Wednesday, May 15, 2013

DOMINIC SANDBROOK: Floundering in a European mire of his own making, I fear Dave's turning into John Major

Watching the Tory Party tearing itself apart over Europe in the past few days, I was struck by an uncanny sense of deja vu.

It is 20 years since John Major’s Conservative government lurched from crisis to crisis, its survival threatened by endless Eurosceptic rebellions and its hapless leader patently unable to impose his authority on his party.

David Cameron will know better than most what happened next. In 1997, standing as the Tory parliamentary candidate for Stafford, he defied his party leadership by pledging explicitly to oppose Europe’s new single currency, the euro.

Alas for the young Mr Cameron, his candidacy was swept away in the New Labour landslide, the British people recoiling from the Tories’ interminable infighting and turning to Tony Blair instead.

It was a brutal lesson in one of the essential principles of British politics.

The voters will forgive many things, but they will never stand for weak leadership and a divided party.