David Cameron: We can't run away from Europe … Britain's "bloated welfare state" and "under-performing education system" are the key areas of national weakness – but the nation's membership of the European Union should be seen as a strength, the Prime Minister will say today. David Cameron will warn that the country faces a battle for its economic future, involving major domestic reforms and greater foreign ambition. – UK Telegraph
Dominant Social Theme: Britain must draw closer to the EU for purposes of efficiency and justice.
Free-Market Analysis: We recently ran an article about David Cameron's latest promise to hold an in-or-out referendum on Britain's involvement in the European Union; in it we explained that this time the Tory promise was to be enshrined in legislation, and thus the opportunity to vote looked "serious."
EU Referendum Looks Serious This Time for Britain
However, we received an interesting feedback from xmfclick that somewhat disputed that notion. It made a number of good points and we reproduce part of it here:
Yes, Cameron has now promised a referendum, but he has also promised to campaign for Britain to stay IN the EU, as have the leaders of the other main political parties (Labour and Liberal Democrats).
The Establishment is fully against Britain withdrawing, including much of the legacy dead-tree media, the BBC and the CBI (Confederation of British Industry, the members' club of the biggest British businesses). And of course the EU will campaign mightily to keep Britain in, as the damage to "The Project" (i.e. the long-term goal of political union) of British withdrawal would be severe.
So the propaganda firepower campaigning for Britain's continued membership will be enormous. Already Government ministers are spreading misleading propaganda about the supposed disastrous results of a British withdrawal … even calling in help from the Norwegian foreign minister (with more misleading-ness).
It is left up to bloggers to counter this, as the legacy media are either unwilling or unable to report the situation accurately. The "Out" campaign will face a phenomenally difficult task, not helped by the general political apathy and inertia of the average British voter.
Furthermore, I suspect the string-pullers behind the scenes, who want Britain to stay in, have calculated that UKIP's entry onto the field will only be to their advantage, as UKIP is likely to split the Conservative vote, thus letting Labour in to power in the next election (in 2005). Cameron is only promising a referendum *after* the next election, so the holding of one depends on him winning. Labour have not (yet) promised a referendum at all, if elected.
Answering this comment, we reproduced a fairly recent poll showing that only a third of the Brits want to stay in the EU. Thus the idea of a referendum – one enshrined in legislation – would seem to present a grave challenge to those who want Britain to remain in the EU, and eventually deepen its commitment.
As it stands now, the propaganda that xmfclick warns about has apparently begun. This speech of Cameron's contains all the maudlin notions that British voters have hitherto rejected in opinion polls, anyway. Whether they will suffice to create sentiment for a rejection remains to be seen. They don't seem very convincing to us but, hey … we don't much like the EU.
Here's more from the article:
In a speech ahead of next week's G8 meeting of world leaders in Northern Ireland, David Cameron will warn that the country faces a battle for its economic future, involving major domestic reforms and greater foreign ambition. He will praise Britain's membership of the EU, describing it as part of a "desire to shape the world" by sitting at the "top table" of major international institutions. And he will urge the country to nurture a "sense of opportunity" that was "lacking for too long".
"The first step to success, the step that I have charged every department to focus on, is making sure Britain is fit and ready to compete in this world," the Prime Minister will say. "We have identified, very clearly, our key areas of national weakness compared to the rest of the world. One – our debt-fuelled, unbalanced economy. Two – our bloated welfare system. Three – our underperforming education system."
… Next week, leaders of the G8 countries of the developed economies – America, Germany, France, Canada, Italy, Japan, and Russia – will meet at Lough Erne in Northern Ireland for talks which are expected to focus on economic reform. The Prime Minister's speech on Monday will insist that countries such as Britain do not have to resign themselves to decline in the face of the rise of new economic superpowers such as China and India.
… Mr Cameron will also urge Britain not to seek to "withdraw" from the world in the wake of rows over the country's membership of the EU, the decision to increase international aid and the growing controversy over immigration laws.
The Prime Minister will describe Britain as an "open, trading nation" which has millions of citizens living abroad and should engage internationally. "Fortune favours Britain when we are ambitious, when we count, when we play our part in the world, and we have been playing our part," he will say. The common thread running through all these things is ambition.
"Another key part of that effort is our place at the top table. At the UN. The Commonwealth, Nato, the WTO, the G8, the G20. And yes – the EU. "To succeed, it's no use just hiding away from the world – we've got to roll our sleeves up and compete in it."
First of all, there is no such thing as Britain. And even if there were, it is doubtful that it would "roll up its sleeve." Second, despite Cameron's nostrums, people compete, not countries, which are mere geographical regions.
And it is doubtful, anyway, whether those who live in Britain compete with those who live elsewhere. This idea that trade is competitive rather than a satisfying of mutual self-interest is of itself an economically illiterate perception that betrays Cameron's fundamental misunderstanding about what he's urging his "nation" to do.
Finally, we wonder who it is that is sitting at the "top table." Is it the average Briton … or merely posh boys like Cameron himself? And what exactly is discussed at this "table"? Continued membership in the EU … a corrupt and exclusive club designed as a steppingstone for further globalism?
Honestly, these arguments seem weak, indeed, when aimed at an audience that has been systematically lied to for over 50 years. The EU was supposed to be a trade union, not the empire-in-waiting it has become.
We do believe that if a referendum is held the British might well manage to overcome the promotions and fear-mongering of the pro-EU forces. This pompous, vacuous speech of Cameron's does nothing to discourage such a perception.
Is it possible that UKIP will amass enough power and credibility to force a referendum in the near term? Or that such a vote could precede Cameron's re-election, no matter what has already been decided?
It seems to us that Britain's remaining in the EU is more tentative than ever. One more good heave might remove resistance to a more immediate referendum.
Then Cameron would have to travel around the country with a stump speech. If he uses this one, he will surely lose.