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Cranking up the rhetoric

Regular readers will have correctly fingered me as a supporter of Brexit on the forthcoming EU Referendum. I have reached this position not from a careful forensic analysis of the economic, political, security and innumerable other issues that we voters are being told we should be considering. Nor indeed from the standpoint of a diehard ‘Little Englander’ (i.e. all foreigners begin at Calais, Europe would be fine if only they all let the Brits run it properly for the good of everyone, which is never going to happen of course even though it’s true etc.).

I simply consider myself a fully-paid up member of the vast silent majority who live within 21st Century Western democracies and have become frustrated with, and distrustful of, their political masters and mistresses – indeed the entire political class and all those who sail with it –  – to the point where we now regard something like the UK’s Referendum on the EU as a golden opportunity to cock a snook at the lot of them, whatever the consequences.

Oh … and, of course, the ultimate goal of ridding the UK of the carbuncle of Scotland.

Having thus established my credentials, I am finding the Referendum campaign great fun in my capacity as a Rust pundit.

As things stand, as far as I can tell, the outcome of the Referendum remains too close to call. My natural cynicism still tends to begin from the conviction that no UK politician in his right mind – still less David Cameron – who was convinced that staying in the EU was in our best interests would ever promise his electorate a Referendum on the subject. Why on earth would any career politician ever take that risk?

UK politicians with pretensions to power spend their lives regarding the electorate as an inconvenient obstacle to be overcome every five years, after which they can get on with doing what they do best [joke!], i.e. running the country, spinning all events, favouring those to whom they owe favours, attending conferences on the world stage … just generally ignoring everyone’s best interests but their own.

Received opinion has it that Cameron only promised an EU Referendum because – as a perceived last ditch attempt to claw back the Election opinion polls and keep the Tory party in office – someone saw it as the best route to neutralise the UKIP threat to the natural Tory vote (a threat which in the event in fact never materialised, some might argue only because of a UK electoral system deliberately-skewed in favour of the three main parties).

In addition to the above, even once a decision to have an EU Referendum has been taken, I still believe that ‘the Establishment’ (or at least that part of it which believes in ‘Remain’) is quite capable of somehow ‘fixing’ the outcome of the Referendum. If you’re of the opinion that a decision like this is so vitally important to your nation, why wouldn’t you ‘fix’ the result? There’s no point in letting the average member of Joe Public have a say on something quite so important, or even paying any attention to his vote, even if he does have one. You might as well let the lunatics take over the asylum as do that.

To those who scoff at thoughts like these, I’d simply refer you to the ‘UK military coup that never was’, i.e. the infamous and much-fabled 1968 plot supposedly planned by a group of influential figures such as Cecil King, chairman of IPC and publisher of the Daily Mirror, his acolyte Hugh Cudlipp and Lord Mountbatten after a plethora of rumoured scare-stories began circulating about Soviet influence within the then Labour government of Harold Wilson.

Sometimes fact does indeed prove stranger than fiction.

referendum2Watching developments in the Referendum campaign yesterday, I still cannot believe how badly David Cameron is conducting his campaign and with such little consistency of approach.

If he truly believed – as he claimed in his morning speech yesterday at the British Museum – that it was absolutely essential for UK national security that we stayed in the EU [let’s leave aside for this purpose his since widely-mocked reference to WW1 cemeteries and threat of future war if we should vote to leave], then why are we having an EU Referendum at all?

Furthermore, if that really is his view, why did he then bother to spend nine months or more recently bowing, scraping and smooching around the EU’s capital cities trying with increasing desperation to supposedly renegotiate a new deal for the UK’s relationship with the EU – all the while threatening that if he didn’t get an acceptable one then he’d recommend that the UK left the EU when it came to the UK Referendum this summer?

Later, when he did eventually return with precious little from these exertions (certainly compared to that which he originally stated as his minimum list of requirements), why did he trumpet, in the style of Neville Chamberlain after Munich, that he’d secured a brilliant new deal, incorporating fundamental reform of the EU, which now enabled him to say conclusively that he could recommend to the British people that we stay in the EU?

Especially when, only ten days or so ago, he was stressing the importance of the UK remaining in the EU in order to have a seat at the table and influence decisions when important matters of European-wide consequence were being discussed [even though, and I believe this is true and not just ‘Vote Leave’ propaganda, it a fact that the UK has objected to – and subsequently been out-voted by the other 27 member countries upon – proposed EU laws/rules/regulations on 70 occasions out of 70 in the past five years].

This despite the fact that, if his own puffery was to be believed, he’d just negotiated a new deal for the UK which meant that we were never going any further that we already had down the road of further EU integration, the Eurozone, or any of the other madcap EU-centric ambitions with the rest of Europe was hell-bent upon pursuing.

None of this is remotely logical. Just who is he trying to kid?

I have seen and heard nothing in the last five years that shifts me from my view that David Cameron – the Tory equivalent of Tony Blair-lite – is a classic, to use the great TV political pundit Robin Day’s words “here today and, if I may say so, gone tomorrow politician …” who has already outstayed his welcome.

There is little less edifying to behold in this life than a second-rate politician desperately clinging to the wreckage and trying to hang on to power.

borisQuite by chance, later I caught about the final third of Boris Johnson’s ‘Vote Leave’ speech on BBC2, which eventually drew to a close about noon.

At least he had a twinkle in his eye as he made his various points and was relentlessly entertaining. If he carries on like this they should make him one of those people who occasionally guest-chair Have I Got News For You, or something …


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About Simon Campion-Brown

A former lecturer in politics at Keele University, Simon now lives in Oxfordshire. Married with two children, in 2007 he decided to monitor the Westminster village via newspaper and television and has never looked back. More Posts