Friday, 6 November 2009

I Don't Like To Say...

...I told you so, but I will (because I do really). A few days ago I claimed that Cameron would actually benefit from Labour's EU stitch-up, especially after the unedifying spectacle of Brown and co. gloating horribly from the Labour benches during PMQs. Now the Spectator reveals in a poll that, sure enough, far from being harmed by the events surrounding the final ratification of Lisbon, people appreciate that none of this was his fault and that he is dealing with what is, in fact, an entirely new set of circumstances.
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:

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."

And so it continues. Sparkling stuff.


  1. Great post Denverthen. I think the only people who are really annoyed about not getting the referendum are those who wanted it to be an "in/out" question anyway.

    For the rest, I think everyone else makes up their minds on issues other than Europe, so the only real danger for David Cameron is that he looks as though he is talking what matters to voters - which so far he's shown no sign of doing.

  2. Yes indeed. Cameron and co. have a great deal of thinking to do - but there's little sign of that happening just now, as you say. But I firmly believe they have a majority of voters' good will on their side now, and rightly so.

    It might yet come down to an in or out issue whether anyone likes it or not. The French and German governments seem quite willing to back Britain into a corner on this, instead of doing what they should always have done, and accommodated the Anglo-Saxons as best they could.

    Do you know something, I reckon de Gaulle, far from being the severest critic of Britain so many here still believe he was, he might simply have understood what you alluded to in your first class post: that European integration is quite simply incompatible with the British body politic and psyche. I'm probably wrong - but it's an intriguing thought. It also says a heck of a lot about the (low) level of comprehension of the nation's character of just about every British leader since Heath. Curious.

  3. I don't know, what about Thatcher?...though the British psyche she was in touch with probably came from someone like Boudicca. And yes, the British mindset is totally at odds with the European federalists, because fundementally we don't like being told what we can and can't do by foreigners...our natural place is to be the ones giving the orders. The only reason the rest of the EU wants us in is because of the military protection we provide them all with and because we're the only country in the EU that influences every corner of the world. Do you think the chinese give a monkeys about upsetting the French or Germans? No chance...but they would be more careful around the British, even a skint, on it's arse Britain is something to be wary of diplomatically.

  4. " *Just about* every British leader", UB ;) Mrs T was the exception - but even she failed to hold back the EU storm surge in the end (and it cost her her job too, sadly).

    In other words, I agree with everything you say, natch!

  5. "Do you know something, I reckon de Gaulle, far from being the severest critic of Britain so many here still believe he was, he might simply have understood what you alluded to in your first class post: that European integration is quite simply incompatible with the British body politic and psyche."

    That's an intriguing idea but I can't quite bring myself to agree with it. I think, as you say, de Gaulle knew that Britain would likely prove a barrier to European integration and that it would resent attempts to enforce it, but equally I think he always resented us on a personal level due to the fact that he needed our help in 1940 to continue his fight against Nazism - he was a very proud man and it hurt. He should have blamed his own politicians and generals for that, who didn't listen in 1935 when he warned them of what would happen, but he didn't. Irrational, but understandable.

    " And yes, the British mindset is totally at odds with the European federalists, because fundementally we don't like being told what we can and can't do by foreigners"

    Uncle Bob - that is I would suggest, partly because it's a very long time since we've been militarily occupied by another power, whereas every other country in Europe bar Russia has been invaded and conquered at least once since 1789. The English Channel means we're out of practice at being ground underfoot!

    Hope you don't mind such a long comment Denverthen.

  6. Surely Labour benefitting from Cameron's E.U. announcement was never going to happen anyway? With the public becoming a little fed up with what they see as more promises broken on Europe, it is the more nationalist parties that were always going to benefit. demonstartes this with its latest poll - Tories down 2 and both UKIP and BNP up 1 each.

  7. HBW, I like good/fair comment no matter how long (or short it is). And that's a great/very fair comment.

    Anon, I didn't blog about that poll for two reasons: 1) It's most likely partly due to a belated reaction to the Griffin QT factor, among others factors, and 2) It's not a mainstream poll - it's done by a new company who would be the first to admit has an unsettled polling methodology. In addition, there was a YouGov poll the day before which showed a continuing, stable Tory lead.

    Besides, the poll in the Spectator to which I referred is far more reliable, targeted as it was to the EU issue. I therefore maintain that it proves my point in this blog.


Any thoughts?