Party Games

The news over the last few days seems to have been dominated by the appointment of Jean-Claude Juncker as the new president of the European Commission, and David Cameron’s unsuccessful attempt to thwart his appointment. Putting aside the issue of whether Juncker is a suitable person for the role or not, Cameron’s naked politicking brought to mind the Yes Minister Christmas special “Party Games”. Though not exactly the same, there are enough similarities to provide the excuse I need to share some clips.

The episode is set up by Hacker discussing European plans to standardise the sausage:

After convincing the EEC to allow Britain to keep the name “British sausage”, Hacker decides to boost his popularity by first pretending the sausage issue is still live and then giving an impassioned speech railing against European regulations:

What’s this got to do with Cameron? Not a lot, but I do question his sincerity in opposing Juncker. ISTM he was looking for a fight to pick with the EU and decided this was his moment. He could have entered this fight 6 months ago when the process for choosing the next Commission president was being decided, but it seems to have been agreed without much fuss. It looks like he just did it to appeal to his party and a certain section of the electorate. Some polls taken over the weekend seem to show his opposition to Juncker may indeed have been popular with the public, but given he failed in his bid to stop his appointment, I’m not sure he’ll get much lasting credit, and it’s pissed off a lot of people in Europe which might impact on his stated desire to secure important reforms to the way the EU is run.

BTW, the whole episode of Party Games is also on Youtube. If you haven’t seen it before, watch it here. It’s a joy:

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5 thoughts on “Party Games

  1. Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    Looking at the news today, I have to agree here with Alittleecon and Mike over at Vox Political: it did indeed look very, very much like Cameron was playing to the backbenchers in his own party, rather than trying seriously trying to prevent Jean-Claude Juncker taking power. As for the consequences, it has left Britain isolated in Europe, which might be the way the Tory Eurosceptics and closet UKIP supporters want it, but it does this country no favours at all.
    Apart from this, the ‘Yes, Minister’ clips shown here about the Euro assault on the sausage were actually holding up a satirical mirror to a serious issue at the time. In 1984/5, Brussels attacked the British sausage for precisely the reasons Hacker states in the clip below. It contained all sorts of offal, which fell well below what Europe considered decent and wholesome. Also apparently what the scriptwriters felt could be decently put into a BBC sitcom before the watershed. They missed out the bit about testicles, as well as other kinds of gristle, going into the mix, as was reported in the Observer. The result was that there really was a campaign to save the British Banger, fronted by Barbara Windsor. This sported all manner of Carry-On style songs and verses to get its message across, like ‘They gave cippolatas to their inamoratas’. Well, the furore about the British sausage seems to have blown over, but the fundamental issues still remain.

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