When is a freeze not a freeze? It's when a slippery Tory Prime Minister tries to persuade his backbenchers that he's opposed to bigger contributions to the EU budget.
The freeze his government imposed on public-sector workers' pay is a real freeze, with no compensation for cost-of-living increases.
Despite rhetoric about fighting for the best deal for Britain and hinting at a veto, David Cameron has already sold the pass.
The EU Commission's 5 per cent claim is a negotiating ploy not a realistic demand.
It is currently responsible, with the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, for enforcing butchery of jobs and services in Greece and other member states.
As Ed Miliband pointed out in the parliamentary debate, Cameron's government is "cutting the education budget by 11 per cent, the transport budget by 15 per cent and the police budget by 20 per cent.
"How can he even be giving up on a cut in the EU budget before the negotiations have begun?"
It's a good indicator that politicians have lost the argument when their best retort is that their opponents should "grow up," ignore principles and be pragmatic.
No-one does it better than Nick Clegg who must be the most grown-up person in the House of Commons, having sold almost every principle he and his party ever had for the honour of being called deputy prime minister among other names.
Eurocentralist Clegg rejects any possibility of a real contributions freeze, suggesting that the government cannot wave a "magic wand" and that denying the unelected commission its way could result in annual budgets that Britain would have no alternative but to accept.
This stance indicates the contempt that the Liberal Democrat leader has for democracy and why he has gone cold on his previous support for an in-or-out EU referendum.
He, like former Labour leader Tony Blair, would have had this country locked into the eurozone, on the way to the European superstate that dare not speak its name but continues to solidify.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is adamant that the EU economics commissioner should have the power to intervene in member states' business by referring budgets back to national parliaments if considered in breach of the so-called growth and stability pact.
We have already seen the suspension of democracy in Greece and Italy where "technocrat" prime ministers were imposed to drive through austerity programmes that were hated by the electorate but insisted upon by transnational banking corporations.
Critics of the Morning Star line on the EU ask: Why concentrate on the role of the EU when Britain's conservative coalition is committed to a similar agenda dictated by the City of London?
It's because voters in Britain still have the power - albeit hitherto unused - to vote out this bunch of bankers' valets and elect a government committed to public ownership of the banks, rail and public utilities, support for manufacturing and public services, decent pensions and transferring the onus of taxation from working people to big business and wealthy tax dodgers.
The finance-sector stranglehold is institutionalised within the eurozone, making any such programme unrealisable under the iron grip of the ECB, EU Commission and European Court of Justice.
The labour movement should welcome this parliamentary defeat for the coalition and resist all efforts to impose continent-wide austerity.
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