Simon Jenkins on Europe

Well thanks a lot Simon. Usually I like to frame my own arguments around issues, or in the least offer a substantive alternate take, yet on the matter of Britain and the EU all you’ve left me is the potential for verbatim regurgitation. Frankly I find it quite inconsiderate that you would assume such a totally rational perspective on the matter, as I’ve come to expect even a little articulate contrarianism upon which to cognitively chew.

If you’ll excuse me I’ll address the reader now.

At most I find two points to pick up on, and these are simple notes not remotely approaching disagreement. The horror. The first is in regard to what Jenkins calls Cameron’s “vacillations” and to be sure, the Prime Minister has dithered and dallied and gone back and forth with the best of them. However, the question of Europe has been politically toxic for the Conservative party almost since the question existed and I’ve therefore been rather forgiving of the man.

The last six months of coalition revealed quite emphatically that the old Tory party is still alive and kicking, grouchily awakening from the temporary hush caused by Cameron’s astute push towards moderation, if only in image. It’s not a question of only satisfying both his party and the Lib Dems, but almost more importantly, both his vision for the Tories and what they really are. The PM’s balancing act has been revealed and though we can certainly say he was overcautious, he was so with the best intentions.

I would be livid to see the Tories consumed in yet another European-fuelled bloodbath and, admitting to a few hair-raising moments, I might actually go so far as to say I admire him for keeping the wolves at bay. There’s every possibility I’m being overly optimistic but what I ultimately see is a PM who wants to resolve the big question the right way, once. That is despite, or perhaps to spite, the existing impression that the coalition couldn’t hit a bullseye on the first attempt if their lives depended on it. The proof will be in the results.

As for the other side of the aisle, our darling Labour party, replete with Tweedleband and Tweedleballs, disciples of the Dark Lord Brown and consummate inducers of nausea, they’ve shown their hand. Jenkins draws attention to their sordid apprenticeships under the former Chancellor and how they would have had front row seats to the 2003 version of today’s debate. There were indications then of the direction the EU was heading and god save us all if it wasn’t Brown who saw the realities therein.

Thus, rightly according to Jenkins, “There need be no disagreement.” I can’t say with any certainty that there is. I can’t say with any certainty anything about the Labour party’s front pairing really. Perhaps that their sole purpose in political life at present is to offer endlessly snide criticisms with one hand and absolutely nothing with other, unless they occasionally needed both to dole out such useless contributions?

I’m all for a dash of good old fashioned political enmity but the extent to which Miliband and Balls have pushed it is not something I care for. An opposition’s duty is to offer a meaningful second choice, and is essential to democratic government. Yet even on the issue of Europe they have brought little to the table beyond the usual cynical lambasting of the Tories, and a vague to non-existent representation of their own message.

We deserve better, although on many a day I wouldn’t reserve that comment for Labour alone. Not just our political classes, we deserve better from Jenkins too. I’ll be disappointed not to find something more controversial or out of tune with my own views next time. Perhaps the National Trust chairman will call for our heritage sites to be saturated with wind farms. Yes, he’d love that.


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