Humor Magazine

"In, Out, In, Out, Shake It All About"

By Davidduff

Thus sayeth the lyric for that happy-clappy 'toon', "Do the Hokey Cokey".  It also might apply to the seemingly never-ending wrangles over our in/out membership of the EU.  My commenters, Richard, Paul and BOE are giving me grief over my view that it is now necessary to don the bio-chem suits and vote for 'Dim Dave' (or perhaps, 'Devious Dave') at the next election.  I fear they are allowing their disdain, verging on dislike, for Dave to cloud their judgment.

So let me begin by agreeing with their general opinion that Cameron is useless, devious, weak and untrustworthy.  Also, he's not much of a Tory!  However, none of that alters the facts of the current situation.

First Fact: A large swathe of the electorate either wants out of the EU or a very much looser connection.  Whether that "large swathe" actually constitutes a majority no-one knows and that state of ignorance will continue until a referendum is held.

Second Fact: However, it is a fact that Tory MPs have realised with a start that a dangerous part of that "large swathe" are prepared to ditch Tories and vote UKIP unless they see some change of direction from the government.

Third Fact:  The electorate knows now for an absolute fact that neither Labour nor the Lib-Dems will give them a referendum.  (Perhaps the best outcome from the debate on the Private Member's bill yesterday was that it confirmed Lib-Dem intransigence and pinned Labour to the 'no referendum' ground, so hurrah to all those rebel Tories.) 

So, I ask my critics, if you are given a three-way bet in which the odds are respectively zero, zero and 50/50, which bet would you take?  You will have noticed that I have not included the possibility of UKIP gaining any parliamentary seats because I simply do not believe they can do it - oh, alright then, maybe Farage could do better than he did last time against that ghastly little midget, Bercow, but that's all.

One crucial element is missing.  As Sherlock Holmes pointed out in a different circumstance, the interesting thing about the dog in the night was the fact that it failed to bark!  As James Forsyth reminds us in The Coffee House, so far Cameron has given no hint as to what outcome he is seeking in his forthcoming negotiations with Europe:

If you ask what’s the problem with David Cameron’s European strategy, a
cacophony of voices strike up. But it seems to me that most of their complaints
are tactical when the fundamental problem is strategic: what does Cameron
actually want back from Brussels? [My emphasis]

Some of those involved in preparation for the renegotiation tell me that this
is the wrong question to ask, that what Cameron is seeking is a systemic change
in the way the European Union works. But I’m still unclear on what their
strategy for achieving this is.

Of course, it is not unreasonable to hold back on the exact details of your negotiating aim.  The Eurocrats will be all too eager to humiliate any British prime minister by sending him home with 'a piece of paper' to wave at the airport - there's precedent for that!  But Forsyth hints that detail is not something No.10 dwells upon.  The way they were bounced into agreeing (sort of) with their rebel MPs at the very last minute is not an indication of a man in command and control of events.  I'm not saying for absolute certainty that Cameron (or whoever leads the Tory party!) will stick by his promise but as it stands today that is the best offer on the table.  Actually, I think it would now be hideously difficult for any Tory leader to rat on that promise.

All of which leads me up to what will happen if we do get a referendum.  For sure, the EU leaders will be aware of the referendum sword pointing in the middle of Dave's back and so they will be minded to give him just enough in the way of baubles, bangles and beads to help him win a vote.  With the combined forces of Brussels, a Tory government, Labour and Lib-Dems, the TUC and Big Business, I think UKIP and the rump of the Tory party will find it hard going to achieve an 'Out' vote.  Our main hope must continue to lie in the chances, between now and 2017, of the EU self-destructing in some way.  In that case, all the cards would be thown up in the air to fall where they may.

In the meantime, my recommendation is to vote Tory at the next election.  Half a chance is better than no chance! 


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