Coffee House

If Carswell was serious about Europe, he would never have defected

31 August 2014

Where is this burning point of principle that drove Douglas Carswell into the arms of Ukip? I’ve read lots about his defection, and I’m still none the wiser. We’re told that he was talking to Farage for almost a year, which would have overlapped with the time he told me that the Tories need to unite behind Cameron because he was the only one promising an in-out referendum. What has changed?

Carswell says that Cameron is not serious about Europe. The Prime Minister has become the only leader in the continent to promise an in-out referendum. I’m not sure how much more serious one can be. Should he lay out, now, what he wants in a renegotiation? Of course not – it would be rendered rapidly out of date. The referendum would be three years away, and Europe is changing all the time. Back in January, Carswell told me that he understood this. No longer.

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So what’s going on? I can recognise the argument Charles Moore makes: that the ‘modernising’ project now stands exposed as an abject failure which hollowed out, rather than strengthened, the Conservative Party (its membership has halved under Cameron). I can see the critique of the Tories from the right, summed up by Peter Hitchens today. We can also see the old Tory wars, where the left and the right of the party want to fight each other more than Labour. Even Matthew Parris is saying that it’s time to draw the battle lines. You can add to this perhaps the single greatest weakness in the Cameron project: a lack of a political message (the absence of a political operation in No 10 is a symptom, rather than a cause, of this malady).

Yes, there are many reasons to despair at the Cameron project. But next June, we’ll have one of two options: David Cameron in No 10, and a referendum in 2017 or Ed Miliband and no referendum. In trying to inflict damage on the Conservative Party now, a few months before an election, Carswell makes the second outcome more likely. As James Forsyth argues today, if Carswell wins then the bones will never heal and Labour will have an inherent electoral advantage akin to the one the Tories enjoyed in the 1980s. Carswell will know this. There is obviously something he wants more than a referendum.

Carswell churns out practical blueprints for government – he understandably wants to see them adopted. Some were taken on by the Tories, but never with any attribution (or thanks) to him.  I suspect he thinks more of his ideas will be adopted by Ukip than by the Conservatives. After all, Ukip doesn’t care too much about policy – Nigel Farage openly trashed his party’s last manifesto (‘I didn’t read it – it was drivel,’ he said). So Farage could be the face and Carswell the brains. He may hope that his pamphlets will, in time, become Ukip party policy. And become more forceful in the wrapping of a political party than a digital e-book.

Much as Carswell may wish it otherwise, the British political system gives voters two choices – and next May, that choice will be reform with the Conservatives, or a Brownite restoration with Miliband. Parties evolve, as the Tories have under Cameron: the radical welfare reform agenda, for example, was not on the menu before the 2010 election. Had Carswell stayed he could have helped the Tories evolve. Now, he has ended up helping Labour’s plan to evolve – from opposition to government. It really is that simple.

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Show comments
  • Sam_Beresford

    Fraser, if the Tory leadership was serious about Europe, he wouldn’t have to…

  • Katabasis

    Yea gods you Tory tribalists are so tone deaf, Fraser.

    You’d think after missing the astronomically wide open goal of following Gordoom McRuin you might have turned to introspection when the electorate delivered a hung parliament.

    But no. You learned nothing. You didn’t listen. In fact, I get the impression regularly that you hate the electorate.

  • sylvesterthecat

    Yeah, yeah, yeah, same old stuff

    Vote UKIP get UKIP

  • Nkaplan

    Fraser, you’ve confused being serious about Europe with being serious about having a referendum on Europe.

    Why should anyone be serious about having a referendum in which all three main parties, the BBC, almost all of the print media (save for the Express) and all ‘leading businesses’ will argue that we MUST stay in. The eurosceptics will lose such a referendum and it will set back the anti-EU cause for generations.

    Far better to have no referendum at all, until such time as either the Conservative Party has radically changed (for which pressures like those Carswell has created are necessary) or been replaced by a properly conservative anti-EU party. Only then will it be worth having a referendum (or better yet, we could just leave with no referendum necessary at all).

    Carswell has come to appreciate this, this is what has changed, this is why he switched party.

  • global city

    Seing as how Fraser is playing dumb, someone here has worked out the hard stuff for him.

    It’s all quite straight forward in actual fact. We know Fraser isn’t really stupid, so we have to assume he is a willing Cameroonian stooge.

  • The Commentator

    There will be two choices facing voters in 2015: Another ConLib coalition meaning no referendum on Europe, or a Labour government meaning no referendum on Europe. So we know nothing will change in our relationship with Europe post-2015. What might change is Labour’s fortunes if they win power in 2015 and have to deliver the massive departmental cuts that Gideon has planned for the next parliament. If they try to raise spending and borrowing there will be a run on the pound and that will be the end of Miliband and his left wing cheerleaders.

  • artemis in france

    Carswell is a man of principle, Fraser. In the end he found it impossible to stay within a party led by a craven PR man whose word cannot be trusted on anything. Plainly the Conservatives wouldn’t have won the next élection which was why Cameron promised the Referendum, in the hope that he can quieten the Eurosceptic MPs baying for his blood. He just wants a quiet life and will no doubt retire to reflect on what a wonderful legacy he has left to the world. While his fêlures cannot be considered as bad as Blair’s, his meddling in Libya has left the country in a shambles. Funny how he and Sarko have gone very quiet on that one.

  • Full Name

    >”Should he lay out, now, what he wants in a renegotiation?”

    He already has: See Open Europe blog. It’s sub-Article 48 Lisbon Treaty changes or if it is not it then cannot be fully realized: AKA Wilsonian Fudge.

    So that’s your argument run out of road, already. In case you fail to understand: Cameron wants “OPT-OUTS”. You have 2 options:-

    1. Opt-Outs that don’t break treaties therefore are Wilsonian Fudges in their relevance and returns.

    2. Opt-Outs that break treaties that trigger Article 48 TEU Lisbon Treaty, that has already been rejected by Hollande (French trigger before French elections 2018); Barroso, Shalz and other EU heads.

    Why does Cameron still insist on a Wilsonian Fudge when the people will see through it? Because in 2017 second half the UK takes up the Presidency of the European Council (Italy currently hold it iirc). This will be a useful propaganda weapon to pump the public full of propaganda about meaningless statements such as, “Being at the heart of europe with a seat at the top table in the exclusive member’s club as a big player on the world stage, punching above our weight.”

    I’ve never had to swim through such a sea of pure filth than when that empty line is uttered in it’s variable forms. Take a look at UK Foreign Policy to dismiss that. Take a look at the quantifiable loss of influence over time that the UK has as a member of the EU. Do a comparative analysis of the EU and Norway’s EEA/EFTA influence see the recent Norway poll on EU only last few days by the public:-

    “Massiv norsk EU-motstand” (Norwegian: “Massive Norwegian opposition to EU”)

    >”According to the poll, the entire 70.5 percent of the population say no if there was a referendum on Norwegian membership of the EU tomorrow.”

    Says it all really.

    >”Much as Carswell may wish it otherwise, the British political system gives voters two choices…”

    This mantra is toxic to democracy. We’ve had 40 years of this use and look where it’s got the UK and where the EU is now. Keep doing the same thing expecting different results.

  • Ordinaryman

    “David Cameron in No 10, and a referendum in 2017”. Fraser, how many more times have you got to be told? He’s not trusted any more! And, he’s brought it on himself.

  • Fencesitter

    Representative democracy… The marketplace of ideas… Put those things together and Carswell’s course

  • Diggery Whiggery

    “Where is this burning point of principle that drove Douglas Carswell into the arms of Ukip?”

    Carswell was pretty clear on what drove him to UKIP in the press conference Q & A. The main reason was that he was told by a Cameron lackey that the game plan was to offer just enough ‘change’ to secure an in vote and no more. A fundamental change in Britian’s relationship with Europe will not be on offer.

    What’s the difference between having no referendum and having one where the choice is between the status quo and slightly less than the status quo.

    Answer: not much.

    The point of a referendum is not just to give people the chance to put an X on a ballot paper but to give them the chance to affect real change.

    • Tony_E

      …the game plan was to offer just enough ‘change’ to secure an in vote and no more

      This is not very convincing for a number of reasons. One, if this were the case, a Cameron ‘Lackey’ would be unlikely to say it to Carswell (unless he was a complete fool – or ridiculously drunk). And it shouldn’t be taken seriously – hardly from the organ grinder is it?

      Two, it is unclear what the British public at large see as the ‘bottom line’ for re-negotiation. If it were put to a referendum campaign, out would have the chance to campaign based on that negotiation. What would be ‘Just enough’? In reality, there isn’t a majority for leaving presently, so that doesn’t even seem like an issue yet. The longer we wait, the lower the numbers become (as the older voters die).

      The blunt truth that needs to be faced for the ‘Better Off Out’ (of which I am one), is that we have no leadership. Farage is worse than useless, he has surrounded himself with people who see the game as he does, not those who will question his tactics. His appeal is largely to a generation of voters who remember the last war first hand, and those who haven’t yet questioned the mechanics of what BRexit will mean The more popular Farage becomes, the less popular EU Exit becomes.

      And he has no published plan for how we would organise our affairs in a post EU Britain. That is the killer point with Farage. He is no different to Salmond – he wants you to vote for independence but won’t tell you what it is, how it will work, what the real impacts will be. I want out of the EU, but there is no point pretending it will be painless, it won’t be. It will involve massive constitutional upheaval, financial uncertainty and a whole raft of other purely practical problems for which Farage and UKIP have offered NO SOLUTION.

      There will be no referendum. And with Farage and UKIP, there will be NO BREXIT.

      • Denis_Cooper

        Actually I find it completely convincing, and I’m just left wondering why Carswell has been so slow to realise what has been fairly obvious to many others for a long time.

        Back in March Open Europe was considering how Cameron might ostensibly achieve his then stated objectives for EU “reform” without the need for any treaty change, the Wilson strategy:

        A few weeks later a French lawyer was examining this approach and suggested that even the fundamental commitment to a process of “ever closer union” could be dealt with by a political declaration rather than by any change to the treaties:

        I suppose Carswell’s problem has been that as a Tory MP he felt bound to try to think the best of his leader, while others without any such party loyalty could form a more critical view.

        • Tony_E

          If you were to be charitable to Carswell, you could say that he has seen an opportunity to jump ship to a party which is only half formed, and then mould it into a more well rounded and well informed political movement.

          At the moment, UKIP is pretty much just a very loud wail of protest – and Carswell is a robust enough thinker to do better than Farage who is popular and populist, but seems to have no idea how to achieve his aims beyond building a voting base.

          It’s going to take much more than will and popularity (and it doesn’t yet have that) to get us out of the EU in a manner that will not inflict huge short term damage upon the UK economy. Just as we were outmanoeuvred going in, the same could be planned for us as we go out.

          • Denis_Cooper

            Even with his faults Farage is an effective leader of UKIP, and I can’t really see Carswell doing better.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            …actually, events will do most of the job, lad. That’s what’s brought matters to where they’re at currently, and we would expect for them to continue their steady work on the thing. You seem to be stuck on politicking as the mother lode for all this, that the Londonistan bubble is the location of that lode, and that all springs from there, and its bubble personalities. You’d be wrong.

      • GUBU

        Never mind Cameron’s aides – what have you be drinking, Mr E?

        Whatever it is, please pass the bottle around before you finish off its contents, because there are clearly a lot of folk on here who need to imbibe a large glug of hard headed realism mixed with a healthy measure of common sense.

        Mr Farage’s electoral dog and pony show might offer excellent value as entertainment, but it is unlikely to deliver the political realignment and constitutional change that many pro UKIP commenters here seem to expect – at least not in the way they expect.

        Why? In no small part because a majority of the electorate are presently either opposed to their views or as yet unmoved by their arguments. Every election demonstrates this, even when UKIP tops the poll, and no amount of gratuitous abuse or grandiose prediction on here changes that simple fact. Like you, I want a BREXIT, but I have yet to hear a case made which is simultaneously compelling and robust enough to survive the rigours of a referendum campaign, and, more importantly, secure a majority.

        In May 2015, the best UKIP can hope for is a small number of seats won in a tight election, producing no overall majority: even in that (currently unlikely) scenario both the Liberal Democrats and the Democratic Unionist Party (who favour a referendum) will probably have more influence on who forms a government. My money is on Mr Milliband stumbling into power next May – and no referendum of any description at all.

        Meanwhile, UKIP is now slowly (but surely) metamorphosing into the sort of conventional political party that many on here affect to despise – any sympathy for Mr Lord here, anyone? In the short term, that may be very good for Mr Farage – who now gets invited to dinner with Mr and Mr Elton John, I see – but I wonder how many of our fellow posters will be on here raging against the iniquity of it all once they realise that the promised land is just as far off as ever?

        • Rallan

          … a majority of the electorate are presently either opposed to their views or as yet unmoved by their arguments. Every election demonstrates this, even when UKIP tops the poll …


          • GUBU

            UKIP ‘won’ the 2014 European elections, in the sense that the party received more votes than any other individual party – but the vast majority of people who voted in that election voted for parties other than UKIP, which implies that it may not be winning the argument.


            • Rallan

              Yes, except for the “which implies that it may not be winning the argument” part.

              There’s no way to draw that conclusion from the point you made. The continuing growth of UKIP membership, profile & support implies the opposite.

              • GUBU

                UKIP won 27.5% of the vote in the European elections, so 72.5% of those voting voted for other parties – which implies otherwise.

                Indeed, twice as many people voted for ‘LIbLabCon’, as they’re often termed here, as voted for UKIP.

                Whilst others on here have moved on to discussing the legal niceties of withdrawing from the EU, someone might give a thought to how you actually bring about a referendum and, more importantly, win one. We’re a long way from either happening, as things stand.

                • Rallan

                  In 2014 UKIP won (more than) 27.5% of the vote, whereas in 2009 UKIP won 16.5% of the vote. Substantial increases have also been evident in council election and the various by-election results over the last 4 years.

                  From these results, how do you conclude that UKIP may not be winning the argument?

                • GUBU

                  Are you assuming that UKIP’s support will continue to grow exponentially? That, I would respectfully suggest, may prove optimistic. And by-elections may be great entertainment, but they are, generally speaking, dog and pony shows compared to general elections.

                  As I said, 72.5 % of people who voted in May voted for other parties – indeed, twice as many people voted for ‘LibLabCon’ as voted for UKIP. On that basis, it’s not unreasonable to conclude that UKIP has some distance to travel to win the argument – and to suggest that the gradient may be much higher than you’re currently assuming.

                • Rallan

                  I’m not assuming anything.

                  I pointed out the greatly increased support for UKIP over the last 4 years. I am asking how you conclude from this rise that UKIP may not be winning the arguments?

                • GUBU

                  UKIP won 27.5% of the popular vote in an election where just over 34% of the eligible electorate voted – so a win, but at 8% of the total eligible to vote hardly the sort of ringing endorsement that guarantees a parliamentary majority (or even influence in a hung parliament) in May next year, or a vote in favour of BREXIT at a referendum.

                  There is also no discernable evidence that UKIP’s rise has energised more people to vote. Between 2009 and 2014 the change in turnout was minimal, which doesn’t suggest increased numbers of voters who were previously disenchanted or disinterested have been engaged because of UKIP.

                  If you want to win arguments, that’s fine, but at least acknowledge that winning an election or (more importantly) referendum is going to be a much tougher ask. Some of the other posters here seem to think the Queen will be sending for Farage next May, and we’ll be out of the EU the next day.

                • Rallan

                  I acknowledge that UKIP stands no chance of winning the 2015 general election, but you miss the point. This is a democratic revolution. The political status quo is cracking up, hiding behind an electoral system carefully designed to protect the Westminster elite. They serve themselves, not the nation or the electorate. This will be rammed home to the public when UKIP wins a very substantial proportion of the popular vote but very little representation in Parliament. Whatever government is formed, it will have scant claim to legitimacy or mandate and UKIP will continue to rise.

                  Regards being in/out of the EU, the argument has barely begun to be made. When the referendum is confirmed, as it eventually will be, then the debate will begin.

                • GUBU

                  ‘I’m not assuming anything’.

                  Actually, you appear to be assuming quite a lot, judging by your latest post.

                  What happens if your assumptions are wrong?

                • Rallan

                  Oh, I don’t know. The world ends? England wins the world cup?

                • GUBU

                  England to win the World Cup? Perhaps your vision seem more realistic after all…

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  The Camerloons got a 3rd place share of the vote in the European elections, which implies that they got blasted .

                  Indeed, they finished a humiliating third, despite being in government, demonstrating that they are a true zombie government.

                  Whilst others on here recognize that the political advice being belched by you Camerluvvies is worthless, as your current standing and performance indicates, you socialists haven’t yet picked up on that, so we’ll have to wait for Dave’s head to be mounted on a spike 8.25 months from now, and see if that wakes you up.

                • GUBU

                  Just a moment whilst I run through the checklist…

                  Calls you a Camerloon or Camerluvvie? Twice. Then calls you a socialist? Once. Mentions the decapitation of Mr Cameron? As always. Makes a substantive point? Never.

                  Same old, same old, Madam. Others here can do so much better.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  Just a moment while I run through the checklist…

                  Camerluvvie whines and whines and whines… and…

                  Er, that’s it, that’s the entire list. Others here and throughout the animal kingdom can do so much better. So can most planks and plants.

            • the viceroy’s gin

              You Camerloons got blasted in those 2014 European elections.


      • the viceroy’s gin

        You’re the mirror image of the Camerluvvies. “They have no plan and are basically stumbling about and will lead us to the status quo.”

        Sorry, but if you’re waiting for perfection to come along, you’ll be waiting awhile. Life doesn’t work like that.

        If you’re as fatalistic as your last paragraph indicates, it doesn’t seem you really have any dog in this fight. Not to mention, you haven’t thought this through much.

  • Conway

    … which would have overlapped with the time he told me that the Tories need to unite behind Cameron because he was the only one promising an in-out referendum. What has changed?” Clearly Carswell now has convincing proof that Dave has no intention of giving us an in-out referendum, something which we, BTL, have been saying for some time.

  • CortUK

    With any luck in 10 years the Conservative Party will be deservedly dead and buried and Carswell will lead a new centre-right political party which grew out of UKIP’s successes at the 2015 General Election. With any luck.

    • Simon Denis


      • CortUK


        I’ve been reading your posts. That’s the most intelligent and weighty statement you’ve made all night.

        • Simon Denis

          I won’t be returning the compliment.

  • Gafto

    “Should he lay out, now, what he wants in a renegotiation? Of course not
    – it would be rendered rapidly out of date. The referendum would be
    three years away, and Europe is changing all the time”.

    Total nonsense, the issues that concern this country because of its subjugation to the EU today, will be just as important if not more so in three years time.

    Frazier is telling us that the country’s concern over immigration, regulation and all the other manifestations of the EU which run counter to the British interest are going to be outdated by the time Cameron is supposed to sit down and negotiate with his EU masters.

    Douglas Carswell has said it like everyone knows it is, Cameron has no intention of negotiating on our behalf. We may get some small concessions, but two years down the line from our referendum, in 2019, our renegotiated position will look much the same as our membership is now and we shall never have a referendum again.

    • Simon Denis

      But he still plans to subject his renegotiations to your approval – in a REFERENDUM. A REF – ER – EN – DUM. Got it yet?

      • CortUK

        Who will write the question and the pamphlets posted to 25 million houses at taxpayer expense? David Cameron and his clique.

        I’ve been a Conservative my whole adult life. But now it is time to destroy the party. We should learn from other countries who know when a political party must die, to be replaced by a new idea and new group with real support from a constituency it respects instead of takes for granted. Just think, that social democrat fool David Cameron could be the man who lost the union and killed the Tory party in under five years. One hopes…

        • Simon Denis

          You’re more concerned to destroy the Tory party than save this country. This is sheer hysteria. Listen to yourself!

          • CortUK

            You’re not very bright are you? The Tory party is destroying this country. Therefore to save this country, I would like the political party that is destroying it to be killed off and replaced by a true conservative party (including with many of the same members, plus the best bits of UKIP – like Carswell) that might work to rescue it from the mire.

            Would you like me to put that in simpler terms for you?

            • the viceroy’s gin

              …you’ll need to put it in a child reader, I suspect.

            • Simon Denis

              If I’m not bright then you’re a moron. Just how is the party which reduces the deficit, reforms schools, bears down where it legally can on immigration and promises a referendum on membership of the club which restricts us, logically be described as “destroying this country” – unless, of course, you belong – as I suspect – to the hard left?

        • Radford_NG

          Exactly:in respect of the first paragraph.WE need to start campaigning on what terms WE find acceptable for a referendum.First it ought not be a single yes/no question.There ought to be Two separate STATEMENTS from which to chose (such as:Britain should be a nation once again,free to trade…..etc.)

          • the viceroy’s gin

            The next move is Article 50, I suspect.

            That will smoke out the issues neatly.

            • Radford_NG

              Beware:”Article 50 is a trap designed to prevent a country leaving,not a mechanism to enable it to do so.”Gerard Batten MEP[UKIP,London].For full article use link below and click on`Vol.19 No.6/14 Feb. 2014`.


              • the viceroy’s gin

                Well, I agree with that author, that a straight OUT piece of legislation would be the most efficient way to exit. However, my understand of Article 50 is that it represents an OUT after a 2 year period, leaving those 2 years as a time to negotiate the new relationship, but still resulting in an exit no matter the results of that negotiation.

                Both are exits, with one more structured than the other’s straight, unadorned version.

                • GUBU

                  You may well agree with the author, Madam, but you will either need a majority in Parliament or a majority in a referendum to pursue any of these options.

                  How are you going to get either? Do tell…

                  Because without one or t’other, this is simply fare for barrack room lawyers.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  Well, laddie, the first step will occur exactly 8.25 months from now, when your personal hero Call Me Dave will have his head mounted on a spike.

              • Denis_Cooper

                There is some truth in that, but if it began to look that way we could threaten to stop the Article 50 process and just leave.

      • Tom

        What chance in this country would we have with a referendum led by a party who wants us to stay in.
        Had that to the pro EU media misinformation of facts and your chances are zero.
        We need a party to fight the case for leaving to stand a chance.

        • Simon Denis

          Well, you can have your pro-leaving party at the time of the referendum itself, can’t you? That won’t alter that barrage of propaganda you refer to, but you show precious little faith in either your arguments or the British people. And without the referendum – courtesy of Mr Cameron – your pro-leaving party won’t amount to a hill of beans.

  • wcb123

    ‘I’m still none the wiser’ – No you’re not.

  • Lady Magdalene

    Is your shorthand up to speed Fraser, or did Lynton give you the copy already typed?

    The reason Carswell defected is clear: Cameron’s aides made it clear that they were aiming for a minimalistic renegotiation – just enough to be able to terrify an ignorant electorate into voting to remain IN the EU.

    In other words, they were going to try for a repeat of the Wilson strategy.
    Under those circumstances, no Referendum is the better option ….. also known as “live to fight another day.” Because we will only get one shot at this. If the British people are cheated into giving The British Establishment a mandate for the destruction of our Sovereignty and Democracy, they will never be permitted another vote.

    We need to destroy the LibCONs and grow UKIP. The only way we will get out of the EU is to elect MPs to the House of Quislings who are prepared to vote for Brexit.

    • CortUK

      Growing UKIP after 2015 will be awful. What we need is a new party which is grown out of the best of UKIP and the members of the Tory party who are really conservatives and not social democrats like David Cameron.

      Canada has shown us the way:

      • the viceroy’s gin

        In 1993. the Tory party in Canada was basically destroyed as a first step in the process you speak of. Everybody leaving the Tories formed a new party, similar to what’s occurring in UKIP. That stripped many members of the old Tory party, and their parliamentary membership went from the high 100’s to the 10’s. They were destroyed, in other words.

        Eventually, in 2003, the rump Tory party was absorbed by the new party, and became a new conservative party.

        But remember, the Tory party had to be destroyed as a first measure, and then the new party had to be grown, and THEN the melding together could take place.

  • Chingford Man

    Flip, this is like a press release from CCHQ.

    Hitchens nails the Tories here:

    “Any thinking person has been able to see for years that the Tory Party hates conservatives. It is a roadblock, not a road, championing the elite against the people…

    “Mr Cameron’s promise of a referendum on EU membership is worthless three times over. First, nobody can rely on his word after his broken promise to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

    “Second, Mr Cameron could not win a Westminster majority in 2010, and there is even less chance of his doing so next May, as he well knows. He could promise
    paradise and be sure he would never have to deliver it.

    “Third, does anyone seriously think that a referendum on EU membership could be or would be conducted fairly in a country whose main source of news is the BBC, and whose whole media establishment is pro-EU?”

    There is no choice to be made between Cameron and Miliband: two cheeks of the one backside. Stop this pathetic fawning over the Tories. It hasn’t worked before and it’s not going to work now.

    • HookesLaw

      Hitchens shows he has no argument when he lies at point 1.
      What has point 2 got to do with anyrthing when in fact the tories won nearly 100 seats and would have wone more but for UKIP votes.
      3? What a pathetic excuse. ”oooh mummy I’m frightened of a referendum”
      Hitchins point 3 is so pathetic that it beggars belief.
      Hitchens argument is that they could not win a referendum because in effect the nation wants to stay in the EU.
      Pretending a referendum is ‘fixed’ based on David Dimbleby is so pathetic to be beyond words. Saying we don’t want one because we won’t win … boo hoo hoo?
      So what does he want? Is he or anyone saying no referendum? If no referendum to go ou,t then no referendum to go back in? Easy for any Labour govt I’d say. Is Hitchins really going to deny the public a referendum? how does that fit in with Carswell and his trust the people?

      And you think Hitchins has got it nailed? What a comedian you are.

  • Paul Hughes

    You’re becoming a d’Ancona, Fraser. it’s a shame because I always thought well of you.

    Perhaps Carswell realised that Cameron is not being straight with us. Perhaps he has come to the same conclusion as have many of us. Cameron is not going to have a straight fight with the EU for concessions. He’s going to find some figleaf, present it as a triumph, scare us all sh1tless with pro-EU propaganda and try to spin this referendum as being a straight choice.

    It won’t be a straight choice. The bulk of the establishment will weigh in, supported by EU funds, behind the status quo. The populace will be cowed into compliance by a stoked-up fear of the unknown. We’ll have big business “threaten” to leave. Obama and a wave of vapid celebrities will tell us how to think. Farage, Carswell and Hannan will be denied adequate time in which to present their views and the outers will be painted as racist little Englanders.

    I was a Cameroon in 2010. No longer. He’s an empty vessel and his promises of a referendum, of a straight choice, are merely noise.

  • awilliams66

    The problem with Cameron’s promise of an EU in/out referendum is that only the “In” part will be binding. If we vote “Out” he has made it very clear that he will just ignore the result rather than take us out of the EU. We do not just want a referendum, we want a binding referendum and that is something Cameron will not give us, and presumable it is something Carswell has finally noticed. I wonder if Nelson has come to the same conclusion, and would he even change his tone if he did?

  • Denis_Cooper

    Fraser Nelson, it has finally dawned on Douglas Carswell that David Cameron is not only a dyed-in-the-wool eurofederalist but a complete shyster who will do anything he can to keep us trapped in an unwanted process of EU integration, so when if ever is it going to dawn on you and your colleagues? His conduct over nearly nine years as Tory leader should have been more than enough for any intelligent observer to realise this, so why are you constantly playing stupid by pretending otherwise?

  • HookesLaw

    Of course its that simple. But as I have been saying for some time the Tory right is stupid.

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