I’ve been shocked and disappointed by the public reaction to David Cameron’s appointment by Remainers and Rejoiners alike. They appear unable to get past the “two minutes of hate”, sometimes much longer, for pig fucking and various other of David Cameron’s peccadilloes. It is, of course, too early to judge him by his actions now in post, but I put it to you that Cameron is a potential asset in the fight against Brexit. Stay with me on this. This will be a long piece and a nuanced argument and I am not in any way excusing him for his sins in and out of office. Before we begin, I am NOT suggesting that we forgive Cameron for his faulty referendum decision and various other defects and decisions. I am suggesting that we use Cameron’s obvious regret about that decision to help alter the political paralysis that has allowed Brexit to prevail. Let’s begin with the man himself:
Regrets, I’ve had a few
Cameron says in his autobiography that not one day passes when he does not regret Brexit. If you are a cynic, you may find this to be an attempt to gain sympathy. It’s true that people do not write autobiographies to trash their reputation. However, when taken in the round I find his regrets to be authentic and heartfelt. More importantly, whatever the reasons for his regret, we must use his reflections as a lever for change. Compared with Liz Truss, Johnson and the emotionally bankrupt Sunak, Cameron is a much softer figure. He mistakenly thought that he could build unity in the Tory party by offering the people a plebiscite on Brexit. Of course he was horribly wrong and, importantly he did not see that Nigel Farage would weaponise austerity by blaming immigrants for people’s lived experience in 2016. Research from UKICE demonstrates that Vote Leave moved the dial on the result by 12% – in other words the referendum result would have been 60:40 for staying in the EU without Farage’s ‘clever’ but deplorable interventions on ‘othering’. Yes, the campaign was lame and the murder of Jo Cox allowed Richard Tice and his mates to pile into the campaign in the final days. All of it odious.
Total misjudgement by Cameron? YES.
Total contrition by Cameron? YES.
Has he emerged wiser? We’ll see but possibly YES …
… but only if we play the ball, not the man.
STOP PRESS : Guy Verhofstadt welcomes Cameron’s return
I called James O’Brien some months back saying that if Rishi Sunak was wise, he would pivot to the centre rather than the right to save his party. I suggested that he needed about a dozen rabbits to pull from a hat. It seems that David Cameron is one of those rabbits, judging by the reactions of voters in Brexity West Bromwich being interviewed for BBC Radio 4 Today on Saturday 18 November around 07.20. Jeremy C. Hunt’s tax cuts are another, even though these will probably only affect a small number of people and are probably based on fiddled inflation figures.
A passage to India
Sunak is not Johnson. Sunak will not have tossed a coin, smoked a cigar or had a few glasses of Chablis to decide whether he should sack Braverman. He will have carefully weighed up the issues, perhaps even on a spreadsheet! He must have ‘priced in’ the notion that the ERG are a busted flush and that any counter reaction would be tolerable, even agreeable. So far, his analysis holds true: Hardly anyone attended the New Conservatives (akin to the Real IRA?) meeting on Monday 13 November and; Andrea Jenkyns managed to get a five year old to write a letter asking for Sunak to resign.
It is rumoured that Sunak may wish to be off soon to a position in the Indian High Commission. By putting Cameron in the Foreign Office, he has installed a safe pair of hands amidst the lunatic fringe of Badenoch, Morduant and others who may wish to hold the crown or a sword. A journalist pointed out that Sunak may have just installed the next Prime Minister and with it someone who may be able to join the EU anew before Starmer has even woken up in 2032. Perhaps the question to ask in terms of Sunak’s reputation is does he leave before an election to pursue other goals or does he risk leaving after a crushing or less fatal defeat which still seems possible given recent events on all sides. I know which I’d choose. Yes, Cameron’s appointment is an affront to democracy and so on, but I repeat, we are not in a position at this point to do much about that, so we must act in ways that can make some useful changes.
At the moment, the jury is out as to whether Cameron will be a force for reform towards the centre, although I have some direct intel from inside Parliament that says he could well be. However, he did temper the Government’s attitude towards the ceasefire on Tuesday 14th November. This itself is a sea change from the far right loons of his party such as Braverman who borders (sic) on fascism. Labour are now caught with their trousers down on the ceasefire. This is an immediate vital sign of a more centrist viewpoint from Cameron acting from his role as Foreign Secretary.
But what would Cameron need to do in order to change the parliamentary paralysis that I mention? His moves may only need to be quite minimal to be effective. For example, as Foreign Secretary, all Cameron has to do is go on a trip to Europe, mend some bridges with EU leaders, utter some of his regrets about Brexit in despatches, perhaps even suggest that Brexit has not worked out per the ‘brochure’ and so on. His views on Brexit are already public knowledge so there are no surprises for the far right press to report on here. If he even so much as whispered something about the failure of Brexit, Keir Starmer would be compelled to agree, in order to maintain his strategy of being in lockstep with the Tories. The vow of silence on Brexit would be broken irrevocably.
Marred by pigs
Andrew Marr has an interesting complementary outlook on this matter. It’s well worth watching his You Tube video on matter. In the words of George Michael, ‘Listen without prejudice’. Marr agrees with me on the point that Cameron virtually had no choice but to offer a referendum on Brexit. Clearly he did not factor in the toxic weaponisation of austerity by Nigel Farage, without which the referendum result would have been 60:40 to remain in the EU.
My views have polarised the masses, with some believing that we should influence the debate and others (almost universally Labour ideologies) saying that we must just get the Tories out. That of course is guaranteed, but then we are left with a red Brexit. Read Faulty Towers for more on the existential risks of leaving Brexit to Labour. Some of the people telling me I’m wrong have not even read the article before making their judgement. I imagine that thy must have ESP !!
Breaking Parliamentary Paralysis
At the present time, all we have had in terms of tools to stop Brexit have been lobbying Labour, Lib Dems etc. and our efforts have largely failed in the wake of complete radio silence on the subject and mealy mouthed platitudes from both main parties. If Cameron were to utter even some doubt about Brexit we suddenly have a new powerful tool in the box to work across the other parties with. Political influence requires us to be emotionally detached from political ideology. Breaking Parliamentary Paralysis has been one of our five goals for activism.
What to do then?
I sometimes wonder if grassroots Rejoiners and especially those who are Labour supporters actually want to remain ‘Brexit victims’. When they are presented with opportunities, they spend inordinate amounts of time telling me how I’m mad, bad or evil. I prefer not to pathologise victimhood or what I call ‘learned helplessness’. Here are my suggestions if you wish to act rather than watch from the sidelines.
Forget the pig fucking.
Start supporting Cameron.
Separate this from legitimate criticism of Sunak and the cabinet.
Lobby for a change in the Conservative party’s position on Brexit.
Mention what you are doing to Keir Starmer and Labour.
Remember, you don’t have to agree with Cameron on everything.
Be surgical and support any positive moves he makes on Europe.