Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The importance of the EPP

Daniel Finkelstein, has been holding forth in The Times, on the subject of Tory membership of the EPP, writing:

It has been suggested that leading Christian Democrats such as the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, won’t deal with Mr Cameron if he ends the relationship with the EPP. What nonsense. Whatever she says now, of course she will.

......But who needs a new group? Why don’t the Tories just sit on their own? Why would that be a problem?

......What does not matter is the EPP link. So the EPP link goes. It’s simple.

Egads. I'm an ordinary voter living in Southampton, and even I know more about the EPP and it's importance than Mr Finkelstein. Just for him, here's what it's all about:

It's a network - just as you network in ordinary office politics, so you network at the national and international level. Trying to negotiate European politics without belonging to one of the political groupings is like trying to be a doctor without belonging to the BMA or an actuary without belonging to the Institute of Actuaries.

The EPP isn't just about the European Parliament. It's is a powerful network that regularly meets outside the Parliament, and where deals are cut before the all-important EU Council of Ministers heads of state meeting. For instance, the EPP's web-site tells us that the EPP leaders will meet on 15-16 June ahead of the Council meeting in Brussels. There, governments will cut deals and decide what they want to achieve at the Council. The current government's of France, Germany, Austria, Greece, the Czech Republic and the junior coalition member of the Danish government are all members of the EPP. They will agree their strategy before the summit, when all 25 heads of state come together to negotiate.

And Finkelstein asks "why does it matter"! It matters because in politics as in life, weirdos who have no friends and sit alone don't get on and struggle to make their views heard. The Tories constantly tell us they will "renegotiate the Treaty of Rome" and abolish CAP and so on - but how pray are they going to do all this, if they are outside all the groups, and deals are negotiated prior to the summits in their absence? It's just childish fantasy. If the Tories don't understand the reality of how it all works, they are "not fit for government", to paraphrase Reid.

They'd be nuts to leave the EPP - which brings them to another problem: Cameron made a promise to the eurosceptics to leave the EPP. If he breaks that promise, he'll get the reputation of saying anything to get elected and reneging once he's got the job. And if he can't even keep his promises to Tory MP's, how can anyone trust what he is saying to the electorate? All those speeches about the work-life balance, and the environment and public service - he could be just telling the public what they want to hear, and getting ready to renege as soon as he gets into government just like Dubya Bush.

This is fun isn't it? ;-)


Richard W. Symonds said...

Snowflake, your last 3 lines are the most telling, and the most accurate...and don't waste your time joining the New Labour Party until Blair (Tony) has gone.

Eric Blair was a 'supporter', but not a 'member' - even in 1949.

Danivon said...

Snowflake - please do join Labour - It would make a refreshing change to have someone with such in depth understanding and, hopefully, with more people like you aboard, we might be able to help puch Blair out earlier, or at least to change the focus away from New Labour.

snowflake5 said...

An update: It turns out that Cameron was invited to the pre-summit EPP meeting on 15-16 June, - and refused to attend. This is the second EPP meeting that he's refused to attend since he became leader.

It's bizarre. Foreign policy involves meeting and building a rapport with foreign leaders, and usually Leaders of the Opposition take every opportunity to do so, to build their credentials.

Blair did the rounds before he became PM, and so did Thatcher. In fact Thatcher actually addressed the German CDU party conference before she became Prime Minister.

Yet Cameron has shunned the conservative governments of Europe, the socialist governments are unlikely to invite him to visit, (and he is unlikely to get an invitation to Washington either - Bush still holds a grudge against Michael Howard and the Tories in general).

And David Cameron still thinks he can be this childish and be considered ready for government - Please!

Richard W. Symonds said...

The Bush/Howard 'grudge' is a red-herring. Bush has no interest in Cameron (or the UK Cons) while Blair is in power.

But the Bush planners are planning beyond Blair. They want (and need) a puppet government in the UK...Cameron is their man.

I've just dreamed up a collective 'future history' word for the US/UK/NeoCon/New Labour/IMF/World Bank Nuclear Superpower (International Community, Oceania-1984, or whatever) :


What do you reckon ?