Much has been made of the veto bounce for David Cameron. You find it most dramatically in the ICM poll which filters rigourously for likelihood to vote (and already had the Tories in the lead).
In fact the detail in some of the polls suggest that the Tory bounce has been in part a result of squeezing UKIP’s recent surge. And if you look at the patterns over the last few months on YouGov’s polling report, this bounce only just breaches the typical margin of error of previous ratings.
In the Sunday Times YouGov poll there is some backing for Cameron’s action; or at least for what it signalled. But – and Anthony suggests this may be an outlier – something slightly weird has happened to the let’s leave the EU figure. It’s tumbled from 50% to 42%.
I’d not go too hard in this, but it seems to me that what people are looking for is some form of agency with regard to this European beast, which at its centre barely has the capacity to listen to what it’s constituent parts are thinking or feeling never mind the inclination.
It’s a design fault. Exaggerated all the more by a rapid expansion eastwards. The current phase of the crisis, with the old partners from the days when there were just six countries still calling all the shots for the 27, even to the point of striking down the EU’s own legal advice at the final hour.
So as well as bolstering his own support, Cameron’s apparently robust engagement with the EU seems to have had a palliative effect on the EU’s own ratings in Britain. If his own party’s ratings are going down again it is partly to do with the ferocious press he’s faced in the days following his walk out.
It may be for the best that the UK leaves the EU. That’s the preferred option already for some quite senior Tory opinion formers. But Margaret Thatcher never needed to threaten departure. She may have had her metaphorical handbag, but she was also prepared to commit real resources to a fight that had to be fought on many fronts.
Something that’s noticeable by its absence from Camerons current efforts.
The French German axis is too narrow a base upon which to build a sustainable European future. Whether the UK stays in or leaves, it needs to start investing in a multilateral world that’s likely to become less stable and less predictable. By showing some credible agency abroad, it may also serve to calm Eurosceptic nerves at home and give himself a lot more room to manoeuvre abroad.
That would surely make him more ‘Hitch noteable’?
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty