Why was Cameron wrong?
However, while it is easy to mistake articulation for achievement, the drift away from Europe, which is now manifesting itself into cross-channel rivalry yet again, is a disaster for Britain. For a start, we don't live in the age of Napoleon, and a global financial crisis is indeed gathering momentum. Once this happens, it will indeed spare no one. What Cameron has effectively done is to attempt to protect the misdemeanours of the British banks and other financial institutions, and by doing so, sacrificed the interests of millions of British workers and small business owners, who need to make things and sell them.
Cameron's vision of Britain is possibly that of a small island which can turn into a safe haven for banks and people with money, but Britain is still a powerful country full of ideas, great manufacturing companies and real industries. In short, Britain isn't Cayman Islands, upon whose model the Tory party may want to shape Britain. It can't live in isolation, and isolation it will be when the Europe turns its back because of British up-in-your-face exceptionalism, which Cameron so vulgarly displayed in Brussels.
The other fundamental shift one has to deal with is that the time of self-interest as the main driver of progress is somewhat over, and we have somewhat decisively entered the age of cooperation. I am aware that the jungle version of industrial capitalism is being touted to the new developing countries like India, but that's more like pushing an out-of-date technology which had its day in the sun in the West and now must be exported to the poor colonials who will lap up our throwaway bits.
All over the developed world, however, 'social' is the buzzword. Even David Halpern, Prime Minister's adviser, is a big enthusiast of 'social capital', the value that emerges out of cooperation between people. David Cameron's pet scheme of Big Society is all about stepping out of narrow self interest, but it seems that his convictions don't go much beyond the rhetoric. He is happy to pursue a strategy determined by national self-interest even when the world is literally at the brink, and the fact that his actions are informed by his own requirements of survival makes it look even more petty.
In the end, a quote that gets attributed to Hillary Clinton (but I believe it came from someone else), "The difference between a politician and a statesman is that a politician thinks about the next election while the statesman think about the next generation”, sums up Cameron's attitude. Indeed, in these difficult times, we are in desperate need of statesmen.
Finally, to sum up, Bob Edwards says it all - "Now I know what a statesman is; he's a dead politician. We need more statesmen."