How willing will Labour be to shoot the UKIP fox that’s eating David Cameron’s chickens?

David Cameron’s just given in his long awaited speech on Europe. Not much in the way of surprises. He wants a referendum to sort out the democratic deficit at home (code for getting the UKIP monkey off his back on the way into the next general election), and to open negotiation with a Europe that is already wracked by terminal indecision over the far deeper problem of the Euro mess.

Public negotiations to try to squeeze Labour are taking place already on Twitter:

Cameron’s problem may be that the proposition is too complicated to signal anything clearly enough to do him the good he wants out of this. So, for now, his position is that he wants a referendum. If negotiations are successful, he will clearly back an IN vote.

The reforms he’s looking for are relatively modest (which they need to be in order to engage any attention with European leaders who have more on their plate than democratic deficits. As Ian Birrell notes:

Let’s just ignore some of the hurdles, and presume Cameron finds a way to get something past the Europeans. Will it satisfy UKIP? Tim Stanley again:

Ukip has grown in the past 5 years to the point where it’s a more complex, multifaceted vote than it was before – and its supporters are angry with the Tories over more than just its equivocal stance on the EU (gay marriage, wind farms, taxes, greenbelt building etc). Critically, Ukip’s base is motivated by a deep suspicion of the political establishment in its entirety, and many will judge that they can’t actually trust Cameron to deliver on his promise.

We’ve seen splinter parties come and go, but UKIP has this much in its favour. It knows its own irritant value, and has exploited it beautifully over the last ten years. Where there are negotiations there are favours to be won. A seat pact may well bare them some fruit at Westminster for the first time. Something they have been preparing for quite some time.

Ironically, having the Tories lose the next election would suit UKIP, especially if Labour follow Martin Kettle’s advice and choose not to call a referendum. They could grab what value there is to be had from Cameron and get to continue their permanent revolution against Britain’s technocratic elites.

The question is how motivated will Labour be to shoot the fox that’s eating Mr Cameron’s chickens?

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  • DC

    David Cameron said it is for the British people to decide, I guess that rules out voters of Alliance, SF and SDLP here in NI, should the vote come to pass.

  • Cric

    Breaking off from Europe and reverting to a southern English, nationalist, toff version of the United Kingdom utterly scares me.

    Sure there are some silly aspects to the EU but the answer is in reform, not ultimatums and revolutions. I lived in Malta during it’s transition into the EU and into monetary Union. Within 5 years we had recycling bins in the streets, the holes in roads started filling up, the price of local goods suddenly turned from cheap to horrendously expensive (with the removal of import taxes) – and the local companies were then forced to become much more competitive, all sorts of silly laws discriminating against foreigners (especially in taxes and property rights) disappeared, suspicious property developments on historic sites dropped right off, the beaches got cleaner, locals found it much easier to go on holiday, the economy grew significantly year on year… and the online business I worked in had full access to every major European market without impediment.

    I see no reason why the UK thinks itself less likely to sink into it’s own protectionist model than the likes of Malta did pre-Europe – and I can’t fathom a United Kingdom where populist government policies driven by the Daily Mail can be implemented without any sort of European checks and balances. (Also look at the likes of Sky TVs domination of media and the pub landlord from Portsmouth who took them on and won – would a pro-business Tory legal system ever have produced that result?)