If the Tory Party is to go into headless chicken mode over the EU, it is only fitting that its cheerleaders follow suit. And there are no greater cheerleaders than at the bear pit that is Telegraph blogs, where those scrabbling for attention have lost it rather more obviously, but with rather less style, than Young Dave and his jolly good chaps. It has provided excellent spectator sport.
Let’s just consider what has happened since Sunday, when I observed that the Tories had lost it over the Europe question yet again: Cameron, who is, by supreme irony, over in the USA going in to bat for the upcoming US-EU trade deal, has previously said any referendum bill is for the future. But he has now conceded one – but not the referendum itself – before the next General Election.
The thought enters that not even “Shagger” Major had to change tack so rapidly, and it was the same at the Tel. At first, there was no sign of panic as nominal Labour member Dan Hodges whined “Ed Miliband has just given the worst speech I've ever heard from a party leader. He's running out of time”. So Mil The Younger on his way out, eh? But the focus was about to shift elsewhere.
“The Tory party’s gone crazy over Europe, and it’s Cameron’s fault” was the message from Benedict “famous last words” Brogan, signalling the main event. There was a diversion attempt from Dan, Dan The Oratory Man, with “EU referendum: Now the pressure is on Labour”, but he was, as so often, talking out of the back of his neck. Hodges, for one, had got the message.
“Cameron's last-minute referendum Bill: the Government is in a shambles” he observed, suddenly forgetting about Miliband. But there was spin to apply for the most loyal and grovelling of right-wingers, such as the loathsome Toby Young, who proclaimed “Getting behind a referendum Bill is a smart move on Cameron's part”. Bullshit, Tobes. It’s called desperation, and by now everyone could smell it.
James Kirkup conceded this point, telling “David Cameron's draft law on an EU referendum is an admission of multiple failures”, which it was. Brogan joined the panicking hordes, with “David Cameron's vote plan fails to quell Tory Euro madness”. And Hodges took the biscuit, with “David Cameron has lost his mind: his Euro-dithering is on the edge of putting Ed Miliband in No 10”.
Yes, in the space of little more than a day, Mil The Younger had gone from no-hoper to potential Prime Minister, and all he’d done was send out for more popcorn. Anyone who still needs to know just what a shambles the Tory Party is in right now need look no further for an explanation: Telegraph blogs has served its purpose magnificently (for once).
And if the Tel’s Deputy Editor thinks the Tories are stuffed, they just might be.