The problem with Dave, as this blog has long argued, is that our Prime Minister is a flake. He is a weak leader blessed by two fortuitous circumstances. The first, which is down to him, is his sole discernible talent of looking the part. He's posh without sounding snobby, he speaks plainly, avoids wonkish terms, and does not have the weird Westminster accent many of the front bench opposite has. He appears dynamic and at ease in the company of the big beasts of the international circus, and a lot - too many, as it turned out - think he really does mean well. A countenance absolutely appropriate to our heavily mediatised age. The second are those pesky events, which as Frankie Boyle points out, have almost contrived to make Dave appear as an evil genius.
I've long hoped, forlornly up until now, that Dave will one day be exposed. That his legion of weaknesses will not so much be unveiled as do a full military tattoo in the parade ground of public perception. It didn't happen in the general election, but the EU negotiations might have him. But it's not terribly clear what Dave's objectives are. This list, gleaned by Policy Network suggests:
* New controls to stop “vast migrations” when new countries join the EUIf this is the list, there are a couple of problems. Firstly, the European Commission aren't the people to speak to about the European Convention on Human Rights. They are entirely different bodies.
* Tighter rules to ensure that migrants come to work, not as “tourists planning to cash in on free benefits”
* New powers for “groups” of national Parliaments to block “unwanted EU legislation”
* Freeing businesses from red tape and “excessive interference” by EU rules, as well as “turbo-charging” free trade deals with the USA and Asia
* British police and courts “liberated from unnecessary interference” from the European Convention on Human Rights
* Power “flowing away” from Brussels to Britain rather than “increasingly centralising laws”
* Ensuring that Britain is “no longer subject” to the EU treaty objective of “ever closer union”
Second, when it comes to "unwanted EU legislation" and rules responsible for "excessive influence", Dave will have a tough time. The majority of these laws and regulations are promulgated because the vast beast that is the European single market requires them. For it to work properly, it needs to ensure its legislative underpinnings are standardised and enforced across member states. And, despite what the Europhobes like to think, it's very hard to maintain the existence of a market without a political dynamic developing toward pooled sovereignty. While some eurocrats may dream of a superstate, its DNA is inscribed in the billions of transactions that take place across European frontiers. That in mind, some member states will be mindful of Dave trying to maximise the benefits of being in the world's largest trading bloc while minimising the responsibilities that come with it. If the Tories, for instance, decide EU employment legislation is too "restrictive" and that the right to a decent working environment is so much red tape, are other EU states going to be sanguine about any competitive advantages this affords a semi-detached UK? Definitely not.
And so Dave has allowed himself to concede a set of EU negotiations he cannot possibly achieve. The best he can hope for are some quite marginal tinkering with social security rules here, some free movement delays on new members there. He is entering this completely unnecessary process in bad faith, and this could well be the occasion where - at last - his vapidity is well and truly found out.