The title of this evening’s article is taken from the Beggar’s Opera, a ballad opera in three acts written in 1728 by John Gay with music arranged by Johann Christoph Pepusch. It was of course famously used at the end of the 1949 Ealing black comedy “Kind Hearts & Coronets” starring Dennis Price, Alec Guinness, Joan Greenwood and Valerie Hobson.
Upon his release, Louis D’Ascoyne Mazzini, 10th Duke of Chalfont, finds both Edith [his wife] and Sibella [his mistress] waiting for him in carriages. Pondering his dilemma, Louis quotes from The Beggar’s Opera: “How happy could I be with either, Were t’other dear charmer away!”
David Cameron has a similar quandary, although he is unlikely to adopt the Duke’s solution – murder! Cameron’s problem is that he must secure enough concessions to keep John Redwood and his friends happy and supportive of staying within the EU while doing this in as short a time as possible in order to keep the forces represented by Ken Clarke happy.
As British Gazette Readers will know, this is an impossible task. Unless Mr Redwood has a Damascene conversion, he will want concessions that will require treaty change – any serious concession on the part of the EU will require treaty change. On the timetable Mr Clarke and his Europhile friends have set Cameron, treaty change is impossible. This means that the only things that Cameron will be able to take away from the negotiating table will be commitments that will course not be guaranteed.
Of course, such is fear instilled by the spectre of the final tortuous years of Major government, Euroskeptics such as John Redwood may be made silent.
It is entirely possible therefore that in May 2016, Cameron will feel rather pleased with himself having achieved a “Yes” [to stay In] vote in the In/Out referendum. Defeat would have lead to Mr Cameron walking onto the same political scaffold as his former coalition partner Mr Clegg, late leader of the Lib-Dems. Thus Cameron will be feeling rather like Louis, 10th Duke of Chalfont as he steps out of the prison door into freedom and not into the noose. But then, like the Duke, there is that which will bring him back to that scaffold.
In the Duke’s case, it was his memoirs where he recounts all the murders! These were left in the prison cell! In Cameron’s case it is the Damocles sword that is the “Green Agenda” that will be his undoing!