David Cameron will be thinking he has just about got away with his Europe fandango. MEP Daniel Hannan resigns from a job few knew he had … this is a low damage count.
Cameron may even be taking some comfort from the fact that the noisiest criticism of him appears to come from a Frenchman. Nothing like the Frogs to get the blue blood boiling.
But it would be a mistake. Because the comments of Pierre Lellouche, France’s Europe minister, will represent the view, more or less colourfully, of President Sarkozy. They represent also, at least in part, the views of other European leaders who have frankly been bemused by Cameron’s stance on Europe, most recently his outspoken efforts to undermine Tony Blair’s chances of becoming the first President of the European Council.
The charge Labour must make stick against successive Tory leaders is that in failing to settle the Europe issue within their ranks once and for all, and in forever being in thrall to Thatcherite Euroscepticism at its most extreme form, they have allowed division to create weakness which in turn has harmed their influence.
Cameron parades as an agent of change yet on this issue, the change has not even reached the cosmetic levels of his other changes.
This is less important in Opposition than in government, but if Cameron becomes PM, then the influence diminution becomes a real problem.
So, given how much of a Prime Minister’s work is tied up with Europe, it is worth taking a proper look at what Lellouche, like Cameron a conservative, has to say.
Cameron’s plans, outlined yesterday, are ‘pathetic.’ They will not succeed ‘for one minute.’
Easy to dismiss as the ramblings of a Frenchman. After all, the Tories will say over their steaks in their clubs, the Frogs have always been jealous of us ever since we saved them from the Nazis.
But Lellouche is a confirmed and committed Anglophile, one who goes on: ‘It’s just very sad to see Britain, so important in Europe, just cutting itself out from the rest and disappearing from the radar map … This is a culture of opposition … It is the result of a long period of opposition. I know they will come back but I hope the trip will be short. They are doing what they have done in the European Parliament. They have effectively castrated UK influence in the European Parliament.’ (This is a man charged with the art of diplomacy speaking here, not me).
He said he had told William Hague directly that their policy was one of marginalisation. Heavy stuff, and however much Hague says, as he did last night, that Lellouche does not speak for majority political opinion in Europe, I think he will find he does.
It is one more reason why, when Lellouche appears to be taking for granted the advent of a Tory government, the British public should continue to reflect on whether a weakened, marginalised, loathed Britain is what they really want to vote for.
It sounds ok after a few drinks, with a bit of xenophobia flowing. But in an ever more interdependent world, where the benefits of being in Europe far outweigh the disadvantages, it won’t be very funny if it happens.
Deep down, I think Cameron knows that. But with the still mad party he leads, he cannot work out how to make it any different.
If Europe is sooo democratic and such a lerverly institution – then how can it be advantageous to have a British President? What difference does it make? Are you saying there is undue influence, that decisions are made by cabal, by hat tips and nudges, by friendship rather than reason. Pray, oh sage of our time, how does one square that patent disregard for anything approaching good governance?
Move along, nothing to see…blah blah blah.
Pierre Lellouche … why can’t our ministers have names like that? Le Louche – would be great for sleaze headlines
It might help Cameron to have Hannan outside the tent. He is one of the few Tories outside the top team of three or four who seems able to generate publicity, but could become very irritating, and it maybe is better to have him outside, I don’t know. Reading your diaries I always felt eg Clare Short would have done you less damage as a carping critic on the outside – join the club – than a voice with seeming authority because Blair wanted to keep her in
Spot on that this goes back to Thatcher. Heath took us in and some have never forgiven him. But none have had the balls to stand up and say we should get out. So they pose and they pander and all the time they limit our ability to tailor change to suit our own interests. He is not a leader. He is someone who muddles through day to day, but sounds good doing it
@AC “….. the British public should continue to reflect on whether a weakened, marginalised, loathed Britain is what they really want to vote for.”
Labour have managed to achieve this already. Blair and Brown have ceded huge amounts of British Money and Power to Brussels, conveniently side stepping their own Manifesto pledge in the process.
We dont need an “Iron-Cast” Guarantee to know where the true blame for this fiasco lies.
What DC appears to have forgotten is that since 1964 European law has primacy…so he can pass as many sovereignty bills as he likes but in the end the will of Europe will prevail….However the main thing to remember is, if GB had held the referendum as promised we would not be in this mess as the great UK public would have voted no…..So Alastair..let the people speak!
Has anyone ever really expalined just why the Tories are so strung up on Europe? Yes all other parties have their concerns and members who hold strong views. However why is it such a Tory skeleton?
It cant be just the “little Englander” mentality.
If we were to withdraw completely, our only world leading industry is banking which in the state it is in now would soon be swallowed up by the French, Spanish, German or even Dubai. Isolation and sitting on the margins of Europe would see this country rapidly punching its own weight…..at feather weight.
The US would reveal its relationship is really only sentimental as we would have no influence and no levers to pull for them with the mainland.
Why dont they just decide to hold an internal referendum on Europe and the majority view wins the losers leave the party and fight on their own ticket?
@AC “…After all, the Tories will say over their steaks in their clubs…..”
Where are the stereotypical Labourites meanwhile? ‘living in t’paper bag at bottom of septic tank’?
You can take the man out of the Daily Mirror, but you can never…… Even the ghastly Maguire could do better than that!
After watching Cameron’s press conference yesterday I did wonder whether he is a)incredibly stupid b) incredibly naive or c)incredibly sly. Nothing he said he would do in the next parliament or the one after that he would actually be able to do. I’m not sure that any member of the EU wants a ‘federal’ Europe – all will put national interests over and above other those of other members. But we live in a globalised world so it makes sense to try to work together on those issues, surely? Know I’m preaching to the converted, but I worry soundbites go further than critical thinking…
Is it not more a case that Cameron is taking the myopic view because he wants to appeal to an increasingly more euro-sceptic British voting public and to hell with what France and Germany think?
To my mind he seems to be taking a leaf out of Henry VIII’s book in sticking his fingers up to European dominance in the hope of appealing to the great English sense of isolationist pride.
Unfortunately I’m not sure the voting public will see beyond the next election and to the consequences of Cameron’s EU policies. They, like he, will simply deal with that when it comes; first thing first, grab power and then deal with the fall out.
I’m sorry everyone. I can’t help but laugh. This whole sorry charade tells you everything you need to know about our next government.
1 Their leader, the Right Honourable Member for Witney, Oxon, does not control his party.
2 Wee Willy Hague is a juvenile, odious little twerp still trying to resurrect the only thing he understands – his ill-fated “Keep the Pound” election campaign in any way possible
3 The Tories are still largely frothing-mouthed Euro-sceptics with little else that interests them. Ref Daniel Hannan
4 The Right Honourable member for Witney, Oxon, has already shown the most heinous trait of all PM’s. Blaming the previous lot rather than accept his own stupidity.
5 To turn this into a “it’s all Labour’s fault” story, as Mr Coulson has done, much to the delight of the Right wing press, shows that his alleged super-human media control skills amount to nought more than doing deals with future proposed legislation. Hence Mr Murdoch Junior’s plans to destroy the BBC will be fully carried out by the Right Honourable member for Witney, Oxon in return for his media company’s support. Hence we will effectively be governed between 2010 and 2015 directly by Mr Murdoch Senior + Lord Ashcroft.
6 The Right-wing press – Mail, Graph + Murdoch group especially – must have some rather good deals in the bag with the Right Honourable member for Witney, Oxon based on their ignorance of just how weak the Right Honourable member for Witney, Oxon now looks.
7 The electorate (including the Right-wing blogosphere – although even Paul Staines has published condemning posts of the Tories today) are spectacularly naive to even countenance that the Right Honourable member for Witney, Oxon will do anything other than push an outdated, Thatcherite ideology propped up by the demands of Mr Murdoch, Mr Dacre and Mr Ashcroft that will take this country back 30 years and isolate us from the upper echelons of international decision making for ever at the same time as deepening an already cruel recession.
A teensy little thing like democracy never got it the way of a Labour career, did it?
Not just the way you shit on us over the Lisbon referendum [I would have voted yes, but you lot decided for me and I object to that], but the way you shits drove a scottish tank over our democratic rights and now we have Scottish, Welsh and NI MPs imposing Auld Enemy policies and Tartan Taxes onto only the English citizens in the UK.
McLabour are finished. You’re all arseholes.
Lellouche’s ramblings emphasise exactly why we should be allowed a referendum on Europe. Do we really want to hand over more control and be dictated to by people like Lellouche ?
I don’t think Lellouche could have done any better for the Tories. He seems to sum up all the British hate about Europe. He thinks there is only one way forward on Europe and that it is his (the political elite). He thinks that a constitution (because that is exactly what it is) can never be changed even if the people think it should be.
There is a very important place for the European Union but it has now become so distant to the views of the people of Europe that it has ceased to be democratically accountable. If the people get the decision wrong then they must vote again until they get it right.
The gravy train at Westminster is nothing compared to that of Brussels and Strasbourg. This needs to be stopped but I feel completely powerless to do anything about it. At least at Westminster the politicians have had to face up to their own troughing.
The European Union brings many advantages to all member states but it has many failings. It needs fundamental reform.
Gordon Brown signed the Lisbon Treaty in a quiet corner trying to hide the fact after failing to give the British people the only opportunity we could realistically have had to vote on it. He and Labour knew the vote would be a NO. They decided against a referendum on this basis alone. Shame on Blair, Brown you and the whole of Labour.
Compare and contrast:
“It is a good treaty for Britain
and for the new Europe.We will put it to the British people in a referendum
and campaign whole-heartedly for a ‘Yes’ vote”
Labour Manifesto 2005
“If the Lisbon Treaty is not yet in force at the time of the next general election, and a Conservative Government is elected, we would put the Treaty to a referendum of the British people, recommending a ‘no’ vote. If the British people rejected the Treaty, we would withdraw Britain’s ratification of it.
But if the Treaty is in force we will be in a different situation. In our view, then, political integration would have gone too far, the Treaty would lack democratic legitimacy in this country and we would not let matters rest there.”
(Conservative Party Policy pre-Euro elections)
Alistair – the more you attempt to point out Cameron’s failings the more you make me feel like supporting a political party for the first time in my life. Cameron appears to be doing exactly what he promised. Labour point to the change of the Treaty name from a constitutional one to another name as evidence that the promise does not apply. However the substance of the treaty is exactly the same and the effects as great. Why no referendum for us?
Far from being a problem for Cameron – this is starting to look like a vote winner to me.
As for the old barmy army of ‘pull us out’ – they have gone over to the bonkers UKIP. In the end UKIP look like they have done the Tories a favour…..
Alastair, this sort of stuff frogs… nazis.. it’s really beneath you. Cameron actually made quite an important speech yesterday with some quite big policy statements that you could have written about. Instead you sling some mud and innuendo.
many of your posts regret the lack of respect that people have for politicians and political discourse – but sometimes, you know, you contribute to that. Which is a shame. You should grow up.
(BTW – I actually like you!… keep up the blog, but you can do better than today’s post)
This was “Call me Dave’s” Clause 4 moment and he bottled it.
It’s as simple as that.
With Europe, the Tories remind me of those republicans who believe creationism should be taught in science class, that Obama was born in Kenya and/or his healthcare scheme is a plot to kill old people. Mention Europe and the Tories take complete leave of their senses, forget all common sense and pragmatism. Complete toddlers.
I know the Europhobic part of the electorate is counting on the Tories but the Tories are morally wrong to cater to them. This is bad for Britain in so many ways and Europe leaders are smart to make their impressions known before the next UK election.
I think the opportunity for Labour here is to show the Tories as just the same as they were in the nineties. Bill Cash is still there, Teresa Gorman and the others are now being played by Dan Hannan and Douglas Carswell, and the Referendum Party has been replaced by UKIP. Cameron is in the John Major position. I think if the parallel between then and now can be established in the public mind it could have a political effect much broader than on the issue of Europe alone.
No. He’s wrong, period. Being French has got nothing to do with it.
Labour promised a Referendum in it’s last Manifesto and blatently broke that commitment. It is Labour’s fault that Cameron has had to adjust Tory policy and it is Labour’s fault that Euroscepticsm has and will increase in the UK as a result.
The EU (and Labour and the LibDems) should realise that conniving to deny the British people their Democratic right to decide on the future of their country will not improve people’s attitude to the EU. The anger at Labour’s betrayal is widespread and won’t go away.
Alastair, I thought your french was better than that… what he said was pathétique ..which means sad not pathetic.!
Referenda always seem to me to be excuses for politicians lacking the bottle to take unpopular decisions and not willing to defend their views. I expect the people I elect to do what they think is right and allow themselves to stand up to public scrutiny. Why should we elect MPs and then expect to vote on the issues that they want to duck?