Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

Archive for the tag “Europe”

An Argument to Remain – at last?

Today a non-hysterical argument was finally made for remaining in the EU.

It stands in interesting contrast to the “Vote Leave to get a Drier Conservative Government” argument that we are increasingly seen put forward by the Quitters. (Dry? Think Thatcher and Wets vs Drys) Imagine Gove, Grayling, Patel, (Boris) Johnson, and the likes of Rees-Mogg, Bone, and Farage forming a “caring conservative” government with more cuts in taxes (particularly for the richer who are meant to pay taxes but funded by doctrinaire cuts in services) and a bonfire of regulations that protect us. Read more…

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Mindsets: Borders

Everyone seems to be talking about “the migrant crisis” with consecutive “special” programmes tonight on BBC1 (Desperate Journeys: Europe’s Migrant Crisis) and on ITV1 (Breaking into Britain: Tonight). A picture of a dead Syrian child being recovered from the beaches of Turkey seem to have brought about a reverse of Cameron policy (not sure if Osborne has U-turned as well).

We seem to lack a coherent approach to a number of mixed issues;

Globally:

  • the crises in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and people fleeing for their lives;
  • poverty in parts of the world leading people to migrate for a better life;
  • people smugglers;

Parochially:

  • a chaotic approach to planning public services in the UK;
  • a toxic relationship between the current British Government and Europe;
  • (very parochially) fear of UKIP undermining Conservative support.

One of the issue is that in respect of “borders” there are multiple mindsets. Read more…

Europe and Brexit

Is this the best political speech of the campaign so far?

For me Europe is an important litmus test. I believe passionately that leaving Europe would leave Britain diminished in the world, do significant damage to our economy and, less obviously but just as important to our future, would go against the very qualities that mark us out still as a great global nation.

It would be a momentous decision. Read more…

A Programme for the Majority?

Just imagine the following programme for government:

  • Reform
    • A shake up of Westminster
    • Abolition of the House of Lords
    • A fair voting system
  • Public Services
    • No tuition fees
    • Educational Maintenance Allowance including part-time college students
    • The NHS in public hands, halting the tide of NHS privatisation
    • Abolition of prescription charges
    • Explicit protection for the NHS on the face of the TTIP agreement
  • Fairness
    • Pensions that protect our older people.
    • A decent welfare system that helps people into work
    • Eradication of working practices that have no place in a decent, modern economy
    • a Living Wage nation
    • Strengthening of the law against domestic abuse – speed up the court process, give more support to victims, and expand schemes to help offenders change their behaviour
    • Gender Equality: Removal of Systemic and institutional barriers – the pay gap, occupational segregation, a lack of affordable childcare and, sometimes, just outdated attitudes
  • Other
    • No new generation of Trident nuclear weapons
    • Deficit reduction but not slash and burn austerity
    • Stay in Europe

If we could break the internal coalitions in the old elitist parties, could we envisage a parliamentary coalition to support this programme? Read more…

Globalisation and insecurity

Recent events have highlighted what a connected world we live in. Current orthodoxy seems to be to accept free trade and globalisation either as a force that cannot be resisted or as a “good thing”. Dissident views seem to be isolationist.

Whilst I see some interconnection as a good and useful thing, too much connectedness can hamper us – as we see in European nations’ reluctance to take action against Russia in protest against the situation in Ukraine. Most European nations seem to be convinced that Russia’s soviet ambitions are behind the Ukrainian unrest (and the “apparent” shooting down of the Malaysian Airliner). However they also know where their energy supplies come from. So they are rendered supine – huffing and puffing but not doing a lot.

We need to be more discerning about our alliances and who we associate with and who we do business with. Globalisation can lead to insecurity at the national level as well as at the individual level. Read more…

Euro Elections and “Election Promises”

Euro elections (at least in the UK) often suffer from being a referendum on the National Government. It seems that the parties are now joining this view and consequently putting forward dodgy or irrelevant election leaflets.

The Conservative leaflet for East of England (as republished by Julian Ware-Lane, a Southend Labour Councillor and blogger) is an example of what concerns me (other parties no doubt do the same). Read more…

Language Battles

We have seen how the Conservatives have won a language battle over “Welfare” – with, for instance, use of statistics that has been condemned by the ONS and selective demonising of welfare recipients attempting to tar all welfare recipients with the label “welfare scrounger”. It has been suggested that they have set up the working poor (who do not think of themselves as “welfare recipients”) against the non-working poor.

This sort of use of propaganda is of course clever politics and we have seen it used elsewhere with similar success. At the beginning of this parliament they would not have got away with it. But by winning the language battle they have opened the opportunity for welfare cuts that will affect many to a small degree and a few to a very heavy degree. The debate now seems to be how can we solve the deficit problem by further welfare cuts (not by for instance ensuring that all pay their taxes). The deficit is “due” to excessive welfare, apparently – nothing to do with inadequate control of credit, poor regulation and massive government spending to prevent complete collapse of the world economy after the banking crisis. Osborne has said that he will not need to increase taxes in the next government – I can’t see him borrowing more, I can’t see massive growth, so presumably there are going to be further cuts. And which budget is not ring-fenced?

Given the success of this political ploy, we should ask: where is the current language battle and where will the Tories go when they have won the battle? Read more…

Sleep-walking behind the Faragistas

Dramatic changes are not necessarily brought about by significant events, but by an accumulation of apparently trivial events.  Thus our policy toward Europe is now (by default) being controlled by the Faragistas. Read more…

Cameron’s Curate’s Egg

Is Cameron’s speech “good in parts”?

Possibly, there is some good in it, but a lot is more than just unpalatable.  The style however is determinedly Euro-septic [sic].  And there lies the problem; is this a genuine attempt to launch a debate about the future structure of Europe, or is he merely “Farraging”?.  I wish it was the former, but I fear it is the latter.

So what can be taken from the speech? Read more…

Solving the EU Conundrum

The Scots (at least some of them) want independence but want to stay in the EU.  The Conservatives seem to want to be out of the EU but are wary of negotiating such a position.

The President of the EU Commission says that Scotland, if it achieves independence will have to re-apply for EU membership as outsiders.

A suggestion (bear with me!): Read more…

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