However it came about; however reluctant he was to do it, the Cameron 'initiative' is a Good Thing. The cat is among the pigeons, and the ensuing disturbance will throw up who-knows-what.
The reflex of a startled bird is of course to poop, but we can laugh confidently as the snarling and sniping 'project' promoters threaten to crap all over us. They can't be getting any pleasure from the better-informed public commentary: Raedwald has a good piece on how the intelligent European press knows the score. All manner of insights and opportunities will emerge as the dust and feathers begin to clear.
Many thought 2010 was the election to lose, including many of our C@W regulars; but I always maintained, and still do, that you are better holding the levers of power - provided you know what to do with them. The ability to take meaningful initiatives is the prerogative of Government.
That's why my scorn is greatest for Osborne, who sold himself aggressively as a Strategic Genius, and so was given total control of the Strategic Initiatives brief - on which he has singularly failed to deliver. He really is just the student politician he appears to be, all tactics, spite and silly sneers. Trumping Brown on inheritance tax was a wizard wheeze, but it doesn't put him in Mandelson's bracket (if you see what I mean). Mercifully a real strategist has come to town, and if Miliband and Clegg are troubled now (as they clearly are) they will enjoy little sleep on the long road to 2015.
The despair over Cameron has frequently stemmed from his inability to be ruthless with his friends. But Osborne has let him down; the Brooks woman was nearly disastrous for him; and Clegg's treachery over boundary changes is as big a political betrayal as any of recent years. We may hope (upon hope) he has learned these hard lessons, and is up for the coming war of euro-manoeuvres.
For now, I offer the following: the precedent of France's stance in NATO. For decades, France was 'in, but semi-detached'
- and they really were in. When a soldier I met French officers at all sorts of important gatherings - and they were keen to be there; and the rest were pleased they were there. They maintained a decent division for deployment in Germany, and stuck to NATO protocols. The proof of the effectiveness of this, when the moment came, was how seamlessly they fitted into Schwarzkopf's great campaign for the liberation of Kuwait in 1991 - which was complex, successful, and entirely run using NATO doctrines and protocols.
A rather pertinent model for viable and constructive semi-detached positioning in a European context, I suggest. And that's if we need to be semi-detached: I'd say there's a decent chance the next 3 years will throw up opportunities for something even better. Over to Dave: no quarter for Clegg; wean yourself off Osborne; get in the habit of taking proper advice - and march towards the sound of gunfire.