I’m going to defend Dave the dialectician — someone ought to

Poor Dave. All he did was put his name on a piece of paper, and now he is under a coordinated attack from every direction.

From the left, Ed the Red accuses him of inconsistency: a veto to Dave, he says, isn’t for life; it’s for Christmas. A hard-working line, that, and it would work even harder if Ed vouchsafed to us his alternative strategy vis-à-vis Europe.

Would he have signed the same document? Signed up to the FC (a more polite acronym than FU, but one that too could be deciphered in various ways)? Joined the euro? Left the EU? Restyled himself as gauleiter? What?

A word of avuncular advice to Ed: when in opposition, it isn’t enough to take cheap shots at the government. You have to offer a coherent alternative: don’t just say what you hate; say what you love.

Otherwise, look at what happened to Dave and his party when in opposition. Gnawing at the little bits of Labour policies, without devouring their eminently devourable main body, left the Tories with a severe political indigestion. Heir to Blair, yes, sure — just what grass-roots conservatives wanted to hear.

By way of reflux, the Tories lost any moral justification and, more important to them, credibility to come up with something completely different when in government. So they had to get into bed with something completely similar and call it a coalition, leaving us all at the receiving end of the ensuing action.

Who’ll be your coalition partners, Ed? The UKIP? Or are you counting on Nick to two-time Dave with you? Something to ponder there.

Just a thought, Ed: I’m not suggesting you should become a statesman overnight or, God forbid, a political thinker. You either got it or you ain’t, as Americans say. But becoming a competent practising politician shouldn’t be beyond you, anyone can do it. Talk to your speechwriters, organise a few focus groups — well, you don’t need me to tell you what to do, bright lad like you. But do something other than commissioning cute little lines.

Alas, it’s not just the left who want a piece of Dave — Ian Duncan-Smith and his 70 jolly friends in Parliament are screaming betrayal and inconsistency.

And on what grounds? That Dave vetoed that little piece of paper first because it didn’t contain any ‘safeguards for Britain’ and then, a month later, signed exactly the same document, even though no safeguards were on offer that time around either? Didn’t he tell you, in January, he wasn’t committing Britain to anything? So what’s your objection? Then why, considering the deal hadn’t changed since December, did he whip out his veto then? And you call that inconsistency?

I — and no doubt Dave, with his sherry-fuelled education — call it Hegelian dialectics. This is how it works, from Dave’s perspective.

Thesis: in December, let’s throw a small bone to Ian and his 70 jolly friends to keep them quiet for once. Antithesis: in January, let’s toss a bigger bone, with some marrow inside and meat outside, to Nick and his mates. Synthesis: I just might hang on to power beyond the next election.

Why, Dave’s the most consistent politician out there. He knows what’s important in life and goes after it. Have you got the same single-mindedness of purpose? I know I haven’t.

Like a father who spanks his little son savagely, saying it’s all for the boy’s benefit and ‘it hurts me more than it hurts you’, Dave claims he does it all for Britain. Of course he does — but again dialectically. Except that here a different syllogism is at work. Thesis: Dave is British. Antithesis: this rocking up and down on the political seesaw is good for Dave. Synthesis: it’s good for Britain. Who could possible take issue with this iron logic?

Well, the Iron Lady, otherwise known as Meryl Streep, might. But no one is going to ask her. And I’ve got news for you: no one is going to ask you either.




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