I made a bet with myself this morning, that there was no way I would get to lunchtime without reading either in the MSM or through the Blogosphere that Cameron’s speech today is his "Clause 4" moment. Usually when I read such an anology I disagree, but this time, well there may be something to it.
He has had probably 10 or 15 such speeches and decisions all labelled as such in the past few years, but I must admit I lost my own bet, no one has written it (that I have seen). So, I will do so quickly.
There are parallels, Cameron is about to announce policy that is soaked in political parafin and could go off with the slightest spark; but so broad is the Conservative Church that the two ends of the spectrum of opinion will not meet, and cannot be contained under one party umbrella with its current policies a moment longer. Tory EU Scepticism had largely been contained over many years with the notion that the proclamations of giving up Sterling and of some crazy European superstate were the rantings of loons. But look where we are today, we have arrived at the gates of said superstate and are being pushed through. Whereas the Conservative will wish to retain members with as broad an opinion as possible on this, today's speech has the potential to lose more votes than it gains. And more importantly, to change the fundamental identity of the Conservative Party and how its members associate with it.
As I said the other day, EU Scepticism is largely a product of the Conservatives, because it retains their voters by hiding the real situation. This is a binary decision, and on a long enough time line we were always going to have to chose between and position ourselves as people that are for the EU or against the EU. Everything in-between serves to aid the 'For' camp as we move more and more into the twisted reeds.
So, on clause 4, have a look at what Michael White wrote before the Blair announcement. Obviously then envision Cameron's name in place of Blair’s, and Hague’s for Prescott. Instead of issues of Nationalisation see membership of the EU… you get the idea. There is, on this particular "Camerons Clause 4 moment" some comparables.
My feeling is, or my prediction then is that there is going to be more questions than answers tonight, and that the general position will be to seek the return of some control from the EU. How this can be done is not clear, because there really is no mechanism now for this... however, I have a feeling the lines will remain blurred and by next week enough skeptics will feel comfortble enough in the party again to not go through with their thoughs of jumping to UKIP.
Unfortunately I will not get to listen to the speech because fortunately I have a job (still) so I will have to catch up later. But feel free to pre-empt a later post by dropping your opinions off in the comments.