EU Referendum

EU politics: you've been conned!


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There must have been treble gins all round in Downing Street this morning after these headlines (above). For all the rhetoric, for all the analysis and for all the posturing, it boils down to the message millions of voters will receive: the government is doing something about migrants.

What started as an article in the Financial Times has blossomed into the front pages of the two "middle England" tabloids and dominated the media agenda for over twenty-four hours. Rarely can such a modest investment have yielded such huge dividends.

The odd thing is that David Cameron's piece did not even enjoy the status of an official announcement. Go to the Government website or No 10 Dowing Street and you will see nothing on migrant policy. And neither, apart from an exchange in PMQs, will you see anything announced in the Commons. Parliament, it seems, is too unimportant to be kept in the loop.

Thus, we have "government by Financial Times", thereby ensuring that most people will not have read the statement or have had access to the semi-firewalled article. They will be relying for their "take" on what the popular papers (and the BBC) tell them. And the message conveyed is as much as David Cameron could have hoped for.

Even as Euractiv smouldered about Mr Cameron being isolated, the Financial Times again rushed to his rescue, telling us that not only Germany but France "have joined David Cameron in announcing new curbs on EU migrants, fuelling tensions ahead of a summit on eastern European issues in Lithuania on Thursday".

Thus, we are told: "The issue of migration will hang over an EU meeting in Vilnius, at which Mr Cameron will explain his plan for a comprehensive overhaul of migration policy - first set out in an article for the Financial Times on Wednesday".

There is, of course, nothing at all "comprehensive" about Mr Cameron's "overhaul". It is, as we have already pointed out, content-free rhetoric (CFR). And, if there was any sense in the media, we would see the news of a "shock rise in net immigration" elevated to the front pages.

Nothing Mr Cameron has done has had the slightest impact on these figures, and nothing he is going to do will impact on levels in the short- or medium-term. But that doesn't matter. That is sufficient unto the day, and it will be enough to put UKIP back in its box for a week or so.

What matters is the perception. So far, Mr Cameron is on a roll. The papers are buying the spin, the readers are being well and truly conned and all is well with the world.