‘PSSST! Want some tasty deals? Hot from Brussels? No questions asked? OK?”
“Just want your vote in exchange, that’s all I’m asking. Cutting me right arm orf, I am.”
“Only doing this for you, only for you, as Gawd is me witness.”
“What’s the worst that can happen? You lose your democracy for all time, that wouldn’t be too terrible now, would it?”
And so it has started. Getting into the retro mood for a bit of Dad’s Army our Prime Minister has decided to take on the role of Private Walker, the 1940s Cockney black market spiv from Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard.
He’s got some under-the-counter deals he wants to flog us, only he doesn’t want our ration vouchers or our money – he wants our votes. We should tell him where to take his dodgy gear.
If we look back over recent years and consider what David Cameron has said in his famous Bloomberg speech, his tub-thumping party conference addresses and what he put in his party manifesto only last year, you will find him playing the role of Captain Mainwaring. All pompous bluff and bluster. It was all about how he was going to take on Jerry for being a bossy boots, tell the Vichy French to stop working in cahoots with Jerry and ensure Britain would be Great again.
The platitudes came thick and fast but there was no substance to them. It was all designed to please the audience and, like a takeaway laden with MSG, make them hungry for more.
He was going to send back some of the most troublesome laws we don’t like, stop benefits being sent abroad, prevent the European Empire growing ever closer – all that sort of patriotic stuff that might stop Tories switching to Nigel Farage and his Ukip.
Backbench Tory MPs were running around like Corporal Jones shouting “don’t panic, don’t panic” as they feared for their seats. Ukip had come out top in the European elections, they had won the two parliamentary by-elections caused by Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless, and they looked destined to help turf the Tories out and put Labour in government.
Cameron had gotten wise to this threat and promised a referendum on EU membership to win over Ukip sympathisers, believing it was a promise he would never have to keep. He expected the Conservatives to remain the largest party but still need the Liberal Democrats to form a coalition. After all, if he could not win an outright majority against Gordon Brown at the height of the Great Recession, why should he expect to win one after five years in power?
Then along came the SNP and upset everything, laying waste to Labour’s Scottish seats and scaring voters in England and Wales into going back to the Tories. Suddenly Cameron had to stage a convincing negotiation.
Since last June we have seen demand after demand quietly disappear until what was left was meaningless but had to be made to sound important. A typical EU Nut Fudge.
Take the demand over in-work benefits. This was originally something that Cameron had never asked for – now it became a make-or-break issue. Why? Because it sounded tough on migrants but had already been conceded by most of the EU leaders.
Will it make any difference to the number of migrants coming to the UK? “Not much,” said Cameron’s director of the Office for Budget Responsibility. And no wonder, EU migrants come to this country to work for a better life by seeking jobs that are five or six or more times better paid than they are in their own countries. Benefits are not what matters.
Then there’s the red card idea to try and stop unwanted laws. It will need 15 other parliaments to agree with the House of Commons – a pretty tall order when Britain is regularly accused of being isolated and out on a limb. There is already an “orange card” system and, guess what, it has never been used!
There’s meant to be protection for EU member countries outside the euro – but the French have inserted a clause that allows them to take decisions without UK consent.
People can see the deal is neither worthwhile nor lasting. If the referendum is in June it will not have been passed by the European Parliament and will be unpicked by MEPs that are expected to behave like monkeys with machine guns when faced with the deal before them. The president of the European Parliament has said he cannot guarantee its safe passage.
And then there’s the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg that has the power – and the reputation – for overturning agreements because they are outside existing treaties.
David Cameron’s dodgy deal is as believable as the mileage on a spiv’s second-hand car.
So bad is the outcome, so patently false is the choreographed and stage-managed negotiation, that it will seriously damage Brand Cameron and tarnish his government, too.
David Cameron is taking everyone for fools. He asked for nothing of any value. He got nothing of any value. Not so much Private Walker as Private Pike. Stupid boy.