Monthly Archives: February 2016
(The title is of course from the gentle send-up of loony fringe politics in the Life of Brian).
Our referendum doesn’t just have two opposing sides, it has a bunch of opposing teams on the “out of Europe” side. Not to mention opposing views among them of what Britain might look like and what direction it might take outside the EU.
That leaves our electoral commission with a bit of a dilemma. Some horribly unfit-for-purpose rules say it has to hand various resources – like public money and TV airtime – to each side in the campaign. In order to do so, it seems to have to designate one of those “out” groups as the official campaign, at the expense of the others. That’ll leave the losers crying foul.
Here’s a plea to them. Give it to Farage’s lot.
Farage will be insufferable anyway. Not that I can really blame him in the circumstances: this is the consummation of his entire political career. And he’s media-friendly: he’ll get more airtime than pretty-much anyone else regardless of the electoral commission’s decision. And he’ll tell bigger and more blatant porkies than the mainstream politicians, with a straight face.
If he doesn’t get the money, he’ll not just be ubiquitous, he’ll have a real grievance. That might in itself make him as unstoppable as Trump: the more outrageous he gets, the more popular it’ll make him. Better he have the rope to hang himself than to hang the country.
Our prime minister returns triumphant from Brussels, his enemies vanquished.
Or perhaps, he returns triumphant from annoying his friends, bringing with him ammunition for his enemies.
Or does he play a double game against all of us? But more on that later.
His brief speech we heard on the radio news this evening actually sounded genuinely interesting in parts. The story told in the media has been consistently different. Doubtless both based on an element of truth and spun from there.
The big story the media concentrate on (though what they say may not be entirely accurate) is about curbing benefits to migrants, on the face of it something entirely reasonable. Or rather, something utterly preposterous: it’s only because our benefits system is monstrously broken that EU rules (accidentally) apply to it in the first place. Germany, for example doesn’t have our “in work benefits” problem. But instead of fixing it, he inflicts gratuitous discrimination on (some) foreign workers, in the hope that one more wrong piled on to the mess might make a right.
It’s supposed to reduce net migration. That seems unlikely to happen. Farage & Co are saying so, and the nutters are much more dangerous when they’re also right about an issue. I expect Cameron will pull a rabbit or two from his hat to wrong-foot them ahead of the referendum, but this fundamental point won’t budge. Two wrongs make an anti-right.
Which brings me to the conspiracy idea: is Cameron in fact saying one thing but working for the opposite (as The Liar did over hunting)? He has gerrymandered the electorate, conveniently setting aside a manifesto pledge to extend the vote to Brits long-term abroad (who may naturally have the strongest reasons to vote stay) and will also exclude EU citizens resident and working in the UK (ditto). He’s promised everything the Europhobes asked for in terms of re-formulating the referendum question and terms of the debate, yet no word on conceding to the (europhile) SNP on the subject of the referendum date not clashing with their election. In short, he seems in his actions to be working for an exit!
Time will tell. But on a personal level, should I get out now, ahead of a time when there might be serious barriers to a move? Ugh.
Oh, and if you pay more child benefit to children in the UK than in their home countries, doesn’t that risk incentivising foreign workers to bring their complete families? So they burden our schools all the more, and become altogether more likely to remain here long-term or permanently. Unintended consequences, or misleading reporting?