1. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    UK Politics

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Steerpike, Dec 13, 2011.

    Seems like we're almost always discussing U.S. politics. I have a question for those across the pond.

    Reports here have been that people in the UK, in general, are taking an increasingly dim view of the EU. It also looks like at least on the surface, the UK was wise not to get further economically involved than it did.

    That said, it looks like Cameron is taking a lot of criticism for vetoing the EU treaty, which he says he did out of Britain's interests and the lack of safeguards in it.

    In the way it is being reported herein the U.S., it almost seems contradictory. It seems as though more people would favor Cameron on this particular act, whether they like him in general or not.

    Although I suppose it does take the UK out of the loop when the rest of the EU proceeds without them.
     
  2. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    This is one of those controversial thread topics which we will take a very firm line on. Basically, it's been tried before and ended badly. I'm happy to give it a chance, but I'm placing a warning, right here at the beginning.

    Anything other than civil conversation on the topic WILL NOT be tolerated. If you can't say it in a respectful way, don't say it at all.

    If this thread starts down the road towards fighting and flaming, it will be closed and those whose behaviour is deemed unacceptable will be infracted.

    You have all been warned.
     
  3. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Now that that's out of the way... *cracks fingers*

    I'll start by declaring an interest: I'm a Labour party supporter, activist, and sometime candidate, and a committed democratic socialist (though really, I think the democratic ought to be a given). I'm not unbiased on this.


    I think the British people are naturally somewhat suspicious of Europe, being an island, but I question whether the perceived level of euroscepticism (for the uninitiated, that's anti-European Union) is actually correct. The right-wing press (which means pretty much all but the Guardian, Independent and Mirror) is, I suspect, a good deal more anti-EU than the population. That said, the EU isn't terribly popular at the moment, and there has been an initial flurry of support for Cameron veto-ing the new treaty.

    I think he made a mistake, personally. I don't want the EU to have greater control over our finances, but I don't think that was on the table. What Cameron basically did was say that, in order to support a treaty, he wanted guarantees that no more regulation would be put on the financial sector of the City of London (the people responsible for the recession and financial crisis...). The rest of the EU wasn't happy with that, so Cameron walked out. But the thing is, any new treaty, even if signed by all 27 member states, would only apply fiscal rules to the 17 countries in the Euro-zone. Not to the UK. So the smart thing to do, would have been to stay in for the negotiations, and try to shape the treaty to our advantage, rather than walk out before negotiations started properly and have no involvement at all.

    The reason he did it was that the Conservative Party are very anti-EU, and he suffered a huge rebellion (about 80 MPs) in a non-binding motion calling for a referendum on our EU membership. Basically, he was afraid that if he didn't storm out dramatically then his backbenchers would remove him as leader, and thus Prime Minister.

    Still, it was a shortsighted and foolish (in my view) decision. The agreement will still happen with the 26 other EU countries, and we're more and more isolated. The main disinformation seems to be that there was a treaty on the table and Cameron had to take or leave it, which isn't the case. And anyway, any treaty wouldn't affect us directly, so it was all political gesturing on his part.

    (Told you I wasn't unbiased...)
     
  4. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Banzai:

    Thanks for the answers. It makes sense to me to preserve a seat at the table. Sounds like Cameron's actions were more out of self-preservation than borne of a desire to protect Britain.

    Do you think there is any chance that the UK will pull out of the EU entirely? Talking heads here in the U.S. like to speculate about it, but one does not get a real good sense of whether it is likely to happen. I feel that it is unlikely to happen any time soon, but that is just my view from afar.

    Do you consider The Times to be a right-wing publication?
     
  5. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    I can't see it, to be honest. Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Conservative mainstream all see the UK's future as remaining inside the EU. There is only UKIP (UK Independence Party- a one-issue group campaigning on exactly this), the BNP (British National Party, though you can read the N as standing for Nazi and get a more accurate picture), and the right-most fringes of the Conservative Party who want us to leave. I think most of the public would prefer a renegotiated membership, but still part of the Union.

    We won't be joining the Euro, in even the long-term foreseeable future.

    Yes, they're right-wing, but very much centre-right. They do good journalism, and until the paywall I used them quite a bit for my news. Now I use The Guardian, The Independent and a collection of small blogs on both sides of the political divide.
     
  6. Alex W
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    Alex W Contributing Member

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    For me, if the deal wasn't right we couldn't accept it, but by doing so we've now probably been distanced from major decisions that will affect Europe.

    The EU is a big source of income of course but it's also a big problem with certain countries seemingly not following set economic rules, for example, Germany have seemingly been able to keep most work for their own people, wheras where I live in Derby a huge train making deal has gone to Siemens instead of to Bombardier.

    Bombardier is the last really big train making company in England, in terms of size atleast, and the Government decreed that we had to give the deal to Siemens workers in Germany due to EU regulations. It was actually shown that the deal itself should never have been signed as Siemens hadn't got one of the key requirements, but that's beside the point. Now atleast one thousand workers are to be let go and possibly more if Bombardier can't find work elsewhere.

    I like the idea of the EU, but I also don't think it's possible to run something efficiently where every country feels different on a certain subject and nothing concrete ever really gets signed. If it weren't for the trade implications of quitting the EU, then i'd probably be voting for the UK leaving it.
     
  7. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    I'd agree with this position. Problem is, what happened was Cameron said "We want this", the rest of the EU said "No, that's not acceptable" and Cameron responded with "Fine, I'm going home". That's not good negotiation. That's not even negotiation. That's being a dick. There wasn't a deal yet on the table, so the idea thatit wasn't right so he couldn't accept it is nonsense.

    The Bombardier instance is interesting, because as far as I (and I'm not alone) can see, they weren't at all forced by EU law to choose Siemens. They have to accept the best offer (I think...) but that doesn't have to be base on upfront price alone. They could have chosen Bombardier on the basis that it would have been most beneficial to have the work based in the UK. They didn't because they chose to base the decision on upfront cost alone, and hide behind EU law. In my opinion, it's symptomatic of a government with an entirely too limited vision of the economy. But that leads onto bigger matters.


    The most interesting thing about the spat with the EU is what it's doing to the coalition, in my opinion.
     
  8. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Thanks, guys. I'm following the thread still. We don't get that much end depth reporting on Europe as we might. I catch a little bit of BBC on state radio, and otherwise it's the internet.
     
  9. Alex W
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    Alex W Contributing Member

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    The coalition will fall through as soon the voting for the next elections begins, it was cracking even a few weeks in, it's just that the Liberals hold very little power in such a situation and so aren't able to do much other than hold on for the ride and try to show they they're against any decision that might look unpopular.

    I voted Lib Dem in my first and what will be my last election that i'll be involved in. I don't like politics, it interests me but the good people in it are too few and far between. I'm more of a socialist and lean towards Labour/Lib Dems but they're all as bad as each other.

    The suggestion from Geoff Hoon was that they had to accept the deal to appease EU regulation, and yet a component in the construction voided the deal itself and the Germans have been able to keep almost all work in their country. It is either a decision based on pure initial price, or incompetence. I like neither of these options.
     
  10. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    If you're interested in UK politics, I can give you some useful links ;)

    Of the mainstream online news media, I'd go for the Guardian (left) and Telegraph (right) as they're good quality and not behind a paywall. Beyond that, we have some excellent political blogs including LabourList (Labour Party/left wing), ConservativeHome (Conservative Party/right wing), Liberal Conspiracy (general left wing), Political Scrapbook (Labour/left-wing), PoliticsHome (cross-spectrum), Order Order (right wing/libertarian) off the top of my head.
     
  11. Dante Dases
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    Dante Dases Contributing Member Contributor

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    Stay involved. The bad eggs in politics will get all the press because they are bad eggs, and people don't want to read about how great Ann Taylor (MP for Dewsbury 1992-2005) is every week. There are plenty of good guys out there.
     
  12. Alex W
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    Alex W Contributing Member

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    I find it very hard to trust any party as a whole, i've always wanted the idea of "Best people for the best position", a true coalition of the best MP's. For example, the Transport Secretary from the Lib Dems, an Enviroment MP from the Conservatives etc and have the best MP for each position voted in. A bit of a revolutionary idea and it will never come to be, but it's what i'd like to see.

    As it is, i've not seen anyone who really appeals to me in Government in the UK, I totally mid-judged Nick Clegg, David Cameron and his fellows I really do not like and Labour seem a bit 'damp-squib' at the moment, no real policies and they just seem a tad weak. No-one to really make me think "Yes, this person will change what's wrong at the moment, or atleast try to."

    Perhaps there will be in the future, but not quite yet :)
     
  13. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I can't believe the BNP still has considerable support in this country. Seen those videos uploaded onto Youtube lately? 'My Tram Experience' is only the start of it!

    With the EU situation it seems David Cameron is following behind Germany's vetoing of the bill. Which, I can see to be honest. Not that I'm anti-EU or anything, but Germany is protecting it's own back of sorts by vetoing a bill that makes them give money to counties in trouble. I can see the logic here. The veto is about protecting the British economy, along with Germany's economy, which is the strongest in Europe at the moment, and not others in the EU.

    Cameron's vetoing is both good and bad. I'll be one way of strengthening our own economy, but it'll lose friends in the EU.
     
  14. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    I've always been a little sceptical about how much support these extreme-right groups have. Yes, videos like Tram woman are shocking, but I think they are fairly rare. And people with those sort of racist views are always going to be the ones who shout the loudest, so they will naturally get more attention than the moderate masses. Besides the BNP itself is past being a credible threat, I feel. They're near-bankrupt (thank you Marmite), they've been humiliated and revealed as the idiots they are. And they are being challenged by other non-party groups like the EDL. It doesn't mean it's not a problem, but I do think it's a much smaller problem than it's made to seem.

    Sorry, I'm not really following here. What bill has Germany vetoed? :confused:

    I'm not even sure about that, to be honest. Most of our trade is with Europe, our economy is heavily dependent on the EU, and as such I don't really see how isolation can strengthen us. Added to that the fact that the government's economic strategy is purely and simply not working, it seems like it's gradually pushing back, bit by bit, the eventual economic recovery. But hey, what does that matter when you can blame the EU for the fact that your economic strategy isn't working? ;)
     
  15. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I read in the The Sun (??) that Germany has vetoed a similar bill.

    Doesn't most of our trade come from strong EU countries, like Germany, France and Switzerland, and Asia? And vetoing one bill isn't an 'isolation' strategy anyway. It's about investment of capital: if Britain can invest in more business and, keep it's APR as steady as possible, that would attract more wealth and capital over more risky markets. Besides, the current Government economic strategy, as far as I'm aware anyway, has been keeping the UK in pretty good shape compared to what could have been happening.

    And No, I'm not attacking Labor or Lib Dems when I say that, I'm just playing Devil's Advocate.
     
  16. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    I hadn't seen that. If you have the link, I'd be very interested in reading it.


    The thing is, it wasn't a bill, and it wasn't a veto. It was the very initial stages of negotiation a new treaty to place more stringent budgetary rules on the eurozone countries, and Cameron simply said "Give us this", the rest of the countries said "erm...no?" and he walked out. The sensible option would have been to say that he was provisionally okay with a new treaty, and tried to negotiate in what he wanted into it. Storming out at the beginning is not a good negotiation strategy.

    As for trading, the bulk of our trade goes to the single market. Now, it's true that the 26 countries who have chosen to stay in negotiations cannot themselves make changes to the single market, that has to be done in the EU council. But most matters are no longer decided with unanimity requirements, but qualified majority voting. So they could potentially agree a necessary change in the negotiation stages, and when they get to the EU council vote it through. And given that we've pissed them all off, they'll be less worried about doing things that harm our interest, I think.

    As for the shape of the UK: effectively no growth, unemployment at a seventeen-year high, forecast double-dip recession, just off the top of my head. When Labour left government, things were getting better. Unemployment was down and economic growth was up. The Conservatives created an artificial worry that Britain was on the verge of bankruptcy as part of their election campaign, with inaccurate comparisons to Greece, and thus created an almost self-fulfilling prophecy meaning they had to cut everything that wasn't nailed down- which choked off the growth. The deficit was a problem, but a minor one which stemmed from a combination of swift government action to bail out the economy and the sudden drop in tax receipts. It would have been much better solved gradually, after the UK had hauled itself out of the pit of recession.
     
  17. Lemex
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