Friday, 22 April 2011
Is the tide beginning to turn at last?
Although the Tories have been, at heart, Eurosceptic since Thatcher’s 1988 Bruges speech, they have not been openly hostile to our membership since then and the true sentiment of many backbenchers has been expressed by UKIP - usually through Nigel Farage.
Labour had been against the, then, Common Market under Michael Foot and fought the 1983 General Election on a platform of outright withdrawal. It was not until 1988, when Jacques Delors addressed the Trade Union Congress and managed to convince many of the representatives that the EU would take care of significant changes in employment law that the Trade Union movement had been seeking, that this stance changed.
Since 1994, with the election of Blair to the Labour leadership, the party has been unashamedly for the Union and had jumped to every command from the Eurocrats - whatever the cost. However, according to an article by Peter Osborne in today’s Telegraph, Labour’s policy towards the EU is changing. It seems, at last, that one of the parties likely to form the next government might contest the next General Election with a manifesto which includes withdrawing from the Union.
If this is the case, it will be a great relief as, although various groups and organizations have been fighting towards this end for more than a decade, the chances of success had looked slim whilst the three main parties supported our continued membership. Since then we have been becoming increasingly entangled in the web of legislation that the Lisbon Treaty introduced. That Brown ratified this against the very clear wishes of the British people was probably the worst act taken by the last administration – and Blair and Brown made some disastrous decisions.
However, we are far from out of the woods. The Unions will no doubt take some convincing, although seeing so many of their members jobs taken by workers from EU member countries will no doubt focus their minds now that employment prospects have become so poor, particularly for the young.
It does seem that Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, angered by Darlings agreement to contribute to the eurozone bail-out fund [incredibly after Labour had lost the election, but before the Coalition had been formed] is demanding that the vast majority of the funds required to help Portugal is provided by the eurozone.
If George Osborne follows Balls’ advice and refuses to help Portugal, the seeds will be sown for serious conflict between Britain and the EU. The proposal by the European Commission for another 4.9% increase in its annual budget, which shocked Cameron, together with the recent abuses of these funds, conflict on prisoners votes and the realization that the extra contributions to the EU budget will wipe out all of the savings likely to be made through the austerity measures provides the real hope that our membership of the EU will start to unravel.
By virtually any measure our membership of the EU should be ended, however, as with so many of today’s critical decisions, in last resort, it will be the wishes of the global corporations that hold sway, because of the overt and covert pressures they can exercise on the government, not the interests of the tax paying electorate.