The Dave and Nick show: the tart before the whore

Nick Clegg has been uncharacteristically silent lately, what with Dave doing a famous job all by himself promoting the agenda normally touted by Labour and LibDems. But suddenly there’s some slack to take up, and Nick is the man to do it.

Dave has decided to dedicate himself wholly, without remainder, to pushing through his homomarriage bill, which leaves him little time to spare on such incidentals as the British economy or indeed sovereignty. Quite right too for, as a democratic leader, Dave must keep his ear to the ground of public opinion.

He has to take into account the yearnings of the millions of Brits tossing and turning at night worried about the plight of the few hundred homosexuals hitherto denied a walk to the altar, with proud parents discreetly wiping their eyes. Dave is also under pressure from our manufacturers of confetti and unisex wedding attire, who desperately wish to expand their markets by at least another 50 nuptials a year.

In the good tradition of government it’s the leader who takes care of the really vital stuff. Marginal business is the domain of his deputy, in this case Nick who has yet again demonstrated his sterling credentials for the job.

First things first, these are the words Nick lives by, and he wants us to do so too. Hence, before we even consider a referendum on Europe we must first solve every problem the world faces – or is ever likely to face in Nick’s lifetime.

This is how he put this self-evident idea in his favourite paper, The Guardian: ‘I think to have a referendum, kind of about nothing very much in particular, when you’re in the middle of an emergency repair job to your own economy and European economy, is putting the cart before the horse.’

One feels humbled by the power of Nick’s intellect, not to mention the elegance of his style. Even the most ardent champions of European federalism balk at referring to the in/out dilemma as ‘kind of nothing very much in particular’. Granted, compared to such cosmic issues as homomarriage, Britain’s sovereignty is ‘nothing very much’, anyone can see that. But lesser men might still suggest that the matter is quite particular, defined in specific, unequivocal terms.

Not to Nick though: ‘For the life of me I still don’t know what is the question we’re supposed to be putting to the British people because we don’t know what we’re reacting to in terms of the further integration of the eurozone.’

You have to admire Nick’s self-restraint. He could have said that we can’t pop the question because we don’t yet know who’ll win next year’s Wimbledon, who Angelina Jolie’s next husband will be, and why a chicken crosses the road. But then, as a statesman, he sees things beyond the reach of us simpletons.

We, the simpletons that is, might suggest that the question to ‘be putting to the British people’ is quite straightforward: do you want to stay in the EU or get out? Moreover, we may even say that this question has nothing whatsoever to do with ‘the further integration of the eurozone’. After all, we’re not in that zone yet, even though Nick would desperately want us to be, so its integration or disintegration shouldn’t be a concern of ours.

What we ought to be ‘reacting’ to isn’t the vicissitudes of euro juggling but the systematic destruction of Britain’s ancient constitution, the reversal of her entire political history – all for the nonexistent economic benefits of belonging to an utterly corrupt and ultimately unworkable setup.

But that’s the simpleton in me talking. Nick has his own, unimpeachable, take on British political history: ‘It would be a dramatic reversal of not just decades but centuries of British engagement and leadership if we were to suddenly back ourselves out of the whole enterprise, but it would also in my view have a very detrimental effect on the balance of opinion, the balance of debate in the rest of Europe.’

Personally, I lose little sleep over ‘the balance of debate in the rest of Europe’, but then my interests are shamefully parochial. Nick, on the other hand, thinks in universal categories, as befits a man whose giant intellect has just overturned several centuries’ worth of historical and political science.

He must be credited with the startling discovery that over ‘not just decades but centuries’ Britain’s foreign policy has been dedicated to becoming integrated with continental Europe. Less accomplished minds have always been given to the misapprehension that exactly the opposite has been the case.

Admittedly, Edward III at Crécy and Henry V at Agincourt did seek ‘engagement’ first and ‘leadership’, or rather conquest, second. However, until Nick’s contribution, their efforts hadn’t been seen for what they so obviously were: attempts to dissolve England in a federation of European states.

Thanks to Nick, we can see these men as the true pan-Europeans they really were. And even Wellington and Nelson, to say nothing of ‘Bomber’ Harris, can now be divested of the eurosceptic stigma previously attached to them. If Nick’s scholarship doesn’t call for elevation to the Royal Society, I don’t know what does.

But this would indeed be ‘putting the cart before the horse’, and I apologise for having misread Nick’s original phrase earlier. The Royal Society can wait – let’s get him appointed European Commissioner first.

 

  

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