I tried, I tried but I couldn't help myself, Caroline Jackson, Tory MEP for Cornwall, if the flags in her office are anything to go by, is one self important fool. She may have once been described as the "most powerful Conservative woman in the UK" but she seems to have lost her once significant marbles. I cannot believe I am saying that because for all the years I have known her she has been a committed and hardworking MEP. OK a bit of a wet when it comes to Europe, but hard working and at times very funny. However her Thunderer piece in today's Times is just appalling.
Cameron's first big bloomer
"A SECOND-ORDER issue”: thus the Tory leadership grandly brushes aside objections from its own MEPs to David Cameron’s plan to pull them out of their alliance in the European Parliament with the centre-right European People’s Party grouping. But if this is only second-order business, why bother? And can anything to do with Europe be a second- order issue for the Tories?
A second order issue? Yes Mrs Jackson it is a second order issue because despite what your years in the palaces of vanities that are the Brussels and Strasbourg Parliaments has obscured for you is that MEPs are very low down the food chain when it comes to national party politics. I ask you, how many people do you know that could name their MEP, for that matter apart from maybe Glenys Kinnock ('cos she was married to Neil) and Michael Cashman ('cos he was the gay doctor in Eastenders) can you even name one?
Mr Cameron will miss a wonderful opportunity to attack Tony Blair on the budget and CAP reform when he deliberately forgoes the opportunity to meet leaders of the EPP and their allies at their pre-summit gatherings. He needs to get to know people like Merkel, de Villepin and Berlusconi.
Mr Cameron will miss nothing of great importance by not traipsing to the Château of Meise just outside Brussels to hob-knob with the great and the good of the EPP. The meeting is for EPP leaders, he would be going as a valued, but guest but no more - because as you know the Tories are part of the ED, so he would be a second class citizen at this august gathering.
Oh and I think that we really know all we need to know about the Mr Berlusconi, (who by the time Cameron has the chance to win an election in the UK will be out of a job, and quite possibly in gaol), and de Villepin (who from his performances at the trade talks proves he understands nothing about how an economy should be run and is only interested in feathering his farmers nests to the detriment of the worlds poor, and in thwarting the US in every way possible). Merkel? Well I think that from the hectoring and bullying tone of her letter last week it is maybe appropriate that she might want to get to know him but I doubt the other way round.
How she thinks that without meeting these types will stop him from criticising Blair I really don't know, but I suppose she has more experience than me.
God knows who his alternative allies are. Aides are said to be shaking the hedges of eastern Europe: so far the only possibles may be Polish and Czech peasant nationalists, three eccentric Swedes, a French protectionist Eurosceptic, and two MEPs from the Netherlands’ extreme Christian party, which wants to stop Sunday bicycle riding. Mr Cameron has vowed to work with the Government in the British national interest. How can he do so as part of this barmy army? Then again the Cameron strategy ignores the fact that MEPs make European laws — are these laws of “second order” importance? Working with the EPP we can win crucial votes. We will be a lot less use to those we represent, lined up only with assorted Estonian Rightists and Slovenian Woolgatherers.
"Polish and Czech peasant nationalists". I take it that she is here referring to the current government of Poland the Law and Justice party here and the Czech opposition, the ODS. Now hasn't she just suggested that he should get on with his allies in the EPP-ED Group. Er ODS, the party of President Vaclav Klaus and the urbane Jan Zahradil MEP will be delighted to know that the ever so important Mrs Caroline Jackson regards them as peasants. I am sure that Radek Sikorski, the new Polish Defence minister and former AEI scholar will be equally delighted by the epithet.
One of the eccentric Swedes is Lars Wohlin, former governor of Sweden's central bank, not a noted occupation for an eccentric. Another is Nils Lundgren the former chief economist at Nordea, Sweden's largest bank - equally daffy I suppose.
I am unaware if the Tories have been talking to the Christunie, but asking them today about this has received a "no way" answer. I suspect that wouldn't get on a bike themselves on a Sunday, but as to banning them nah. The Estonian Rightists mentioned would be, I am making a wild stab here the party that sits with the Lib Dems currently who yesterday said that they would be interested in further approaches from the Tories. Lord alone knows what she is talking about when she mentions the Slovenes.
When and if Mr Cameron enters No 10 he will find that European politics involves building alliances. Oddly, he seems not to understand the Tory party’s relationship with the EPP, to which he says repeatedly that his MEPs “belong”. In fact we sit as allies with the EPP in what is cumbrously called the EPP-ED group, and vote according to our own whips when we wish. Although the EPP core is federalist, this is not a label that can be applied to other EPP-ED allies: the Scandinavian Conservatives and Gaullists.
Aha, well I think that Mr Cameron has a very good idea about building European alliances. Indeed maybe his formative political experience comes close to explaining his current position. Now we all know that the EPP issue is a bit of a dog whistle to the Tory right, "you can trust me on Europe, I took us out of the EPP". But dig a little deeper to understand his position. Since his election to leadership one thing that has been mentioned a couple of times is the time when he stood behind Norman Lamont as a callow youth when Britain was forced out of the ERM. This is ancient history now of course, but nobody will deny that that event destroyed any economic credibility that the Tories then held. Now what is little remembered is that the Tories had only recently joined the EPP group at that time. Chancellor Kohl had welcomed them in, but when the British government asked for support from him and his EPP colleagues they left Mr Major and Lamont hanging in the wind. Cameron was his advisor at the time and had, I understand been charged with some of the negotiations with the EPP colleagues. The betrayal of this recently built alliance by Kohl and friends was complete. Since then the Tories have suffered splits divisions and defeats. Much of the malaise facing the Tory party can be traced back to this event. So why on earth should Cameron trust them now?
If Mr Cameron does withdraw the British Conservatives from their alliance with the EPP I am certain that he will be back again in a few years, trying to negotiate readmission. So whatever happens I intend staying with the EPP to keep the place warm for my party when it returns to its senses.
Here Mrs Jackson's arrogance just bubbles over. Since she ceased to be Chairman of the Environment Committee last year she has concentrated on golf - is this her, she lives in Oxfordshire I think in her husbands old Wantage constituency). The main achievement is a pretty good drop in her handicap. I understand that at one point she said, "Don't call me in September. Golf month". She really thinks that she will be reselected by the Tory activists after this, well she has another thing coming I suspect. Maybe she will join her husband in Labour, though she doesn't mention his defection on her website, or maybe she will just fade away.
The author is a (maybe was a)Tory MEP for the South West of England
Whatever happens this story just doesn't seem to go away. Cameron needs to get over to Brussels and fast and bash some sense in this tinpot fantacists befiore it gets serious.
1 hour ago