Patience is a virtue. So is keeping promises. While we all attempt to be virtuous, it is worth bearing in mind that the Cameron strategy is partly working, at least as regards the popularity of David Cameron.
The weak link in the Cameron strategy is the assumption that eurosceptics have no other party to represent their views, and as at least 30% of Conservative voters wish to withdraw from the EU, the vailidity or not of this assumption will be significant (maybe more than 30% since the EPP promise has shown how little freedom of speech we enjoy in the Euro parliament).
As Iain says, what’s the point of heading for the wastelands of UKIP or the English Democrats etc in a first past the post system? Logic would suggest that eurosceptics would stay on board with the Conservatives regardless, but emotion may be a stronger force than logic.
We need more evidence yet, but recent byelections have not been encouraging, showing high Conservative abstention rates as at Bromley, and in Redbridge a large BNP vote. It would not take many more real world votes of this nature to expose a gaping hole in the Cameron strategy – we would be losing votes faster on the EPP and Europe than we are gaining them with husky-hugging.
Would he change course in these circumstances? I don’t think he would as his strategy is above all a contract with the media, which clearly includes a refusal to talk about the EU.
The marketplace, I believe is a lot more fluid than you are yet perceiving it to be, Iain. Only events will confirm whether that opinion is correct or not, but if it is, Project Cameron will soon be holed below the water line, and British politics will lurch into an entirely new phase. Tim’s seen the possibility and he’s trying to warn the captain on the bridge. As in all good disaster movies, the first part of the drama requires those who see disaster ahead and issue warnings to be ignored. (Written in reply to Iain Dale on Comment Is Free – July 18th 2006)