Today David Cameron announced that the UK will be allowed to vote in a referendum on membership of the European Union, if, and here is the clincher, if the Conservatives win the next election.
It is 2 years to the next election. The Conservatives are in power only because they are in coalition with the Liberal Democrats. The Lib Dems are pro Europe, and the Conservatives are afraid that this makes them look weak.
On the far right the lunatic fringe is gaining ground. The UK Independence Party, who are basically a domesticated strain of the National Front, are making gains at the expense of the Conservatives. Cameron is running scared from the UKIP. He has to look strong. He has to look British. He is trying to personify the spirit of “St George and England” by adopting what LOOKS like an anti-Euro stance.
I have to say, as political gambits go, this looks like a good one. It looks strong. It looks determined. It looks downright British. In fact it is just about as British as St George, who was an Anatolian who joined the Eastern Roman Empire as a Soldier. You could call him a Roman, you could call him a Greek. He had more in common with Palestinians than with British. Just like David Cameron, the British anti-European neo-splendid isolationist, St George is a phantasm.
Cameron is gambling. He is gambling with stability, with business confidence, with the ability to plan long term. If he wins the Tories gain power alone for a term. Cameron could be the next Margaret Thatcher. Now, if only he could kick off another war in the Falklands, and a decade of violence in Northern Ireland he could become the new Iron Lady. God Forbid!
Politics; by William Butler Yeats
HOW can I, that girl standing there,
My attention fix
On Roman or on Russian
Or on Spanish politics?
Yet here’s a travelled man that knows
What he talks about,
And there’s a politician
That has read and thought,
And maybe what they say is true
Of war and war’s alarms,
But O that I were young again
And held her in my arms!