Wednesday, 11 November 2015
I learned about negotiation the hard way. Trying to sell my crappy old Honda 250 around about 1979, the fat greasy old bloke (he was probably about thirty) offered me £150 cash. I was a student, this was a fortune, but £100 shy of what I thought it was worth. “If you come back later it’ll be £100” was his response to my feeble attempt to suggest I’d get better elsewhere. I walked home, grateful for the much-needed cash, yet still resentful of the manner in which I had acquired it. I pretended to mates that, a) I had got what I asked for and, b) that I had stood my ground against stiff resolve.
When it comes to David Cameron’s fantasy renegotiation of Britain’s membership of the European Union, others far more informed than I have offered their gloomy analysis; here’s Toby Young in the Daily Telegraph: With the notable exception of David Lidington described on PM as ‘Europe Minister’, who could not or would not answer direct questions, absolutely nobody in the public eye appears to believe he will achieve anything other than the square root of fuck-all. (Here: 13 minutes in.)
At least – unlike David Cameron – I didn’t walk into the bike shop every Saturday and tell them how desperate I was for cash before turning up with my wheels and a begging bowl. None of Cameron’s ‘demands’ are significant, except whereby he reveals that in tentatively, indirectly asking for the maybe, a little bit, return of the supremacy of the British Parliament over British affairs, he is flat out admitting that we are entirely controlled legally by the EU. At least I got some money for my bike – all he is going to get (and it’s all he deserves) is a kick in the arse for his insolence.
The ONLY negotiating position had to be, from the outset, that we are leaving the club we can no longer afford to be a member of. Only if you offer us the earth will we even consider remaining. And even then you will have to grovel for it, pay us reparation and let British sides win the EUFA league for the next five straight years. Oh and suck our collective dick, because we had our fingers crossed when we shook on that little deal you interbred, Teutonic, frog-munching, sprout-mangling mongrels...
I have in my hand... absolutely sod all...
The point of a negotiation, as in any trade, is that each side has something the other side wants. And each side has demands in excess of what they will accept, together with an absolute, walk-away, red line below which no deal is possible. What Cameron should be demanding is effective British rule over the whole of the EU and his forget-it position should be if Merkel and co even blink at the demand. Because, let’s face it, none of the concessions he is pleading for are even up for grabs, so he may as well go for broke. What we are getting, however, is pure politics as theatre, nothing more.