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Cameron’s Post-It Test

John Rentoul

note 4 300x279 Camerons Post It TestPhilip Collins is good in The Times today (pay wall) about the speech on Europe that David Cameron has advertised but not yet given. The latest Westminster briefing is mid-January, but if he knows what to say, why not say it?

The speech has not been written because it cannot be written. There is nothing the Prime Minister can say because every argument he might make is blocked.

My essential piece of equipment when I wrote speeches for Tony Blair was a Post-It Note. Ted Sorensen, JFK’s writer, once told me that if you can’t get the basic point on to a Post-It Note, then you don’t know what it is. And if you don’t know what the basic point is, then it’s not your words that are blocked, it’s your brain.

Collins observes of Cameron:

It is not obvious that there is any shared point between what his backbench MPs want and what his European counterparts are prepared to allow.

And his conclusion is definitive:

Mr Cameron’s own view of Europe is a scepticism that shares a border with hostility. But the struggle over the Europe speech is alerting him to a deep flaw in his thinking. He doesn’t have a policy on Europe.

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  • Junius

    ‘…if he knows what to say, why not say it?’

    When one has nothing to say, one should say nothing. As one monthly Ipsos Mori Issues Index* after another shows, Europe is a non-issue for the vast majority of voters – even if a small number of vociferous right-wing politicians, journalists and bloggers believe we are all in thrall, and all our woes are down, to Our Masters in Brussels.

    *The Ipsos Mori Issues Index for December shows that, when asked unprompted which is the most important issue facing Britain today, just one voter in one hundred mentioned Europe (Common Market/EU/Europe/Euro). When one considers the unremitting barrage of anti-EU propaganda that Europhobe politicians and right-wing media have been laying down, this is a quite astonishingly low figure.

    While voters are sanguine on the question of Europe, David Cameron does not need a policy on Europe. There are more important matters to be addressed. Let Philip Collins stick that on his post-it note.

  • greggf

    “…Europe is a non-issue for the vast majority of voters….”

    Except that, perhaps like the iceberg of which 9/10 ths are hidden, the 1/10 th showing reveals a lot more about the government and its attitude than a speech on post-it note would.


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