Opinion

2007 - 2021

Deconstructing Europe: the politics of cynicism

rifkMalcolm Rifkind has risen, somewhat improbably it must be said, as the leading spokesman for Conservative policy on the refugee crisis (even Conservatives are reluctantly obliged to acknowledge that describing dead bodies as ‘immigrants’ doesn’t wash any more); following David Cameron’s spectacularly crass PR/policy ‘do-nothing’ blunder which has left both his government and Party looking like the same old, unsurprisingly cruel Nasty Party – not to opponents, but to large (‘middle’) swathes of the British people (and noticeably large numbers of mothers and grandmothers, moved to express in social media or broadcast phone-ins real, vitriolic anger against a PM who is acting in THEIR name); which has led to the unedifying spectacle of swarms of Conservative politicians deserting their Government’s rapidly sinking policy on “immigration”: as if it had never existed, or at least was nothing to do with them. The PM’s sole clear announcement in the last week has been to tell us defensively that he is a father; but we knew that, and had already discounted its political value to ‘nil’.

The Conservative Party must be desperate to turn to Rifkind (BBC radio, GMS 4th September) in order to explain – as best I at least can understand his apologetics – the new official Conservative Newspeak waffle; that a U-turn (which may not actually prove to be a U-turn if they can wriggle out of it without doing much) is not actually, eh, a U-turn. I have no idea whether I am right in this interpretation, but since this is about the grotesque convolutions of Conservative Policy, in order to make the callous and obnoxious appear to be common sense, on a policy issue that is a humanitarian crisis of biblical proportions, allow me to be frank; who really cares what the Conservative Party thinks any more?

The problem that the Conservative Party has with an issue that should be focused on a European Union (EU) response to a huge humanitarian crisis has a single, simple cause. The Conservative Party believes the EU is solely a market; a Common Market. It isn’t, it never was, and it cannot be.

The EU cannot respond adequately to such humanitarian issues, which even the most obtuse British politician must see impacts first and most critically on EU states that are not islands offshore Northern Europe, with the problems this immediacy bestows on the states that have to handle at first-hand the vast movements of peoples created by great political crises (and not for the first time in history, for this is European history), without the resources to take EU-executive action. The EU requires to be much more than a mere ‘market’, and most states in the EU recognise this reality. It is not easy to achieve, and is unfortunately made more difficult by the presence of Britain in the EU as a purely obstructive force. Britain resolutely refuses to recognise this need for EU-excutive policy and action, or to participate in creating this EU capacity, but rather doggedly spends all its political capital attempting to undermine such objectives. Britain entered the EU to deconstruct it. We must now recognise that Britain cannot continue to play a leading role in an organisation in which it does not essential believe. It may be that Britain has succeeded; the EU has failed. Nevertheless the price of this cynicism is that nobody in Europe is listening to Britain any more.

The British Government wishes us to concentrate on how much money we invest in support of refugees in centres prepared far, far from Britain and far from Europe. This is unrealistic, and it has garnered less support from the rest of the world than might be expected. Such a policy demands that other states should fully participate with investment, leadership and direct action in carrying out what is effectively and obviously a British-centred policy that at the same time exudes British semi-detachment from the problem. The policy will not succeed because few states will invest in a policy that serves principally the self-interest of Britain.

I am baffled why the Conservatives not only believe the problem is really something for everybody else in Europe, or beyond to solve; but at the same time that everybody else should follow Britain’s policy. If Britain wishes to lead it also requires to take the leading responsibility, and of course this is anathema to the Conservative Government, and indeed is beyond the capacity of Britain to achieve. At the same time Britain will not accept that such major policy issues require a strong, politically focused and EU-centred capacity to form and execute political policy. The EU idea has been undermined by Britain for decades. Britain, the Conservative Party and swarms of Eurosceptics have worked assiduously to ensure that such an EU is not formed.

Comments (15)

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  1. Dougie Blackwood says:

    Today the Express, as a Tory mouthpiece, was unrepentant in the face of these horrible events; it’s headline today was “EU in meltdown over Migrants”, nothing there to suggest a change of heart; just the usual xenophobic, racist and ideological hatred of Johnnie Foreigner. The Tories will wriggle and try to get away with doing as little as they can, firmly supported by their pals in the media.

    It’s all too late for us to do anything about Westminster after they used the same scare tactics, practiced on Scotland, to terrify Middle England about the Scots coming to rape & pillage and so win the election. We can only make sure that everybody knows how close to Fascism our UK government is and use this to concentrate minds on the next opportunity.

    1. Neil Anderson says:

      Well put Dougie. I would go further than to say that our government is “close to Fascism”. In the deep dark of the night, I lay awake considering our situation here on the “British” islands and came to the conclusion that we are now, well and truly, governed by fascists and that no change of hue in Westminster makes a blind bit of difference. In regard to the devastating crisis underway for many different peoples, it would appear that the populaces of many differing countries are now by-passing their governments and taking direct action to aid the unfortunate victims of western aggression. Could we be seeing the flowering of a popular revolt against politician dominance? I truly hope so.

  2. bringiton says:

    The consequences of decades of Anglo American foreign policy literally washing up on Europe’s shores.
    You cannot destabilise an entire region and then walk away leaving others to clean up your mess.
    The Americans have 3000 miles of ocean between them and the “problem”,Little England only has 30 so is going to have to shoulder most of the political burden whether they like it or not.
    Cameron,by avoiding EU concerted action and going it alone with a much weaker UN will be able to control how many refugees he is prepared to take and will rely on HM xenophobic press to keep the issue off the front pages.

    1. Alex Beveridge says:

      100% correct bringiton. It’s the elephant in the room that very rarely gets mentioned, and never in the M.S.M.

  3. Broadbield says:

    We have had failures of leadership, imagination and compassion since at least Thatcher, and we have continued to meddle, stir and bomb (to bring democracy) having learned nothing. The results of this stupidity are now washing up on the shores of the Med in the most horrific way.

    But we, the electorate, (or some of us) voted these nasty, selfish individuals into power.

  4. Jane wilson says:

    This article expressed so well exactly how I feel about the UK gov response to the refugee crisis.i live in England and I am ashamed. It is the imperial mindset which is so depressing, the arrogant exceptionalism we express towards the rest of Europe. I really think the EU would be better off without us

  5. Harry Butler MBE says:

    Beautifully summarised thanks

  6. Blether says:

    The same Britain whose tender for Marshall Aid, “originally drafted by a senior Treasury civil servant, resembled an Oxbridge economist’s prolix prize-essay – with a tour of the world’s economic horizon and Britain’s place within it.”, in comparison with those of Germany and France, which “resemble today’s four-year business plans, being detailed technocratic strategies which give clear priority to investment in reconstructing industry and infrastructure.”

    – “The Wasting of Britain’s Marshall Aid”, By Correlli Barnett, BBC, March 2011 – http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/modern/marshall_01.shtml

    Britain received over 30% more Marshall Aid than Germany! Good old Britain, winning the war but losing the peace, winning the referendum but losing the argument.

    How long till we Scots get to be on a winning team again?

    1. Gordon Benton says:

      … but I believe you will find that the UK lost a great many patents in exchange for Marshal Aid. My Granny used to say “You get nothing for nothing”. Germany too lost many industrial plants along with their patents and industrial processes.

  7. Anne Milligan says:

    Of course its right for europe/uk to offer refugees a safe home, but how about usa/ mid east countries open their arms and welcome them too. I don’t get why usa get to turn their eyes away from this mess!

  8. Douglas says:

    David Cameron, the man who will say anything to anyone, a puppet, the Incredible Man With No Brain….

    A) The man who talks of bringing stability to the Middle East and who voted for the illegal war in Iraq…
    B) The man who goes around the world lecturing world leaders on corruption and then packs the House of Lords with party donors and cronies…
    C) The man who sheds tears in Aberdeen about how much he loves Britain and then immediately proposes EVEL
    D) The man who, yesterday, in Madrid, said that an independent Catalonia will have to reapply to the EU “and join the queue”, completely oblivious to the fact that the Spanish State refuses to allow the Catalans an official referendum…

    In short, a twerp, a twit, and a stooge….the perfect willing idiot….a kind of British George W Bush…….the man who those who voted against Scottish indie have thrust upon us, who knows for how long….

    Can those who voted NO really holds up their hands and say that the Union is worth another term of David “thickie” Cameron?

    1. bringiton says:

      When Cameron takes us out of the EU,there will be a vacancy.

      1. Broadbield says:

        I’m surprised the long-knives and not already being sharpened in Conservative Central Office, as he’s clearly incompetent, as well as being heartless and lacking in compassion, both towards the UK population and to the refugees, although that will be ok in CCO.

        Another good piece by John.

        1. HerewardAwake! says:

          They don’t need to sharpen anything, Broadbield. Cameron has already given notice that he will soon be jumping ship and, like a rat, no doubt scuttling off down the anchor chain to the calm waters and full bellies of the House of Lords and the international lecture circuit.

  9. Fiona McGregor says:

    The war on Iraq gave rise to IS.

    The bombing of Lybia gave rise to that state collapsing.

    Add western policies on Syria, Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, Israel and the gulf states.

    It is a complete mess of the west’s own making the principal engineers being the US and the puppet uk.

    cameron can’t see further than his next meal, do not expect anything of substance from him as he walks on by.

    No voters must be feeling betrayed by the uk, time to hold an olive branch out to them and invite them in from the cold.

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