The Tory instinct for power is ingrained in their DNA, it is why they were the most successful governing party of the twentieth century, no ideological baggage is allowed to prevent them from governing. Conservativism is not a fixed canon, it is a frame of mind, an attitude to life and society. The one thing that is constant is that conservatives believe in furthering the national interest.
Yesterday the Conservatives put their party interest before the national interest. They will justify it to their consciences by arguing, as Cameron did, that if they win the election, they will inherit the worst public finances of any incoming government for fifty years.
We will have a generational challenge to get Britain to live within her means, to secure economic recovery and to deliver this country from the appalling mess left by this Labour Government. That has to come before anything else.
That may be. The argument won over the 1922 Committee. It seems to have convinced frontbench eurosceptics like Fox and Hague. It seems to have won over even Bill Cash. Only Hannan and Roger Helmer are unwilling to condone the putting of power before principle. Many more will be wrestling with their consciences.
It seems that contrary to everything that the Tories said about not letting matters rest, that they are willing to subordinate the national interest not just to a continental supra-state, but to electoral calculations. Guido has been told that three weeks ago Margaret Thatcher wrote a personal plea to her great admirer Václav Klaus, to stand firm, in the hope of strengthening his resolve. It was to be delivered by William Hague. It still rests on his desk.
UPDATE : Incidentally, Guido has read the draft bill the Tories circulated before the June 4 Euro-elections. Guido is not a constitutional lawyer, but can’t see any obstacle to that bill being introduced as promised by Tory MEPs at the election. Guido is willing to be corrected by m’learned friends.