Today's Prime Minister's Question Time was one of Gordon Brown's strongest performances and one of David Cameron's weakest, if not his weakest to date. It is clear that David Cameron has got himself into a complete mess over his European policy- a mess that is difficult to see getting anything other than worse. The clip is below:
The major weakness in David Cameron's position, populist Europe-baiting to one side, is that on so many issues it is impossible to devise effective solutions without genuine and enforceable EU cooperation and commitment. On climate change, crime prevention, justice, counter-terrorism, jobs, investment, and growth, as well as migration, equality, and quality of life, it is hard to imagine truly effective domestic policies without the binding strength of an effective European Union. These issues are all things David Cameron claims to care about. Yet his European policy has been a calamity from the moment he put his name forward for the leadership of the Conservative party.
As Patrick Hennessy argues in his Telegraph blog today, David Cameron's approach to Europe and his pandering to the euro-sceptic wing of his party demonstrates that his modernisation project falls woefully short.
In the Tory leadership campaign, David Davis had the courage to stand up to the euro-loonies by refusing to countenance severing the party's ties with the moderate European People's Party. David Cameron showed no such conviction or good political sense and capitulated.
On this area more than any other, we are getting a glimpse of what a Cameron Prime Ministership could be like: ineffective, vacillating, unprincipled, doused in gesture, and doomed to collapse under the weight of its own rhetoric. His inability to properly address the European issue highlights the shallowness of the entire enterprise. It is modernisation without purpose and that will ultimately harm the nation's interests. The stakes are rising.