The real swivel-eyed loons
This Lord Feldman thing is an irritating and distracting side-show. Of course there are some very, very senior 'professional' politicians who believe the wider Conservative Party membership are 'mad, swivel-eyed loons': that is surely nothing new. It is certainly nothing new to many senior party volunteers who are not infrequently taken into the confidences of senior politicians in a back-slapping, pally kind of way, over a pint or five in the Stranger's Bar, and with a wink and a glint in the eye told precisely what 'senior MPs' and CCHQ really think about party members. We've had a constant but consistent refrain over recent years: from ‘dinosaurs’ to ‘backwoodsmen’ to ‘Turnip Taliban’ to 'swivel-eyed loons'..
But the real swivel-eyed loons are those who assassinate the party leader and persist with their deranged euromania. Take poor Geoffrey Howe. Not content with knifing one prime minister over her increasing euroscepticism, he has now turned on David Cameron for having the audacity to offer Parliament an EU Referendum Bill. And Howe's article in The Guardian (where else?) has all the grubby hallmarks of his notorious assassination of Margaret Thatcher in the House of Commons. Perhaps he was irked by Lord Lawson's reasoned EU intervention. Perhaps he felt he couldn't let so many swivel-eyed ex-chancellors infect the political discourse with their malignant europhobia. Whatever the impetus, this is how he now speaks of David Cameron and the Conservative Parliamentary Party:
..almost farcical.. saga.. looks more like the politics of the French Fourth Republic than the serious practice of government.. the prime minister has opened a Pandora's box politically.. seems to be losing control of his party.. running scared of its own backbenchers.. allowed deep anti-Europeanism to infect the very soul of the party.. the UK needs the (European) union as the platform and vehicle by which to influence events and policy in many spheres.. leaving the union would, by contrast, in my view, be a tragic expression of our shrinking influence and role in the world.. Much of our inward investment also depends on easy access to the £11tn EU economy.. the Conservative party's long, nervous breakdown over Europe continues.. Serious mistakes have been made.. What is needed is a mixture of clear thinking, strong leadership and an overriding concern for the national interest, not party management or advantage.. the Conservative party is losing its head.. a heavy responsibility now rests with Labour and the Liberal Democrats to hold their nerve.. In the complex and interdependent world we inhabit today, to walk away from the European Union into the unknown would be a very dangerous choice indeed.
Who, pray, are the real swivel-eyed loons?