Tom Spencer's Blog

The Lawson Mistake


One can see why Conservative Euro-sceptics might be reluctant to let Nigel Farage lead the Out campaign. The man is not sound. He is not properly house-trained. He is capable of ill-advised jumps in policy designed to attract the attention that UKIP needed to maintain its upward direction. However despite his time in the City, Farage has no understanding of late capitalism and its needs. It is so much easier to co-opt Nigel Lawson – so intellectual. So competent. So much at ease with the Establishment.

I believe his appointment to lead the Conservative Out campaign is the first major mistake made by the Outers in the campaign. He stands in the tradition that Enoch Powell played in the 1975 campaign and which David Owen has played intermittently in the last fifteen years. Aloof, sardonic, smug all three patronise rather than lead.

Enoch Powell was undoubtedly the most intellectually distinguished of this sad trio. In 1966 I remember hearing him deliver a beautifully honed argument in favour of a European army. However by 1975 his obsession with migration and its control had led him into a position of isolation, cheered only by meat porters. Lawson comes from the same stable but his path has taken him through a cynical opposition to climate change.

Neither of these styles is appropriate to appeal to those Englishmen that want to reject all continental entanglements. His is the rarefied world of Right Wind, Neo-Liberal think tanks. He is not John Bull. The Neo-Liberal section of the Conservative Party have been preparing to come out of the Union for a decade or more. The combination of David Cameron and John Major will run rings round him when appealing to the massed instincts of a Conservative Party that prizes stability above all other values.

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