Sunday, December 11, 2011

Nick Clegg steadies the ship

David Cameron went to Brussels but his use of the veto, which could have been justified in certain circumstances was bad from the point of view of strategy and pretty appalling from the point of view of tactics.

His position was so last minute that he had not briefed even a single potential ally. The result was that we had no allies.

Sarkozy laid an ambush which the UK walked straight into. The result was a catastrophic defeat for British diplomacy, which puts at risk not only our wider diplomatic reach, but undermines respect in Washington and Beijing. Neither has the veto stopped anything the EU26 now wish to agree among themselves without reference to the UK, so the defeat is total.

In the UK the Europhobes' references to the Second World War have come thicker and faster than ever. Complete withdrawal is now seen as possible, even likely.

So what Nick Clegg has started to do today is sensible. He has understood the fury amongst the Liberal Democrats at a defeat which is on the same scale as the AV humiliation that the Tories inflicted on us.

He learned a lot from that.

I suspect that the Brussels veto is not the last word on this matter, and that from now on, the Europhobic attack dogs will get far less of what they want than their gleeful triumphalism will have them believe today.

I judge that the mood among Lib Dems is now grimly determined. 

We have been successful in putting forward the liberal agenda in government. The price of the Brussels debacle will be that the Lib Dems will start to dig in their heels a lot more- and that includes starting to reach out to our EU allies and rebuilding the relationship that has been so badly damaged by Tory scorn and ineptitude.

My father has one line that he uses from time to time: "Never ever trust the ******* Tories", he should know, he once was one. Liberal Democrats must trust less and verify more: this coalition is a business relationship, not a marriage. It is time we got more from this, including real constitutional reform. That must now be the determined goal for Mr. Clegg. and all the Lib Dems.

1 comment:

john smith said...

I'd hoped the Liberal presence would have buffered our country against the worst excesses of the Tory right. In practice it has accelerated the process.
It begs the question what would the Tories have to do for the Liberal leadership to leave the coalition?