Conservatives and Lisbon; another fine policy mess?
It is hardly unexpected that William Hauge has confirmed that David Cameron will tomorrow announce that the Conservatives will not be holding a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. No doubt UKIP will be delighted as they hover over all those voters in key Conservative marginal. Cameron will at least be pleased there will no official insurgency from the likes of Conservative Home whose commentary is glowing in its endorsement:
At the end of the day, the manifesto on which David Cameron stands and – I hope – wins the general election next year will quite simply trump anything that a referendum on Lisbon a few weeks later would conclude.
However, few Conservative MP’s (for ideological reasons) and PPC’s (for ideological and practical reasons) are likely to rush to endorse Cameron’s position. Already, Bill Cash has signalled his non-compliance;
Mr Cash said David Cameron has been “very badly advised” in his decision to rule out a referendum on the Lisbon treaty, and added that the reasons given for the decision “just don’t stack up”.
While Cameron will undoubtedly carry the day,in the long-term it is something that will unquestionably be stored in the collective memory of the Conservative right for future reference. Furthermore, Conservative Home is likely to be very disappointed in its hopes for a ‘tough renoegiation’ since the Conservatives, outside the EPP are in no position to renegotiate pretty much anything so while opposition from that quarter is currently muted expect some more to arise. Indeed, the article states;
Indeed, I think it doubtful whether a Conservative Prime Minister not seeking such a renegotiation would last even a full term. Spilts within the Party would be huge.
This is not Cameron’s much-anticipated Clause IV moment; in fact, in contrast to Tony Blair who won the day on Clause IV by not compromising Cameron is a Hugh Gaitskell figure; trapped in the contradictions of his own efforts to compromise and unable, precisely because of that compromise to win a complete victory.