To follow up my post below on the Conservatives' new position on Europe - I consulted Keith Ewing, who probably knows more than anyone about economic and social rights on David Cameron's new EU pledges, which seem very likely to go the way of the cast-iron pledge of a referendum on Lisbon. Keith is in Sydney. His take is that he is not sure that the Tories know what they are talking about. Much of the provisions he thinks they are targeting were pre the Social Chapter of 1992 or independent of it – no question of getting rid of discrimination law, working time, or holidays. If they are talking about the Social Chapter, it would be things like information and consultation and protection for agency workers. But this is not a runner – he cannot see how it could now be done. We are in too deep, this is gesture politics of the most puerile kind. I asked him: "Why aren’t Labour making a fuss?" His reply: "Because they are not interested in the social agenda either, having done so much to frustrate it from within." At least the Tories have the advantage of honesty of sorts.
6 November 2009