Chris Moncrieff: PM’s fine words hit Brussels brick wall

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THE headline in a national newspaper the other day read: “The Prime Minister is all fine speeches and no action.”

There is, I fear, more than a mere element of truth in that statement. David Cameron does make fine speeches, and what is more he tailors them immaculately to the audience he is addressing. But what about the content?

The speech, for instance, that he gave to the Conservative Party conference and which won him the leadership all those years ago, was brilliantly delivered and gave him a prolonged standing ovation. But when you came to read the speech afterwards, you found it was almost entirely content-free. It said virtually nothing, just said it very well.

By contrast, his rival on that occasion, Haltemprice and Howden MP David Davis, delivered a speech full of substance, but in such a laid-back and lackadaisical manner that he deservedly lost. To gain the confidence of the Tory conference, it doesn’t matter what you say, but you have to deliver your words like Olivier doing Henry V.

Now we have Cameron’s much-heralded speech on immigration. It was an impressive oration, effectively saying he would go to any lengths, implying supporting Britain’s exit from the EU if he didn’t get his way.

But trying to make a case against the obdurate mule-like bureaucrats in Brussels is about as effective as banging your head against a brick wall. I don’t want to be defeatist about this, but he can’t win. Even if he wins the general election, I doubt Cameron will have made much progress before the 2017 in-out referendum we are promised.

To be fair, he has been hampered by the sometimes obstructive machinations of the Liberal Democrats.

He regularly returns from Brussels claiming great victories but which, under close analysis, prove to be far from the case. It will be a miracle if he secures from Brussels what the British people really want.

PENNY Mordaunt, the Conservative MP for Portsmouth North, has been boasting that in order to win a bet she managed to include the word “cock” six times in a House of Commons speech without being pulled up by the Speaker.

Well, good luck to her.

Now she finds that her little prank is splashed all over the front page of a national newspaper. I suppose those who took objection to this event will be accused of a sense of humour failure.

However, for Ms Mordaunt to brag about it, as she did, to a roomful of journalists, just strikes one as plain stupid.

It is just as well that Baroness Boothroyd was not still the Speaker.

When she held that office she delivered a withering dressing down to a group of MPs who had been running a competition with their Canadian counterparts to get unusual words into their Parliamentary speeches.

Obviously, the current speaker, John Bercow cannot smell a rat as successfully as his illustrious predecessor.

IT is heartening that David Mellor has now apologised for his disgraceful rant to a London cabbie, and has offered to make a substantial contribution to a cab-drivers’ supported charity, by way of making amends. But that apology does nothing to lessen the contempt with which some current and ex-political figures regard the rest of us, whether 
they are in drink or otherwise. In vino veritas, as the saying goes.

Would Mellor have apologised if he had not been caught out?

In addition to the volcanic Mellor 
there is Andrew Mitchell, of Plebgate fame, and Emily Thornberry, the Labour MP who epitomised the champagne socialist by deriding the white van man and the St George’s Cross.

I remember years ago, David Mellor, then a raw and barely heard-of junior minister, saying to me that his great ambition was to become famous. Well, mission accomplished.

GORDON Brown, the man said to 
be responsible for swaying the vote 
in the Scottish independence referendum at the last minute, says that the Government in Scotland should 
stop obsessing about constitutional issues and start concentrating on governing.

Quite right, too.

It seems as though the SNP are more interested in gaining yet more power for themselves rather than in doing the job which they were elected to do.

Chris Moncrieff is a former political editor of the Press Association.