Out there on the right, an increasing number of hacks and pundits are getting themselves rather excited on the issue of the EU – more excited, even, than usual. Because there is going to be a vote in the Commons on our membership. This will be so much easier for the assembled MPs as the question is multiple choice. But some are already smelling a rat.
The Maily Telegraph’s Christopher “No” Hope, another paid mercenary of no fixed hairstyle, has news from “Government sources”. It’s bad news, too: Tory MPs, so his “sources” tell, will be instructed to vote against going for a referendum on membership, and subject to a three-line whip. Hope paints a picture of rebellion against Young Dave among back-benchers.
Which only goes to show that Hope is lost when it comes to doing his sums. Even if half the Tory MPs were to rebel, most of the other half, and most Lib Dems, together with the Nationalists and some Northern Irish MPs, would more than cancel them out. Mil The Younger and the rest of the Parliamentary Labour Party could take the evening off.
This scenario, though, is not allowed to enter the world of the Telegraph punditerati, notably Benedict “famous last words” Brogan, who tells of “The slow implosion of the European project”. Indeed Ben, it’s so slow that you’ve been banging on about it for the last couple of years and it hasn’t happened yet. If I had a tenner for every time a Telegraph pundit made that prediction, I would now be filthy rich.
Even further out there in left field is Dan, Dan The Oratory Man, who kicks off his routinely dishonest rant by telling “Depending on how you measure it, between 50 and 84 per cent of our laws come from Brussels”. As I noted the other day, Dan and factual accuracy are only very occasional bedfellows: the latest study on the matter concludes that the figure is around 15%.
Hannan cannot get it into his head that telling whoppers – and of a kind that can easily be debunked – is not a good way to persuade voters of his case. But at least his invective stops short of abuse. No such restraint constrains the outpourings of James “saviour of Western civilisation” Delingpole, who has likened Cameron to Sailor Heath.
The torrent of abuse is as vicious as it is ineffective: Cameron is “pointless, spiteful, vindictive, bullying” says Del Boy, while satisfying all four criteria handsomely. Young Dave is denounced as the “Worst Tory Prime Minister in British history”. But then, Del sprays his credibility up the wall: “most talented up-and-coming Tory MPs ... Douglas Carswell ... Priti Patel”. Oh dear.
And that sums up the Telegraph punditerati: dishonest, clueless and abusive.