Cameron’s Fantasy Land must be countered

24th January, 2013 10:32 am

At long last the Great Speech, the speech to end all speeches, has been delivered. In it the Prime Minister has bought hook, line and sinker into the belief – peddled by his own eurosceptics – that putting Europe centre stage at the next General Election will deliver his party the outright victory that has eluded them for the past four General Elections. It is a testament to his ability to fly headlong into the face of reality and betrays a disturbing faith in his own abilities that very few people actually share.

It is a Fantasy Land in which Cameron is in total control of his party, where he has the unwavering backing of a grateful British public and where other world leaders gaze in awe at his ability to capture the zeitgeist so uncannily. In Fantasy Land there is no need for proper ideas or specific reforms; the evils of the EU that must be slain are clear: it is too slow, too focused on the welfare of its citizens and needs to be stripped right back in order to fulfil its purpose of a trading bloc where countries compete with emerging economies on the basis of low-cost, unproductive and unprotected labour.

In Fantasy Land opinion poll after opinion poll has respondents screaming their frustrations at being a member of the European Union before adding, as a footnote when pressed, their concerns about jobs, the NHS and the cost of living. Fantasy Land is inhabited by gleeful Tories who have somehow, despite leaving the mainstream European People’s Party to join the hostile fringe, finally persuaded the centre-right in Europe to realise the folly of their ways, do an about turn and accept the worldview of Liam Fox.

The danger of Fantasy Land is that proponents soon start to ignore any semblance of reality around them and press on regardless. In so doing the facts become lost in dogma. And those of us grounded in reality can become complacent about the need to inject some common sense in the mistaken belief that reality and fantasy never cross over. Now that the entire fate of the country has seemingly been hinged on the Tories’ chief neurosis, as Labour activists we must make our position clear. We should use this moment as an opportunity to put an alternative view of what Europe should be to the British people, referendum or no.

Our record is a good one. As constructive members of a coalition of sister parties Labour has successfully secured protection for workers in the form of anti-discrimination and paid leave rights as well as initiatives such as the European Youth Guarantee, which give young people a real and achievable pathway into work. Our countryside, cities and beaches are cleaner now than ever before. The days of criminals and fugitives escaping justice by fleeing to other European countries are over. We compete with emerging economic superpowers not in a race to the bottom but as members of the largest single economic bloc in the world where the freedom and protection of an employment market of 500 million citizens is assured. All of this achieved through constructive engagement, and none of it by accident.

Now it’s up to us to start our own reality-driven discussion on reform. We cannot afford to ignore Cameron’s Fantasy Land, hoping it will fizzle away. Without developing and making the case for our alternative, Fantasy Land is all the British public will hear or know about Europe. Once we have begun that discussion here is my prediction for how reality will play out: when the real choice on offer is made clear at the next General Election it will be obvious which party is on the side of the British people.

To report anything from the comment section, please e-mail [email protected]
  • Jeremy_Preece

    Sebastian I welcome this post and agree with most of it.
    One key point though is the role of media. Much of the media is also committed to the same la-la land view as Cameron. Sadly after Levsison nothing is actually going to happen to clip the wongs of the media barrons, and Murdoch et al really are abouve hte law after all.
    Labour has backed Levison and so is going to get a drumming from the media who are in many cases so anti-Europe that some seem to be frothing at the mouth when the write their editorials (which are now mergred into their front page headlines).
    My point is that Labour needs to get a real debate and real facts into the public arena as you say, but will have an uphill battle against many media bosses. The same is also true about the government’s economic performance too.

  • Pingback: Cameron’s plans in Europe | Seb Dance()

Latest

  • Comment Featured Dave Hill: Sadiq must mould the mayoralty into a Labour success story

    Dave Hill: Sadiq must mould the mayoralty into a Labour success story

    Sadiq Khan’s victory in the London Mayor election three weeks ago has been rightly hailed as a triumph for positive campaigning over Crosbyite negativity and a richly symbolic hammering of the privileged Zac Goldsmith by a council estate kid. Now the hard graft of delivering has begun. Khan’s policies on housing, transport, air pollution, community safety and economic growth present separate challenges, but the same political theme unites them – the need to show the capital and the country what […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Featured News Both EU and NATO vital to keep us safe, says Thornberry

    Both EU and NATO vital to keep us safe, says Thornberry

    Emily Thornberry has said that the UK’s membership of the EU is “indispensable” in helping keep Britain safe, following a visit to NATO’s headquarters in Brussels. The Shadow Defence Secretary met with a number of senior NATO officials over two days, and says that it was “repeatedly made clear” that the EU is considered an important ally of the security alliance. “In recent days, we have been told by Leave campaigners that the EU is irrelevant to British security, because […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Featured The long read: Why Corbyn’s moral clarity could propel him to Number 10

    The long read: Why Corbyn’s moral clarity could propel him to Number 10

    It is accepted wisdom that for a party to be elected in a first past the post two-party system it has to appeal to swing voters, particularly those in marginal seats. As a result the two main parties have vied for the centre-ground. Consequently, in recent decades a large section of the electorate came to see little to choose between them. People have also come to believe that you cannot trust politicians. Distrust increases if politicians clearly behave in ways that are motivated […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Featured Naushabah Khan: We feel pride in our country so let’s use this to tackle Labour’s “Englishness problem”

    Naushabah Khan: We feel pride in our country so let’s use this to tackle Labour’s “Englishness problem”

    The reality of last year’s general election is that Labour’s failure to secure a victory in an England, suffering at the hands of UKIP, ultimately resulted in our defeat. As a parliamentary candidate in Rochester and Strood, for both the general election and by-election, caused by the defection of Mark Reckless to UKIP, I am all too aware of the public mood, that considered us out of touch with their lives and values. Both elections also revealed fascinating notions of nationalism, belonging and identity politics that as a […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Rachel Reeves: Queen’s Speech showed the typical Tory failure on pensions and infrastructure

    Rachel Reeves: Queen’s Speech showed the typical Tory failure on pensions and infrastructure

    Yesterday in Parliament we voted on the Government’s programme of legislation for the year ahead, as set out in the Queen’s Speech. The background to yesterday’s debate about its economic measures is the critical decision our country faces about its relationship with Europe. The evidence I have heard as a member of the Treasury Select Committee has left me more convinced than ever that a vote to leave would scupper any hopes and well-laid plans we might make for our […]

    Read more →
Share with your friends










Submit