“The commonest error in politics is sticking to the carcasses of dead policies.” Lord Salisbury, 1877
Mr Cameron, according to many media reports, is definitely not for turning, and has set himself the goal, whatever happens, of tying the British People into the European Union (EU) forever. Arising from recent electioneering and reporting, this could include, as necessary, manipulation of the Electorate using fear, deceit, deception, fake arguments and ‘victories’, etc. However, there are some very good reasons why Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne might wish swiftly to reverse this less than ethical activity if they want the Conservative Party to have a future in 2020 and beyond. However, it needs some background and analysis to see how and why this could happen.
The ‘No’ (let’s leave the EU) campaign in the forthcoming EU referendum is likely to adopt some of the aims and rhetoric of a typical independence or liberation struggle; for example: pursuing freedom, national sovereignty, democracy, justice and social justice; reaching head and heart; opposing a reactionary status quo. Liberation movements and their political parties have often subsequently had leading roles in their newly independent countries for years afterwards. These leading roles come about regardless of their economic illiteracy, socialist inclinations or other unattractive behaviour. Following the Scottish Independence Referendum, the Scottish National Party (SNP) has demonstrated this effect through rapid membership and voter increases, decimating the other parties in Scotland. The EU Referendum is likely to boost subsequent eurosceptic support. This boost will be greater if there is a respectable pro-independence vote or the referendum result (for Mr Cameron) lacks democratic honesty. As things stand, UKIP will be the beneficiary, gaining from all establishment or legacy parties. The silenced eurosceptic part of the Conservative Party could also regain vigour against internal party pro-EU bullying.
For the General Election in 2020, Mr Cameron or Mr Osborne’s greatest nightmare, as campaign strategists is, probably, that the currently shambolic, declining Labour Party revives and the Conservative Party is confused and deeply divided. So could these actually occur?
Not much chance of Labour reconnecting with its core support as an EU-phile party (pro-EU) that sells out hardworking British families to EU taxes, corporatism (in favour of big business and vested interests), mismanagement, mass uncontrolled immigration, and job-destroying ideologies and regulations. Labour’s appeal would also fall through sharing platforms in the referendum campaign with europhile Conservatives, Lib Dems, Greens and Scottish or Welsh Nationalists, and defending their policies rather than showing up the deceit and shallow fallacies of EU membership. How would they honestly deal with some straightforward questions on the ‘Big Picture’ of EU membership? (for example see A Simple Approach for Considering EU Membership.)
Labour, then, has some good reasons for rapidly turning eurosceptic and standing out as a true British working people’s party; its only serious competition being UKIP. Scotland could be regained and, thus, the key to winning England (since voters’ fears of any discriminatory post-election pact with the SNP would disappear). As the EU continues to make the headlines for the wrong reasons (destroying the employment prospects and quality of life of many throughout the EU) it becomes increasingly difficult to keep defending it and Mr Cameron’s empty ‘renegotiations’.
However, Labour could find that it has missed the boat, if the Conservatives have already moved into the eurosceptic slot, with Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne admitting defeat on changing the EU. Could Labour then actually outmanoeuvre these consummate politicians and convincingly claim that it could do better in challenging or reforming the EU? – better even than socialist politicians in Greece, Spain, Portugal, France, et al? Life within the EU is not about standing up for the British People, rather it means doing what the unelected, privileged EU commissariat and its fellow travellers want.
The Conservative Party would undoubtedly seethe with resentment of the Cameroons if Labour revives in 2020 on the back of euroscepticism, as Mr Cameron could have largely averted this by a pre-emptive EU turn and some smart shenanigans to wrongfoot them. The divisions would be hard to heal or to prevent some (possibly many) defections to UKIP. Increasing numbers of the Electorate would in any case deliver their judgement on being manipulated and ignored by the Cameroons at the 2020 General Election ballot box with votes for Labour and UKIP. Would Mr Cameron really want to be remembered for his major mistakes? – with unflattering comparisons drawn with, for example, Ethelred the Unready (always paying the demanded EU-geld), King John (devious disaster in Europe) and Neville Chamberlain (‘cap in hand’ EU appeasement)?
Making an EU turn to euroscepticism and then campaigning to leave the EU does not look difficult or embarrassing for a Conservative (or Labour) leader and Prime Minister; indeed, quite the opposite as it is both easy and commendable. The apparent confidential nature of renegotiations can be used to shut down inquisitiveness. Blame can be attributed elsewhere anyway. Spin and communications skills can be used to talk up the already substantial advantages of leaving the costly political straightjacket of the EU. Defying the squealing and machinations of EU-fanatical vested interests makes for a heroic, substantial patriot, someone to capture the popular imagination and votes in 2020.
How would Mr Cameron reply in future when presented with the question posed by the great economist, John Maynard Keynes who reputedly said, ‘When my information changes, I alter my conclusions. What do you do, Sir?’