Labour's (and the left media's) massive miscalculation is in imagining that this
has somehow harmed Cameron or the Conservatives. It hasn't. All he and his party
have to say - and they would be truthful in saying it - is that it's not the
Conservative Party Labour has harmed with its double dealings on Lisbon, it is
every British subject. In addition, now that Cameron has outlined his key policy
changes in his speech this afternoon, in which he promised the setting up of a
constitutional court, referendums for any and all future EU proposals that
materially affect the British constitution and to claw back powers from
Brussels, I predict that support for the Tories will, if anything, grow.
The media, left and right, has got it totally wrong all the way through on this issue - and misjudged the mood of the people too. The BBC and the rest of the left media have been gleefully trying to characterise this as a Conservative policy U-turn, or a "broken promise", which will inevitably lead to an old-style split over Europe. Not so. All Conservative documentary evidence proves that there was no such promise made. Cameron and Hague have been consistent all the way through: once Lisbon was law, all referendum bets were off. If I understood that (angrily) then I imagine that nine tenths of the population did too (the other tenth aren't interested). But what of the Right(er) media? Well, they've been all over the place as well. Even the Spectator in its poll article starts off with "So, has he got away with it?" What tosh! The only person who's gotten away with murder, figuratively speaking at least over Lisbon, is Gordon bloody Brown and his bunch of promise-breaking Labourists. The fanatically Eurosceptic right media seem not to want to comprehend that fact for reasons of their own. Me, I just want Britain protected from what I believe to be a European political revolution that is not in her interests. I also want my vote to count - in Britain.
It is therefore up to Cameron and Hague to mend the broken pieces of the contract of trust between government and the people it is meant to be elected to govern, not betray, while preserving and protecting the identity and democratic legitimacy of a sovereign nation. They have made a start by promising some interesting changes in the law ostensibly to protect future generations from what now feels like an inexorable creep towards a continental federal superstate based on the socialist model. They will have to go much further than this, however, to convince me that they have the right answers to what is nothing more or less to me than a Franco-German power grab and a grave threat to the sovereignty, diverse, pluralist identity and democratic legitimacy of this country. But they have my full support in their attempt to develop them, mocking French buffoons notwithstanding.
Incidentally, if you are wondering why Britain and this European federalist model are so incompatible in the minds of millions of British people, I recommend you read the Half Blood Welshman's latest outstanding piece on this subject. The yawning sociopolitical/geographical/historical gap between continental Europe and the UK have rarely been more succinctly explained. I especially enjoyed the opening:
And so it continues. Sparkling stuff.
This is the second time in two days I have posted on Europe. I hope I'm not obsessing about it. To start with an anecdote. In about 1825, Lord Dudley, the British Ambassador to Vienna, was talking to Prince Metternich, the Austrian Chancellor. The conversation, which was in French, the European lingua franca of the time (hence the phrase) was along these lines:
Metternich: "I must compliment your Lordship on your command of French. You are the only Englishman who speaks it really well. Why, it is said that in Vienna even the common man speaks French better than the educated man in London."
Dudley: "That may well be. Your Highness should recall that Napoleon has not been twice in London to teach them."