Wednesday 3 February 2016

The Cam Sham? Rule One Of Politics Is Never Trust A Tory

If Cameron was expecting favourable headlines this morning regarding his so-called negotiations then he will be sorely disappointed. Dubbed a "Cam sham" the tone of the coverage illustrated by the front pages above has been savage and rightly so. Cameron's so-called negotiations have been exposed for the nonsense they currently are.

As EUReferendum superbly dissects, despite Cameron's boast there are "substantial changes", there are no economic safeguards, no migrant safeguards, no end to "ever closer union" and no red card. Economic safeguards, ever closer union and red cards all require treaty change, a treaty which so far has every sign of having been put on hold. Cameron's migrant safeguards amount to little more than the UK having permission to ask the EU Commission for permission. I presume the Commission's permission will be delivered to Cameron "by fax".

Yet it could still get even worse for Cameron. Lost Leonardo notes that these non fundamental reforms "may not even be the end of Mr Cameron’s humiliation. The proposals now have to be assessed and picked over by the 27 other EU Member States, which may raise further objections in the upcoming European Council meeting, later this month".

Initially this leaves us rather optimistic that a referendum can be won. Without any kind of 'meaningful reform', and I use the term loosely, the polls have long suggested that the leavers will win.

But and there is a very significant but and it's one which leaves us distinctly uneasy. From experience and from studying the 1975 referendum there were certain expectations of Cameron's strategy. Substantial reform of course was never on the cards and so our anticipation of a deal was low, but delivered with plenty of spin.

In addition we expected plenty of theatre (preferably during late 2017 when the UK holds the rotating Presidency of the Council of Ministers), expectation management and the last minute reform rabbit out of the hat. All helped along by a "Pauline conversion" by the so-called right wing press such as the Mail who have always supported EU membership while not making it obvious. No where was this more apparent than over media reports of Cameron's phantom veto - which never happened.

We also have to consider that Cameron is being advised by the Civil Service, EU bureaucrats and other countries such as the United States, none of whom we should underestimate particularly as they all have vested interests in us staying in.

Yet despite that Cameron doesn't even seem to have managed to reach the very low bar he set himself, has left himself open to humiliation and instead of a last minute attempt at a big white rabbit has allowed the internet to have five months to completely ridicule his plans before a June referendum (if he is planning one).

Further concerns come to the fore when Boris Johnson, arch Europhile, suggests that "David Cameron 'made the best out of a bad job' as he refuses to praise EU deal".

Are we being played? Experience most certainly suggests we are. This appears too easy. Too good to be true. Is the ground being laid for something bigger.

Undoubtedly it could be that Cameron has made a complete pig's ear of this referendum and the negotiations. Cameron's form on the matter so far suggests this is perfectly possible.

Yet...we have to remember rule one of politics applies....never ever trust a Tory.