The Prime Minister’s busy day

It is never easy when you are double booked – you can end up satisfying no-one.

Of course the Liaison Committee of the Commons would have changed its date to question the PM if asked. The fact they were not asked implies that Gordon Brown planned to leave signing the EU Treaty to Miliband. When pressure was applied, he decided he had to do both. The EU was insulted because the PM did not appear at the official ceremony, and Eurosceptics were angry because he gave in without seeking the approval of either people or Parliament.

I am all in favour of the PM taking the Commons seriously. I am glad he turned up to answer questions from Committee Chairmen. I would think he meant he takes Parliament seriously if we had enjoyed a vote on whether he should sign the EU Treaty before he signed it. What is the point of Parliament debating it and voting on it now he has committed us? We know we will be told we are not now allowed to alter any part of it. We know the government’s majority will be used to steam roller it through, with the Lib Dems helping drive the roller. All those who voted UKIP or stayed at home because the Conservatives were not proposing immediate withdrawal from the EU should be kicking themselves now. The Conservatives are the only party voting against this Treaty and for a referendum. Pity there are so few of us.

The PM would have made himself a hero with many if he had refused to sign the Treaty and had demanded the retention of vetoes or a better deal for Britain when he took over from Tony Blair. He had spun that he was far more Euroscpetic than Blair. He told the press he hated these grand EU gatherings, and saw much of the EU back slapping as a needless diversion from important matters at home. It is a pity he did not remember this when he became PM. That explains the savage change in press attitudes towards him.

The most revealing answer he gave to the Liaison Committee was when he said he now spent more time reading the newspapers but less time enjoying them. That tells us that he is just as much a slave to the media as his predecessor, thin skinned and concentrating on the wrong reading materials. He should remember Margaret Thatcher’s advice to senior collegeaues – "Don’t read it" – when the press wrote unpleasant things. She was told daily what the thrust of criticism was in the press, but did not usually spend her time pouring over different editions. She did not hold meetings to deal with press stories – only meetings to deal with real problems which sometimes might also be appearing in the press.

As a Minister myself I spent little time reading newspapers, as I had so many official papers to read and write, and so many people to talk to. If I was doing my job properly I knew more about my subject than the press knew, so I did not need to waste my time catching up with the newspapers. If the newspapers ever knew more than me about something within my government remit, then I had to make sure we caught up quickly! This bunch of politicians are too reactive, too slow, and spend too much time on dealing with the media. By the time it’s in the media it is usually out of control. That’s why the departments are so badly run. Whilst Ministers read newspapers, officials put data on discs and send it through the post, and lend ??30 billion to a bank without setting proper repayment and security terms.

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5 Comments

  1. haddock
    Posted December 13, 2007 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    "those who ……stayed at home because the Conservatives were not proposing immediate withdrawal from the EU"….. are effectively disenfranchised.
    It was that lying traitor Tory Heath who got us in, and Tory governments have got us deeper in.
    I do not want to be "in Europe but not whatever the latest Tory mantra says": I want out, as do millions of my countrymen, Englishmen…. not people from a eurozone…. ENGLAND !
    We have had enough of the EU, you politicians obviously think we are all stupid.
    EU and immigration, get rid of both and you will have a landslide victory in the next election.
    I do not think we need either for 'economic growth'… but even if we do; I am sure we would rather be poorer and free to be English.

  2. Bazman
    Posted December 13, 2007 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    Margaret Thatcher's advice to senior college's – Don't read it

  3. Warwick
    Posted December 14, 2007 at 4:49 am | Permalink

    What the Prime Minister has done today is absolutely disgraceful. His party were elected into power on, amongst other things, the promise of a referendum on this issue. He knew that the British public would say 'no' so he refused to hold one. He knew that the public would largely condemn him for signing the treaty so he tried to avoid being present at the ceremony altogether. He knew that the other heads of governments would be angry so he doesn't even have the gall to meet with them in Portugal.
    Every one of these actions is that of a coward and I think that they reflect badly not only on him but on Great Britain as a whole.
    I hope that the Conservatives will make a very loud public fuss about this and let the electorate know in no uncertain terms that not only are they led by a coward but by a party who lied to the very people that voted for them.

  4. a-tracy
    Posted December 14, 2007 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    I watched Piers Morgan on Question Time last night and wondered if he was trying out for Gordon's equivalent to the role Alistair Campbell played to Blair.

    When he bamboozled the audience with the claim that the two missing discs weren't the fault of the PM or his Ministers they were the fault of the junior I laughed out loud, Labour have introduced a multitude of new laws making employers responsible for staff behaving at Christmas Parties, not smoking in work vehicles, data protection rules and regulations as an example of just a few of the most recent, and yet because the government are the employer the junior is responsible for the lack of data protection, lack of security in access to this information – that a junior could get hold of these discs amazed me – and a lack of resources/procedure for safe transfer of highly sensitive data.

    He went on to say the Northern Rock crisis wasn't anything to do with the PM or his Ministers – well this is what I think they were responsible for: The dithering around about the Bank of Englands emergency loan, too much information getting out to an excited press which prompted the run on the bank.

  5. [[NAME EDITED]]
    Posted December 14, 2007 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    If we vote the Conservatives in and we are not allowed to decide whether or not to stay in the EU, what will be left but direct action, regardless of Parliament?

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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