Monday, April 10, 2006

I couldn't have put it better myself

Mr Heffer was excellent on Any Questions, and this editorial in the Telegraph marks a much welcomed change in the Torygraph coverage. I had actually stopped reading it, ever since work UKIp did on a story and quotations from Nigel Farage were attributed to Dan Hannan and the Tories. Not cricket, my dear fellows.

Simon Heffer on Saturday
By Simon Heffer
(Filed: 08/04/2006)
Not all the loonies are in UKIP, Dave

You won't believe this - no, really, you won't - but there are people now running the Conservative Party who think it was brilliant of Dave to describe UKIP as "fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists, mostly". One of them is his own party chairman, Francis Maude, who was clearly on something yesterday morning when, with no regard at all for the truth, he described UKIP as wanting an "all-white Britain". These two "loonies" regard this smear on thousands of decent, harmless and patriotic people as a masterstroke in Dave's desire to
"reposition" the party.

More in sorrow than in anger - I can't take Dave and Francis sufficiently seriously to get angry about them - I feel I must offer some advice. They are repositioning their party in much the same fashion as Senator Ted Kennedy used to reposition cars after a night's boozing. It's all very well abusing your core vote, provided you can find others to vote for you instead: but the UKIP blunder has simply served to remind everyone of Dave's inexperience, stupidity and shallowness, and that is hardly going to help drum up support.

Two years ago, a friend who is also a Tory MP - indeed, who is now a member of Dave's shadow cabinet - asked me to speak at a dinner in his constituency. I delivered a speech about the wickedness of the European constitution, then not the dead duck it is today. It was a month before the European elections. Afterwards, streams of people queued up to tell me the same thing: that, despite being members of the Tory party, they would all be voting UKIP in the euros.

Dave would like to pretend to the contrary, but a sizeable proportion of those activists on whom his candidates will depend to run their election campaigns in 2009 or 2010 are regular UKIP voters. That is because they regard the Tory party's position on Europe as dishonest and unrealistic. They are right to do so.

This does not make them either loonies or fruitcakes, and by no stretch of the imagination does it make them racists, closet or otherwise. And they will this week have heard what their leader said about them, and been horrified. Indeed, their horror has been eloquently expressed on the letters page of this very paper.

The more one thinks about what Dave did, the more idiotic he seems. If he finds UKIP's position so appalling, why is he proposing to shift his own MEPs towards it by withdrawing them from the EPP grouping in the European Parliament? It couldn't be because he needed to say that to win the backing of Right-wing MPs during his election campaign, could it, and that, since he has no principles, it was an easy promise to make?

More stunning even than that, though, is the failure of this man - whose friends are always telling us how clever he is - to apologise for what has universally now been recognised as a damaging and stupid mistake.

With that smug, self-righteous arrogance we have come to expect of a man whose only training for high office was to be a PR spiv, Dave has not only failed to do that, but he has also compounded his offence by attempting to defend himself. The overpaid teenagers who work for him and write his jokes will have told him that this makes him look decisive, resolute and tough. In fact, as older and wiser hands in his own parliamentary party readily concede, it makes him look a little plonker.

Well, Dave, old boy, if you want to continue this strategy of cleaning out your core vote, here are a few more suggestions. Use a keynote speech at your conference this weekend to attack the Women's Institute ("bigots"), the Brigade of Guards ("fascists"), the Salvation Army ("paedophiles"), the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association ("Nazis") and Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother ("crackhead"), just to liven things up a bit. And enjoy your retirement!´

The Times have another excellent article today, about the absence of Europe in Cameron's speech. As they point out:

Any policy without a European element is only half a policy, if that.

The reason? Westminster just 'rubber stamps' the Brussels work, and very little original legislation actually comes from MPs. Mr Cameron, trying to appease his eurosceptic supporters said that the Tories would oppose ID cards and regionalisation. Yet both of these come from Europe. A major area he chose to talk about was the environment, now a competence of the EU, and the Court of Justice has precedence to take countries to court if they do not obey EU envirnoment legislation.

As my friend and Tory councillor put to me 'is he a socialist plant?' because Blue Labout is going a pretty good job of being more unrealistic, more incomeptent and more left wing than new Labour!

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