Tuesday, 25 October 2011

The Tory Right to Capt. Cameron: "Boil Your Head, mate!"

The moment David Cameron decided to try to bully his MPs into not rebelling over Europe was the day this Tory lost any vestige of respect he’d had for the Prime Minister as a man or as a politician. Politically, it was an enormously sill thing to do, and, on a personal level, it was the act of a very petty man.

When your Prime Minister starts telling everyone – including the President of France – to shut up, rather than engage in debate, you know they’re in the process of losing the plot. Mrs. Thatcher argued – Cameron, like John Major and Ted Heath before him,  just throws hissy fits.

What’s so odd about his handling of Tory MPs is that the alternative tactics – a quiet word in the ear here, a bit of off-line bullying there, the standard mixture of threats and promises – has worked well until now: especially given that the Tories are in a coalition with the sorriest set of malign, incompetent pricks imaginable. But this time something made Cameron decide to escalate to DEFCON 3 when he could simply have let the rebels have their day in parliament, pointed out that the majority of his party had, unlike MPs from other parties, voted against a referendum of their own free will.

What a silly boy! With any luck, Tory right-wingers (well, patriots, actually) will now have the bit between their teeth. Because of the three-line whip local Tory activists – pretty much all of whom loathe everything about the EU – now know for certain that Cameron not only doesn’t share their instincts, he positively despises them (on the issue of Europe, this means he’s basically shouting at the majority of Britons to shut up).

During the 1991 general election I was producing a package with one of the BBC’s senior political correspondents, when he started sneering at the Tory Party’s ridiculous “Little Englander” attitudes to Europe. I asked him how membership of the EU benefitted the UK. He mumbled something about liking to holiday in France: I said it was unlikely that the French would close their borders to British tourists if we left the EU. He said our trade would drop: maybe, but there were plenty of other markets. We would, he said, get “left behind”. Behind what? Finally he said that we wouldn’t have so many nice French cheeses to choose from in Sainsbury’s. 

To give him his due, he then went red with embarrassment and burst into laughter. But his views pretty much summed up the basis of most liberal support for the EU – i.e. France is lovely and so civilised! It was at that moment I realised how weak, how farcically feeble, the arguments in favour of EU membership were.

I have no idea what the consequences of leaving the EU would be – nobody does. I don't even know what would happen if we simply told them to piss off on a regular basis (not much, is my guess). And I’m absolutely certain that the zealotry of our public officials when it comes to implementing silly EU directives and laws – which the rest of Europe blithely ignores – is mainly the result of unpleasant little nonentities exercising the smidgin of power they possess in order to make themselves feel significant. But I do know that when all three of our main political parties are united in refusing to countenance – or even discuss – the possibility of withdrawal, or  to ask the British people directly how they'd feel about the possibility, getting out would probably be a bloody good idea. 

Of course, it’s not going to happen, because “Europe” comes 16th on the list of voters’ concerns, and only three percent of them spontaneously mention it when discussed. But 96 MPs out of 317 refusing a three-line whip is serious stuff. It’s not exactly time for Cameron to retire to his study with a revolver and a glass of whisky – but maybe the next time his right-wing backbenchers want to freely discuss an issue of enormous concern to them and to many voters, he won’t make the mistake of treating them as if they were uppity oiks from the local state school.

Socialists aren’t the only ones who eventually tire of smug, privileged toffs deciding what's good for them. And we all know what can happen when a commanding officer loses the respect of his men.

Watch your back, Dave!


  1. I've finally found a blog post I was looking for - Damian Thompson in the Telegraph -http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/damianthompson/100104065/the-nasty-party-reveals-its-funny-bone/
    He quotes a Tory backbencher saying that Osborne and Cameron like to laugh at losers. And that's what went wrong with the three-line whip, I think - these two posh boys who have whizzed up the political greasy pole at breakneck speed see their own backbenchers as losers to be laughed at or ignored - well, they won't be laughing at them today, that's for sure!

  2. Defence Enthusiast27 October 2011 at 20:09

    Part 1

    P.J.O'Rourke once remarked about Obama that he seemed to be a nice young man, but like most young men he didn't seem to know what he was doing. Enter Mr. Cameron.

    He has just had a a jaunt down to Lockheed Martin UK, the US defence contractor, to announce a £1 Billion overhaul of the Warrior AIVF [Armoured Infantry Fighting Vehicle.] This is a decent piece of equipment for a change, but has not been modified for 20-years and has had three up-grades cancelled in the last 10-years. It was originally developed by Alvis Vickers who like everybody else were gobbled up by the incompetent BAeSystems. The good news is that BAe have not been awarded the contract.

    Then Mr Cameron goes and blows it all. He stated: " It's a £1 billion pound investment, 90% of the jobs and work are going to be done here in the UK. That's good for the economy, it's good for our Armed Forces but only possible because we made difficult decisions." [The latter referring to the recent deep defence cuts].

  3. Defence Enthusiast27 October 2011 at 20:11

    Part 2

    The defence budget is designed exclusively to provide our fighting forces with the best equipment and to give them the best chance to avoid death or maiming. It is not designed to create manufacturing jobs or generate political votes or provide PR opportunities. If it's so good for the Armed Forces why have they had to wait ten years and endure 20 deaths and many ghastly injuries because the vehicle was under-armoured before somebody got their ass in a sling? And we made cuts in A in order to improve B? It's not worth commenting on the inanity of this statement.

    But the PM has to tread softly in the EU these days. During our recent involvement in the bombing of Libya we had neither Harriers or aircraft carriers or surveillance capabilities [the Nimrod fleet is already lying with its back broken in a military scrap-yard]. Our Tornados and Typhoons had to use an Italian airbase and the Apache attack helicopter had to fly off the deck of the French carrier "Charles de Gaulle" and intelligence and targetting was controlled by the French Airforce. This punching above your weight business is a bit humiliating and will eventually lead to a bloody nose. It always does.

  4. Agree strongly about the real purpose of the defence budget - the first duty of a government is to protect us from foreign attack. The second is to protect us from our neighbours. Everything else is a "nice to have". The current government - and the last one - have been bloody useless at both. Increasing the Foreign Aid budget while running down the armed forcesstrikes me as immoral. Anyway, thanks for the facts - v. interesting!