Another bad day at the office

Yesterday was another bad day at the office. Labour voted down a referendum on the EU Treaty, breaking their election promise. The Lib Dems made themselves look ridiculous. Three of their top team resigned by breaking a three line whip to abstain! The very Lib Dems who walked out in juvenile protest when we were debating the Treaty sat petulantly in their seats watching their own car crash as the rest of us voted.

Labour this morning have clearly decided they are now so steeped in denying the public what they want that they will now press ahead with ID Cards. Everywhere we hear the smack of autocracy, as an out of touch government continues its battle against the British people and their liberties.

The fight for a referendum now goes to the Lords. There the Lib Dems will probably revolt again, but in order to vote against the very referendum their MPs offered to get elected in order to get through the Election in 2005. If Nick Clegg thinks yesterday was a bad day, he should cheer up. It might look like a golden age for his leadership when his peers split in order to prevent the British people having a vote on the Treaty.

The visceral hatred of democracy and liberty emenating from the government is now nauseating. David Miliband gave a dreadful performance yesterday, unwilling to admit how much power is passing to the EU, and unable to explain why that would be a good thing. Labour is now talking to itself. No one else believes their absurd misrepresentations. Now today it is the Home Secretary’s turn to spin for Gordon. In her warped presentation of ID Cards, she tries to avoid all mention of the large computer database which is what it is really all about. Meanwhile, she tries to find ways of tiptoeing towards compulsion. Today she tried to pretend airport workers do not already have ID Cards, and to suggest that if she could get them on to the database we could all be much safer.

The only thing a politician lives by is his or her word. If you get to the point where they don’t believe a word you say, you have lost it with the public. Words are this government’s currency. they have now devalued them so much, they have become the main reason people have lost trust in politics.

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25 Comments

  1. Will Rees
    Posted March 6, 2008 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    To paraphrase a petulant pension thief:

    "There is nothing that the PM could say to me now that I could ever believe."

    I am glad that you blog that yesterday was pretty much a double whammy : not only did our elected representatives vote to relinquish yet more sovereignty they also damaged public faith in our National Parliament and the sound bites offered post division by these charlatans were an insult to the intelligence of the electorate.
    Therein lies a chalk circlesque problem for those whom do value democratic national sovereignty. Labour's most definite autocratic tendency is an incomplete explanation -why pledge a referendum in the first place? I am minded to wonder to think that this betrayal of trust has as much to do with the poor state of party finances with which to run a referendum campaign. [Do not take this as an argument for state funding-that would only lead to further contempt of both their memberships and the wider electorate]

  2. Ian Evans
    Posted March 6, 2008 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    I heard the Minister talk about this on the Daily Politics today. Gordon Brown's promise of 'no compulsion' has now become 'no universal compulsion'.

    Also. it appears that, whilst there will be no compulsion for new passport holders to actually have an ID card, their data will still be added to the database, so that data WILL be compulsorily collected and held. Available to be searched and, no doubt, shared about among all government departments and, of course potentially available to theft, fraud, loss, computer errors etc

    Isn't it nice to know that our tax pounds are so well spent!?

  3. Stuart Fairney
    Posted March 6, 2008 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Why ID cards are pointless, evil and costly

    1. It makes it illegal not to be able to prove who you are. Hence a right has become a compulsion
    2. The government’s record on database security is not entirely perfect
    3. The government’s record on IT procurement and delivery is similarly, not entirely perfect
    4. The cards in no way fight terror. The 7/7 bombers took ID with them to prove who they were
    5. The cards can’t fight illegal immigration, tourists need only say “I am a tourist” and they are free to go about their holiday, illegal immigrants would doubtless do the same. So unless we propose to start arresting tourists, which would hardly boost UK tourism….
    6. If it can be made, it can be faked, and how much better for ID theft would be one of the “infallible” cards
    7. They serve no other purpose other than to increase monitoring and checking and snooping on law abiding people. (And if one of them says “Nothing to hid nothing to fear” we might reasonably wonder why Northern Rock is FOI exempt)

    Above all, my father was a member of the Royal Navy in World War 2. He fought Nazi tyranny, and for freedom. He did not fight Nazis only to see petty state officials demanding “Papers please”

    So with respect to the government, you’d best tell then to provide hundreds of thousands of additional prison places, either that or release more murderers and rapists to free up some space, because I will be damned if will betray all those who have fought and died for freedom in the UK, only to meekly surrender it to Jackie Smith. I will never, never carry this card, and there are hundreds of thousands like me.

  4. Freeborn John
    Posted March 6, 2008 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    Frankly we need another Glorious Revolution to reconstitute government in this country on the surer principles of Locke & Montesquieu. We are witnessing the return of government without the consent of the governed – Hobbes’ Leviathan writ large in Brussels – made possible by the absence of a written constitution at national level to protect us from the snowballing power of the executive (i.e. cabinet ministers) who are content when in power to transfer powers to EU Councils on which they sit, from where they may create superior European legislation that no democratic parliament can block and which cannot easily be overturned by their successors, no matter how we the electorate vote.

    The only prospect for peaceful revolution is the Conservative party but – with honourable individual exceptions – the party ducks the issue. The case for EU withdrawal and a written national constitution (to prevent any future repeat of the transfer of the sovereignty of the people to institutions beyond our control) is not being made. Too many Conservatives regard the EU as a tactical opportunity to score points against Labour and the unfortunately named “Liberal Democrats” rather than a fundamental issue of representative government. You could be telling the country that Council Tax can be slashed by abolishing the costs of EU membership, that our treasury could keep the tariffs on our non-EU trade rather than handing the revenue to Brussels, that red-tape on the 80% of the economy devoted to domestic consumption could be streamlined, that food prices kept artificially above world level by the CAP and EU agricultural tariffs & quotas could save each family hundreds of pounds each year, that the EU has a 0% tariff on services meaning that the great majority of Britons working in the service sector would be totally unaffected if we were outside the common market (which barely exists anyway in services given the failure of the Bolkenstein directive). The case is strong but your resolve is weak, meaning the argument is being lost by default.

    reply; THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY HAS MOVED A LONG WAY SINCE 1997. IT HAS VOTED AGAINST NICE,AMSTERDAM AND LISBON. IT HAS VOTED FOR A REFERENDUM ON LISBON. THE ISSUE WILL BECOME WHAT IT WILL OFFER FOR THE NEXT ELECTION AFTER THE REFERENDUM OPPORTUNITY IS SETTLED ONE WAY OR THE OTHER.

  5. Puncheon
    Posted March 6, 2008 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    NuLab are paying the price for the Blair/Brown destruction of the Civil Service. It wasn't perfect, but it was reasonably impartial and a stout guardian of democracy and legalities. They have surrounded themselves with sycophants and carreerists, as they always do, and are now just talking to themselves. It took the Thatcher administration 5 years or so to rid us of the damage done to the Civil Service by the previous Labour administration, let us hope it does not take quite so long next time.

  6. Jeremy Spencer
    Posted March 6, 2008 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    Why can't Labour's renewed love of the ID card be exposed for what it is? This isn't a policy Labour really needs right now, but they are obliged to implement this scheme by the EU. Wouldn't it help people understand the working of the EU a little better if instead of talking about public opinion for or against ID cards – we talked of the irrelavence of public opinion.

    ID cards will be forced onto all of us, and they will be compulsory to carry and this has nothing to do with our Government – this is EU policy.

    And this is the problem the Conservatives face. Too many of us accept that Labour are only implementing policies that the Conservatives would have to put in place if they were in charge. I really don't believe a word when I hear Conservative politicians say they are against ID cards. In government they will change thier tune because they will have no choice.

  7. mikestallard
    Posted March 6, 2008 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    I saw your intervention on the TV last night. Well done! If only there were more MPs like that….
    Imagine a situation where Apple decided to offer, for £50, a card with iris identification, fingerprint both hands, medical records and passport facilities. Would you buy one? I reckon that, if it allowed me to queue jump, I would. My son had a card like that in Spain. He loved it!

    It all comes back, as you say, to trust. Would I trust Apple? Definitely. It has never let me down, never broken a promise made, always delivered what we agreed and it is nice to work with.
    The government, however, lie, cheat, tell half truths, agree to things behind my back and then tax me up to the hilt. They then treat me with contempt (advertisements on TV, micromanagement of my life, silly fads and vast wastage of "their" resources etc) and sign me up, without asking, to the EU which (in case they have not noticed) is run by France and Germany and always has been. We are at the Heart of Europe indeed!
    Like a LOT of people in this Regionality I am FURIOUS.

  8. Slim Jim
    Posted March 6, 2008 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    John, I agree with your statement that there is a visceral hatred of democracy and liberty being demonstrated by this government. It would appear that Brown is continuing the NuLab line of trying to 'fool all the people, all the time'. This is down to the current system of parliamentary 'democracy' that just encourages the 'let's see what we can get away with' style of politics. Perhaps if the whip system was removed things may improve? But know this: we will not forget this perfidious act, and I reckon that come the May local elections, Brown just might have the smug grin wiped off his face! He just can't keep on spinning the plates – they're going to come crashing down sooner rather than later.

    Our only hope is that your party can come up with the necessary policies (and dare I say cojones?) to break the mould and revitalise democracy and restore faith in politicians. A hard task, but necessary.

  9. A Ellis
    Posted March 6, 2008 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    Why is no one petitioning the Queen to dissolve parliament and call a general election.
    As the Act of Supremacy and the Bill of Rights put it:

    all usurped and foreign power and authority may forever be clearly extinguished, and never used or obeyed in this realm. no foreign prince, person, prelate, state, or potentate shall at any time after the last day of this session of Parliament, use, enjoy or exercise any manner of power,
    jurisdiction, superiority, authority, pre eminence or privilege within this realm, but that henceforth the same shall be clearly abolished out of this realm, for ever.

    If this is ratified and receives royal assent then the Queen is in breech of her coronation oath.
    The Queen has solemnly promised to govern the
    peoples of the United Kingdom according to the Statutes in Parliament agreed on and according to their laws and customs.

    The protection of our constitution, the bill of rights and Magna Carta still stand.
    Petition the Queen and invoke them.
    Our democracy, and therby our sovereignty, were not handed to us, we fought and won them. On this issue the Queen has every right to intercede on behalf of her subjects.
    It's why we have a constitutional Monarchy.

    reply:YOU CANNOT EXPECT A CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCH TO OVERTURN THE ELECTED GOVERNMENT OF THE DAY. ONLY THE ELECTORATE CAN DO THAT. THE QUEEN HAS TO ASSUME THE PEOPLE KNEW WHAT THEY WERE DOING WHEN THEY ELECTED A FEDERALIST COMMONS IN 2005.

  10. Slim Jim
    Posted March 6, 2008 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    Another point, John: what will happen if the Lords vote for a referendum? Will the Parliament Act be used to overturn their decision?

    Reply:PING PONG TO TRY TO GET THE LORDS TO BACK DOWN FOLLOWED BY PARLIAMENT ACT. WE NEED A LOT MORE PEERS TO BE BRAVE TO GET THERE.

  11. Man in a Shed
    Posted March 6, 2008 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    The repercussions of all this will be wide and far reaching. Much as the King once oppressed the people (or at least the nobles) leading to the Magna Carta, so the people are now oppressed by a government which is unconstrained by the need to speak the truth or keep its word.

    I have mixed views on the ID card issue – I'm afraid I see it as coming about inevitably with time. It will no doubt be very costly and badly handled, but still hard to stop.

    Our real problem is at the same time the government has become self serving, deceitful and full of contempt for the wider population. Thanks to its fascination with marketing and spin combined with its shameless willingness to distort the truth, hide facts, issue false dossiers and break oaths to the people we stand on the edge of giving this monster unprecedented power over us all.

    Government can no longer be trusted. It is no longer constrained by decency, religion, or shame. It is about to be handed unprecedented power over us all through information technology.

    Hence government must be changed. A new Magna Carta is needed to constrain government and restore the nations sovereignty over itself from this self selecting bunch of student politicians.

    The alternative is to fall into the night with no hope of awakening.

  12. Adam
    Posted March 6, 2008 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    Very well said John.
    A disasterous day for British Politics if ever I saw one.

    Keep up the good fight and lets hope that the House of Lords can see the treaty and the traitors for what they are and put the brakes on this whole thing.

    Good Luck!

  13. anoneumouse
    Posted March 6, 2008 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    Under natural law, all people have the right to life, liberty, and estate; and as John Locke declared in the "Two Treatises of Government" , under the social contract, the people can instigate a revolution against the government when it acted against the interests of citizens and replace the government with another government in the interests of the citizens.

    And of course, we here in England once set a president. However, the next revolution, when it comes, may not be so glorious in its lack of bloodshed. (WORDS DELETED ED)
    .

  14. Matthew Reynolds
    Posted March 6, 2008 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    If the Tories cannot unseat enough Labour & Lib Dem MP’s after this disgusting insult to democracy to form a majority government then the Conservatives have got a real problem ! How on earth can anyone claim that The Lisbon Treaty was not The Constitutional Treaty in drag ? I am ashamed to be British when our Parliament ignores the wishes of the people over giving more power to unelected & corrupt pen pushers in Brussels . Labour & the Lib Dems pledged a plebiscite over this ghastly treaty & betrayed that pledge . We put up with attacks on democracy , red tape and corrupt wastage of money by being in the EU . Common sense demands British withdrawel from this failed 1950’s pipe dream . Economically speaking the EU need us more than we need them ! Why do the political class have such contempt for the voters ?

  15. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted March 6, 2008 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    Yesterday was a disgraceful betrayal of our withering democracy. It is clear that democracy is an alien concept to those treacherous MPs who did not vote for the referendum on the EU Lisbon Treaty. Do you know why these people want to be elected to Parliament and are prepared to lie to get in, only to give away the powers, with which they have been entrusted, to an unelected, anti-democratic EU?

  16. Matthew Reynolds
    Posted March 6, 2008 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    If the Tories cannot unseat enough Labour & Lib Dem MP's after this disgusting insult to democracy to form a majority government then the Conservatives have got a real problem ! How on earth can anyone claim that The Lisbon Treaty was not The Constitutional Treaty in drag ? I am ashamed to be British when our Parliament ignores the wishes of the people over giving more power to unelected & corrupt pen pushers in Brussels . Labour & the Lib Dems pledged a plebiscite over this ghastly treaty & betrayed that pledge . We put up with attacks on democracy , red tape and corrupt wastage of money by being in the EU . Common sense demands British withdrawel from this failed 1950's pipe dream . Economically speaking the EU need us more than we need them ! Why do the political class have such contempt for the voters ?

  17. Elaib
    Posted March 6, 2008 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

    The Commons also divided on New Clause 9 in the name of William Cash. It stated that nothing in the new Treaty of Lisbon should be construed by any court in the United Kingdom as affecting the supremacy of the United Kingdom Parliament.The Conservative frontbench line was to abstain. But 40 Conservative MPs, including 12 members of the 2005 intake, voted for Cash’s clause. Europhile Ken Clarke voted with the Government in the no lobby.This was the largest Conservative rebellion since David Cameron came to power, involving a quarter of his MPs. It was also the largest rebellion by MPs of any party during the passage of the Bill to date.

  18. A. Sedgwick
    Posted March 6, 2008 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    Mr.Redwood,
    An excellent summary – the Conservative Party have to stop prevaricating and give a solemn guarantee that there will be an EU referendum. Anything less and any serious delay and given our demographics Mr.Cameron may find the loss of his core vote is not replaced by the new supporters he has been seeking over his period as leader.

  19. John Rees
    Posted March 7, 2008 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    The phased introduction of ID cards appears to present terrorists with a golden opportunity. Foreign Nationals are to be given first priority. Surely they constitute the single group whose identities are the most difficult to confirm. It seems likely therefore that terrorists will be able to gain entry to the county and obtain ID cards.

    This will make them well qualified to work in high security areas: workers here are to be the Government's second priority for ID cards.

    In brief, the plans for introducing ID cards could well make the country less secure from terrorism. You couldn't make it up…

  20. Neil Craig
    Posted March 7, 2008 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Your last paragraph is dead on. Even, parhaps particularly, the most devious politician will not openly break a firm promise. His word is the biggest asset they have. We may expect public jeers of "Is that a manifesto promise?" for years to come. The coolness of the Question Time audience to those defending breaking the referendum promise was noticed even by Mr Dimbleby.

  21. anoneumouse
    Posted March 7, 2008 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

    Queens speech 2005

    My Government will bring forward a Bill to give effect to the Constitutional Treaty for the European Union, subject to a referendum.
    http://www.pm.gov.uk/output/Page7488.asp

    So what is the constitutional position?, surely prerogative rules ok

    .

  22. Jonathan Robson
    Posted March 7, 2008 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

    Do you think that it is only a matter of time before the public call for less MPs in parliament, after all with everything being decided in Brussels, parliament will only resemble a Borough Council.

    Manifestos will be meaningless – what can MPs possible put forward to the elctorate? "We will put more bins in town centres" will be their election cry.

    Its stange that MPs are happy to vote themselves out of a job – but then again the New Labour elite will probably put this on their CV when they apply for a "cushy" job in Brussels.

    Neil Craig said "The coolness of the Question Time audience to those defending breaking the referendum promise was noticed even by Mr Dimbleby."

    Don't forget that the Question Time audience does not represent the views of the population – they are "invited" to the program by the BBC .

  23. Curly
    Posted March 9, 2008 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    Lib-Dems have always been as revolting as NuLabour John, the duplicity and deceit displayed this week was quite sickening, thank heavens for the Conservatives. However, being the only party to stick to it's guns over a referendum, we must now impress upon the leadership the importance of having a cast iron policy in place for a binding referendum on return to government.
    Yes, a renegotiation.

    I would like to think that their Lordships could be of some help, but it's always wise to have a contingency in place.

  24. James
    Posted March 10, 2008 at 3:48 am | Permalink

    was interested in Jacqui Smith's claim that possession of an ID card would make it "easier" for students to get a bank account. Since students can already open bank accounts without an ID card, the implication is that the Government intends to make it more difficult to open one without a card.

    Christ Almighty, who will put them out of my misery?!

  25. Freeborn John
    Posted March 11, 2008 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    “THE ISSUE WILL BECOME WHAT IT WILL OFFER FOR THE NEXT ELECTION AFTER THE REFERENDUM OPPORTUNITY IS SETTLED ONE WAY OR THE OTHER”

    This is the question I asked Dan Hannan MEP at a public meeting in Esher a few weeks back. Unfortunately he only gave me the standard answer about ‘not letting matters rest’, etc. which I already knew. But perhaps he could say nothing else at a public meeting.

    As I see it there are only two logically consistent routes ahead for those unhappy with the general direction that the EU is taking; Reform or Withdrawal.

    The problem I have with those Conservative reform proposals I have read about so far is that they do not address what I regard to be the fundamental problems with the EU system. For example I have heard of proposals to re-negotiate the return of powers in one or other areas where the EU has already assumed competence, for example social policy or fisheries. The distinction I would like to see is not a broad-brush distinction by policy area but rather as to whether an individual EU law or policy adds value in a way that a national law cannot. For example I can appreciate that EU environmental law to prevent cross-border pollution achieves something of value that no national law (by virtue of its limited jurisdiction) can achieve. But the EU should not be able to overrule national legislators when there is no cross-border issue at stake. Levels of pollution on British beaches for example should not be an issue for the EU to decide. The same is true (admittedly to a greater or lesser extent) in all policy areas.

    My proposals for EU reform would be as follows:
    – Restricting the rambling list of Objectives in current EU treaties to prevent the ECJ using the current ambiguity to rule in ways that further the federalist agenda. The EU should have two objectives only; (i) protecting the citizens of one member-state from harm to their life, property, environment, etc. originated beyond the jurisdiction of national law in another member-state and (ii) the provision of public works and services that no individual member-state (or private enterprise) can provide on its own.
    – Given that national identity is far stronger than European identity in every EU state, representative governments demands that EU law should only be superior to national law in order to meet objective (i) above. In all other cases national parliaments should be able to opt-out of any individual EU decision they do not like (including those agreed to by previous administrations, e.g. the CAP). This would automatically force the EU to focus on an ongoing basis on only those areas where national parliaments and their electorates perceive it to add value. It would also preserve a protected space within which purely national legislation would be safe from the encroachment of EU power. And it would allow any arbitrary subset of countries wanting to pursue a common policy to do so as long as their parliaments do not object.
    – The Council of Ministers should be stripped of all legislative power, so becoming a pure executive with a collective veto on the output of the EU Parliament. This would remove the current problem (recently highlighted by former German President Roman Herzog) of national executives (i.e. cabinet ministers) using the legislative powers of the EU Council of Ministers to bypass democratic checks (e.g. votes in their national parliaments) on their executive power at home.
    – The Commission’s current monopoly on legislative initiative (which is morally indefensible for an unelected body to hold) should be removed and transferred to the EU Parliament. Since the democratic credentials of that Parliament are threadbare, a 2nd chamber of the EU Parliament should be added comprising of representatives of national 2nd chambers (e.g. House of Lords, German Bundesrat, French Senate etc.), which are more independent of over-mighty national executives than the lower houses. This 2nd EU chamber should have real power to propose, amend and block European legislation during its drafting. Mere scrutiny and ‘Yellow cards’ are nowhere near good enough.
    – All EU laws should automatically time-out after say 20 years unless re-enacted in order that their (inherently weak) democratic legitimacy be refreshed.

    I do not feel that the piecemeal return of powers that I have heard about from the Conservative party begins to address the fundamental problems that I see in the EU system. However proposals such those above for real reform are highly unlikely to be acceptable to the Federalists who hope that European identity will strengthen one day such that eventually Brussels rule will be able to claim a true democratic legitimacy. It therefore seems to me that real reform to make the EU acceptable is a pipedream and that the only practical solution is for the UK to leave the European Union. But here too I see no real activity from the Conservative party to prepare public opinion for what seems necessary.

  • 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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