David Cameron Wants To Get British Voters To Stop Thinking About His Disastrous Austerity Agenda
England's struggling with a double-dip recession thanks to the Austerity agenda instituted by David Cameron's Conservative government. Polling shows he's unlikely to be reelected and he's already lost the women's vote, which now favors Labor 45-29%. That's due largely to "the disproportionately negative effect his government’s cuts have had on women" and children. This might be a good place for the Conservatives to rally the country with some foreign adventure. Perhaps Cameron was hoping Argentina would give him the chance a couple weeks ago. No such luck, so instead he's decided to go after the E.U., as though Britain's membership rather than his own government's reactionary economic and fiscal agenda, was what ails the country.
As usual, Labor Party leader Ed Miliband is confused about where he stands on the issue-- although Tony Blair is already attacking Cameron for threatening a referendum on EU membership. If Cameron is a British version of John Boehner, nervous about his own right-wing fanatics (notoriously insular and anti-E.U.), Miliband is an overly cautious and waffling Steny Hoyer. Meanwhile, Britain's European "partners" have reacted badly to Cameron's threats. "Selfish," "ignorant" and "dangerous" were some of the words used to describe Cameron's speech Wednesday.
France went so far as to call Britain's bluff and say it was free to leave. Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said he had told a recent meeting with British businessmen: "If Britain wants to leave Europe we will roll out the red carpet for you."Have people been been asking what would happen if England choses to leave the E.U. but Scotland decides to stay? And yesterday there was this message for Cameron; Miliband should pay more attention... Obama as well:
That was a riposte to Cameron who last year used the same phrase to welcome wealthy French tax exiles to Britain.
EU politicians turned to culinary and sporting metaphors to vent frustration at the prime minister's promise to renegotiate Britain's already semi-detached membership of the EU and put it to a popular vote if he wins re-election in 2015.
"Cherry-picking is not an option," German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said. Two French cabinet ministers accused Cameron of treating Europe like an "a la carte" menu from which Britain thought it could pick and choose.
Peter Mandelson, a former EU trade commissioner and veteran British Labour government minister, called it a "schizophrenic" speech and said Europe would not respond positively to being treated as a "cafeteria service where you bring your own tray and leave with what you want."
Fabius said it was as if Britain had joined a football club and then suddenly said "let's play rugby."
Martin Schulz, the head of the European Parliament which with the European Commission was the butt of Cameron's criticism of "sclerotic" EU decision-making, was just plain angry.
Britain was pointing the finger but was "overwhelmingly to blame for all the delays in Europe," said Schulz. "He just wants change in the single interest of Britain and that's not fair."
In Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative sympathies for Cameron's party are overshadowed by anger at their exit from the centre-right EU bloc and veto of her fiscal pact, the view is that the UK premier has painted himself into a corner.
German politicians face eurosceptic pressures of their own but say Cameron pays too much attention to a loud minority who play up what he called disillusionment "at an all-time high."
"Cameron is using EU membership as a tactical tool for domestic politics," said Manuel Sarrazin of the German Greens.
Even if opinion to Britain was warmer, it is far from clear how it could initiate and successfully pilot a treaty negotiation, EU officials said.
Guy Verhofstadt, former Belgian prime minister and now leader of the liberals in the European Parliament, said the British premier was "playing with fire" by trying to renegotiate Britain's EU membership and put it to the vote.
"His speech was full of inconsistencies, displaying a degree of ignorance about how the EU works," said Verhofstadt.
Verhofstadt and others said there could be "no question" of granting Britain wholesale opt-outs from common European rules and regulations, saying this risked precipitating an unravelling of the EU and its internal market.
..."Basically it boiled down to: 'Let's re-elect me, let's then change our ties with Europe, and then let's have a referendum on something that's not defined yet,'" said one EU diplomat.
Jolyon Howorth, a British scholar of European politics, said it might be better if Britain left as the EU would then be free to work towards its vision of a federal Europe, "unhampered by the brake-man on the caboose."