David Cameron – Euro-sceptic or pragmatically nudging to No10?
But the state of play at the moment is that the Party will match Labour’s funding on the NHS, it will exceed Labour’s spending on the ‘green’ agenda to limit ‘global warming’, it will sustain discrimination against England in the legislature, it will continue to permit uncontrolled immigration from Eastern Europe, and it is not even ruling out tax rises.
No doubt David Cameron considers all of this to be strategically and politically necessary. One mustn’t alarm the voters; one mustn’t frighten them; one must be populist; bending with every wind; agreeing with every poll; like the true salesman and sophist, telling the electorate what one thinks they want to hear.
Yet there is one policy which has the potential to be explosive on a nuclear scale.
When David Cameron was interviewed by Andrew Marr yesterday, he confirmed his policy to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. Of course there were conditions, but, with the impasse caused by Ireland, it is not impossible that the ratification process might not be complete at the time of the next general election. And, in such circumstances, it is Mr Cameron’s pledge to give the British people a say on the issue, and to recommend a ‘No’ vote. Some time ago he said:
"Today, I will give this cast-iron guarantee: If I become PM a Conservative government will hold a referendum on any EU treaty that emerges from these negotiations."
There was nothing equivocal about this pledge; indeed, it is a reiteration of a William Hague’s previous announcement that he would ‘not let matters rest’. And the refrain only serves to strengthen the perception that an incoming Conservative government would be more eurosceptic than any we have had since the UK’s accession to the EEC. Mr Hagues recently said:
"Gordon Brown has no democratic or moral authority to sign Britain up to the renamed EU Constitution. This move is a total breach of trust with the British people and a flagrant breach of his solemn election promise to the British people."
If that's true now, it will still be true in May 2010.
Mr Cameron is focusing not only on disaffected Labour voters and disappointed Liberal Democrat voters, but also upon those Conservatives who have not voted Conservative since Maastricht; those who either vote UKIP or, more likely, do not vote at all. And he does not need to use the language of withdrawal to do this, but instead to articulate what type of relationship the UK will have the EU under his premiership.
And that is clearly one in which ‘ever closer union’ or integration by stealth can have no part. And, indeed, the principles of subsidiarity will be invoked, and sovereignty will be gradually regained area by area, just as it was ceded.
'Ever closer freedom' sounds like a slogan by which the next general election may indeed be won.