Politics isn’t about policy
[Update: in a massive "D'oh" moment, even though it's pretty unclear to me whether the structural deficit provision of the accord applies only to Eurozone countries or all signatories, obviously the BBC article I quoted completely contradicts my position. Overall the reports I've found are conflicting (really surprised how hard it is to get this straight), and I formed the argument in this post on the basis of an impression that the budget provisions would apply to all signatories, as this would explain why it would be controversial in the non-Eurozone countries such as Sweden and Denmark. I then somewhat unthinkingly pasted in the BBC version of events because, well, it was the BBC. If you can enlighten me as to the truth, please do.]
I’m not usually one for following the verbal sparring of parliamentary politics, because I value my sanity. I would like to point out that I was not motivated to write this in order to single out a particular side, but rather this is just something I happened to pick up on (and people who know me well will be aware of my near total contempt for almost every political party). Earlier this week, Leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband attacked Cameron for his veto of the proposed revisions to the Lisbon Treaty:
Here’s the truth: last week he [Cameron] made a catastrophic mistake
I would simply like to point out one of the provisions of the agreement
- a commitment to “balanced budgets” for eurozone countries- defined as a structural deficit no greater than 0.5% of gross domestic product – to be written into national constitutions (emphasis mine)
And compare it to something I found on the Labour Party’s website back from a couple of years ago
- we have set out clear plans to reduce the majority of the structural deficit over the course of the next Parliament – falling from 9% of GDP this year to 3.1% in 2014/5 (emphasis mine)
And then compare Ed Miliband just four weeks ago in anticipation of the Autumn budget statement , on the coalition government’s relatively aggressive deficit reduction plans
It will be the moment that we learn that the biggest economic gamble in a generation has catastrophically failed (emphasis mine)
I’m not saying Cameron wielded the veto for the right reasons – I simply don’t know the facts (although what I will say is that the big European countries have consistently shown that they will regulate in such a way as to coddle their larger and more leveraged universal banks). Furthermore, every other European leader has a huge political incentive to shift the blame onto someone else if they can. But if Miliband thinks Cameron should have gone along with the accord, then he’s saying that Britain* should enshrine in constitutional law(!) the very kind of deficit reduction requirements that he simultaneously believes to be so catastrophically dangerous.
Seriously, is there no one in this country who can say anything about Europe that isn’t either daft, xenophobic or in complete contradiction to everything else they ostensibly believe in? Because it sure does seem that way most of the time.
*As I said in the update, I could be quite wrong to think that Britain would have to go along with this part of the agreement. The lukewarm response in the non-Eurozone countries suggests yes, that Cameron didn’t say he vetoed it for this reason suggests no. Either way, the Labour Party’s position ought to be that this is a giant mistake (if they want to be consistent).