can claim the final deal is ‘a triumph for the Prime Minister’.”

Perhaps I am the one who is missing something—if that is the case, I should like someone to point it out—but does describing the Prime Minister’s proposals (not “demands”) as “trivial” not contribute towards “lower expectations”?

I may be wrong, but I do not believe that the “expectations game”, as Mr Cummings describes it, is best served by describing the PM’s proposals as “trivial”. Not only do I think that such comments are strategically mistaken, from a campaign perspective, I think that there is a great deal of evidence to suggest that such assertions are factually mistaken, from a… factual perspective.

For the sake of clarity, I shall say again, as plainly as I know how: David Cameron’s proposals for “reform” are not “trivial”. Not to say that the “renegotiation” is something that I support. Far from it. I think that in many ways David Cameron is doing less to protect the British national interest than Edward Heath, who negotiated Britain’s entry into the then European Economic Community (EEC).

The entire “renegotiation” (not just part of it) is an exercise in getting people looking the other way, “debating” anything other than leaving the EU. It is past time that the “reforms” became a matter for the “remainers”. Brexiteers are not interested in a few more crumbs from the EU table, we want to take our seat at the global top table and enjoy a full cake.

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3 thoughts on “Cameron’s Proposals For “Reform” Are Not “Trivial”

  1. …’The entire “renegotiation” (not just part of it) is an exercise in getting people looking the other way, “debating” anything other than leaving the EU.’…

    I’ve seen your monicker closeby my own in replies to articles in CiF. So I know your application to studying the enemy goes wider than many would generally be bothered to. Early last year I was carrying out research among other things on the reaction to the LibDems and their troubles over Lord Rennard. One of the main LibDem players at that time – ‘a senior decision-maker’ – wasn’t actually an MP, but a paid strategist who had their own blog. I noted that there were some fairly big-hitting names linked there so specifically via that bloglinking I managed to stalk some discussions that were otherwise hidden in plain sight.

    it transpired that a little before Christmas of 2013, Douglas Alexander, who was the Chief Campaign Strategist for Labour, had directed that the 2014 EU Parliament elections would be fought on domestic issues only:- quote – ‘So as not to put off potential voters’ – unquote. Within those hidden blogs, and then spilling over onto Labour List discussions in a subdued form, were very acrimonious arguments over the strategy and a deal of consternation that EU discussion was to be stifled. It was notable that in just the week of the EU elections itself, all the main off-piste blogs removed all evidence of the discussions – they were purged. However, it’s not difficult to illustrate that not only the 2014 EU Elections were entirely uncontaminated with discussion of the EU for Labour, the 2015 General Election was too.

    However, that writ goes far wider. NuLabour never actually discussed ‘Europe’ – they hid any particular controversy behind ‘the next general election’ or a Referendum, terms-of-reference of which were never discussed. Any public discussion allegedly involving Labour discussed only by non-Parliamentary figures; Lords, Businessmen, Newspaper hacks and mediocre s’lebs. But going wider still, you see Cameron who has also followed that strategy. Again, any discourse over the EU is hidden behind his Referendum (or previously, hidden behind either the referendum lock, or ‘the referendum the LibDems won’t let me have’.) When eventually he’s forced to disclose anything, he then hides behind his claims about being the only Prime Minister ‘to have vetoed a treaty’ or ‘reduced the EU budget’; in which both cases those claims being entirely falsified. Their EU strategies have now been misdirected into immigration concerns.

    Even UKIP don’t actually discuss EU withdrawal – their main campaigning is also centred around migration.

    For perfectly good reasons, I don’t feel I even need to consider the existence of the LibDems.

    To come back to the quoted sentence at top, the reality is even more fundamental. There is no discourse of the EU within proper political corridors in any respect in a manner that is accessible by the electorate. None whatsoever. To bring Alexander back into it, it’s clear it’s intentional – the EU is seen as a vote-loser, and the only way in which to make political headway for them to justify further EU integration is conceal it in a raft of political detritus and misdirection.

    Elsewhere I’ve written recently that quite soon, the Europhile part of Parliamentary Labour will soon be propping up Cameron. I can go into that in greater depth if necessary but I’d say it’s a fair prediction.

    To come back to CiF – in general it’s read only by people who would read the Guardian, and in general they’re the kind of self-satisfied lefties who talk only to their own ilk, so as not to have to turn their eyes towards the vulgar, lumpen proles, and their vain audacity in insisting on holding opinions. (I recall your chuckle at Toynbee’s dismissal of people voting against AV as being ‘dumb’ – imagine how that would pan out on ‘Question Time’?). Therefore it’s rare I would bother actually debating with the more egregious examples of Europhilia or preposterous caricature of their opponents. Life’s too short, it would be a waste of time, and such people won’t ever be representative of an emerging debate. It’s a scrawled note which will be invisible to history all too soon, so I content myself just billboarding incontrovertible information – such as the emerging story of ‘Associate Membership’ and it’s re-dedication as ‘The British Model’. Thus far, none of the standard-issue Guardianista Europhiles will attempt to knock it down. As far as I remember, they’ve not done so with your own postings on the subject. They haven’t seen it, because, in my own theory, they don’t want to see it.

    For some time, I’ve been putting the information with regard to Alexander’s ‘Don’t-talk-about-the-EU’ strategy in plain sight in some CiF articles and once again, nobody will engage with it.

    This isn’t a self-satisfied session of personal trumpet blowing. On observation, if you place new information on CiF – or information which is a debating minefield for the inadequate or unprepared – the comment stands unchallenged. Mandelson once said ‘When you’re saying it for the hundredth time, they’re hearing it for the first time’. When the tipping moment comes when finally the wider Labour Party learns a good hundred and fifty of their MPs have been propping up David Cameron in secret, where ostensibly they could have defeated him in the HoC, these kinds of unchallenged ‘factual’ postings will come into their own. You can justly illustrate assembling a credible and demonstrably accurate narrative contrary to the status-quo. At that point, when uncommitted readers will be looking for someone to trust – which won’t be Europhile Labour, after all – the unchallenged messages will be already established. It will be too late to mount an assault upon them – because that requires technique and experience such opponents have not armed themselves with.

    Other than the strategies of misdirection and concealment – tools they are undeniably the masters of – I think our opponents are considerably weaker than has ever been reckoned. Oddly enough, at the top, I think they know it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for this. Great comment. Lots of food for thought. I shall have to return to some of these topics. Happy to see someone noticing my occasional “efforts” over at CiF… I shall have to look out for your comments.

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  2. Forwarded for your interest and information – e mail sent to my MP and circulated today:

    Mr Cameron’s Negotiations.

    What Mr Cameron will not be negotiating in Brussels today is anything like the much trumpeted headline by the media as ” Britain ‘s relationship with ‘ Europe ‘ (sic) – meaning of course the EU.

    How can the “flagship” policy as the BBC styles it, of the relatively trivial issue of benefits for EU migrants and the other minor requests set for discussion come anywhere near the major areas of policy which should be the subject of our “relationship with Europe”?

    For example: Mr Cameron will not discuss what is of interest to our farmers – the CAP. He will not discuss what is of interest to Britain ‘s fishing community – the CFP.

    Further, He will not discuss EU employment regulation which is of interest to British business; he will not discuss sovereignty issues for the restoration of the primacy of British law over that of the EU Commission. Neither will he discuss the urgent need to restore British democratic control over other vital policy areas such as Foreign affairs, immigration, EU ‘citizenship’, EU military integration, City of London regulation, taxation in all its forms, ‘green’ energy policies, criminal justice, trade deals, or the direct costs of the punitive diversion of British taxpayers money to EU membership of about £12 Billion net. All of these are of intense interest to British voters.

    In the light of these non-discussions British people will be forgiven for thinking that this latest abortive trip to Brussels is anything more than yet another PR exercise by an enfeebled and weak PM attempting to salvage something, anything, from many months of unsuccessful begging bowl pleas to our EU ‘partners’. This EU ‘summit’ will be marked then, by what is omitted as a basis for our relationship with the EU, and to that extent must be considered a failure already.

    In fact, there is only one single issue which Mr Cameron should assert in Brussels today (not negotiate), namely the fundamental issue of the primacy of the British parliament’s law making powers over those of the EU as mentioned above. This is for the simple reason that Westminster MPs are elected by the British people whilst the EU and all its institutions are not only unelected but quite literally, unaccountable to anybody. That alone should justify his trip to Brussels .

    Because that issue is not up for discussion Mr Cameron and his Europhile friends in parliament need re-learn some basic principles of democracy, and to understand why they are elected to office, which is that they are thereby charged by the electorate with the function of government and nobody else. Those powers are not transferable and to continue to make them so is to make a mockery of all elections. The whole point of general elections, and incidentally their existence and remuneration as ministers and MPs, is to function as such and to act as representatives of their electorates.

    No British electorate has ever given them free rein, in any election, to pass those powers and the trust invested in them to any other power or institution.

    Why is this single point so important? For the obvious reason that all other policy areas and decisions are contingent upon the sovereignty of our own parliament and their exclusive law making powers. Without the establishment of that basic constitutional right all other outcomes of lesser amendments to existing EU laws and directives etc are meaningless as under existing treaties these can simply be overruled by the ECJ at any time. There is no point in having a democratic system of votes at elections when we can be over-ruled by the EU at any level.

    It is clear therefore that Mr Cameron is not attempting to negotiate anything fundamental that will, as he originally promised on numerous occasions and in his ‘Bloomberg’ speech, effect real change, let alone any real measure of EU “reform”.

    As some have tartly pointed out – if the EU started now as an organisation we wouldn’t join would we? So why stay?

    If as expected Mr Cameron returns, even with some sort of fudged ‘deal’ on the miniscule requests he presents, these will not answer the fundamental issues of governance listed above and which he should be raising.

    Given his obvious failure in the whole “negotiation” fiasco, there is no alternative for the UK to vote ‘leave’ in any coming referendum, and all MPs, together with Mr Cameron himself, should join a cross-party campaign for that objective without any ‘ifs or buts’, or further prevarication about “not ruling anything in or out”. In the light of another failure in Brussels that should now be the statesmanlike and principled stance for all at Westminster . So, welcome to the ‘leave’ campaign Mr Cameron.

    Graham Wood

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