Tuesday, 30 October 2012
At last the strange media fantasy of widespread Conservative Euroscepticism is being exploded. It goes at least all the way back to Maastricht, when the mostly thoughtful Labour opponents outnumbered by three to one the Conservative pantomime dames of both sexes. Guess which lot got on television, and has done so ever since. The Conservative Whip was withdrawn from eight for abstaining (a ninth resigned it in sympathy) when, officially instructed to abstain, 44 on the other side had voted against Major's increase in British contributions to the EU Budget. Again, guess which lot got airtime, and still does.
But as was pointed out on last night's Analysis, the United Kingdom is in fact more likely to leave the EU under a Labour Government than under a Conservative one. Just as well that there is going to be a three-term Labour Government soon enough, then. On a recent Any Questions, fully half of the panellists called for British withdrawal. One of them was Nigel Farage, and the other was Bob Crow. Farage has never appeared on a platform with a major Party Leader and he never will. But Crow's union still submits an affiliation fee to Labour every year only for the cheque to be returned uncashed, a situation unlikely to last much longer since Crow appeared on the platform from which Ed Miliband addressed this year's Durham Miners' Gala.
Ah, yes, "the Durham miners would never wear it." Those were the words in which the Attlee Government dismissed the plan for the nascent EU. No wonder that they were so devastated by the Prime Minister who signed the Single European Act. She was no Eurosceptic. Ed Balls is, though. Jon Cruddas is, too. More and more of them are, and many of the rest always were. You do know who kept Britain out of the euro, don't you? Maybe you don't. Can you name the last sitting Conservative MP to have called for British withdrawal? I can't. But a Labour one did so on Radio Four last night. Some of them have been doing so for decades. Although no one in the Blue Team-obsessed media has paid any attention. Until now, at any rate.
Labour has as good as promised a referendum on EU membership, and will do so explicitly in time for the next General Election. That has nothing to do with electioneering, because it is going to win anyway. There is a telling media blackout of this fact. Likewise, Labour is going to vote against the increase in the EU Budget, but all attention will be on three or four Conservative rebels. Even Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Teresa Gorman of the twenty-first century, is not that desperate to get onto Newsnight. Not that Newsnight will mind: this way, it gets to put on someone even more eccentric than he is. No platform, though, for serious opposition. Of course.