Posted in politics

The fog of war, and of politics

I’ve been trying to work out exactly what it was that made the Prime Minister decide this was the time to make such a crucial move on Europe. So far, he’s been cheered to the rafters by those who hate the EU anyway – and equally denounced by those (few) who think Britain’s future is fully within it. But what exactly was it that he was protecting? What interests me most about all this is that no-one much seems to care. The best reporting, maybe not surprisingly, was in the Financial Times … (sorry, you’ll have to register with them to follow the links)

And even then it appeared that the confusion was shared, even by the parties to the negotiation. The Financial Times‘ reporters put it like this:

“Nobody understood what Cameron wanted – nobody,” said one diplomat from a central European country that might be considered a natural ally of the UK. “We were talking about big things, saving the euro, and he was asking for peanuts. It was not the time or place.”

Eventually I did find a list of the issues at the bottom of this article (the BBC’s summary is here). They might be things that bother those working in the City, but I’m not all clear why the whole politics of the UK is centred around the levels of capital that banks are forced to hold, or why we are quite so upset about the structure of the European financial regulators that we helped to create. Since no-one who has the power seems interested enough to ask the Prime Minister, we may never find out.
So the debate continues at the level of general appeals to that anti-EU mood which is pretty widespread. Even then, it depends how you put it: if a pollster rang you up tomorrow and said ‘Should the UK jettison influence in Europe in order to help the bankers?’ – what would you say? Maybe a different answer than if the question was ‘Should the Prime Minister defend essential UK interests against interference from Brussels?’ And which would be the more accurate question to ask? That’s what I’d really like to know.

2 thoughts on “The fog of war, and of politics

  1. The interests of the working class in the UK are no different from the interests of the working class in the rest of Europe – neither will benefit from a deal that further entrenches right-wing technocrats. It’s very hard to get a grip of what’s of real substance in this debate – though this article (N16 author, btw) – http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2011/12/european-treaty-cameron-stop – is interesting.
    It looks like sectional infighting – trying to find the best ways of enforcing ‘austerity’ on normal people and protect different sections of the European ruling classes.
    But then … I thought ‘Faith in the City’ was insufficiently Marxist.

  2. The “City” of London is obscuring some narrow interests (greed?):

    Currency traders can make much more money in a Europe with 3 or 4 or 26 different currencies than they can with a single Euro. Since many of their transactions are gambles (with our money!) they just want to break up the euro and they don’t care about trade.

    Bankers are really opposed to the sensible Tobin Tax (Robin Hood tax, a small tax on transactions): and they keep saying it would only work if it were applied world-wide; so they want Europe as fragmented as possible. (After all, it would probably work if applied Europe-wide!)

    The City benefits from the chaos in the bond markets (gambling with our money again!) and is also earning high interest rates (from us as taxpayers!). So they have no interest in uniting Europe or reducing the euro crisis.

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