|In what must be the most desperately stretched analogy of all time - At some point in this post, I'm going to compare the EU referendum to a curry|
What is it about David Cameron that irks me so much? He's getting away with it - he's leading the population down the path to 'credible' alternative. He has the best strategists around him and every uncontentious step he takes edges him closer and closer to the finish line. All he has to do is offer something that kind of looks like it's what the people want - without waking them up to the reality of his proposal.
There was a brilliant observation made on the Leavehq.com site today - the kind of observation that Vote Lave and Leave.eu won't pick up on for some time knowing their run of form - and the observation goes like this (loosely paraphrased):
When looked at in the context of Britain's EU membership, Cameron's four demands seem innocuous. When looked at in the context of a revised EU, they are the four horsemen of the apocalypse for the UK. As the EU moves in to a new phase, if we follow David Cameron's approach, we stand to lose everything and gain nothing.
See here for the full post: http://www.leavehq.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=64
It's the kind of blog post that puts shivers down your spine and keeps you awake at night. A bucket of literary iced water tipped down your neck. If you read it and still cannot see the real danger of the PMs approach then you may want to give up chasing politics and put your feet up and read 'Ok' magazine instead (in the same way that during the three minute pre nuclear strike warning - I intend to steal a Masarati and take it to 180 down the M4 - to find some comforting joy before I'm vaporised).
On the face of it, it all seems so inoffensive. Bernard Jenkin stood in the House of Commons today and said 'Is that it?" ... like a luke warm cup of tea, or a drink of flat, room temperature lemonade, Cameron's proposals do not appear to excite or offend or animate or infuriate. If the EU referendum was supposed to be a firecracker vindaloo, the PM is trying his hardest to make it a korma (probably with a plain naan .. absolutely no lime pickle). The blander he can make it, the more chance he has of feeding it to people without any regurgitation.
You need to look carefully at the ingredients that Cameron is using:
- He wants Euro members to go ahead and create their superstate - yet he also wants respect for non Euro members.
- He wants a reduction of EU regulation on business
- An end to ever closer union
- Benefit restrictions for evil migrants.
Nobody but nobody can be truly happy with the languid pitch that he's tossed to Tusk yet Cameron's ploy is that the sop will be enough to neutralise critical thinking. My guess is that, in the long term - when the time suits the EU project, there will be another engineered EU reboot where these satellite members will be brought back in to line - and at that point, it will be as full members, lock stock and barrel.
So where are there glimmers of hope? Who is going to upset the apple cart?
The Leave campaign need to work hard to provide clear contrast to Mr Middleground and his halfhearted vision of Bland Britain. This recipe is hot and spicy and contains two key but complex ingredients:
1 - True democracy.
We don't go to town enough about erosion and abuse of our democratic freedoms. But rather than moan about it - fire up some passion and add a dash of meaning. My advice would be to use "The Harrogate Agenda" as the constitutional convention is likely to be a highly desired flavour.
2 - The road to freedom.
Nobody follows a man without a plan in to battle. Leadership demands vision if it's to command respect. If you don't have this on your menu, people will move in to eat elsewhere. Only the finest dining establishments will recognise Flexcit as the top ingredient here.
Right now, Cameron is telling us where 'he' intends to lead us - and the vacuum of leadership from Vote Leave and Leave.eu is giving him the credibility he needs to achieve his objective. Yet with the a subtle change in stance and use of the right tools, we could have the electorate asking him just why we need to go there. We just need to show the risk in his milk-warm (I'm running out of synonyms for tepid) approach to our nation's future (as highlighted by the Leavehq.com post above) and demonstrate the potential for top table representation and democratic accountability.
Failing that, our hope may fall to party in fighting. Much as I would love to see May or Johnson destabilise their own PM (and George Mandelborn for that matter), I don't really believe that they will be prepared to put their careers in jeopardy - even if it were for the sake of saving the nation from David Cameron renegotiating us in to obscurity.