Reading Aaron Ellis’s thoughts on the unexpected “no” from Cameron on Friday – as well as the mournings and musings of various others – has prompted me to pause for thought. HMG has always sought to have British commissioners holding the economic portfolio in Brussels, in order that the economic regulation that emerges has a flavour that is acceptable to the British palate. It is perhaps no coincidence that financial regulation became indigestible once labour abandoned the principle of occupying the economic portfolio at all costs – to get Baroness Ashton into the new foreign policy portfolio – thereby allowing France to install Barnier into our old redoubt. This perhaps explains why Britain is so nervous about the coming tide of financial regulation, when we have not previously been overruled on such matters via QMV, but has Cameron played a blinder or a poor hand badly?
Rather depends on how deluded you are, for there was very little choice available to Cameron.
Ignore the detail of the leaked letter from Fox to Cameron regarding the sorry state of the SDSR, the single most important conclusion to draw is that once again a British government is endangering the Armed Forces by creating a new strategic direction and then refusing to fund Defence at a level sufficient to drive the vision.
This is not helped by differences of opinion in how an “Adaptable” Armed Forces should be configured. Continue reading →
In May 2011 there will be a referendum in Britain to answer the question; should the electoral system be reformed from First Past the Post (FPTP) to Alternative Vote (AV), this being the price the Conservatives paid to bring the Lib-Dems into government with them as a coalition. The Lib-Dems want a proportional electoral system rather than a variation of the plurality method currently employed, so they aren’t exactly delighted with the choice on offer, but are at least willing to campaign for a change in order to break the stasis of electoral subjugation that they believe FPTP imposes. However, Lib-Dem members and activists are ideologically a lot further left than Clegg’s merry band of orange-book reformers, and are unhappy be seen as ‘collaborators’ even if it brings power, so there is suggestion that a failure to win the AV plebiscite could result in rebellion or even split the party, and in doing so dissolve the coalition before its time. This eventuality is unlikely, the Lib-Dem’s are after all in the process of convincing the electorate that they are a serious party of government, the problem with AV however is that no-one really wants it, but perhaps that is the point…..
Is the referendum merely a vehicle to enable proportional reform that his party can win?
The biggest news item surrounding the Armed Forces this week is the shock announcement from the Chancellor that whereas the acquisition costs of the Trident replacement were previously expected to be funded directly from the Treasury, now the £20 billion cost should be absorbed by the £36 billion defence budget. At the same time speculation from the more stridently right-wing of Conservative support is reaching a fever-pitch over the possibility of a merger between the Tories and the Liberal end of the Lib-Dem’s.
How things have changed since the previous article in March asking what a Cameron led government would with its EU policy pledges; we now have a Conservative / Lib-Dem coalition, the EU apparently fire-hosed 750bn Euro’s at its sovereign-debt problem, but the financial markets smelled a rat when rumours emerged the bailout package wasn’t as watertight as they had been led to believe, and as a consequence have been punishing the euro for the last week.
Where then does this leave Camerons six EU policy pledges?
The 2010 United Kingdom general election debates consist of a series of three leaders’ debates conducted on live television between the leaders of the three main parties contesting the 2010 United Kingdom general election. The second debate was notionally on Foreign Policy and Defence though notably light on both given its nearly two hour slot.
So, what of significance was said, did it have any merit, and who came out ahead?