Monday 27 October 2014

Strength in Union?

As presented by the media and politicians, the apparent demand for an extra payment of £1.7bn to the EU seems almost calculated to boost the anti-EU wing of the Tory party and encourage Cameron to argue for the UK to leave the organisation.  However, given that at this stage it’s a proposal which will be subject to negotiation and agreement, the cynic in me wondered whether it was actually intended to do the opposite, by giving Cameron a chance to show how he can negotiate the figure down and claim a great victory.
Whichever, the issue raised two rather different questions in my mind.
The first is the approach of the UK Government to promises and agreements which it makes.  The famous ‘Vow’ given to Scotland isn’t the only example it seems – in the case of the EU, the government signed up to a set of rules and is now rejecting the outcome of their application.  His word appears not to be his bond.
The second is what it says about Cameron’s attitude towards redistribution.  The whole issue is presented as though the £1.7bn is simply going to be shovelled into a black hole in Brussels and used to pay fat cats and bureaucrats.  But the purpose of this particular budgetary adjustment is to ensure that payments in more closely match countries’ ability to pay.  That is, in essence, a redistributive approach – it’s not about penalising economic success as some have tried to present it.
There’s a parallel of sorts with the infamous Barnett formula, and with the recent referendum.  I seem to remember Cameron and others repeating ad nauseam that one of the great advantages of ‘the’ union is its ability to pool and share resources.  He didn’t really mean it then; and he certainly doesn’t mean it when it comes to the EU.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are absolutely right, David Cameron has proved a big disappointment. So too Gordon Blair and Tony Blair before him.

Surely this lends credence to my view that we need less politicians, good or bad, important or unimportant. Less politicians, less taxation, less public sector involvement, more personal responsibility and greater representation (meaning the opportunity to oust any existing incumbent according to majority voting procedure).

I knew we'd agree on something. We can all find common ground, it's just a question of time.