“For all the countries in the G8, there is a big, looming, insistent question and that’s: how do we compete in this global race we are in today?”
I have just read both of Cameron’s speeches. For anyone who wants to figure out what Cameron’s vision is I strongly advise reading his big set-piece presentations, starting with the one from the last Conservative Party Conference. You will find a coherent thread running through the words:
· To survive and then strive we must be adaptable,
· opting out of the world is not a choice as global networks trump local barriers.
Cameron’s post-EU outlook
In the same way individual states should not stick their heads in the sand the EU is best off going with the grain of globalisation. ”And my point is this. More of the same will not secure a long-term future for the Eurozone. More of the same will not see the European Union keeping pace with the new powerhouse economies.”
Cameron’s five principles set-out how the EU should organise itself so we all can benefit from both the power of the large and flexibility of the small.”But today the main, over-riding purpose of the European Union is different: not to win peace, but to secure prosperity.”
Britain, and other member states, will be best off if the EU adapts to the changing challenges of the world economy. Cameron’s speech is a genuine challenge to the EU institutions to justify their purposetoday and to justify it by looking outward. ”We have more power and influence – whether implementing sanctions against Iran or Syria, or promoting democracy in Burma – if we can act together.”
For Cameron economic choices are intertwined with moral responsibilities
The global needs the local and impacts on the local, both positively and in the case of terrorism extremely negatively. ”As we have successfully put pressure on Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, so Al Qaeda franchises have been growing for years in Yemen, Somalia and parts of North Africa – places that have suffered hideously through hostage-taking, terrorism and crime.”
Cameron emphasised that he believes choices over tax are moral choices. Businesses need to be transparent about their arrangements so people can gain a truer feeling for the brand. “Individuals and businesses must pay their fair share. Any business who thinks that they can carry on dodging that fair share or that they can keep on selling to the UK… need to wake up and smell the coffee because the public who buy from them have had enough.”
As individuals we are more used to choice. We can see what is happening all over the world and try and get what we want. People want to make choices, not be told what to do, so Governments should make sure information is available. ”So we’re going to push for more transparency on who owns companies, on who’s buying up land and for what purpose, on how governments spend their money, on how gas, oil and mining companies operate, on who is hiding stolen assets and how we recover and return them.
Governments are going to have to decide which limited areas need clear rules, reach agreements over what these rules should be and enforce them. ”But I also passionately believe that if you want open economies, low taxes and free enterprise then you need to lay down the rules of the game – and be prepared to enforce them.”
How does Cameron resolve the global/local tension? What can he achieve before 2015? Will the British people think “here is a leader who gets it” and “he pursues stuff that benefits my life”? It will be interesting to see.