Monday, November 02, 2009
Cameron author of Tory Woe over EU Argues Shrewd Oborne Analysis
Excellent analysis in an article by Peter Oborne yesterday on Cameron and Europe. He locates the core of the problem with the Tory rank and file. For some reason they perceive Europe as the heart of darkness: a potential supranational dictatorship unlimited by democratic constraints. As they see it, this malign juggernaut- quite possibly the vehicle for revived German plans to dominiate Europe(Oh yes, Dennis Thatcher wasn't the only one to believe that), has to be stopped before this green and pleasant land is suborned and robbed of its identity. Halting the progress of the EU for them is a mission of Churchillian importance.
Mad, I know, but it's a political fact. Oborne claims Cameron used this misplaced sentiment to outflank David Davis in the contest most thought the former council estate Tory would win. In so doing, claims Oborne, it was Cameron who reopened the wound which had kept his party flatlining in the polls since the mid 1990s:
He[Cameron]could gather very little support and the contest looked like turning into a run-off between the two ambitious right-wingers, Liam Fox and David Davis. Suddenly, in a daring move, brilliantly advised by his ally Michael Gove, Cameron outflanked them both by making a promise his rivals felt unable to make. He promised to take the Tory party out of the EPP centrist coalition in the European Parliament, thus securing the support of core Eurosceptics including William Cash, Douglas Carswell and the talented MEP Dan Hannan. Had Cameron not formed this alliance with Tory Eurosceptics, he would never have become leader.
The consequences of abandoning the mainstream for the unwholesome Poles and Latvians have been plain to see in recent weeks. Oborne points to another 'concession' Cameron made to the sceptics, in his 'laborious' efforts to haul the Murdoch press on board.
This wooing was eased by a pledge from Cameron to the readers of the Sun that he would hold a referendum on the Lisbon treaty. "Today," wrote the Tory leader in September 2007 in an article he must bitterly regret, "I will give this cast-iron guarantee: if I become prime minister, a Conservative government will hold a referendum on any EU treaty that emerges from these negotiations." To dramatically emphasise the point, he wrote his personal signature at the bottom. "Small wonder that so many people don't believe a word politicians ever say," added Cameron, "if they break their promises so casually."
Indeed. We'll see what Cameron's own promise is worth when Vaclav Klaus finally signs the Lisbon Treaty. Oborne makes a final telling point. Kenneth Clarke has been brought in as a necessary heavyweight but is openly pro-EU- the reason why he isn't leader, say some- and is balanced by the formidable euro-sceptic William Hague, the shadow Foreign Secretary, who is the architect of the new non mainstream rightwing grouping. Like John Prescott for Blair, Hague delivers the party faithful for Cameron. But unlike Prescott, Hague is in the first division of politicians and, if things go pearshaped for Cameron in the difficult years which lie ahead, Hague is a genuine rival for the leadership. How Cameron reacts to his earlier promise when Klaus(picture top left) signs will be a first test of how Cameron will deal with a problem of his own making.
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