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EU politics: Cameron – stale and out of touch

Richard North, 04/01/2013  


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David Cameron was doing his silly little dance again today – that "dance of the seven veils" where he talks about "Europe" (meaning the European Union, but he's a bit thick), but won't tell us precisely what he intends to do.

He promises in that oh-so-patronising way of his to give us "a real choice" over relations with Europe, but then, twitching a strategically-placed veil, he tells us that we will have to wait until his speech later this month to see if an "in-out" referendum is on the cards.

Something of the direction of travel is nevertheless evident from the discourse, which took place on BBC Radio 5 Live earlier today. Then, he said it was "perfectly reasonable" that as the EU had asked for treaty changes to make the single currency work effectively, so it was right that the UK could ask for changes in its relationship with the EU.

Lodged in his brain, therefore, is the renegotiation scenario. The man is still convinced that he can hijack an IGC and impose his agenda on it, asking the "colleagues" to unravel the treaty just for the benefit of the United Kingdom.

This, Cameron evidently believes, "will demonstrate very clearly that it is the Conservative party at the next election that will be offering people a real change in terms of Europe and a real choice about that change", then conceding that any renegotiation would be "tough".

Pursuing his usual line, he then says that it is not in Britain's national interest to withdraw and no longer be "round the table writing the rules", adding: "I don't think it's right to aim for a status like Norway or Switzerland where basically you have to obey all the rules of the single market but you don't have a say over what they are".

So here we go again, the same old discredited "fax law" meme, with the prime minister not having changed his position one iota from when he last offered this canard last month (other than, mysteriously, to add Switzerland to his list).

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What we now see though is that this is morphing into a "top table syndrome", where Cameron, afflicted by delusions of grandeur, appears to show that his main concern is to sit at the banqueting table with the "colleagues", rather than seek a sensible solution to the EU question.

This simply isn't good enough, and it provides further evidence that David Cameron is both badly advised, and out of touch. In this internet age, you have to be faster on your feet and more responsive to public opinion, which is often better informed than the wonks in the Westminster bubble.

The "lack of influence" lie has now been thorougly discredited and, although only a small number of blogs have taken part in the exercise, our combined readership is well over 100,000 a month. We have lodged our rebuttals in multiple posts, the latest coming from Witterings from Witney.

These posts are permanently on the internet as searchable assets and, if Mr Cameron persists in asserting that which is patently untrue, he risks looking flat-footed and even stupid – at best. At worst, he stands charged, as WfW would have it, of being "disingenuous", a "liar" and "guilty of misleading the public".

He may get away with it for now, but this is going to be a long and bitter debate, and Cameron can ill afford to be caught out perpetrating untruths, as indeed he will be, again and again. Whether he is lying or just ill-advised makes no difference. The effect will be the same.

Before he delivers his speech in the next few weeks, therefore, he needs to move out of his comfort zone and realise that the politico-media bubble no longer holds the monopoly on the flow of information. Much of his audience is better informed than he is: Boiling Frog and Autonomous Mind are already on the case. If Cameron peddles rubbish, he will be called out, and very quickly indeed.

Much is at stake here, and Mr Cameron – rightly – believes that the contents of his forthcoming speech will have a significant effect on his electoral prospects. But if he treats us with the same disdain that he gives to the facts, the speech will backfire on him. It will do nothing but confirm that he is not to be trusted. Taking us for fools is no longer an option. He must up his game, or lose it. 

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