Monday, January 28, 2013

Cameron's European journey

I generally don't do Europe.  As I get up in the morning, go through my working day, get home etc, I've never felt that our membership of the EU has prevented me from doing what I wanted to do.  I am puzzled that an issue so far down the agenda gets so much attention from the media and a large part of the Conservative party.

If you listen to the eurosceptics, you'd wonder why we joined and why we have stayed for so long in this apparently hellish club.  But stayed we have.  And whilst it would be easy to draw up a list of nations who have applied and joined the EU in the past 20 years, I don't think anyone has left.

For whatever reason Prime Minister after Prime Ministers have  signed the treaties and continued membership.  It is often forgotten by the eurosceptics that Margaret Thatcher was a pro-european, yes we all remember that 'up your de'lores' headline, but as PM she signed more treaties than anyone else. 

John Major should be remembered for the way we recovered from the last recession far quicker than we are from this one (albeit a smaller and less global one), but Instead any achievement of his government were overshadowed by his acceptance like all those before him that being in the EU with all its warts was better than the alternative much to the annoyance of his vocal eurosceptic colleagues.

In opposition Tory leaders were obsessed with leaving the EU, Hague, IDS and Howard were all picked by the Tory membership easily swayed by an anti euro speech, this was cited as one of the reasons for their eventual defeats.  Cameron appeared to be the new champion of the eurosceptics.  An electable leader arrives at a time of New Labour's demise, was our love affair with Europe about to end?

Well firstly coalition put the brakes on that, but it now appears it is not the only reason.  For all Cameron's words the summary is clear.  Cameron wants to change a few things and then campaign to stay in Europe.

His position is little different to that of Clegg and Milliband.  Europe is a good idea and we're better in than out, but we need to treat those warts.  Of course Cameron may see more warts and be a little more worried about them than Clegg or Milliband, but there is no doubt that during Cameron's journey from opposition to government he has learned much about our membership of the European union that he likes.

Cameron used to sound as if he was persuading the public it wanted to leave Europe, now he sounds like he's trying to convince his party it would be worth staying.

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