At the end of the Second World War the USA showed true farsightedness when it introduced the Marshal plan and provided huge amounts of support to the exhausted countries of Europe. It was a phenomenal success. The recipients were able to rapidly recover from a terrible war and the defeated nations had particularly strong cause to be grateful and to see the value of tolerance and of providing practical help for those less fortunate than themselves. They were able to build a united and successfully peaceful Europe on the back of it. The US also gained by building markets for their products and by establishing a network of allies grouped around NATO.
A similar size of exercise now could be used to help find homes and employment for large numbers of refugees. Importantly it could also do the same for those countries where unemployment has been hovering around 25% for over five years of misery. A co-ordinated attempt to use Quantitative Easing money constructively across the whole of Europe alongside similar efforts in Japan and the US could make unnecessary unemployment disappear along with unnecessary homelessness. It could begin the work of rebuilding the economy on a secure environmentally sound basis not via dishonest speculative short term profit seeking behaviour.
But Cameron seems unable to do vision. Instead of the big society he promised us he is letting himself be captured by those with a vision of the little society. The narrow society that thinks it can close itself off from the world and it will all be OK if we just build a high enough fence at Calais.
When a Prime Minister wins an election it normally means that a bit of space has been achieved and it is possible to step outside narrow party concerns and act for the long term. Cameron can't do that. He has a right wing in his party and in his Cabinet that scares him. They have an ideological hatred of government action and an even stronger hatred of collaboration between governments across Europe. Only weeks after the election they have already started to defeat his government in the Commons in the hope of getting us out of the EU.
So Cameron dare not act in concert with other EU leaders to solve the refugee crisis. He has chosen to try and demonstrate that he isn't working with them but has his own independent policy. The consequence is that he has had no influence over EU policy on refugees. Germany and France have been meeting to establish policy but the UK isn't invited. Cameron is being ignored by Merkel.
The UK is in danger of steadily drifting out of Europe without any serious fight from within the Conservative Party. All summer we have seen a press narrative of dangerous waves of migrants trying to head north. In the face of this an astonishingly high proportion of UK citizens have insisted on seeing the migrants as people even before we saw the dreadful images of a dead child on a Turkish tourist beach. But the coverage of angry migrants climbing fences is having an impact. The majority of the country now wants out of Europe according to the latest polls.
Cameron hasn't risen above this to defend the importance of common European action to tackle common European problems. He has deliberately separated us off in an attempt to hold his own party together a little longer.
If he keeps this up for another year then it may well be too late. A desperate last minute attempt to convince us that we must stay in Europe may not work. I fear the result. The UK could end up isolated on the sidelines as it slowly declines with each new company that moves its operation to the centre of things in Europe. Or even worse a UK exit could prove the start of a breakup of the EU. Whatever the weaknesses of the EU it has provided us with 70 years of peace and security. What has happened in Syria and in Libya ought to be strong enough evidence for anyone about the dangers of putting that at risk lightly.