|LBJ -You might not have liked his policies, he|
didn't succeed with everything, he made enemies -
but you took notice of him!
|Meanwhile in the UK this is how we make great|
|Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Ian Duncan Smith - three of the|
dissenters - or to use ther Garden of Eden analagy the snakes in the grass.
In the UK we don’t wield political muscle in the same way as our American cousins. In Parliament MPs address each other as “the Honourable Member” and strict rules of protocol, based upon history are observed. I’m not against that – indeed, I think it is vital otherwise the whole thing becomes a shouting match (it still does at Question Time! – see blog for 26th Feb 2016). But on this issue, which is critical to the future life of the nation, it is important that a spade is called a spade and that both the government and opposition act in the national good. To have wild cards in the form of political glory hunters like Boris Johnson muddying the picture is not good.
Now, at this point I have to declare an interest. Unlike many I am a committed Europhile so will vote with Cameron in the referendum. Having said that I am totally against the deal that Cameron has negotiated. We are a small nation that can no longer rely upon a great empire to support us; we have a common history and heritage with Europe and today’s world is a land of the big battalions – the USA, Russia, China, the Pacific rim – and our future lies in joint interests and joint action. I do not want the UK to be a European “special case” as Cameron has negotiated. I want us to be an equal and totally committed member of Europe, linked more closely, part of a United States of Europe, involved as a Euro using member not retaining the pound as our currency. What I don’t want is what we have had for the past three or so decades – certainly since the time of Thatcher, of being on the sidelines of Europe moaning and complaining rather than being committed and making our point positively and as part of the European “club”. So often I have reflected that the Germans and the French and others in mainland Europe must be heartily sick of us Brits – always negative and on the defensive, always wanting special treatment or complaining that it is “not fair”. It has made me embarrassed to be British when I have visited France or Germany or anywhere else in the EU. I know that I am out of step with the majority here – many of my desires are a complete anathema to the vast majority of the populace - so although I don’t like his watered down European deal of Cameron’s as there is no other option on the table I will take it. The alternative of leaving Europe does not bear scrutiny so far as I am concerned.
|Even the high Tory joirnal The Spectator is on the|
Tory civil war bandwagon
This is the sort of situation where President Lyndon Johnson would have cracked the whip, banged political heads together, made offers that could not be refused, taken politicians into dark corners to ensure their obedience but not Cameron. Such are the strong opinions, prejudices and delicate balances within the Tory party and such is his own relative weakness on this issue that the best Cameron could muster in response to the Mayor of London’s disloyal announcement last week was: “My good chum is wrong on this......” . Well, there we go then, I bet that really spooked the Boris the Buffoon and forced him to think again! This is the old boys club at work; both Cameron and Johnson were pupils together at Eton and members of the infamous Bullingdon Club for rich young men while at Oxford University and when I hear this sort of thing I wonder are we well served as a nation by having this little chummy elite group in charge of our future. Cameron, Johnson and all the rest in the Tory hierarchy all have form – they went to school together, socialise together, are members of the same London gentlemen's clubs, are often distantly related and move in the same elite business and social circles; they are all in each other’s pockets – how can you easily wield the political knife to the friend that you are having dinner with tomorrow night? How can you say what has to be said in the media and in so doing potentially end the political career of someone who you were at school with and who you holiday with? It all makes for weak politics and that can’t be good.
So, since Cameron was unwilling or unable to wield the political knife or to beat Boris Johnson into submission, as LBJ would have done, it was no surprise whatsoever that other dissenters have crawled out of the political woodwork to voice their disloyalty and come out directly against the government. Like hounds chasing the fox they smell blood; Cameron is on the back foot. Cameron’s Justice Minister Michael Gove has announced that the deal done in Brussels might not even be legally binding. Then another senior figure Ian Duncan Smith announced that Cameron’s claims that his EU deal would secure our borders from potential terrorists was untrue and that it would, in fact, make it easier for extreme groups to infiltrate the country. Former Tory leader Michael Howard then weighed in to voice his disapproval of the deal and his opposition to it...........and so the list goes on.
|If the dissenters have their way we will be|
airbrushed out of history - a small island
adrift in a very choppy sea
It is a nonsense – so much so that the tabloid papers have said it all in their headlines “All out civil war in the Tory party”. So on this matter of national importance, the rest of us have to watch and wait while the oddballs, the many Colonel Blimps in the Tory party, the mindless right and the purely nutty and all the have their moment of glory, their fifteen minutes of fame. One only needs to look at the list of “outers” and it is frightening – there is a clear shortage of brain cells amongst them. Being charitable some, like Boris Johnson are “chancers”, out for their own aggrandisement (Johnson hopes to one day be PM and sees himself in this role if the referendum votes for leaving the EU). Others, like Peter Bone or Michael Gove are people who are still living in a time warp when England ruled the waves and we still had our jolly old Empire to shore us up. And yet others, for example, Ian Duncan Smith or Michael Howard are simply one sandwich short of a picnic, intellectually challenged, dim - poor rich boys who have got to their position in the Tory hierarchy purely and simply via the old boy network; people who would have huge difficulties in holding any sort of real job down. And, these are only the big names – beneath them there are scores of ordinary MPs and the like who have registered their dissent.
Don’t get me wrong, I know that my commitment to Europe is at the far end of the spectrum. I am well aware that many in the electorate very reasonably hold very different views to my own – and their votes may well carry the day for them in the June referendum. I won’t like that but that is the nature of democracy. But, it cannot be right that when a government decides upon a policy which, they believe, is in the national interest and they put that policy to the nation for approval via a referendum that senior members of that very government act disloyally and actively set out to confuse the electorate and scupper the government’s own plans. For the UK it is far too important a decision to be messed up; indeed Cameron himself says this – calling it “the most important decision of our generation and perhaps for the future generation”. If this is true – and I believe that it is – then it is critical that the case is presented by the government clearly and unambiguously; not muddied by this sideshow of senior members of the government singing a different song. Other political parties (for example, UKIP who have a perfectly legitimate anti-European standpoint) are quite free and correct in presenting the opposite view to Cameron’s and to my own. This is democracy – but to have people within the same party actively contradicting and weakening the government on such an important issue is a nonsense – it is unacceptable.
In President Johnson’s country, the USA, I think that the indigenous Indian peoples had a very apposite description for those who act like the Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and the other Tory dissenters – people who act deceitfully, taking one position (i.e. are government members ) but say something else (dissent from government policy). The Indians say that that “they speak with a forked tongue”..... they are snake-like. And, like the snake in the story of Adam and Eve, they are not to be trusted, they are devious, unreliable, dishonest, treacherous. Indeed, I’m sure that David Cameron feels that they have been treacherous – even though he might not say it. Just as the Garden of Eden’s serpent whispered things in the ear of Eve and her husband so these Tory rebels are doing the same to the electorate. Of course, we know that it all went very badly wrong for poor Adam and Eve – and we, the nation’s voters together with David Cameron, might find that this European issue all ends in tears, too, if this Tory fiasco continues. And if it does go badly wrong David Cameron, through his lack of strong action, will bear a huge responsibility – and we as a nation, like Adam and Eve will find ourselves cast out – out of the EU; little people adrift in a sea of very large sharks. Oh, for an LBJ to sort these dissenters out: cut them off at the knees, make them an offer they can’t refuse, take them into a dark corner and convince them of the error of their ways. If LBJ were around today I suspect he might shake his head in disbelief at the in-fighting within the Tory party. He would, I am sure, have some pithy comments about those in power at Westminster. Maybe he would have amended another of his famous quotes to include the Tory party: “The
Organization of American States Tory Party couldn't pour piss out of a boot if the instructions were written on the heel”! Absolutely – couldn’t have said it better myself.