Charles Moore Charles Moore

The Spectator’s Notes | 19 November 2011

Not a lot of people know that Douglas Alexander is the shadow foreign secretary, but his speech this week about the euro shows that Labour is at last thinking like an effective opposition. Mr Alexander has noticed the danger of being the status quo party. He wants Labour to hand that honour to the Conservatives. Support for Europe is ‘haemorrhaging’, he says, because people constantly feel they are not consulted. Mr Alexander’s new ‘lodestar’ by which any treaty change should be judged is that it must create more jobs and prosperity in the United Kingdom. He warns that non-euro EU members could easily be damaged by the eurozone’s efforts to change treaties in its favour. Nothing he says, of course, commits his party to any course from which it could not easily rat later. But the change of rhetoric shows that the opposition is dropping the idea that pro-Europeanism is essential to any ‘modern’ identity. It also shows that he is trying to create a position in which Labour, with rebel Tory votes, could defeat the government if it refuses a referendum on the coming treaty which will cede more powers to Brussels. The government could be trapped.

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As the Church of England keeps telling us how much it shares the aims of the St Paul’s protestors, I notice an advertisement it has placed in the Financial Times. The Church Commissioners need a chief operating officer. He will be paid ‘a six figure salary’, says the advertisement, to manage their ‘£5 billion multi-asset portfolio’. There is no mention of anything Christian, or even anything ethical. The language is all management-speak. The ideal candidate will have ‘a proven track record of driving continuous and consistent operational performance’.

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