Magazine article The Spectator

I Accept So Many of Their Arguments, but I Can't Accept Them

Magazine article The Spectator

I Accept So Many of Their Arguments, but I Can't Accept Them

Article excerpt

I cannot believe my ears. Conservative Europeanists are rocking the boat? Europeanists have forgotten the need to win elections? The Tory Europeanists should fight Labour, not their own colleagues?

What? Is history forgotten? Can an episode recently witnessed by 56 million people be rewritten by so few, so soon? Are John Redwood, Teresa Gorman, Bill Cash, Norman Lamont, transmogrified into famous team players at the flick of the Eurobaiters' switch? Can the murder of the last Conservative government by a ruthless minority within it be sponged from the record even before the corpse grows cold? What amnesia grips the swivel-eyed tendency around William Hague?

So John Gummer is now 'bullying' the Tory party? Chris Patten is a 'fanatic'? Kenneth Clarke (the overwhelming leadership choice of ordinary party members little more than a year ago) represents a `tiny clique'. When dogma so clouds judgment and passion blocks recall, sensible men shudder. Hardly ten minutes ago, egged on by Hague's lieutenants, Euros,eptical editors were calling Mr Clarke a coward: he should `put up or shut up'. So he did. Whereupon Lord Parkinson, who should have some care for his dignity, berates him for fanning dissent - while Parkinson's underlings whisper 'deselection' to journalists. We who may be inclined by intellect to board the anti-EMU bandwagon should pause.

It is a pity Frederick Forsyth writes so well when he is so wrong (`Don't stand for it, William!', 19 September). So a dissenting Tory should either belt up or leave, he says. Did he say that to the Europhobe amnesiacs now surrounding William Hague, who neither belted up nor left, but dogged John Major's every step, tripped him every time he moved, knocked him down whenever he got up? I just wish the poor bloody Tory infantry out there in the country, now being exhorted by the Eurobaiters to loyalty, could have sat in my place in the Commons press gallery any afternoon in the five years from 1992, and witnessed for themselves.the poison darts, for use on Major's moderate loyalists, being slipped daily to journalists by those who now bark of unity. Mr Major should ponder that couplet in John Clare's `Ode to a Fallen Elm': 'Thou'st sheltered hypocrites in many a shower/Who when in power would never shelter thee!'

This columnist has been struggling with a personal difficulty. Why, when I accept so much of John Redwood's, lain Duncan Smith's and Michael Howard's argument against currency union, do I feel this visceral disinclination to join their posse? I have resolved the question. It is not their conclusions which repel me but their natures. They lack grace. They are populists.

And one of the hallmarks of the populist down the ages is the yelp. He is the yelp made flesh. Right down the middle of his psyche runs a craven streak: the will to impotence. Somebody bigger, he thinks, is always trying to bully him, somebody else is pushing him around. All the world - but never he - is cheating. The populist litany becomes the sustained whine punctuated by the snarl and - when enough of them gather -- outbreaks of hysterical barking in the night. Even when they command a majority, they combine the swagger of the aggressor with the whimper of the abused.

Their inspiration is the indignation of the small man, the curled lip of the underdog. Nothing lifts the heart. Nothing as fine as hope or honest anger, nothing, at heart, confident, no real optimism, no real plan at all motivates their endeavours. …

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