Friday 6 November 2009

The eternal sunshine of the sceptic mind

I think we can all agree that it has been a pretty good week for the Eurosceptic cause.

James Forsyth of The Spectator explains:

The main reason for this is that the Euro-sceptics are quietly confident. The overwhelming mood among those I have spoken to is that Cameron either has to get the powers back he said he would and show that his measure to prevent any further transfers of sovereignty are effective or there will have to be at some point after 2014 an in or out referendum.


You thought a thousand years of nationhood had been signed away.

And that David Cameron bottled out and decided he rather liked his blue and yellow flag cufflinks after all.

While Ken Clarke said he was quite happy to sign up to David Cameron's Sovereignty Bill - having assurances wouldn't do what it pretended to say on the tin.

And even though elections won't mean anything now in the administrative region of Euro-Britain, fierce anti-Europeans took a 'vow of silence on Europe' after deciding that perhaps the next General Election was much more important after all.

While there was only a minor embarassment for an over-excited Frenchman to cheer everyone up. (I see The Guardian is rightly going to address concerns about the crass use of "autism" as political critique, though I think it would be a fair defence for the newspaper, rather than the minister, to say that the comments were newsworthy, and should be reported accurately).

Minor setbacks, dear friend.

All remains in hand.

Now, I can hear a small objection.

Isn't it just two months since Daniel Hannan was "increasingly confident that Britain will get its referendum. I’m not in a position to explain why at this stage". But it seemed that all was in hand as long as we took Dan's word for it. (As John Rentoul and Oliver Kamm noted too, with courteous hat tips to Next Left).

So shouldn't there be at least a small inquest this weekend into the quality of the crystal ball reception before new declarations of "quiet confidence" about what might happen if all of their friends shut up for five years?

And if this were genuinely a question of existential national suicide and the death of democracy, isn't it - if you pardon my Fabianism - all a bit bloody gradualist?

So how do we solve the great mystery as to why those who want "out" are calling for a "renegotiation" to achieve a "fundamentally different" form of EU membership for Britain? Or why they now think its a question of "in or out" in several years time, preferring to postpone the argument, rather than make the case for "in or out" now.

As they quietly and confidently gear up for that final "in or out" battle - in perhaps as few as seven years time - I can't help but feeling that our sceptic friends seem somewhat less than quietly confident, in their preference to postpone the argument rather than fight it, that they would win the return fixture after all.

Still, forty years of hurt never stopped them dreaming, if they want a campaign song which they can hold until 2015.

And I suspect it may just have been a tougher week than they are letting on.

No comments: