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Just what is Cameron for?

Cameron and OsborneWatching Osborne yesterday on the Andrew Marr show answering questions on whether Britain should bomb Syria and other foreign policy matters, one did wonder where exactly Cameron fitted. Increasingly Osborne, arguably the most formidable politician in the House at the moment, has already assumed the premiership he has coveted for so long.

All the detailed policy-making is now already in his hands, and that may suit Cameron quite well since he, like Blair, has never been one for detail (as PMQs exposes relentlessly week after week). He prefers to be the front man, running with whatever is the latest story, even if it turns out to be the opposite tomorrow. There is no-one so slippery as Cameron so as to be able to somersault every day as though that was the most perfectly normal political routine. But he is no longer the hard man behind it all. And he’s not even able to perform his diminished role very well.

Cameron’s botched attempt to reconcile a net immigration target of below 100,000, when the actual figure today has reached 330,000, with even a smidgeon of humanity towards the huge and rising death toll in the Mediterranean has earned him nothing but contempt, almost made worse when he was forced abruptly to change his mind, but then only to the minimalist degree ignominious by comparison with the German example. Again, over the EU referendum strategy, Cameron has boxed himself into a corner largely of his own making, He’s already had to give up demanding British opt-outs from EU employment regulations because Berlin and Paris predictably wouldn’t grant it, and now he’s being told that Britain should take in more refugees if he wants a hearing for its ‘catalogue of demands’. At home too he’s been told he has to reverse his plan to put the machinery of government at the service of the In campaign.

Europe was always the Achilles’ heel of the Tory party, and it looks like being so again. Eurosceptic Tory MPs are demanding to be allowed to campaign for the anti-EU side and already planning to use their conference later this month with criticisms of Cameron’s renegotiation tactics. Cameron’s post-election honeymoon is over, and his room for negotiation over Europe is shrinking fast. If in the event the vote over Europe does go against him, it will not only diminish Britain but wreck his legacy. But Osborne will survive, untarnished.


  1. David Ellis says:

    Having failed to tackle Cameron on his own massive failure to hit the immigration targets that were largely responsible for his winning the last election Labour have guaranteed an Osborne premiership in 2020 and the further evisceration of its own vote by UKIP. In fact, by encouraging the mass exodus of refugees from Syria and its neighbours sparked by Germany’s sudden decision to lift visa restrictions they have managed to create the illusion that Cameron is actually tough on immigration but also now that he is letting in a few compassionate as well. A win-win-win for the Tories I’d say.

  2. David Pavett says:

    Europe was always the Achilles’ heel of the Tory party, and it looks like being so again.

    That’s true. But isn’t it also true, even if a different way and for different reasons, for the Labour Party? For example Corbyn’s people’s QE could well be in violation of EU rules. What then? And what should we say about the free movement of capital (about which I don’t think the Corbyn camp has said anything), let alone its counterpart in the free movement of Labour (which Corbyn supports)? Even the non-socialist economist J.M. Keynes opposed the free movement of capital as making it difficult/impossible for governments to steer the economy. It is good to see the Tories attacking each other over the EU but it is perhaps too early for gloating on the Labour side.

    1. Sandra Crawford says:

      Some believe that the “peoples QE” contravenes article 123 of the Lisbon Treaty as this treaty forbids governments from having their own government bank, the BoE in our case, from monetising government debt. Not difficult to see who lobbied for this treaty, as this process prevents the need for government to go into debt with commercial finance such as PFI, which is very profitable for them.

      However, the designers of PQE deny a problem as the central bank will issue bonds to a National Investment Bank which is intended for infrastructure projects, research etc.

      So it does not monetise government debt per se.

      1. David Pavett says:

        Sandra, you may well be right about Lisbon 123. Richard Murphy has a piece on this which appears to show that M Carney has agreed that a similar ‘green QE’ would be allowable. I probably should have used a different example. However, that was not really my main point which was that the context of current EU rules, which are, after all designed to encourage development on capitalist terms, could be problematic for the change of direction advocated by Corbyn (and which I support). The more substantial issue is probably the free movement of capital. Even if Corbyn’s plans are workable in principle it is still possible that they could be undermined by a flight of capital if that change of direction is seen as insufficiently “business freindly” by the big corporations. I am saying no more than that the EU is problematic for the left as well as the right and that we would do well to discuss its problems before gloating to much at Tory difficulties over the issue. I am in favour of staying in the EU and fighting for reform (up to a point) but those reforms need to be specified and allies need to be sought for them among left and centre-left parties across the EU.

  3. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

    “Economics is extremely useful as a form of employment for economists.”

    John Kenneth Galbraith

  4. Bazza says:

    Cameron is there to keep the CON in CONSERVATIVE – a slick salesman who pretends to the public that the Conservatives rule for all when it could be argued that they really rule for the rich and powerful and it is funny how resources seem to flow to Tory Constituencies in the South/South East of England (and probably soon to Cornwall).
    And when did Cameron get the permission of the House of Commons to act in Syria (I hate violence yet understand at times the argument you need to kill someone if they are to kill here but judge and jury does comes to mind) but as a civilised society I would feel more comfortable if there was a Commons mandate for all actions.
    When I heard 20,000 refugees I thought it may not be enough this year then read it was over 4 years and the Tories can’t even do that right.
    Similarly the Tories taking people from the source when the immediate crisis is there are thousands of refugees stuck in the chain in Europe including Calais – so Germany took 18,000 over a weekend, France will take 24,000 this year and we can do more, and better and by the way families only make the dangerous journey by sea because Europe has bolted down the land routes!
    So we need to get back to a rational and civilised refugee land based system.
    It would also help if the 5 oil rich Arab states who have taken zero refugees to date also joined the human race as we have seen a brief outbreak of humanity from many people in Europe recently (apart from perhaps the Tory British Govt and Right Wing Hungarian Govt and other right wing former Communist states in Easten Europe).
    The deal with Iran could be a window of opportunity and help the situation as a proxy war now seems to be going on with Sunni v Shia in Syria and Yemen (and the West seems to be taking sides in Yemen) and perhaps it is progressive non-Muslims from outside who can see the clearest and appeal to Muslims to stop killing each other.
    We need a major international peace conference on Syria with all Govts and I worry that the Tories are trying to bounce us into bombing IS in Syria which would leave Assad jumping for joy as he and his cronies laugh all the way to the bank in the third of the economy of Syria (of now half of the country -plenty in rubble) that they literally own.
    Progressives in Syria are calling for a no fly zone for Assad’s forces which could be worth exploring.
    Supporting the Kurds would help and reigning in Turkey here would also help.
    Perhaps you beat IS by stopping arms sales to them, by stopping countries buying the oil they now control; but perhaps you really beat them by winning the tribes away from them (I read a wonderful piece in the New Left Review about the importance of tribes) and I think it is an area the West underestimates and perhaps we should try to win the tribes back by giving the oil (now about one third owned by Western TNCs) back to the people of Libya and Iraq but will Western Govts sacrifice these profits for potential peace?
    Or are they really Govts for big business first?
    The Middle East is also a global gold mine for solar panel farms in deserts to meet the World’s and their own energy needs and cleanly.
    The people of Europe have led the politicians on this crisis and time to look for real solutions.
    Yours in peace!

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