Monday, January 09, 2012

The narrative develops

"Hero of the veto" Cameron strikes again with a second veto, according to the Daily Wail, thus firming up The Boy's credentials as a eurosceptic. On the table this time is the financial transaction tax – the so-called Tobin tax. Since this requires unanimity, The Boy is at liberty to block the measure at an EU level, applying what can correctly be called a veto.

This has always been an option – more so than demanding "protection" for the City as a quid pro quo for agreeing a treaty on fiscal union – so what we are seeing is a public relations exercise, building up The Boy with the help of his europhile media friends.

Actually, it is only the Wail which so blatant in its support for the Boy, picking up the statement made by Cameron on the Andrew Marr show yesterday, where the main media focus was on [excessive] executives' pay.

This is now conflated with a Reuters report that the French are thinking of going it alone. Presidential adviser Henri Guaino has said that there would be a decision by the end of the month, and state secretary Benoist Apparu says a bill could be put to parliament in February.

For France to go it alone does not make sense, given the international nature of the financial services industry – which could up stakes from Paris and move over the border – so this must be seen as posturing in order to strengthen the arguments for a Europe-wide tax. But, as long as the UK stands firm, this is as far as it gets, giving The Boy a welcome publicity boost.

In broader terms for the eurosceptic movement, these are dangerous times. From the "Lisbon rat" who deprived us of the chance of a referendum on the new treaty, Cameron has now reinvented himself as a born-again eurosceptic.

With the help of his friends, he is now building on a myth, the ultimate aim of which is to erode the UKIP vote. No doubt, the Tory focus is on the EU parliament elections in 2014, and then the general the following year. And from the Tory perspective, the strategy seems to be working admirably.

In the meantime, of course, nothing has changed. We see the dreadful Ashton, for instance resiling on her promise to make the EU diplomatic service a "revenue neutral" operation and demanding an extra £22 million for her budget.

In other words, nothing is changing other than the perception offered by Cameron and his friends. But perception means everything … the reality really doesn't matter.