Daniel Hannan writes:
There was a telling row in the chamber of the European Parliament last week. Martin Callanan, superb leader of the European Conservatives, had mortified MEPs by declaring that ‘patriotism is healthy’. Outraged, the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, declared that Martin was likely to lose his own seat, because of a surge by Ukip.
Now ask yourself this. Why would the ultra-federalist Mr Barroso be talking up Ukip at the expense of the Tories? Why did the unelected Eurocrat-in-chief take the exceptional step of wading directly into the party politics of a member state?
The answer is clear enough. While Mr Barroso detests Nigel Farage, he doesn’t fear his success. Nigel (whom I like and admire) won’t be in a position to cut the EU budget, or repatriate powers, or impose benefits caps on EU migrants. David Cameron is already doing all these things. Ukip won’t be in a position to deliver a referendum on leaving the EU; the Tories could.
Ukip says all the right things, but can’t make them happen. The Conservatives are more modest in what they promise, but are already delivering.
Ultimately, the solution will have to be some kind of accommodation between the two Right-of-Centre parties. In the meantime, Mr Barroso has unwittingly given my party a great slogan: ‘Vote Conservative – it’s what the Eurocrats fear most’.
This being my first bulletin since the summer, let me take the opportunity to thank all the South East Tories who voted to put me at the head of the Conservative list for next year’s election. And thanks, come to that, to those who didn’t: in the current climate, I am grateful to anyone who chooses to become involved in politics. Even Lefties – though some of them would, as this piece suggests, feel better if they tried to hate a little less.