Monday 2 July 2012

The Man Who Was Thursday

I wrote this yesterday after reading a piece by David Cameron in the Sunday Telegraph.  It was specifically intended for the My Telegraph website, just me having a spot of fun.  I thought readers here might enjoy it also. 

David Cameron’s recent meanderings on the desirability or not of a referendum on continuing British membership of the European Union brought to mind some lines from A Man for all Seasons.  Sir Thomas More is in conversation with Will Roper, his future son-in-law;

Now listen well.  Two years ago you were a passionate churchman.  Now you’re a passionate Lutheran.  We must just pray that when your head’s finished turning your face is to the front again.

Two years?  My goodness; how slow Roper’s revolutions are compared with those of our dear Prime Minister.  His head can turn a full cycle in as many days!  Last week he announced that he was opposed to an EU referendum.  It was not the right thing to do, he said after the latest Brussels summit to patch and repair the euro.  Now it seems it is the right thing to do, at least it was on Sunday.  It would be hasty to make any predictions here, not when Cameron’s head is still spinning.

It seems that Thursday Cameron misrepresented the views of Sunday Cameron.  The man who was Thursday said no; the man who is Sunday said possibly…when the time is right.  I’m guessing that the time will never be right, that Sunday man is trying to hold off the Tory right.  One hundred of the party’s MPs wrote to the Prime Minister, calling him to legislate for a referendum on Britain’s relationship with the EU in the near future.

Quick; cue a new u-turn.  Sunday’s child is full of grace!  Britain, the PM wrote in the Sunday Telegraph, is in danger of getting swamped by EU legislation and bureaucracy.  In danger?!  One would almost think he knew nothing of this country, of our present political realities; that he had taken to wandering aimlessly across the world, hither and thither, like the ghastly Tony Blair.

I’m being ungracious.  For the moment Cameron’s head is in the right place.  For the moment he believes that the two words ‘Europe’ and ‘referendum’ can go together.  In that respect they are a bit like love and marriage – they go together like a horse and carriage.  Cameron’s spin comes, I suspect, because of the fox in the thicket.  Yes Fantastic Mister Fox in the shape of Dr Liam, the former Defence Secretary, who is preparing to tell Tory activists that life outside the EU holds no terror.

I applaud his good sense, though I think he is being far too coy.  It’s life inside the EU that’s full of terror, one unpleasant surprise hard upon another unwelcome development.  Inside our parliamentary democracy will get weaker and weaker, until the point where Westminster will have all the glory of a benighted county council.  Oops, I better watch my step in case some eurorat bureaucrat steps this way.  Life has become better, comrade.  Life has become merrier!

I’ll certainly be merry if a referendum is ever called.  I will vote with as much delight as I did in last year’s AV bash, a nail in the coffin of the Liberal Democrats, a party for whom I now entertain a special loathing.  But will it come?  I shall have to ask the man who was Thursday.

I was suddenly possessed with the idea that the blind, blank back of his head really was his face — an awful, eyeless face staring at me! And I fancied that the figure running in front of me was really a figure running backwards, and dancing as he ran.


  1. I think a key part of his essay was that a referendum now would play to "extremists". In translation, the masses of people who have seen through the rotten burgh that the three main parties have made of our nation would speak.

  2. It seems that D.Cameron is like a weather vane, his hose points in whichever direction that the political winds happen to be blowing from.

    1. You have him to a T, Anthony.

    2. Typo: I meant NOSE but it seems that either would suffice.

    3. I knew what you meant, Anthony, but as you say either would suffice. :-)

  3. Ana remember'This Lady's not for turning'? I think Cameron should set up a Hedge Fund. Vacillators Inc. Once again, King Lear: 'A Dog's obeyed in office'.

    1. Richard, he is rather turning out to be a bit of a blasted Heath. :-)

  4. There's only one question that matters: IN or OUT? If IN, then Westminster is worthless - full of sound and fury but signifying nothing. OUT is the only option that allows infinite possibility.

  5. Out is the only available option anyway.
    Renegotiation is not an option.
    The only route to negotiation is to invoke article 60 of the Lisbon treaty, say we wish to leave the EU, and then negotiate for our place in the EU, but not as a member.

  6. Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
    Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
    Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

    (W. H. Auden. 'Musee des Beaux Arts').