Chris Moncrieff: Cameron outmanoeuvred in the struggle to block Juncker

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DAVID Cameron has been fighting like the proverbial Kilkenny cat to stop the arch-federalist Jean-Claude Juncker from becoming the new president of the European Commission.

The bleak truth is that the Prime Minister is outnumbered and outmanoeuvred. Now, Britain’s influence, and especially its attempts to claw back some of the powers Brussels has “stolen” from Westminster, could be severely weakened.

Many feel the overwhelming powers Brussels exerts over member states are already far too great. But with Juncker at the helm, things will get even worse for Britain. Those who oppose his choice have described Juncker as “a drunk who has cognac for breakfast”. An attractive argument but probably one that will have little effect.

Meanwhile, in a not altogether unrelated matter, hundreds of foreign killers and rapists have been involved in legal actions – many of them successful – to stop their deportation from Britain.

Most of them are considered under the European Convention on Human Rights by judges who seem to have no sense of justice whatsoever. Britain’s hopes of putting an end to this intolerable situation at the upcoming EU summit in Ypres might now be weakened as well.

HAS Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, completely given up the ghost so far as his party, the Liberal Democrats, is concerned?

The other day, his party voted in the Commons against a plan which would mean those caught carrying a knife illegally for a second time would face an automatic jail sentence. Even Labour supported the plan.

It’s beyond belief that the Liberal Democrats, who are facing possible annihilation at the next general election, should voluntarily make their dire situation even worse by voting against what most people regard as a wise, popular and responsible proposal. They seem to be hell-bent on a form of political suicide.

PERHAPS the most successful and effective (and likeable) Liberal Democrat member of the coalition Cabinet is Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury. John Major once described this post as the most difficult and arduous one in any government – and that included being Prime Minister.

He endeared himself to many Tories when he recently called on Labour to “stop fracking about”.

But what appealed to me most was his comments comparing his prowess as a cricketer, a fast bowler, with his political duties: “No spin, all swing.”

POLITICIANS may, by and large, be an untrustworthy bunch. But you can always rely on them to avoid a robust word when a euphemism can be found.

They are past-masters at trying to soften the blow and making things seem less dire than they really are. For instance you rarely hear the word “censorship” now. Instead, politicians use the word “redact” (which simply means edit) when they want to censor a document. It sounds so much less like the actions of an overbearing state.

Equally, gullible young Muslims are now “radicalised” rather than the far more telling “brainwashed” which seems to have disappeared from favour.

Probably the worst one of all was committed by Hillary Clinton when she was the US First Lady, who told a whopper about a visit she made to the Balkans. When it was revealed that her claim she was at the centre of a gun battle at the airport was totally false, she finally admitted she had “mis-spoken”. But there may have been a motive for her use of such a feeble word to describe what was clearly a downright lie. Was it to ensure that in future she would never be described as a “self-confessed liar”?

IT sounds old fogeyish to say so, but Parliament is not what it was. A recent poll shows that 54 per cent of Labour candidates in marginal seats at the next election have links to the Westminster bubble as advisers, researchers, lobbyists and ousted MPs. The Liberal Democrats are nearly as bad with 46 per cent.

That means that more and more members of the Commons are likely to be people who’ve had no links outside the stuffy political environment from the moment they left school.

And the situation could get even worse if Labour win the next general election. There have already been strong hints that outside work by MPs, which is already scandalously frowned on, could be banned altogether. That would be disastrous.

Being an MP should be a vocation, not a full-time job. Nowadays, spontaneity in the Commons seems to have been booted out of the window. They read their speeches and are now even allowed to read their questions. There are still some old-timers around who treat their work in Parliament properly. But they will gradually disappear. And we will be left with a “House of Clones”. This would be a terrible shame.