What will it take for the Tory high command to realise that working with the EU and that achieving ‘renegotiation’ – whatever that means (and nobody has yet defined it, or explained how it possible under the EU treaties) – is increasingly looking totally impossible?
David Cameron’s spin team let it be known before the weekend that he might be considering trying to limit in some way the deluge of EU immigrants. Not definitely, but was thinking about it. Well how big of him.
It was a pretty feeble gesture. It looked like belatedly and feebly he was trying to head off the Ukip threat by offering jam tomorrow – nothing in the spin leak had any substance. No new measures, no Australian-style points system, clear steps towards the change, just a vague promise that change would be achieved by ‘renegotiation’. Trust me, I’m Dave.
But just in case he was serious, the BBC lined up on Sunday a deluge of commentators who told him to a man that this was impossible.
All of them declared that The Free Movements of Persons directive was a sacred article of foundation of the EU with which everyone else agreed. So there was not a snowball’s chance in hell that one iota of its provisions would be changed.
That master of subtle EU communications outgoing Commission president Jose Manuel de Barosso led the BBC-coordinated charge, which was further rammed home on the World This Weekend, by Mats Persson, spokesman of the so-called Open Europe group (which does want some EU changes, but clearly not on immigration).
Grant Shapps, Tory party chairman, was then wheeled out to explain what the Conservatives actually wanted. He declared that notwithstanding what Britain’s EU partners thought, change would be sought and achieved. The EU would be reformed and renegotiated because that is what David Cameron wanted. His contribution was every bit as convincing as Canute’s.
What has become is crystal clear is that no matter what John Redwood (who also appeared), Shapps or anyone else might say is possible, the EU powers-that-be, along with every other country, are lined up against any change in the directive.
That means that all those who disagree – such as the thumping 60 per cent of the turn-out who voted Ukip in the Clacton by-election – are effectively disenfranchised, because there is absolutely nothing that can be done to change EU immigration policies. Those who run the EU are deaf to dissent because it is, in effect, a Socialist Utopian Empire with a tramline mentality, as Tamara Chabe has admirably spelled out on this blog.
What we are left with is a Tory high command which continues to blather on about renegotiation, but which has not provided any detail of what this will entail or how it will be achieved. Each time scrutiny is given to what vague proposals do emerge, they disintegrate.
I suspect the growing army of Ukip voters want something with a bit more backbone. The reality is that all the party leaders still want to stay in the EU, are half-hearted (at best) about reforms to immigration, and are still treating grassroots discontent as though it is ephemeral and inconsequential.
When will they wake up?