When Victory Means Defeat: David Cameron, Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn, the Bundesbank…and Nicola Sturgeon?

“…..one other such victory would utterly undo him” – Pyrrhus

David Cameron promised the now disastrous referendum in his now infamous Bloomberg speech in January 2013. This was based on two assumptions. The first was that the promise would serve to unite his party. The second was that he would not win an outright majority at the next election and that the Liberal Democrats would block the referendum and save him from having to carry through with his promise. He won an unexpected victory at the polls and was saddled with having to deliver on his promise. His legacy as Prime Minister is now shredded. Europe is to David Cameron what Iraq has been for Tony Blair. His electoral victory turned to the most bitter of defeats.

Boris Johnson jumped on the Leave bandwagon hoping it would cement his place as the Tory leader in waiting with wide support among the party faithful. To his surprise and amazement Leave won. His shock at having to deliver on his promises was plain to all in his speech the morning of July 24th. In the event, his downfall has come much more swiftly. His career is in tatters and his image is that of the incompetent buffoon.

Jeremy Corbyn never expected to win the leadership of the Labour party. He did and look where he is now. He has proven to the world that he lacks the necessary leadership skills. And, instead of creating the gentler kind of politics he promised, he has created factionalism and, in Momentum, the most tribal, vicious and blindly ideological movement seen in British politics for some time.

When it was proposed that the Euro would be introduced, the Bundesbank insisted that it should be overseen by a European Central Bank that was ferociously independent in the model of the Bundesbank itself. It won that battle. Now Bundesbank officials tear their hair out in horror and desperation as the ECB prints money and sets monetary policy in a direction that they despise. Yet the ECB is out of reach. Germany has only one vote among many. The Bindesbank’s victory has also turned into bitter defeat.

Who’s up next?

There may yet be more, and sooner, but my money is on Nicola Sturgeon.

If she succeeds in either one or both of her main platform promises – to make Scotland independent and to keep it within the EU – her legacy will also collapse. It is obvious to all except those blinded by nationalism that Scotland is not yet in a position to prosper outside the United Kingdom. For those who disagree, look at the howls that greeted Michael Gove’s mild hint that the massive money transfers from the UK to Scotland might have to be re-thought.  If Scotland were to manage to stay in the EU, the Euro would be forced upon it. There is no way the Scottish economy can meet the expenditure promises made by the SNP and still stay within the tight parameters of the Stability and Growth Pact. The Brussels blame game would start within months.

But Sturgeon may well be smarter than the others. Hence her current position of cautious support for a second independence referendum. She has to keep the nationalists on side but the last thing she wants is another victory that would utterly undo her.

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Radix is the radical centre think tank. We welcome all contributions which promote system change, challenge established notions and re-imagine our societies. The views expressed here are those of the individual contributor and not necessarily shared by Radix.

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