Friday, July 17, 2009

Love and Liberty on the crazy new Tory European grouping

I was thinking of screwing myself up into a flurry of indignation over the Tories and their new European parliament grouping. But Alex has got there first so there's no point in "knocking out" (Boris phrase that) a flimsy "Me-too":

The big problem is that the “European Conservatives and Reformists Group” is made up of only 55 MEPs from eight countries, only just enough to qualify as a “Group” within European Parliament rules – by contrast, the major players that can actually get things done, the European Socialists, the European Liberals and the European People’s Party that the Conservatives have just flounced away from all each have between two and four times as many MEPs, from three times as many countries. This isn’t just a matter of voting strength and influence, though obviously that’s important: the unfortunate fact for Mr Cameron is that if one or two MEPs from the ‘wrong’ country drop out, he suddenly ceases to have a Group at all.

Unlike any of the three major groups, then, Mr Cameron’s new Conservative Group can be held to ransom by most of the crackpots within it. And guess what? It’s already happened. On its very first day, Mr Cameron’s extremist Polish partners threatened to pull the plug unless their man became leader. So the brave British Conservatives instantly surrendered. If that’s his idea of standing up to Europe, I’d be interested to see what difference he can find between that and complete collapse of all negotiating positions.

Who knows what demands the smaller parties can get the British Conservatives to cave in on, when almost any one of them can nuke his Group on a whim?

And how did Mr Cameron get himself into this corner in the first place? Because the promise was forced out of him in surrender to the most hardline anti-European extremists among the British Conservative MPs. If Mr Cameron becomes Prime Minister, how many of them will he be forced to surrender to, how often, and on what scarily right-wing policies, now that he’s proved that his instant response to being held to ransom is to give in completely?

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