Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Can Cameron's speech pull the Tories from the Euro swamp?

As David Cameron prepares to make what may be the most important speech of his political career it looks like the Conservative Party are marching back into the fetid political swamp that is Europe all over again. Margaret Thatcher, the Tories greatest twentieth century star (after Winston Churchill) was swallowed by this swamp as was her unlucky successor John Major. 

Now it seems David Cameron is being dragged under as Europhiles and Europhobes within his party have allowed their self-destructive impulses to resurface. This is hardly surprising given the dreadful state of the Euro and the European project generally in the post-2007 financial crisis era. Voters are increasingly wary of further involvement in a European Union that is prepared to beggar the people of Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland to save the ill-conceived vanity project that is the Euro. The rise and rise of UKIP in recent years  is a clear sign that a large section of the public want as little as possible to do with the continent, its open borders, austerity plans and loss of sovereignty. With UKIP actually ahead of the Tories in one recent ComRes poll for European elections old divisions within the Conservative Party have widened dramatically as members worry that UKIP will do to the party what the SDP did to Labour in the 1980s. 
Nigel Farage toasts the Euro quagmire

The prospect of splitting the Tory vote has actually increased splits within the party as those for and against Europe begin a fight to the death. In the meantime Labour and UKIP are quietly chuckling on the sidelines as Cameron tries to navigate a middle way between the warring factions in his party that will keep both sides happy. Whatever the speech contains it is most likely to spell the beginning of the end for the increasingly fragile ConDem alliance.

David McQueen
Programme Leader: Politics and Media

Post-Leveson Conference 8th February, Bournemouth University:


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