Today David Cameron is going to explain plausibly, reasonably and, for all I know, convincingly just why it is that he has no option other than to welsh on his promise to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. And lots of clever commentators will pile in, as the imminent Lord Finkelstein has already with his characteristic wit, charm and insight, to confirm that, no really, Dave Cameron is as rabidly Eurosceptical as any of us, but that he is also a pragmatist; and that what you have to understand is blah, blah, blahdiblah di blah.
And do you know what? I do not ****ing care. And I’m guessing that an awful lot of you reading this – those that aren’t still drinking the Cameroon Kool-Aid and repeating your consoling mantra about how “look, the important thing is to get Brown out, anything else is just icing on the cake…” – feel exactly the same way.
Is this a childish response? Quite possibly. But what it is, more importantly, is an honest and visceral response. This is the glory of the blogosphere. You don’t have to dress up your argument in supersubtle nuance. You can just cut to the chase and tell it like it is: the European Constitution has stolen British sovereignty; it will make us poorer, more highly regulated, less democratically accountable and less free. You cannot run an effective Conservative government within a Socialist Europe. You can’t. It is simply not possible.
Yeah, sure. If I sat down at a table right now with a bunch of lawyers, and wonks from Policy Exchange, and members of Cameron’s shadow cabinet, I’m quite sure that within the hour I would be won over. “Dear boy,” they’d persuade me in that wonderfully patronising mandarin way, “Of course we feel your pain and your rage. Everything you say is quite true. But in the real world….”
Ah yes, of course. That old saw about politics being the “art of the possible” – the weasel get-out of compromised politicians everywhere. Well I’m sorry, but that to me is not the language of realism. It’s the language of surrender and failure.
The reason I’m interested in politics is because I’m ideological. The reason I’m ideological is because I’m interested in what’s right and what’s wrong, what works and what doesn’t, what ultimately is going to make us all happier, richer and more free.
I still don’t see Cameron’s Pragmatic, Compassionate, but not that Conservative Conservatives offering us any of those things. (Obviously Blair/Brown’s mob didn’t either, but a) one never expected it of them and b) they’re really not worth writing about any more because they are toast). And their nuanced position on Europe – negotiating various opt-outs in certain key areas – is a case in point.
Not only is this mere tinkering at the margins (I notice for example, that they’re not even thinking about trying to extricate us from Europe’s crippling carbon regulations) but it’s most unlikely to work. As David Davis rightly (and rather bravely, given Cameron’s Stalinist line on dissent) argues in the Mail today, the EU “engrenage” machine is grindingly effective at crushing all attempts by constituent members who want to claw back tiny gobbets of sovereignty.
The Europeans are past masters at the permanent negotiation that makes up the federal project. They know all the tricks of isolation, pressure, delay, coalition, vague language, and institutional and judicial expansion.
Here’s the bottom line: until the day when, by whatever means, we can renegotiate our position in Europe so that it is little more than a friendly trading bloc, Britain is screwed.
If Cameron doesn’t understand this – and act upon it – then let us pray he’s replaced sooner rather than later by a leader who does.