Conservative Intelligence

Conservative Intelligence

This site is currently down for maintenance and should be back soon.

Cameron Points Out That The European Emperor Has No Clothes, And Merkel Will Be Obliged To Recognise This Too

Last Updated: Friday, June 13th, 2014

David Cameron this week appealed in German to the Germans and in French to the French. He wrote (or to be more accurate, his staff drafted for him) a newspaper article in which he demolished the claim by members of the European Parliament that to make Jean-Claude Juncker the next President of the European Commission would be a democratic act.

For those of us who prefer to read Mr Cameron (or his staff) in English, the article can also be found in the Irish Times. Like almost all articles about Europe emanating from official sources, it cannot be commended for its scintillating use of language.

Statesmen often find it expedient to sound dull. But what Mr Cameron is doing is actually very interesting.

He has decided to appeal directly to the German and French publics. In his article he condemns the “back-room deal” done in Brussels to try to get Mr Juncker into a key job, and says that whoever gets the job should accept that “Europe’s needs may best be served by action at the national level”.

The Prime Minister dismisses the idea that just because Mr Juncker was the Spitzencandidat, or lead candidate, of the European People’s Party, which now has the largest number of MEPs, this somehow makes him the voters’ choice.

For as Mr Cameron points out: “Most Europeans did not vote in the European Parliament elections. Turnout declined in the majority of member states. Those who voted did so to choose their MEP, not the commission president. Mr Juncker did not stand anywhere and was not elected by anyone.”

The European emperor has no clothes. That is really what Mr Cameron is saying. He adds that this method of choosing the commission president  “was never ratified by national parliaments”.

The implications are clear: decisions in Europe should be taken by national leaders who are answerable to national parliaments. That is where the EU’s democratic legitimacy springs from. It is an alliance of nation states, each of which has its own democratic institutions. The EU is not, in itself, a democracy, and can never become one, for it lacks the demos which would be needed to create a democracy.

Mr Cameron is a professional, and by instinct an insider. He did not get where he is today by making inflammatory statements which would be regarded in official circles as the ravings of a demagogue. He has no desire to be written off as another Nigel Farage or Marine Le Pen.

But he does want very much to spike Mr Farage’s guns by showing that there is a decent, responsible form of British nationalism, which entails staying inside the EU (for we can never be indifferent to the balance of power on the European continent), while also ensuring that most of the big decisions about how we govern ourselves are decided at Westminster, by a government which the British people have the right every few years to boot out.

This form of politics would not have satisfied Enoch Powell, with his profound belief in the sovereignty of Parliament, and is anathema to those who believe in building a new state called Europe. But for very large numbers of voters in Germany and France as well as in the United Kingdom, it represents the right compromise.

In Germany, a new party, Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), gained seven per cent of the vote in the European elections. Its seven MEPs were on Thursday admitted to the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists, the group set up when British Tory MEPs withdrew from the European People’s Party, to which Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats still belong.

This transaction has been described as a blow to Cameron’s hopes of working with Merkel. But it might equally well be described as a warning to Merkel herself of the growing success and acceptability of respectable German Eurosceptics, as represented by AfD.

Opinion in Europe has moved against the creation of a single European state, and in favour of a reformed European Union of nation states.  Merkel, like Cameron, will be forced to recognise this fact, or will be humiliated by her domestic competitors.

By Andrew Gimson


Paul Goodman: The strength of the Conservative team, the weakness of the Labour team   “Put plainly, Labour’s Shadow Cabinet is very weak and the Conservative Cabinet itself rather strong.  How many members of the former do most voters recognise, Ed Miliband apart?  My guess is only one: Ed Balls.  That the only member of Miliband’s team familiar to the public is a man intimately associated with Gordon Brown (who re-emerged yesterday on characteristically grudge-packed form) is not a political plus.  Those who follow the news will know Harriet Harman.  Many of them will recognise Andy Burnham.  Some will be starting to place Tristram Hunt and Chuka Umunna and Rachel Reeves.  But to most people, Mary Creagh and Michael Dugher and Emma Reynolds won’t even be names.” Read more:

Iain Dale: Let’s send pro-reform, bone-dry Theresa Villiers to Brussels  “There is still much speculation about the identity of our next European Commissioner. Whoever it is is unlikely to be named until the identity of the new European Commission President is known. The British Government is very keen that whoever we choose as our commissioner should get one of the top economic portfolios. I am told by someone who knows about these things that this is far more likely to happen if we send another woman to Brussels. Here’s an idea: why not think about nominating Theresa Villiers for the role? She was an MEP for a number of years and knows the Brussels machine. She’s solid on reform, and dry as dust on economic issues. Just a thought.” Read more:

Chloe Smith: How to turn the Conservative Party into Generation Y’s natural home  “The best associations and campaign teams are already multi-generational.  My own chairman and his predecessor are both younger than me, while we canvass with a superb team including pensioners.  Labour’s boast after the local council results was of having the most activists; certainly, the traditional parties don’t get the same easy return in the polls from mere billboards and one charismatic man as UKIP has done, and so the street is the place to be for us in the next ten months.  Both online and offline are important and technology has an obvious and crucial role to play.”

Mohammed Amin: British values? Here are my suggestions – and a test of them   “It is critical that we do not define British values in a way that excludes people of particular religious faiths. In the spirit of Norman Tebbit’s cricket test, let me provide Mohammed Amin’s “David test”. I believe that you must be able to sign up to the list of British values regardless of whether you regard Michelangelo’s David as great art, or consider it to be a violation of the Fourth Commandment, or regard it as sacrilegious since Muslims consider David a prophet.” Read more:

Andrew Gimson: Team Osborne – feared, admired and sometimes enraging for other Conservatives   “Team Osborne inspires a mixture of fear, loathing, admiration and wariness. The conventional view (which I do not share) is that it is far more formidable than Team Cameron, which is widely regarded as inefficient and insufficiently political…The question of jobs arises almost at once in conversations about Osborne. Alan Clark’s Diaries remind one of the vast amount of time MPs devote to lusting after ministerial posts of pitiful insignificance: posts which they are in any case most unlikely to get. In the present Tory party, many backbenchers believe you have virtually no chance of reaching even the first rung on the ministerial ladder unless you are either a woman, a member of some minority, or a Friend of George.” Read more:

From the Conservative Intelligence member's site

Miliband’s Threat To Outside Earnings May Drive Tory Mps Over The Edge

Conservative MPs are capable of a wide range of emotions, encompassing the normal human set and then a few extras thrown in. Pride, injured pride, confidence, optimism, crushing depression, panic, fury, resentment, contentment, ambition, resignation, triumph and a host of others are within their repertoire. Even at the best of times, a healthy parliamentary party […]

Cameron Woos Mrs Rochester

“There’s no stunts or backroom deals, just a strong local candidate you can trust.” So wrote David Cameron in a letter sent this week to every voter in Rochester and Strood, where the next UKIP-engineered by-election is to take place towards the end of November.  At the end of it, he made the point again […]

To Respond To Defeat In Clacton, The Tories Will Need A Tougher Immigration Policy

Everyone expected the UKIP candidate, Douglas Carswell, to win in Clacton, but few people thought he would win by the enormous margin of 12,404 votes. An exceptionally rude kick has been administered to David Cameron. It is not much consolation for the Conservatives that a scarcely less rude kick has been administered to Ed Miliband […]

The Tories Leave Birmingham With A New-Found Confidence

No-one knew quite what to expect when the Conservative family gathered in Birmingham on Sunday. Mark Reckless had just delivered the second UKIP defection blow in as many months, and Brooks Newmark’s indiscretions were causing embarrassment (though less existential questions for the party). If anything, observers might have expected a depressed conference mood. Instead, though, […]

21 People To Watch As Next Week’s Conservative Conference Looms

1. Those two MP defectors to UKIP – if, of course, they exist at all.  If so, they will presumably turn up on Saturday evening.  If they don’t, the media will treat this as a further sign that the Party isn’t grown-up, since it talked but didn’t deliver.   2. George Osborne. The Conservative election […]

Will Cameron Go Fast And Slow On Devolution All-Around?

The Prime Minister announced this morning that more devolution for Scotland and reform elsewhere – specifically, action on English votes for English laws – will take place “in tandem” and “at the same pace”.  Draft legislation will be “published by January”. His statement opens up two possible outcomes. The first is that he pushes for […]

Whatever The Result, The Scottish Referendum Has Killed Blair’s Devolution Settlement

The Scottish referendum result is up in the air – polls swing from No to Yes and back again, all within the margin of error. The rush from Westminster to Scotland, not only of the party leaders but of scores of Labour MPs, demonstrates how seriously the prospect of a Yes result is being taken. […]

Two Conservative Scenarios If Scotland Votes Yes

Scenario One: David Cameron does not resign as Prime Minister (or as Conservative leader).  Nor does any member of the Cabinet other than Alistair Carmichael, the Liberal Democrat Scottish Secretary.  The Coalition hangs together.  The Conservative Parliamentary Party rallies round its leader. UKIP’s attempt to provoke an English nationalist backlash comes to nothing.  Perhaps unexpectedly, […]

Cameron’s Ability To Neutralise Opponents Is Brilliantly Illustrated By His Handling Of The New Surveillance Law

David Cameron will always do what the Establishment considers to be prudent.  The Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill, sprung upon the Cabinet on Thursday morning, is a case in point. Cameron has been told by the security services that these powers are needed. He has therefore set out to square Nick Clegg and Ed […]

Why Critical Headlines About Donor Dinners Raise A Smile In Downing Street

In politics, as with so many things, it’s tempting to judge a book by its cover. The personalities, the catchphrases, the emotional and cultural baggage carried by politicians and parties all compete for our attention. They’re important, of course, but they’re only one part of the political process. The showbiz elements often distract people from […]