With a general election scheduled for 2015 in the UK, is PM David Cameron's promise of a referendum on Europe anything more than electioneering?
In a week when UK PM David Cameron has reiterated plans to repatriate powers to Westminster, and hold an EU membership referendum, the question remains, 'is he serious?'.
In 1975, those eligible to vote in the UK, were offered a vote on whether or not the country should join the European Common Market. PM Edward Heath secured the country's entry into what would become the European Union, after two refusals by France. French President Charles de Gaulle had tried to keep Great Britain out of what, at that time, was a small economic market. Margaret Thatcher, then a rank and file politician, campaigned for a 'Yes' vote. It was widely reported that Labour were not in favour of entry, and neither was this voter.
Once the UK was a member of the EEC most voters, however disappointed, accepted the fact. Once the British membership was a long standing occurrence an exit seemed foolish, if not impossible. That was before the global economic crisis of 2008.
Since then the EU, European Union, has proved to be a fragile alliance. When it was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, in 2012, most citizens felt it was a bad joke. Countries such as Greece and Spain are financially ruined. You can argue about the whys and wherefores, but the people have been pushed to the brink of economic disaster.
In Greece the situation has led to a changing political outlook. 'New Dawn', an extreme right wing, neo-nazi party is gaining ground. A rise in extreme political parties has to be a cause for concern. As history relates, poor economic times in Germany led to a destructive fascist regime, under Adolf Hitler. Other factors may have played a part, but poverty was the most telling cause.
Far from maintaining peace in Europe, the EU is tearing it apart. Countries now though depend on each other for trade and more. Each country may blame others for the financial mess. Certainly, the leader of his or her country will look to their own as a priority.
Angela Merkel, for Germany, puts her best efforts in keeping her country financially and economically sound. Germany, for now, wields the big stick in Europe, but why? Is it purely as that country has more money now, or that we fear it from past history?
As times get tough, financially, we all blame each other. Some have said that Germany is only in its current position through money given as reparations, following World War II.
For the UK David Cameron is promising an EU referendum, following the next general election. Oh really?
Nick Atkins Photography
David Cameron, British Prime Minister
The news that, AFTER the 2015 election, should the Conservatives win with a majority, a referendum on Europe will be held, is nonsense. If he was serious he would hold such a referendum BEFORE the election. Cameron may choose to claim that is not possible because of the Tories 'political bedfellows', the Liberal Democrats, but that simply does not wash.
The British electorate are going to have the proverbial 'carrot' of a referendum dangled in front of their noses, in order for the Conservative to win the next election with a majority. It is up to the voters to see through this sham.
Anti-Europeans in the UK would prefer a straight forward in/out referendum. One in which the voter is asked 'do you want the UK to stay as a member of the EU or not?' That will not happen.
In July the Telegraph reported Cameron's supporters were demanding he clarified his position on a referendum. In December, as Cameron was noticeably absent from EU Nobel Peace prize celebrations, Channel 4, in the UK, reported on a planned referendum. This week Cameron's plans for a referendum are in the news again, but mainly as the plans are attacked from far and near.
President Obama, Angela Merkel, and yesterday veteran Tory, Michael Heseltine, have voiced concerns over the referendum. The FT reports
Quoting the words of Lady Thatcher, Lord Heseltine cautioned Mr Cameron: “Never enter a room until you know how you’re going to get out of it. I think that would be quite wise advice.”
Such interference from home and abroad, though, will only lead to more support from the British public. We retain our bulldog spirit and, if there is one thing certain to push us a particular way, it is someone telling us not to go there.
World leaders who want the UK to stay in the EU, and under more federal powers from Europe, could make it difficult if we choose to ignore the advice. That fact will also make us dig in our heels further.
The reason the UK was keen to join the EU was trade. North America did not want to 'play ball' trading with the UK and other options were not available. In 2013 the West is courting trade in the East and perhaps that is where Cameron hopes our economic future lies. Does President Obama's warning on a UK exit from the EU dispel any hopes of trade with the USA? If PM Cameron is serious about a possible EU exit he will have to formulate a workable trade plan.
The question remains though, is talk of a referendum anything more than electioneering? Is it more about strategy such as:
1-Cameron knows that UKIP, an anti-European political party, is gaining ground. He knows that UKIP is a right wing party. It includes defectors from the Conservative party. There are voters to be won over there.
2-Cameron needs to win a majority so that the Tories can carry out reform. The Liberal democrats, the current coalition partners, have watered down some reforms. A week ago Cameron told the media that he wanted seven more years in office, to complete reforms.
3-In a British General Election voters tend to vote for the three main parties. A promise of a referendum may attract those who, in by-elections, vote for minority and fringe parties such as the English Defence League.
4-Standing up to Europe will be a vote winner.
5-Cameron will win support from Conservative eurosceptics.
PM David Cameron will set out EU referendum details in the coming days or weeks. Google 'David Cameron's lies' and you will find a wide range of articles. With such a track record can we believe a word Cameron says? You decide.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com