Friday, January 19, 2007

Sir Malcolm Rifkind Should Perfect the Sound of Silence

ConservativeHome reports HERE that Sir Malcolm Rifkind (for it is he) is positively encouraging Eurosceptics to defect to UKIP. Thanks Malc. Really helpful. What is it with these relics that they feel they have to clamber out of their political tombs every now and then? It's a kind of Attention Deficit Syndrome - they're crying out 'See? I'm still here. Look at me me me me me'. Some of us stopped looking in 1997. Anyway, now I've got that out of my system, let's look at what he's arguing for.

By arguing that Eurosceptics should defect to UKIP, Sir Malcolm is effectively saying that the Conservative Party should become a narrow based sect. Successful political parties are broad coalitions of people who agree on most issues but may differ on a few. Until the mid 1990s that's exactly what the Conservative Party was. Unfortunately it then discovered ideology and ideology over Europe become the Party's watchword. Look where that got us.

They don't come much more Eurosceptic than me, but I can quite happily co-exist in the same Party as Ken Clarke and Ian Taylor. I'll argue my case over European policy and they will argue theirs. It's quite clear who is in the majority in the Party, so to argue as Sir Malcolm effectively does that the majority should now leave the Party is just plain crazy. Frankly, there wouldn't be much of a Party left. If this is the most constructive thing Sir Malcolm has to say it is best to remain silent. As Sir Denis Thatcher once said to Fergie: "Better to say nothing and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove any doubt."


Anonymous said...

Fair point, Iain, but maybe he has the right not to sign up to what he sees is a pro-Palestinian EU given his personal circumstances ? I don't necessarily agree with that point of view - although I am no fan of the EU, I think they perform a valuable role in balancing the arguments out in the middle east through humanitarian aid and support. But I guess that Rifkind has a right to a conscience, and you cannot, and shouldn't, legislate that.

Anonymous said...

I thought Rifkind was advocating those who believe in pulling out of the EU should move to UKIP? And why isn't he right? Is it Tory policy now to pull out of the EU? If not, why are BOO Tories tolerated by the leadership?

At least John Major had the balls to try and install party discipline over Europe. But I guess the nutters and rebels from that period now control the Tory Party, and have purged most of the pro-European Tories out of existance...

Anonymous said...

Sir Denis once said another interesting thing, namely that the best thing that could have happened to the Conservative party would have been for it to lose the '92 election. I think there is quite a lot to be said for this.

Consider it for a moment. After five years of Kinnock, Ken Clarke would have won the '98 election quite comfortably . . . totally different ballgame.

I think the same principle may now apply to the Labour party. If they know what is good for them, they should really pray to lose the next election. Winning it could quite easily finish them off.

Anonymous said...

Quote: "They don't come much more Eurosceptic than me, but I can quite happily co-exist in the same Party as Ken Clarke and Ian Taylor."

Yes, but for what purpose?

Anonymous said...

Quite agree Iain. After his shameful role in the Bosnian war you'd think he keep his mouth shut on foreign affairs. But no he seems desperate to cause a schism. Will the leader be rebuking him? Doubt it.

HM Stanley said...


I agree with you regarding your criticism of Sir Malcolm and your contention that successful parties are necessarily big tents. However, I think you are being a little disingenuous about when it is that the Tory party “discovered” ideology. Certainly not in the 1990s!! Much as I love and admire her, it is surely the “Sainted Margaret” [another Denis-ism?] who injected ideology into the party with her politics of conviction/”One of Us”, wets vs. dry-s etc, no? We should not overlook facts just because they are inconvenient

Anonymous said...

if sir m rifkind shows his face on tv in anything for the Conservative Party say hello to UKIP , the public do remember

Anonymous said...

But is there not another game going on here ?

Cameron surely knows that if Rifkind is for UKIP, that will scare off any right-thinking people.

In the same way that if Tebbit gives him a kicking, Cameron's popularity zooms up to the stratosphere..

And it is an article of faith that anything Cameron does has to have the 'thumbs-down' from Simon 'ginger ' Heffer before it gets the full seal of approval.

Perhaps Rifkind is actually 'on the payroll'...?

Anonymous said...

Iain, This UKIP defection thing is gathering pace isn't it.

We could be seeing the beginning of the end of the British Conservative Party.

Anonymous said...

It's a bit like Labour getting rid of the Looney Left in the 1980s. Why would any serious political party want people in it who think that it would be good to withdraw from Europe, or become part of the Russian Empire. The problem is that a lot in the Tory party don't seem to see the difference.

Now that there is a new Right-wing coalition in the European Parliament shouldn't the Tories join that? Didn't Cameron promise to leave the moderate Christian Democrats and join the Euro-sceptics and Facists? That would stop the party faithful leaving to join UKIP.

Anonymous said...

It was Abraham Lincoln who said: "Better to be silent and be thought a fool, than speak out and remove all doubt."

Anonymous said...

Malcolm Rifkind is one of the most loyal, passionate and enthusiastic members of the Mrs T "cabinet generation."
He has worked tirelessly for the party and if he had been a member of the "we are the real conservatives brigade", his stance would have been seen as "principled" and any criticism seen as shutting down debate.
It is sad that he is being criticised for standing up for the party against people who are joining UKIP to try and "change" the leadership.
I don't always agree with his views but still respect him as a politician of the "old" school. I think that just maybe after everything the party went through under Major, Hague and IDS, it is about time that we stood up for our party, and against those who want to damage it if they don't win the debate from within the party.
I am fed of people "pi**ing in the tent and want them to do it from the outside.
Watching the shadow cabinet these days is refreshing, especially when you see people like Hague and Davis working hard and being so supportive of the leader, have not been used to that from the tories for many a year!

Anonymous said...

I am afraid the insulting comments about nutters and comparing it to Labour "purging the looney left" are the comments that will lose you an election. The EU is a disgrace full stop. If you are critical of Bliar and NuLabour assault on free speech, democracy then you have to be against the power of a foreign government to control our country dont you? The country vote dto join a free trade area so whats wrong with returning to that position?

Any move to limit or reverse EU influence over the UK would be wildly popular with the electorate.

A Tory party that is not campaigning on a policy of taking control of our borders, at the very least, will be viewed as a fraud and will make nonsense of any claims to sort out crime, nhs,immigration etc

There will be no honest government until the EU problem is resolved.

Anonymous said...

Anon. said:
"why are BOO Tories tolerated by the leadership?"

Well ...

Iain said beforehand:
"Successful political parties are broad coalitions of people who agree on most issues but may differ on a few."

And let's face it, Europe isn't exactly the biggest political topic on the agenda at the moment, is it?

Anonymous said...

Sam Tarrant - you are very young - 16 years, I believe - and as yet unworldly, although your heart is in the right place. Hang in with us.

Malcolm Riffkind has the right to say what the hell he likes. Desperate numbers of people, including me, are deserting to UKIP to get the Medusa EU out of our hair and out of our lives and out of our constitutions. Grrrrr! Get out! Gerrr orfff!

This includes shedding ourselves of the despicable "Human rights" act. Britain has had superb human rights for hundreds of years, copied all over the world - well reasoned, well thought out over centuries ... and the Europeans are forcing lunatic Napoleonic law on us. Our English Common Law (Anglo Saxon Common Law) is superior to every legal system in the world and was developed over centuries; not during the life of one dwarfish, obsessive little Corsican loser.

Sam, you weren't even born when this bizarre curse was laid upon Britain by the equally bizarre Edward Heath, but stay with us. You have not yet had enough life experience to develop a perspective, but you're observant, and you will.

Malcom Riffkind is correct in this instance. If there's a UKIP member standing, I will put my X next to his/her name.

Anonymous said...

Rifkin has realised that Juddas Dave is a Red imposter who has sold himself to the EUssr for twenty silver euros.
The tipping point of no return down the EUssr highway is upon us and for the sake of Indipendance, it is time for people to get their heads out of the clouds, say what they mean rather than what they think the pc brigade wish to here.

Anonymous said...

Last sentence spot on.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Rifkind or the party can afford to simply disregard defections to UKIP. Especially if they are people who have made an impact: peers and tim congdon etc etc

Anonymous said...

Cameron is already starting to talk up his policy groups that will feed back later this year, and I know that a lot of people inside and outside of the Conservative Party are waiting to see what stance he takes on education, the NHS, etc.

The EU is a very notable omission from the 6 policy groups that he set up last year. One wonders if he has any intention of forming a strong policy on this issue, or is he just going to wait to see what the mood is like nearer the election and completely bottle a decision until then? The longer he waits, the more Rifkind-like headlines he will have to face.

Anonymous said...

I am in favour of withdrawal but not of unilateral withdrawal. I find John Redwood's position ideal.

A vote for UKIP even in Rifkind's constituency is a vote for a Lib/Lab pro-EU coalition.

Verity - the Human Rights Act and the ECHR have absolutely nothing to do with the European Union. Britain has to enforce the ECHR whether or not we like it so all this talk of a British Bill of Rights is a total red-herring.

Anonymous said...

If Cameron had the backbone of Rifkind to stand up and say those who support our withdrawal from the European Union just stop moaning and go to UKIP, then I'd vote Conservative. If the Tories had listened to sense though they'd have elected Ken Clarke as leader and been a damn sight nearer to Government than they are now.

Little Black Sambo said...

If we wish to get out of the EU there is nowhere else to go AT PRESENT but UKIP? The remedy lies in Cameron's hands.

Andrew Ian Dodge said...

Cameron is Heath Mark II. That is becoming more & more obvious...fortunately people are not as easy to decieve as they were in the early 70s.

Anonymous said...

Rifkind's not alone in stating this, is he? I've seen many postings on webcameron stating that those on the right aren't wanted by the Conservatives any longer, so they should push off and defect to UKIP where they belong.

Never once, to my knowledge, has David Cameron ever contradicted these postings. Does that suggest that he agrees with these views?

I imagine that I'm not the only recent member of the Conservatives who is becoming mightily puzzled about where on the political spectrum Cameron and the Conservatives actually do stand.

Anonymous said...

Quoting Tom-r:The EU is a very notable omission from the 6 policy groups that he set up last year. One wonders if he has any intention of forming a strong policy on this issue, or is he just going to wait to see what the mood is like nearer the election and completely bottle a decision until then?

I agree with your desparation but actually what policy could there be to consider other than 'stay in' or 'get out'.

There is no possibility of being allowed to withdraw from the social chapter, the CAP, the CFP, or anything else, and remain a member.

Anonymous said...

I wish someone would explain to me why we can't come out of the EU but join the European Economic Area like Norway and Switzerland. We used to be in the European Free Trade Area and what was wrong with that?
Surely it would satisfy everyone - the europhobes, because it gets us out of the EU, the europhiles because we continue to get benefits of associate membership.
It seems fairly simple to me. What am I missing?

Anonymous said...

Laurence Boyce - you might enjoy chapter 16 in Duncan Brack (ed) 'President Gore....and other things that never happened' (Politico's), which deals with precisely this subject, and has an outcome very similar to the one you mention.

The Druid - indeed, Rifkind was so crass that he said to Senators Dole and MCain, 'You Americans don't know anything about conflict'. Unfortunate, that, when Dole had been severely injured (and almost killed) in World War Two, and John McCain is still unable to comb his hair after being tortured as a POW by the North Vietnamese.

Anonymous said...

Ed - Britain has had a Bill of Rights for hundreds of years. I don't remember voting to rescind it.

To those who suggest we leave the EU and adopt a status akin to Norway, Norway is in the EU in all but name. They have to maintain offices in the EU to keep up with the regulations that come pouring out, and they have to adopt them into their national legislation whether they like it or not or be punished by being blacklisted. The EU is a bully boy and no one escapes.

Ken said...

If he's doing that, he should be kicked out of the party. It's outrageous for someone to get the benefits of party membership while trying to drum up support for other parties.

Anonymous said...

As far as i'm concerned malcolm rifkind falls into the same category as francis maude- they are both bona fide cures for insomnia!

Anonymous said...

If Mr Tifkinf is guilty of anything it is in being too specific,

he should have said if you are a conservative/not a social democrat/ig coverement socailist then leave the tory (cannot call it conservative anymore) patyu and join/voye UKIP

Anonymous said...

erm, iain - from your post it looks as though you are saying he is a ukip supporter! I had to look it up, to make sure, as I couldn't believe this. Actually, he is saying

"If some Europhobes wish to defect to Ukip as a result of the Conservative line on Europe, then that only highlights the degree of our reasonableness"

You do realise what he means by this?