My argument is that the EU treaty, that Cameron walked away from, is very bad. It would suit me quite well to say that the treaty was great, and Cameron's decision was clearly wrong. But it isn't as simple as that. The treaty tries to enshrine neo-liberal (monetarist, supply-side) economics, as a permanent state, which can not be overthrown by electoral defeat or by economic disaster. It's almost like the Constitution of the USA - a set of binding commitments that can not be easily changed by elected Governments. And I think the last three years have shown us that this type of economics is no good. Daniel Davies on Crooked Timber expressed it well:
(It is) a takeover of Europe by the neoliberal “permanent government” who failed to get their way by democratic means. All of the nationalism and anti-German sentiment is a distraction from the real scandal here. The ‘technocrats’ (which is apparently what they want to be called, although frankly I am seeing a lot of ideology and not much technical ability) want to reorganise the whole of Europe on neoliberal lines.
Not the whole of Europe, though. It's a bad policy, but it only affects Euro economies, so it will hurt lots of people, but not in the UK. So, bad and irrelevant.
What else could Cameron have done, but walk away? I'll tell you what. Over the past few years the UK Conservative party should have maintained friendly relations with other Conservative parties in Europe. Instead they left the mainstream right-wing European group, and hooked up with the extreme right anti-Semitic faction, who are weak and non-rational. They should have negotiated the current treaty into something better, and they should have had the political power and good will to make that negotiation count. They should have made the difference between good and bad involvement in Europe clearer to their supporters in this country, and the wider population, so that a (hypothetical) better treaty could have been an ambition. Cameron himself should have a stronger grasp of the ideas, and enough gravitas that he doesn't have to pander to the worst elements in his own party.
What should he have done the other day? He shouldn't have ever got into that position. Britain is among the richest and most culturally influential countries on Earth. Our Prime Minister should be a respectable and respected figure, whose wishes are important to other world leaders. And then he should use that influence to fight for - well, I won't say to fight for Social Democracy because he would never do that - but, perhaps to fight for a moderate paternalistic Conservatism, instead of this wretched stuff.