Saturday, December 10, 2005

The End of Europhilia?

Ken writes (but cannot post):

One of the remarkable things about David Cameron's Shadow Cabinet announced today is that it is almost rabidly Eurosceptic to a man. I can't think of a single member with particularly favourable leanings towards Europe - and those who are broadly pro-EU are now safely on the sidelines. Even Ken Clarke has distanced himself from many of his stronger opinions.

This would mark an incredibly positive departure for the Tory party if it is true. Because if the whole party is broadly agreed on Europe, there won't be any public party-infighting. Indeed, one of the best aspects of the Cameron-Davis leadership race was that it was kept on an intellectual level, and debate remained civil throughout. It's a far cry from the 2001 race when IDS was elected after a campaign where the party spent the summer airing its dirty laundry in full view of the public.

Back in April, I argued that Europe was the Tariff Reform of the early 21st century. The parallels were striking - the issue split the Tories; was seen as a vote-loser despite heavy press support; and for at least a term of opposition kept the party at loggerheads with each other. It now appears that Europe is off the Tory party agenda, for at least the party knows where it stands. If it takes the EU off the mainstream political agenda, all for the good. That is going to be crucial if they are to build on the positive momentum the election of David Cameron has given them.

[The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily Richard]