Thursday, 1 November 2012

EU Budget Vote


Despite today's utterances I have to congratulate two of our three MPs for their courageous stand against the whips yesterday evening, and voting in the Labour lobby against the mass throng of Conservatives who trooped to support a cash-terms EU budget increase 

The EU budget vote was crucially important for David Cameron - not only because he used a 'political' veto last year to populist appeal - but also because it sets the parameters around negotiating on a budget settlement for the EU from 2014-2020.

The Labour opposition yesterday was not opportunistic; Labour has been consistent that this budget settlement must be carefully negotiated in advance, but can not result in an increase in the budget. Our MEPs voted that way with Conservatives. 

So why the difference in this budget round; because unlike in previous budget cycles there is no reform of CAP planned (as with Blair's negotiations) and with European governments in austerity it is simply not palatable or acceptable for our public suffering cuts to services and struggling with bills.

Labour was right to increase budgets in previous cycles to meet the needs of the expanded EU and tagged with reforms at a time of growth in the EU. This time it was right to say that the budget must be reduced.

Incidentally, this does not mean that I will dogmatically oppose future budgets based on partisan sectarianism; or apologise for former ones; each budget negotiation isn't about dogma but about taking a sensible and reasoned judgement about what is fair and equitable. This has been the Labour approach.  

I know a number of Tories will point to history and 'consistency'; but need I not remind them that it was a Tory that took us into the EEC and it was a Tory that signed us up to the EU with Maastrict and, yes, Tory PM's throughout history have increased budgets and won concessions. It is only since 1995 that this vitriolic and salivating anti-Europeanism has taken hold and its damages were seen then and seen today to the Tories. I also need to remind Tories that it is rich indeed for Cameron and Osborne to call us opportunistic when it was his 'cast iron' guarantee to The Sun which was the most overt posture of all; the grand fib led to a massive poll rise for UKIP which remains to this day.

A little less dogma and more realism required; I did not share a flat with Carswell and was not best chums with Hannan; but I do share the views that this budget increase was wrong-headed so I had no problem in sharing a platform with Mark or Tracey

Cameron could have united the house yesterday on a non-binding resolution to go for a cut in the budget; as it was he tried to arm-twist (rudely in some cases) people to doing something they were uncomfortable. 

Two of our MPs showed some backbone and for that they deserve credit.

4 comments:

  1. It was not a Labour lobby. The amendment was Mark Reckless' so it was 'his' lobby, if anything.

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  2. "I have to congratulate two of our three MPs for their courageous stand against the whips yesterday evening, and voting in the Labour lobby"

    I have to swallow party political pride and congratulate the Parliamentary Labour Party for voting for an amendment tabled by one of Medway's Conservative MPs...

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  3. "Labour was right to increase budgets in previous cycles to meet the needs of the expanded EU and tagged with reforms at a time of growth in the EU. This time it was right to say that the budget must be reduced."

    Really?? Perhaps while in office your lot could have sort to reallocate funds from the CAP and CFP to the 'expanding EU', they actually wouldn't have needed to increase the EU budget. I don't mind Labour being a pro-European party, but when are you actually going to admit it in public. The way Labour voted the other night was pure politics in the parliamentary system, fair enough there, but when you're on the doorstep of the average voter and they ask you, 'Are you pro-EU or for leaving the EU?', God knows what you would say, because judging from your party's vote, the political line isn't very coherent.

    At the end of the day, a vote on British EU membership is coming and you have to decide which side of the fence your on......

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  4. Sorry Tristan, meant to say 'you're on' in the last sentence...

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