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Thursday 24 January 2013

Cameron Gets Grovelling Press

[Update at end of post]

Young Dave finally delivered his jolly good speech on the relationship between the UK and the EU yesterday morning. So today has come the reaction, with the usual suspects in the Fourth Estate queuing up to fawn and grovel at the PM’s feet. For some, mere praise was not enough: Simon “Enoch was right” Heffer even went through the text point by point to provide a biblical reinterpretation.

And, while the Hefferlump was telling Mail readers what Cameron really meant, as if he had just had his first contact with the scriptures, Marx or Keynes, his fellow pundit Max “Hitler” Hastings told thatHe fulfilled the foremost duty of a Prime Minister by articulating every anxiety felt by his people about Europe”. How Max knows this when he can’t be arsed listening to anyone else is unclear.

The mood was, by sheer coincidence you understand, more or less identical at the Maily Telegraph, where an editorial proclaimed “At last, voters are trusted to choose Britain’s future”. Like we are every time there is a General or European election, then. Cameron was “promising them something they have long wanted, but have not been given since 1975”, so more projection and invention from the Tel.

And it’s the same at the Murdoch Sun, where political editor Tom Newton Dunn assertsIt will be the first chance an unhappy nation will have to make its voice heard on the EU in 38 years”, while not noticing that a referendum would come in 2017, which is 42 years since the last one. And his projected unhappiness will be as nothing to what will happen when businesses start moving abroad.

The pro-Cameron mood was underscored by The Sun Says, frothingMr Cameron, by contrast, said the people must decide ... He wants to slash Brussels interference and put bossy bureaucrats back in their box ... Only this week the EU unveiled Big Brother plans to slap new controls on the media”, so a dose of straightforward dishonesty as well, just to keep the plebs in line.

It was left to Peter Oborne, the bloke who the right-wingers loved when he went after Tone and Pa Broon but would now rather he didn’t speak out of turn now they have their hands on the levers of power, to inject a dose of reality into proceedings. Cameron, he observed, was in a situation rather like that faced by Harold Wilson in the 70s, who offered a referendum mainly to hold the Labour Party together.

From the point Wilson decided to lead the Yes campaign, Labour was split. The fallout led directly to the secession of the “Gang Of Four”, the party lurched to the left, and until “Shagger” Major suffered his own split and Tone arrived, was not considered fit to govern by those who matter – the voters. That is the real prospect awaiting Cameron, no matter how much his speech is talked up.

And that’s a prospect some editors and pundits can’t get their heads around.

[UPDATE 26 January 1545 hours: two days later than everyone else, Dominic Sandbrook has also latched on to the Harold Wilson parallel highlighted by Peter Oborne, telling readers "Beware the ghost of slippery Harold". Sandbrook trowels on the less than comprehensive renegotiation of the UK's terms of accession to the then EEC, but this is well known. He also talks about Wilson being a supreme tactician, which is also true, but fails to see the obvious comparison to Cameron.

And that is down to the fractious nature of Labour then, and the Tories now. All the long-term vision and tacking to some supposed "national interest" (as defined by Daily Mail pundits in the retelling, no doubt) would have counted for nothing if there had been political instability caused by the break-up of one major party and a realignment which would have affected everyone else.

Then Sandbrook observes "the last thing we need is a second Harold Wilson". His recall clearly does not extend to remembering that Wilson kept the UK out of Vietnam, despite the urging otherwise by one of the most persuasive US Presidents in history. Wilson's successors have not fared so well at resisting temptation when it comes to military adventures.

Sandbrook fails to offer any credible alternative prospectus: what would he do to stop the Tory Party breaking apart over this issue? Young Dave has, as party leader, a responsibility to at least try and hold it all together. That the Tory Party is in such a state is not wholly of his doing, and Sandbrook's newspaper would be equally ready to play the other side of the field if Cameron let it fall apart over the same issue that did for Margaret Thatcher and her next three successors]

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