Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Throwing the match?

On the new EU treaty, Hague has fixed his narrative. "Our case is simple: this is the EU constitution in all but name, the British people were promised a referendum on it, so let them have that vote."

That is what he writes in The Times today and he is not going to deviate from it. That is the Tory message to the voters, and that is as good as it gets.

We know this because that is the title of his piece: "A definitive guide to why you must have a vote on Europe". Definitive means final, fixed, unchanging. The Tory message is: all MPs were elected on manifestos promising the British people the final say on the constitution in a referendum. Mr Brown has no mandate to sign up to it.

Booker, on the other hand, in The Daily Mail today, tells us in some detail exactly why this is a very dangerous treaty. The title to his piece is: "If Gordon Brown forces this EU treaty on us, you can kiss goodbye to democracy".

The two pieces thus exemplify entirely different approaches to fighting the treaty constitution. Hague offers little detail and relies on attacking Brown on an "issue of trust". Booker treats his readers as adults, and tells them why a referendum is necessary.

It would be foolish to say that either approach is enough – we need both. So why is Hague closing down his case so early, relying on such slender arguments? Why is he not prepared to address the detail of the treaty constitution and tell us what is wrong with it? And why are the big hitters in the Tory blogosphere opting out of the fight?

Has a deal been done with the dinosaurs? Have the Tories agreed to put up the appearance of a fight – just enough to keep the faithful happy - but not to put enough into winning it? Is Hague preparing to throw the match?

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