All political lives, unless they are cut off in midstream at a happy juncture, end in failure, because that is the nature of politics and of human affairs.
Enoch Powell on Joseph Chamberlain
The resignation of Iain Duncan Smith from the position of Secretary of State for Work and Pensions dedicated to social reform was just one of the recent events that highlight the contradictions of continuing membership of the European Union (EU). Membership is not a victimless crime, but instead one from whom the most vulnerable and socially-excluded in our society suffer the worst. It also destroys political ambitions, careers and legacies to make this a more just and socially mobile country, putting reforming Prime Minister and reforming Minister at loggerheads.
James Kirkup writing in the Daily Telegraph, on 20th March noted:
‘People close to David Cameron know that what really drives and excites him is not reforming the EU (whatever he says in public, the topic bores him) or balancing the budget. Those things may dominate his Government’s agenda, but friends say what raises his political passion is ‘social reform – ensuring that people born without his privileges can share a little of the riches he has known all his life’.
Alas, this cannot be whilst we retain EU membership for various practical reasons, some of which are illustrated below.
EU tax, waste and corruption, increasingly takes away much needed funding that could be better used here on the needy or facilitating social mobility, especially for the poorest. Mr Duncan Smith resigned over the welfare budget being used as a ‘cash cow’ – effectively robbing poor disabled UK Peter to pay, bribe and subsidise rich EU Paul.
EU rules undermine new per capita wealth creation, the source of social mobility and generally rising living standards for all. State welfare spending can only be funded by a highly competitive and ‘profitable’ private sector. Instead of new wealth creation, the EU pursues policies of re-distributing existing wealth (sometimes from the poorest to the richest through higher prices, taxes and subsidies to inefficient industries) and effectively of wealth destruction. Also, EU regulations increasingly restrict the ‘space’ and opportunist flexibility needed for businesses and people to grow and achieve in a fast moving, highly competitive world.
Uncontrolled EU migration places increasing strains on welfare budgets and critical national infrastructure. These need long term plans, development and investment which cannot be made accurately where future demand is unknown. With increasing demand, and without corresponding wealth creation,there is an increasingly unaffordable drain on the productive economy.
The EU undermines motivation, self-reliance and re-balancing the relationship between state and citizen, such as what each person does to contribute to his own well-being and the common good of society. As EU control expands in domestic (national) income and expenditure it increasingly prevents change, adaptation to local circumstances and action in accordance with democratic mandates.
The negative effects of EU membership are occurring at a time when EU state welfare model(s) are increasingly unaffordable, especially as the ability to be competitive slips. With 7% of the world population and 25% of world GDP, the EU accounts for 58% of the welfare bill. (For more information see Matthew Lynn writing in the Daily Telegraph on 23rd March Europe is now drowning under the cost of welfare bills).
As outlined above and by recent events, continuing EU membership and achieving social reform, especially for the most vulnerable and socially-excluded, are incompatible aims. It is also unlikely that the EU could be changed to make these aims mutually exclusive or complementary. The EU has shown a marked reluctance for reform, to control its indulgent, ever increasing budget or to fix problems largely of its own creation. The EU’s meddling in domestic affairs is likely to increase as it pursues its aim of creating a single political entity or superstate, creating more problems. So far the EU’s track record has led to increasing poverty for many, especially in southern Europe. The price of the Euro, increasing debts and uncontrolled migration affect the poorest most, making social mobility increasingly difficult.
James Kirkup also wrote in his article:
If Mr Cameron cannot make good on his fine words about One Nation and social mobility and equality of opportunity, and thus disprove the charges Mr Duncan Smith levels against him, then his life in politics has all been for nothing.’
So behind all the spin, Mr Cameron really does compassionately care and want to make a difference. Unfortunately, he has chosen to fight for continuing membership of the (unreformed, immovable, privileged, elite-ruled) EU and to sacrifice achieving his dearest ambition and worthwhile legacy of social reform. If he is remembered at all, it will be as a Prime Minister who failed, and we, especially the socially-excluded and most vulnerable, will for many years afterwards bear the consequences.