President Josiah “Jed” Bartlet:
There it is. That’s the ten word answer my staff’s been looking for for two weeks. There it is. Ten-word answers can kill you in political campaigns. They’re the tip of the sword. Here’s my question: What are the next ten words of your answer? Your taxes are too high? So are mine. Give me the next ten words. How are we going to do it? Give me ten after that, I’ll drop out of the race right now. Every once in a while… every once in a while, there’s a day with an absolute right and an absolute wrong, but those days almost always include body counts. Other than that, there aren’t very many unnuanced moments in leading a country that’s way too big for ten words.
Here’s Bob Neill, the senescent Tory MP for Bromley & Chislehurst doing his dirty dozen:
My [Private Member’s] Bill [for an EU referendum] is not about whether, at the end of the day, we should stay in the EU or leave. That is exactly why David Cameron is right to insist that we seek a proper re-negotiation of the terms of our membership first, and then put what is on offer to the British people in a vote.
The essence is those ten words:
not about … we should stay in the EU or leave.
Forgive me for being familiar, Bob. We were once on first-name terms back in Havering, when you were junior under-strapper, substitute voice-mail for John Loveridge.
So what is it about, Bob?
- You apparently agree there should be a proper re-negotiation of the terms of our [EU] membership before putting the issue to a referendum.
OK, Bob. As a barrister you might be aware of the law’s delays. Yet you assume there would be a “result” negotiating with the 26 other nations of the EU between the hypothetical enstoolment of a new Tory government in mid-May 2015 and Cameron’s promised 2017 referendum.
Do tell us, Bob, when the EU has ever moved that quickly.
- You seem to imply the Referendum is not about continued membership of the EU. It’s more about the conditions of membership:
many of my constituents work in the City of London, the global leader in financial services, so a genuine free market in that industry alone (which we do not yet have – just try getting into the German insurance market as a UK company) is an imperative. Any new relationship with our partners must reflect that reality. But it needs a fresh public endorsement …
Well, Bob, you and I know full well that the City of London would spawn kittens in droves if #Brexit was imminent.
Yet, when you won (just: majority 633) your 2006 by-election in one of those rock-safe suburban Tory seats, Farridge for the Kippers was still a whimper of his later swagger. He ran third, well behind the Lib Dems.
Now there’s up to a third of the 2010 vote up for grabs: add the Lib Dem defectors and the “word-in-the-street” types to the essentially racist elements. And the Kippers are on the march: they took Cray Valley Ward and only the BNP vote-splitters stopped them taking Mottingham in the Borough Elections.
We could continue in this vein, but — yes, Bob — You’ve got a real fight on.
What are your next ten words, Bob? And the ten after them?
Are you a serious “better-off-outer”, or are you just playing footsie with the weirdoes, the fruit-cakes, and the plain nasties?
And you used to be such a nice young man.