Saturday, March 05, 2016

Three Little Words

Will the Conservative party tear itself apart over Europe?

It certainly could. Passions on the issue run deep, and have for many years. They did huge damage to John Major's government in the mid-nineties and contributed to the Labour landslide in 1997. Steve Richards has an article in the Guardian here about the damage the split over Europe could do to the government. And certainly the press are keen to highlight and splits (and have been busy making them appear worse than they are.)

I don't think it will happen this time, partly because too many members of the party still remember those years, and partly for a reason which is both why we must not let it happen and why we probably won't: a reason which can be summed up in three little words.

They are three words which should be remembered by all Conservatives who are about to make a public contribution to the debate, especially one which might upset Conservatives on the other side.

They are three words which should particularly be remembered by any Conservative who is about to make a personal attack on a fellow Conservative - and which, I hope may persuade them that is not the best way to promote their case.

They are three words which should apply equally to a Conservative supporter of Brexit who might be tempted to join the attacks on the Prime Minister which are coming in such volume from the Kippers and to a Conservative "Remain" supporter who might be tempted to personally attack those Conservatives who have come down on the side of remain.

For the avoidance of doubt, I don't just want to discourage "Blue on Blue" attacks because they are harmful for the party, but because I also think that if they create a disunited government they are also harmful for the country. And that there are good Conservatives who have Britain's interests at heart on both sides of the debate and therefore I regard personal attacks on either as unfair and untrue.

These are the three little words of which any Conservative should remind themselves before making an intervention which might be perceived, or presented by the press, as a "Blue on Blue" attack.


Three words which, for the sake of my children's future, I don't ever want to hear in any other context.

(Except perhaps, during the 2020 election, when interviewers are skewering Labour candidates with questions like "Do you REALLY think the British people are going to vote for Prime Minister Corbyn?" )

At the moment, everyone who is not a member or supporter of the bonkers wing of the Labour party knows that this is a QTWTAIN - (Question To Which The Answer Is No.)

And as long as we can conduct the EU debate in a civilised, respectful and intelligent way, there is a reasonable chance (though there are no certainties in politics) that it will stay that way.

Tear the Conservative party to shreds and we risk handing power to the most disastrous PM in British history.

That should be the REAL "Project Fear." It's the worst EU Referendum scare story. But both sides should remember that this threat is real.


Jim said...

In the case of a remain vote then "prime minister Corbyn" holds no real terror.

do you remember the 60's seris the prisoner? - well we want democracy, democracy, democracy. You wont get it

By hook, or by crook, we will

Chris Whiteside said...

If the people are genuinely committed to greater democracy, they will eventually achieve it.

Whether we are in or out of the EU, a Corbyn government would do a lot of damage along the way.

Chris Whiteside said...

I emphasise that I don't see this one as a pro or anti EU issue, or about suppressing opinions that I believe to be true.

I don't want to see personal attacks on DC or other Remain supporters, and part of the reason for that is that I don't think most of them are fair or accurate, but I don't want to see personal attacks on "Leave" supporters for the same reason.