He even got a spread in The Guardian. Yes, Young Dave had conquered that bastion of print media subversiveness. He’d jolly well shown those Labour and Lib Dem chaps just who was newsworthy. As elsewhere, everything was going so well, but then, with today’s edition, Dave discovered what Alastair Campbell could have told him long ago: The Guardian is nobody’s house journal.
For this morning, the headlines were not at all laudatory: the paper has rounded on Cameron for his proposal to have his MEPs leave the mainstream centre-right grouping (which includes Germany’s Christian Democrats, Angela Merkel’s party) and form a new grouping, which will include the Polish Law and Justice party, the Czech ODS, and perhaps even the Latvian Fatherland and Freedom party.
Who they? Law and Justice is fronted by the Kaczynski twins. They’ve banned gay rights marches and appear regularly on a Catholic radio station that allows anti-semitic broadcasts. ODS’ founder denies man made climate change. And Fatherland and Freedom has some members who commemorate the Waffen SS. But it could be worse: if Cameron’s MEPs were not part of any such grouping, they might have to sit with non-aligned members, like representatives of the French FN (prop. Jean-Marie le Pen).
Senior Tories are clearly not happy at the prospect. Chris Tugendhat, Chris Patten and Leon Brittan are among their number. Also not enamouring Young Dave to the grandees is his insistence in reopening (perhaps) the Lisbon Treaty negotiations, even if a future Tory Government comes to power after everyone else has ratified it. What this would achieve, other than to let Dave show these jolly ghastly foreigners who’s boss, is not clear. It would, however, be consistent with Cameron’s egging on of the wave of screaming Europhobia that allows parties like UKIP – that he has dismissed as “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists, mainly” – to not only flourish, but to be taken seriously, despite some of their MEPs falling by the wayside as a result of fraudulent behaviour, or disaffection.
Which leads back to a question that can be put directly: what is Cameron’s policy on the EU? He should not be allowed to retreat into that area where he can fend off requests for detail by saying he hasn’t “seen the books”: this does not apply. Some in his own party are becoming concerned with the apparent obsession with rightward drift over the EU. Moreover, it has to be said once more that neither Cameron, nor his spokesman in this area, William ‘Ague, appear prepared to even attempt to put the lid on the wave of Europhobia.
Who is actually driving the policy is not clear. Neither is its form, rationale or objective. That, for a party that would form the next Government, is not good enough.