Sunday, January 24, 2016

A spot of the balmies

It seems fair to follow up my previous, meteorologically-themed post, with an update. There may be record-breaking blizzards in North America but we enjoyed positively spring-like conditions today in beautiful Ruislip with the temperature reaching an amazing 14c. The unceasing storms and rain of December and the first part of this month have give way to a bit of cloud here and bit of drizzle there, sufficient to keep the back of my garden slightly flooded (and by slight I mean just a bit of standing water that refuses to go away), but nothing whatsoever to worry about. We did get some real snow the other day but it lasted barely the morning. That might be it this year but of course there's a fair way to go yet.

Speaking of balmies, there are barmies on the horizon as the British Government pursues its quest to renegotiate the terms under which the UK is a member of the EU and we have the fascinating prospect of the Conservative party about to rip itself apart. Several leading members of the Government have declared themselves against it, no matter what Mr. Cameron may achieve in his exhausting and seemingly endless jaunts around Europe trying to drum up support. The latest news is that he might go for a referendum in the early summer, thus irritating the Scottish Nationalists because it will overshadow elections there. But if he delays till the autumn then the split in his party will be revealed in full at the party conference because no elections can ever be held between mid-June and the end of September.

The only sensible referendum would be one where voters could choose between a range of policies but we won't get that. Arguably only people who actually know what the EU is and have some idea about how it works, what it costs and how it is likely to be changed in future should be permitted to vote but we won't get that either. (This is not like voting for an MP, who you know you can chuck out in five years if you have to).  It will be a yes/no and much legal time will be spent on the precise wording. If Mr. Cameron has his way it will read
"Do you agree with the Government's very sensible terms that will guarantee a prosperous future for all within the EU?";
and if his critics win out it will read
"Do you agree that Britain faces utter ruin if it remains in the EU any longer no matter what those cunning foreigners might pretend to concede to us?".

In any case nobody will have the slightest idea whether we will be better off in or out because nobody can predict the future so the whole exercise is daft. I suppose I will have to continue commenting on it because the decision matters, not least because a No vote will inevitably lead to the breakup of the UK because, if one should occur, then sooner or later Scotland will have a second independence referendum, on the grounds that a majority of them wish to remain the EU so why the hell should they follow England out.

It is a cruel irony that the leader of what used to be the "Conservative and Unionist" party should be so keen to jeopardise the Union and his attempts to prevent it will of great interest.

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