Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Where does David Cameron stand on Europe?

Liberal Democrats are not anti-European. We believe that the European Union needs significant reform, but we also believe that it is a positive force for the political and economic well being of British Citizens.

What, however, are the Conservatives?

Are they Anti-European, as so many of their members seem to be?

Are they Pro-European, as Christopher Beazley, a veteran Conservative MEP, certainly is?

For many Conservatives, membership of the European Union is, as it is for UKIP, a complete anathema. However, David Cameron says that he does not want to withdraw from the European Union .

Personally, therefore I get a little tired of being accused by some Tory nutters of being some fanatical anti British traitor because I also support membership of the EU. The furious rage and malice that these anti-European Conservative people often bring to their arguments is usually highly unpleasant and almost entirely counter-productive. The contempt, for example, that these Yahoos have poured on Christopher Beazley's head since he announced his retirement is little short of disgusting.

Christopher and I know each other slightly, since we have taken part in several academic seminars at UCL-SSEES. I have therefore had the pleasure of several thoughtful discussions on various subjects, including the future of the Baltic, with him.

As political opponents we can not be expected to agree on everything, but I would regard his views with respect, even when they are not my own.

A lack of courtesy is one thing that I have got used to from the more unreconstructed element of the anti-European fanatics when I debate with them. The horrible vituperation and wholly unworthy personal attacks against Christopher Beazley -by his own side- I have found absolutely shocking.

Mr. Cameron too may disagree with some of Christopher Beazley's positions, but he really ought to protect him from the howling mob of barbarians whose continuing personal attacks are truly vile.

If he is not prepared to defend an honourable and long-serving MEP, then perhaps we are entitled to ask more firmly: "Mr. Cameron, do you support continued British membership of the European Union".

It is a straight yes or no answer.

He can not placate the anti-European mob with equivocations; he should defend an honourable and decent man.

4 comments:

Newmania said...

That would all be fine if the process had not involved lies and arrogance from the start and if a "Straight question " had ever been put to the people about where we are now. That is very very far from the case. Common Market? Remember that....not United States of Europe ..
Why did Gordon Brown turn such back flips to avoid being pictured with the Flag and anthem signing our country away ? We know why, because he is doing something no-one wants and doing it by stealth.. This is a betrayal of the country and we should not have to put up with it .
The Liberal Party hates America , adores Europe , detests populism ( to the point it will subvert democracy to avoid it ) and is against nationalist sentiment ( a historical oddity) . Some no doubt feel differently , but that is the Party. The Party is important, fat chance of reforming education when its owned by teachers, for example .

David Cameron is exactly where most Conservatives are which is
1 We would have to think long and hard about actually leaving
2 Innate Conservatism is always against radical or dramatic shifts ( this comes form a history of using power)
3 We cannot put up with it as it is and realise that political will must be galvanised to do anything about it.
4 We know we will get no help from the Liberal party who see to only follow the debate ( same as with markets )...and you , by the way , misrepresent your position in typically Janus faced fashion.

Because the Liberal International progressive side is so conflicting with the local commitment to whatever protest is around Ming had to find away of avoiding a choice on the Constitution without appearing to be an elitist anti democrat which , at heart , he was.

His answer was to suggest a vote of the whole EU.. This is apiece of sleight of hand which would oblige all those who detest the EU but would fear disruption and the unknown to actually vote “for” further reducing the countries status to a region of the European Empire .
Now that is the sort of cheap dishonesty that enrages. Its like having an escalator in but a sheer cliff out , file under” Misuse of Consultation “ another Liberal forte to be extended I see with these silly local panels .
The Liberal Party if it wants a hearing should be actively campaigning for a vote on the Constitution.. You are still peddling the same rubbish Ming was in effect and I `m afraid those of us who care about the country are not going to take it very well .

David Cameron (for whatever reason ) represents a broad spectrum of views up to and including ‘better off out ‘ , all of which are far from the complicity of the Liberal and Labour Party in the end of the country .His position is vastly more honest than your suggestion you woud like it changed a bit too? Won`t happen thought will it ...so why bother saying it unless you think poltical positions are to be worn like scents.

Incidentally

I think the Liberal party are going to try to cut the Conservative vote and then do a deal with Brown for PR . I would like assurances they will not .

How about that for a simple question? It is one I will be asking regularly

( I like pupil Premiums though)

Cicero said...

I assume that you mean the Liberal Democrats when you talk about the Liberal Party. So let us start by rejecting completely your statement that we "hate America, adores Europe". We believe in our own country first. We believe that our political and economic alliance with other European states is valuable for the UK. However we also believe that our military and political alliance with the USA is also critical for our country- as a party, we strongly support our membership of NATO. While we deplore Guantanamo and the criticise the actions of the current administration, which we think have been incredibly dmaging to the cause of western democracy around the world, we also respect and admire the vibrant and successful American democracy.

I am not sure what you mean about populism, which generally has a slightly negative implication versus democracy:
Populism: "any of various, often antiestablishment or anti-intellectual political movements or philosophies that offer unorthodox solutions or policies and appeal to the common person rather than according with traditional party or partisan ideologies". Democracy: "Government by the people, exercised either directly or through elected representatives."

If Populism is rule by the mob then it is at least as damaging as elitism- but the implication of your comment "a history of using power" implies an elitist separateness of your party from individuals who we think are surely entitled to behave as they see fit, within the law. To me, your stance smacks of far more of elitism than the populism you suggest, but in any event does not seem to promote democracy in the best way.

I agree that the European Union has acquired a political dimension, and, yes this as to some extent come about organically. However, provided we can set limits to the power of the political dimension, and place it under democratic stewardship, as Liberaal Democrats strongly advocate, then we do not consider that this is automatically a threat to Liberty. It is legitimate to ask the British people whether they wish to continue a process that is also political, but if 26 other states have explicitly accepted the political dimension, and if they all ratified the reform treaty, then the choice for the UK is not just an incremental one: it is a binary choice. Either we accept the political dimension, or we leave the European Union. The Conservative Party has not been honest about this, saying that they can not accept the Union as it is but need not leave it. Well, it's make your mind up time!

The reality is that the price of leaving is huge, and no political leader is prepared to pay it. What we say is, it is time to accept that the EU is, at least for the medium term, a given in British foreign policy, but we should engage with it and create liberal projects, like the successful "Single European Act" that will increase the openness of Europe and that we should also increase democratic control over the institutions- and we believe that the reform treaty -however imperfectly- does some of this.

As for Brown well, his cowardice is contemptable. I will not defend him, nor speculate on his motives.

Liberal Democrats see Britain as a European but also very much as an Atlantic state- we value our close relationship with the USA, and we have strong personal and political links with the North American members of NATO (Canada also).

We also see the UK as part of the wider world. Our country has economical, political and historical interests in many places. However, our first priority must be our closest neighbourhood and our major trading partners. We think that becoming disengaged from the European Union threatens our economic and political interests and is dangerous. However, we also accept that the EU needs to be more open and more under individual control- so, by the way does Whitehall.

Our party does not exist to do deals with any other party. It exists to promote an explictly Liberal agenda. Most of us, at various times, get accused of being "really a Tory" or "really Labour", and quite often we are also approached by other parties to join them. The fact is though, that our belief in the philosophy of economic, social and political liberalism means that we can not in good conscience join either a party of socialist based pragmatism or a party that is in fair measure explicitly socially conservative.

The Liberal Democrats believe in Liberalism: a political and social philosophy advocating the freedom of the individual, parliamentary systems of government, nonviolent modification of political, social, and economic institutions to assure unrestricted development in all spheres of human endeavour, and governmental guarantees of individual rights and civil liberties.

In a word. We beleive in Liberty. We will promote that above all else, and we will work with all those who believe it- and oppose all those who undermine it.

Newmania said...

Forgetting the democrat bit is a habit I share with Nick Clegg , wonder why eh ….J Your remarks about what the Liberal Party does are not born out by experience in Islington and Lewes where anti US feeling is strong , as well as anti Israel feeling …deny it if you like but what the point might be I have no idea.
Liberals do care less about the people of this country specifically which they would call “a “little Englander” attitude . The reason for this is that the Liberal party embraces , to a greater extent , ‘Liberalism’ which claims you derive values from your humanity. Thus it loves the hated human rights act , and the minimum wage and the thought of a world order in which Europe has a part (nightmare …See Ulrick Hech in the Guardian today) The English are communitarian , to put it simply , believing that values emanate from specific communities and that a country is like a club into which you pay in some sense . This is why on the left and right there is great suspicion of immigration whereas Liberal think it is a simply wonderful thing and applaud the end of the ties and bonds that once were the nation This universalism even extends to animals who many Liberals appear to believe are people in little furry coats . A communitarian attitude is far less prone to subscribing activities enshrined in a community hala butchery poses a problem for you , not us . Hunting you loathe we are indifferent . You ban it , we leave it . You tend to want to ban a lot of things .

You would not support the US in Iraq you would have dropped the alliance . Words mean nothing . You would have imperilled our defence and that is one reason above all you will always be a small party , you did not want to renew Trident either listen to Huhne on that …and listen to him attacking Clegg). You cannot , in short be trusted on defence . This makes you very popular in some circles but they are fickle fashion voters. Your support for NATO is weak (you cannot have it both ways ) despite the fact that NATO has delivered peace while the EU cannot even sort out its own back yard. This is the value of strong nation states acting intergovernmentaly . English lives will never be lost ‘only’ to save Poles . You see little difference between Watford and Warsaw as far as distance is concerned .You are concerned with bureaucracies not honour or loyalty. You applaud extreme localism like the Cornish so as to undermining this national loyalty but this is an illusion and the seeming of independence only

Populism may express views not expressed in the Party system but nonetheless not a mob . A mob implies physical force this is not populism which merely denotes the popular. It is not such a mystery …what does Popular literature ,or Popular Music , it is that deemed unenlightened by an elite who exclude it from certain forums . The death penalty is one anti immigration was until recently another , fury at wasters on benefits was until recently another….. Nationalism is another and it is gaining ground not losing it all over Europe . On many populist subjects you are badly out of touch ,a problem with always being central is that you tend to always follow change ..

You yourself said the EU could be reformed have you changed your mind then ? It cannot be by you certainly because you have no stomach for it and also because you are dishonest about you motives which are actually super national. You say the cost is huge but you have absolutely no idea if that is true . I have seen convincing arguments made to the contrary and the growth of Euro scepticism has y followed the decreasing relative importance of Europe as a market. Others manage well.
Increasing democratic control is not the way because that is further establishing a European state which we do not want , we do not want federalism we wish top remain a country and providing legitimacy for the EU would be even worse .That is why Poly Toynbee that hater of the English is so keen . No it should move back to being a trade association of independent states as it was sold to the British in the first place . If that is not possible and the other way is towards “Ever close union “…then we are heading for a the completion of your project to outlaw the country and I would say even violence along the way from the vast majority who will rightly regard this as treason….and you will not let the people decide ?

I think you have broadly accepted that the Liberal Party is the pro EU party if you are proud of it well and good . You have demonstrated some of the half truths that are being use to lead the uninterested by the nose into this project as well .If as you say we are talking about the end of the nation state then all the more reason for a referendum. There is more to life than money , not that I for a minute accept your version if that equation but it is the stuff of legitimate public debate. A referendum
You are not accused of being Conservatives only Socialists. Your problem is this , the ‘social’ Conservatism you talk about is in the past. Liberals had a role in the 20th century on gay rights and women’s rights and so on. Various views about tinkering with the result do not justify a Party . Individual Liberty you have relinquished to the Conservatuive and you are bugger all use in defending smoking , pubs , hunting if helpful on ID . Even on Surveillance you are not much good . None of the trenchant criticism that emerges form our ranks does from yours . You are noticeably bossy locally . This lack of a role domestically is why such great prominence is given to the rest of the world where the focus of Liberal attention has drifted. That is why the EU is so central , Clegg is like an old Heathite Tory in many ways , I quite like him other than his EU folly

I do not say anything about your beliefs which are , in general , far less important than you seem to think. I only say you have a history of duplicity and deal making , ( it comes with the territory to be fair ) your membership will not have an alliance with the Conservatives so you will do a deal with Brown. There you will force PR and engineer so as to establish a thousand year Reich of the centre left such as has appeared elsewhere in Europe. Given the momentous possibility all those who are wavering and thinking of supporting the Liberals must be aware of the realities of their position In the absence of undertakings to the contrary it will be justifiabl assumed to be where the shortest and only route to power . It is quite reasonable that this fact should be advertised .


We all believe in Liberty , what next , we believe in good ? Generally you boss the individual around and this springs directly form the universal value you ascribe to a community of values which is one of many . Others limit the extent to which they are committed to this idea which we all have in common far more . That is why in practice you are always telling people how to behave .

This way of thinking you will find in that book by the poseur Baggini which you might like to read. ...and that is probably enough of me for while toodleoo.

(Last time we said vote Blair get Brown ..... not often wrong )

Mrs Smallprint said...

"I agree that the European Union has acquired a political dimension, and, yes this as to some extent come about organically. However, provided we can set limits to the power of the political dimension, and place it under democratic stewardship, as Liberaal Democrats strongly advocate, then we do not consider that this is automatically a threat to Liberty. It is legitimate to ask the British people whether they wish to continue a process that is also political, but if 26 other states have explicitly accepted the political dimension, and if they all ratified the reform treaty, then the choice for the UK is not just an incremental one: it is a binary choice. Either we accept the political dimension, or we leave the European Union."

We have arrived at the current impasse because our politians have failed to consult us over a long period of time. They have always known that if asked the question "do you want a united states of Europe" the answer would be no. By avoiding the question however they made the question ever more difficult to put.

If this problem had been tackled much earlier we would not be struggling with the problems we have now. We need to go ahead with the vote and the EU will have to deal with the consequences. If they don't there will be conflict further down the line. Now is the time for us to be bold in Europe, we are an important trading partner and substantial contributor to the budget - do you really think that if we say no to this treaty then it will go ahead?

POLITICIANS SHOULD STOP WIMPING OUT AT THE TOP TABLE.