The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

Is Cameron Brave/Stupid Enough?

Posted by The Futility Monster on October 5, 2009 @ 08:11

The steely glare of Britain's future PM. The last part of that makes sense, but the first part doesn't.

The steely glare of Britain's future PM. The last part of that makes sense, but the first part doesn't.

Everyone likes to talk in terms of what will Cameron’s “Clause IV” moment be. (For the uninitiated, “Clause IV” is a reference to Tony Blair’s removal of clause 4 of the Labour constitution, which committed the party to nationalised industry)

Of course, there is no reason why Cameron has to have such a moment at all. A moment when he takes on his own party and wins in a symbolic demonstration of his leadership.

I mean, why should he? He is, after all, extremely solid in his position. His party are happy with him. He has stonking great opinion poll leads. Why rock the boat?

But most people seem to think the Clause IV moment will come via taking on his party over Europe. By finally demonstrating to those eurosceptic dinosaurs that they are not going to split the party asunder any more.

There’s only one problem with this analysis: there are no Europhiles left in the Tory party. I know a couple who defected to the Lib Dems. Others have softened their stance for the sake of convenience. While others have learned to accept that they are in the minority, have learned the lesson of the Major years, and are going to leave well alone.

So if there are no Europhiles, the party cannot be split. And even if there are enough to cause some noise, their rump-like status is not going to be a problem. At all. They are easily dismissed.

Cameron is a staunch Eurosceptic. That much we know. It was his only policy during the Conservative leadership campaign… one that he even carried out eventually by pulling out of the major party grouping in the European Parliament. Quite a principled stance too, as it has doubtless severely reduced their influence in the EU.

But not only that, Cameron is surrounded by a team of strident Europhobes too. William Hague, Liam Fox, Oliver Letwin, Nick Herbert, Mark Francois, Grant Shapps… the list goes on. Indeed, it’s about as Eurosceptic now as it was when Iain Duncan Smith appointed his shadow cabinet stuffed to the brim with ’em.

In other words, there is no danger of there being a high-level, high-profile split within the shadow Cabinet over Europe. Nevertheless, there remains the thorny issue of what to do over the Lisbon Treaty.

Just like children, political parties like to test their betters. They will push the line as hard as they can to see what they can get away with. They will test, prod and poke… even a little movement in their direction is good…

And that’s what we’re seeing this week: an attempt to get Cameron to commit to a referendum under any circumstances.

I’m certain Cameron wants to agree with them. Such a move would be in tune with his beliefs, and would resonate extremely well with the public.

But at the same time, he would be stupid to cultivate an impression of giving and giving to the Eurosceptics, who have, unfortunately, been allowed to set the media agenda on this issue. It doesn’t have the look of a leader. It undermines his authority to keep allowing himself to be distracted from much more pressing issues. You know, like winning an election, and then governing the country.

So is he brave enough instead to re-seize the media narrative?

Yes he is.

And he will do it in a way that shows his party are not going to be allowed to dictate to him – to demonstrate that he is in control and will do things his way, on his terms.

That’s what’s worked up till now. He would be foolish to abandon it.

And this is how. Same subject: different, stronger, emphasis. A stamp of authority. And just as Eurosceptic as ever.

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