Cameron’s Fantasy Land must be countered

January 24, 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.

  • 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 The tennis match that reveals the Tories’ re-election strategy

    The tennis match that reveals the Tories’ re-election strategy

    David Cameron’s fundraising takes place in secretive opulence amongst the world’s super rich. This week we saw the extent of his reliance of those who operate in a different world to hardworking families concerned with paying their bills. The Conservative Party has taken a reported £1 million from Russian backers since David Cameron has been leader.  In 2008 David Cameron said, ‘Russian armies can’t march into other countries while Russian shoppers carry on marching into Selfridges’, and yet as Russian […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Keeping childcare high on the agenda

    Keeping childcare high on the agenda

    Recent headlines that childcare will be a key battle ground in the General Election will come as no surprise to those of us who have been knocking on doors and speaking with mums and dads in our communities. Time after time, when I’m listening to families on the doorstep, the cost of childcare comes up as a reason for why they are struggling to afford to work. As the summer holidays start, this is particularly true. Research from the Family […]

    Read more →
  • Featured We are the only people who can stop Murdoch’s power growing

    We are the only people who can stop Murdoch’s power growing

    After the parliamentary inquiries, Leveson, and the criminal trials, it sometimes feels like nothing has changed at Rupert Murdoch’s News UK. The grim case of Tulisa Contostavlos shows that Murdoch’s people will still fit up a celebrity if it sells papers. When I read Mazher Mahmood’s Sun on Sunday drugs sting, I thought of poor Sean Hoare. Sean was a brave man. He was the first former News of the World journalist to have the guts to admit to phone hacking. He was an […]

    Read more →
  • News Independence? UKIP can’t even spell it

    Independence? UKIP can’t even spell it

    Slow clap for UKIP, who have put out a leaflet in Blackpool in which they’ve managed to spell their own name wrong. Proudly proclaiming themselves as the “UK Indepencence Party”, the leaflet has been delivered to voters for the Clifton by-election taking place today. Maybe their campaigning against “Eurocrats” has just been a typo all along.

    Read more →
  • News Company pulls out of workfare scheme days after Osborne visit to promote it

    Company pulls out of workfare scheme days after Osborne visit to promote it

    A business in Bristol has pulled involvement with the Government’s controversial workfare programme, only days after Chancellor George Osborne paid them a visit to publicise the scheme. Byteback IT Solutions welcomed Osborne earlier this month for an opportunity to publicise the Help to Work programme, where long-term unemployed must work on placements in order to receive their benefits. However, after campaigners took to Byteback’s social media sites to protest, they decided to terminate their involvement, saying they had been “ill-informed” […]

    Read more →