Two crucial votes this week

This week sees the vote on 42 day detention without trial. The Prime Minister has managed to unite the Labour left, the Liberal Democrats, the Welsh and Scots Nationalists and the Conservatives against him. The DUP are still making up their minds. The PM thinks this is a sign that he is both tough and right. Polls show the British people have no objections to locking up possible terrorists before due process, but, if you asked them whether the government should have the power to lock up whoever it likes for 42 days whilst it goes on a fishing expedition for evidence of a crime, there might be a different answer. Brown clearly wants to be able to make Parliament vote for an extension of the detention limits to show he can do something Blair failed to do. It is pathetic gesture politics. If he wins we will then have to put up with days of spin. telling us he is strong, brave, consistent and on the side of the people. If he loses it is a further nail in the political coffin his party and policies are making for him.

On the other side of the Irish Sea an even more important vote is taking place. The latest opinion polls put the two sides neck and neck, after months in which the polls and the pundits assumed an easy victory for supporters of the EU Constitutional Treaty. Cynics say that even if the Irish vote “No” to the EU plan it makes no difference. The EU will carry on regardless, and in due course maybe Ireland will be required to vote again to come up with the answer the Eurolords demand. Listening to Peter Sutherland on the radio reminded me of the vacuity and laziness of the pro EU case. Sutherland just assumes that all enlightened people must want to “share sovereignty”, and will see the inevitability of the Union. He made no attempt to explain why it would make voters’ lives better. He was not asked by incompetent BBC journalists how you can “share” sovereignty, or how far he wished the Euro superstate to go – as so often he was just allowed to get away with a Euro rant. The big extension of powers of the new Treaty, and the remarkable similarity of the Treaty to the old Constitution rejected by voters in France and Holland did not trouble Sutherland or his interviewer.

There is a chance that in the current mood of displeasure with all established governments, because of the poor performance of many economies, the Irish voters will turn out and defeat the Constitution. If they do we must then join them in demanding proper consideration of the implications. Everytime so far the Constitution has been put to electors in a referendum it has been rejected. Surely all those of us who value and support democracy can demand that on this occasion the EU has to understand the meaning of “No”. If Ireland votes “No” the implementation of the Constitutional Treaty must stop, and the provocative advances to a European army which the Irish will be especially worried about should be reversed. Either way, we need to demand the right for UK people to have their say – for we doubtless would say “No” given the chance.

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17 Comments

  1. Trevor Wright
    Posted June 10, 2008 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    Mr Redwood

    A simple question.

    Assuming the Conservative party win the next election, as seems likely, will you give the UK electorate the opportunity to vote against the treaty/constitution even if the Irish should vote in favour?

    Reply:P The Leader has said there will be a referendum on Lisbon if it is not ratified and implemented everywhere. If it is then there will a policy to get powers back, that may not be limited to the powers given away by the Constitutional treaty. Remember the Conservative party was whipped to vote against Nice and Amsterdam as well.

  2. Neil Craig
    Posted June 10, 2008 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    I don't think the BBC's failure to ask serious questions of the Yes supporters is incompetence. It is said one shouldn't normally ascribe to malice what can be explained by incompetence but the BBC's record of supporting the EU bureaucracy at every turn describing opposition to the EU as a sign of "extreme right wing views" (like Tony Benn's) is well known. My view is that the BBC is not so much biased between Labour & Tory as between ever expanding government (they are after all also taxpayer paid) nationaly, EUwide & worldwide and the various individualistic beliefs that fit under libertarianism.

  3. Robert
    Posted June 10, 2008 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    When the Irish referendum (hopefully) no is ignored by our rulers and they implement the treaty/constitution anyway what do we do?

    As you point out Sutherland (sounds just like Paton) does not say what the EU citizen gains from all this. What he doesn't say either is what the member state politicians gain either. They can't all dine at the top table.

    I don't see Cameron giving us a vote if it's all wrapped up by the next election. Where do Conservative voters who do not want to be part of the EU go?

  4. Letters From A Tory
    Posted June 10, 2008 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Indeed. I have still yet to see a pro-EU politician given a proper grilling in front of the voters. They have got a ridiculously easy ride and have not been made to justify their views at any stage of the Lisbon Treaty ratification process.

    No prizes for guessing why that is.
    http://lettersfromatory.wordpress.com

  5. Cliff
    Posted June 10, 2008 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    It is being said on Boulton and Co's blog that the EU has already voted to ignore a no vote from Ireland should it come.

    Why am I not surprised that Al-Beeb didn't really question the pro EUSSR view of Mr Sutherland. The BBC, that I am funding against my will, appear to me, to be anti British. I do hope that a future Conservative Party will sort out the left bias that many of us believe exists within the BBC. I wouldn't object to them having an editorial political slant if I had a choice about whether I fund them or not. If I wanted to support an anti British or socialist organisation, I would have joined the Labour Party.

  6. backofanenvelope
    Posted June 10, 2008 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    Well, its up to you Tories isn't it? Announce that there WILL be a binding referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. If the answer is no, either it will be re-negotiated or you will abrogate the treaty.

    If you don't, then the 2009 euro elections will be a blood bath and there will be about 50 UKIP MEPs!!!!!!

    And in 2010 Labour will go down the tubes and the Tories will have a majority based on a very small number of the electorate.

  7. David Hannah
    Posted June 10, 2008 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    JR: "Cynics say that even if the Irish vote “No” to the EU plan it makes no difference. The EU will carry on regardless"

    I must be one of those cynics, although I prefer the term realist (past form and all that). The 'project' is far too important in the minds of the Brussels apparatchiks to be undermined by four million provincials on the fringes of the Empire. Thus, in the event of a 'no' vote, the EU (proponents -ed) will feign another crisis, which will be addressed by the implementation of 90% of the CONstitution under the existing rules. Ireland will be offered some temporary concessions of course, on the understanding that they are reined back once the dust has settled, perhaps after another "period of reflection".

    Then again, they might just implement the whole damn thing anyway. The recent disgraceful behaviour in the EU Parliament shows us that they are not averse to changing the rules arbitrarily to suit themselves. With all EU provincial governments in favour of the treaty, will anyone will stop them? The tenacity of these (EU governing class-ed) simply gnaws away at any opposition's will to oppose them. If Ireland votes 'no' tomorrow, they'll be voting again before another year has passed. One can be fairly certain of that.

    I'm disappointed to learn that David Cameron has effectively ruled out a post-ratification referendum. Thus, the Conservatives are a busted flush when it comes to any hope of the restoration of self-government. He also rules out withdrawal. It is therefore hard to gauge precisely what his 'bargaining chip' will be with regard his vague promise of "getting powers back" from the EU. Why should the 'colleagues' listen to anything he has to say?

  8. Freeborn John
    Posted June 10, 2008 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    I am in the minority that opposes the 42-day detention without trial, but at least a future government will be able to reverse that decision, should Brown force it through now. I am more concerned by the longer-term impact of Lisbon, which being a treaty is much harder for future governments to reverse. I am not overly worried by David Cameron’s remarks in Harlow that there may not be a post-ratification referendum on Lisbon because I think the EU problem is bigger than this one treaty. I have noted your comments to others here that David Cameron is an EU-sceptic and also your comments (which seem to chime with those of other Conservatives, including DC himself) that there should be a re-negotiation of the UK-EU relationship to return powers to the UK, possibly followed by a referendum on the results of that negotiation. However I am also concerned by Richard North’s comments on the EU Referendum blog that Cameron will buy into the post-Lisbon status quo, and that EU-scepticism without the Conservative party is now a political movement without any objective that it can realistically hope to achieve. My instinct too is that the party of Maastricht will not do anything about the treaties on European Union agreed under Labour. I know you will say that Conservative party has moved a long way since Maastricht, but I see precious few signs of serious intent to grasp the EU nettle.

    We will know the result of the Irish vote soon enough, but I am not optimistic when the Irish bookies are offering fairly overwhelming odds (2/7) that the YES side will win. It seems likely (though not certain) that within the week the last real hurdles to the ratification of Lisbon will have been cleared. At that point the question as to what the Conservatives would do on assuming office in 2010 will deserve a fresher answer than the enigma of ‘not letting matters rest’. While I appreciate the party is playing a long game in the run up to 2010, I am wondering when we might hear of an updated EU policy? Will we have to wait for the 2010 manifesto, or will we hear something prior to the 2009 EU Parliament elections? Or might we hear something sooner, e.g. following the outcomes of the votes in Ireland and the Lords?

    Reply: We will campaign hard to stop the ratificiation if Ireland votes No. If Yes, then there will be a statement of policy in the run up to 2009 Euro election.

  9. Charles
    Posted June 10, 2008 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    The Tories are on a sure fire winner opposing 42 days.

    The nuances may escape John Voter, but he can understand the basic idea that you should be told why your liberty is being denied. The notion that this will be used on ordinary citizens, not death-or-glory jihadis, is generally accepted too.

    The farce of 90 days, 56 days etc has undermined what tiny case Brown and Smith might have had.

    This issue is a popularity cow which the Tories can milk and milk and milk. The fact that leadership candidates such as Miliband, Purnell and Balls will voter for it will provide ammunition in years to come.

  10. Mark Wadsworth
    Posted June 10, 2008 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    D'you think that the Irish No-campaigners are derided as Little Irelanders?

  11. Tony Pollock
    Posted June 10, 2008 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    Very true John, but my point is that the EU cannot have it both ways. Either, as they have said, the treaty is not a constitution, and that is the official view, (Even though we know it is,) or it is not.

    Gordon maintained vociverously that it was simply a treaty and not a constitution and therefore he was absolved from his promise of a referendum and the Commission backed him, in which case the Lisbon treaty is not a constitution and the Irish vote is unnecessary and its result irrelevant.

    It is the absurd nature of the situation that is so infuriating.

    Daily I become more frustrated and angry with the EU. I don't know which is worse, the tyranny, its undemocratic nature, its complete hatred and fear of the people, its interference in every tiny aspect of our lives, or its plain stupidity.

    Do your best John.

  12. Travis Bickle
    Posted June 10, 2008 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    42 days – should this lot get in for another term then the definition of terrorism will be increasingly widened, "we think he might have put his rubbish in the wrong bin, but need at least 40 days to prove it.. Belmarsh it is" .

    EU – I have just returned from a week in Valencia, they've got it exactly right, they take the huge (completely unnecessary – our village of 400 inhabitants have had a new olympic size swimming pool and 2 new town halls built using EU money, not to mention roads resurfaced when they like) grants on offer and totally ignore every EU diktat that doesn't benefit them.

    The problem is our British sense of fair play, and bloated quangocracy/bureaucracy implement all their nonsense to the nth degree, you'd never see Spanish business or tradesmen hounded out of business through them sticking rigidly to EU "Law" so why do we have to put up with it here ??

  13. Adrian Peirson
    Posted June 10, 2008 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    It's often said that the Public are stupid, Here we are losing our Sovereignty and our Liberties and significant numbers of these Turkeys are actually voting for Christmas.
    The fact is, the Public are not stupid, they are being misled on both issues, People have a limited capacity to study the fine details of every aspect of events that may affect them.

    They are too busy getting on with their lives.

    The must accept that their Government has their interests at heart on all issues when it Most certainly does not.
    In the same way a soldier just assumes his Comrades (or his Government) are protecting his back.

    The EU is an Empire, it has the Constitution of a Police state and 42 days is part of that.

    I've just heard a senior Judge on the Radio saying that if Terror cases are going to take so long then we migh thave to do without Trial By Jury.

    These events are NOT coincidences.

    We have been badly misled and lied to by all parties over the EU, as for the People being stupid, Although they are not aware of the Details they have succesfully concluded that there is no point in voting because whoever gets in does not represent their views.

    While peopple are involved in their daily struggles to feed their families, the Political class may well be able to hide the details of their One World Aspirations but the Human mind is far more capable than is often given credit, how for instance do you Know your wife is in a mood even without her having uttered a word, you cannot tell how you Know, it is simply a Minutinae of subconcious evidences, far too numerouus and subtle to notice conciously, but our brains miss nothing, and give us the sense that something is wrong.

    Similarly the Public Do not know the details involved in the subversion of Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, and Common Law that is going on right now but they do sense that something is wrong, and the First party to seize the BBC & tell them they are about to be enslaved under Totalitarian Empire may well trigger a Bloodbath at the Ballot box (words left out).

  14. mikestallard
    Posted June 10, 2008 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    Good blog today!
    1. The DUP are, apparently, being bribed to vote for the 42 days measure. It is going to be very close. I honestly think that a lot of people are under the impression that it will make the streets safer if we intern (likely suspects – ed). Of course, the people who get imprisoned falsely are little old men who hector Jack Straw, Brazilians who are going peacefully to work and – who knows? – even the hated Tories. this is a case where the British parliament has a duty to preserve our freedoms for us. It will be interesting to see if it rises to the challenge.
    2. The EU position at the moment, I think, is heartening. First of all, the papers (at last) are noticing the sleaze which,apparently, is far worse than anyone realised in the European Parliament. Secondly, the Irish Referendum has brought the EU question to a head. Just as Harriet Harman's answer to your question, John, about cutting back on government expenditure showed that she is completely out of touch with the mood of the country, so maybe a close or a No vote will wake up some of the EU Commissars too.

  15. wrinkled weasel
    Posted June 10, 2008 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

    I may be missing something here but, isn't this Ireland the same Ireland that fought a bloody battle to declare,

    "We solemnly declare foreign government in Ireland to be an invasion of our national right which we will never tolerate"?

    What changed?

  16. adam
    Posted June 11, 2008 at 1:03 am | Permalink

    Well the sooner McNumpty is off TV the better.
    Fed up seeing his ugly mug.

    I dont agree with 42 but at least its not 90.
    I am more worried about control orders, How can they be justified.

    Adrian Peirson, I agree with you, the push to remove jury trial is EU led.
    As with all our traditions.
    Ken Clark has been floating it.

  17. Travis Bickle
    Posted June 11, 2008 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    And as if to prove my earlier point the Driving Test Centre in Basingstoke is in danger of closing because… "It is not large enough to meet new EU standards". Drivers would now have to drive to Newbury or Farnborough (over 15 miles) to be tested, so our implementation of EU diktats making our roads more congested, less safer and EU carbon reduction demonstrated in all its hypocritical glory …

    And the chances of our EU partners closing smaller test centres because of this nonsense, somewhere between nul and nada I'd suggest.

  • 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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