Conservatives do mention Europe

Yesterday the Conservative leadership used a general constitutional Bill to seek a mandatory referendum on any transfer of power from the UK to the EU.

Despite telling us there are no further transfers of power planned, the government opposed such a sensible and necessary measure, reminding us of the way they renegd on their peldge to hold one on Lisbon. They voted us down again.

Let it not be said Conseravtives are afraid to talk about the EU, or secretly want to see more Treaties and more powers transferred. The pity is a good debate was kept off the airwaves. Presumably Labour would not welcome the public being told that yet again they have voted against the public’s involvement in how they are governed.

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39 Comments

  1. backofanenvelope
    Posted January 20, 2010 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    This is just shadow boxing on both sides. The Lisbon treaty gives the EU the power to make changes without a further treaty. So voting for a referendum on any future changes is futile – there won’t be any more treaties to sign.

    • Tapestry
      Posted January 20, 2010 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

      There will be accession treaties.

  2. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted January 20, 2010 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    Get it on the airways by explaining which powers, that were gratuitously handed over to Brussels, will be taken back and how you intend to do it.

  3. Henry
    Posted January 20, 2010 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Can you please forward this topic to all national newspapers? This would ensure that the government can't sweep it under the carpet as usual. Let the people know that once again NuLab have lied and covered up their actions.

  4. Kevin Peat
    Posted January 20, 2010 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    How is a good debate 'kept off the airwaves' ?

    I suspect that the EU is far more insidious and entrenched in British politics than we assume.

    The question should be 'why do we bother with Parliament any more ?'

  5. wonderfulforhisage
    Posted January 20, 2010 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    I'd be interested to know how a 'general constitutional bill' fits in with the Lisbon Treaty. It seems to me that we have no power left to transfer to the EU post Lisbon. Such a bill would likely be as efficacious as Canute's attempt to rule the waves.

    Air brush politics is all this amounts to.

  6. A.Sedgwick
    Posted January 20, 2010 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    This is really shadow boxing – we are witnessing a civilised form of dictatorship by the Big 3. With the exception of the Libdems over Iraq, the people are being ignored over major issues. The lack of an in/out EU referendum is shameful, the war in Afghanistan has been a tragic mistake from day one, immigration should be halted we are full, freeloading welfare is ruining the economy and society, the size of the state is reaching communist proportions, law and order are in disarray in many areas and situations. Tinkering is not the answer bold, decisive policies are.

  7. Neil Craig
    Posted January 20, 2010 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    We would be better of out. If even theEU's enterprise commissioner says 5.5% of our GNP is lost satisfying pontless EU regulations then he can hardly be overestimating. Add the fact that EU growth is lower than any other continent, even Africa.

    There is no dispute that we would be better off out. It is possible that the refusal of the BBC & rest of the MSM to allow reasoned dispute is not the only reason why we don't have it.

  8. Brigham
    Posted January 20, 2010 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    "Kept off the airwaves." You seem surprised. When "Brown the incompetent" was chancellor I remember all the budget speeches didn't have the really important things in them. It was only later that the content of the "non print" became apparent. Everything this government has done has been devious and outright mendacious.

  9. Andrew Duffin
    Posted January 20, 2010 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    "they renegd on their peldge to hold one on Lisbon"

    Sorry, which party are you talking about here?

    Reply: Labour and Lib Dem

  10. Andrew Johnson
    Posted January 20, 2010 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Dear John,
    I thought the whole point of Lisbon was that it was a"done deal". That was the reason Mr Cameron gave as to why he was backing out of his cast iron pledge to let the British people have a referendum on the treaty.
    If we can have a referendum for any future transfer of power to this self ammending treaty, why can't we have a referendum on the original treaty?
    If the country votes no on any future transfer of power, how would a Conservative government implemement our dissent?
    You know this is flim flam and doesn't mean anything, because all three major political parties have surrendered so much British sovereignty.
    It's not too late for Mr Cameron to change his mind and give our nation the referendum on Lisbon that he promised us.
    He might gain up to 2 million votes and be seen by all to be a leader who wants to strengthen our bruised and battered democracy.
    Whether the result was no or yes, everyone would know what the electorate thought about Lisbon and that would help shape his future negotiations with the EU as he sought to renegotiate key areas of the treaty. He is still going to do this isn't he?

    PS Japan Air Lines has sought bankruptcy protection, and the Japanese government are going to give them millions of Yen to keep their national carrier flying. That's illegal in Europe isn't it?
    Seems like the global free market isn't so free after all.

  11. JohnRS
    Posted January 20, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    …and you really thought the BBC would broadcast something that might show the Conservatives in a positive light?

    Time to ban the TV Tax.

  12. Y Rhyfelwr Dewr
    Posted January 20, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    The reason no further treaties are planned is because the Lisbon Treaty is "self-amending," meaning Brussels can grab whatever powers it wants simply by notifying the national governments that it's assuming them. They don't need any further treaties.

    But having decided that, because there was no longer a treaty to vote on, we wold have a referendum on nothing at all, "Cast-iron" Dave had to give us something, so he gave us this pointless window dressing. Having told us, "We don't want a bust-up with Europe…" what he really couldn't say was, "…so instead I'm going to do nothing at all." But that's what he effectively gave us.

    Sure, he promised to ask Brussels if they wouldn't mind being awfully nice and giving us back some of the powers Brussels went to so much trouble to sieze from us in the first place. The answer will, of course, be: "Get lost."

    And what will Cast-iron Dave do then? Would you please have a word in his ear, Mr Redwood? If DC wants to placate some of the supporters that he so bitterly disappointed, he publish a B plan that might actually keep the Eurocrats awake at night.

  13. independent england
    Posted January 20, 2010 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    john,
    i fully accept that the uk would be better off outside the EU.
    however, for every argument you could make for getting the uk out of the eu, could surely be equally made for getting england out of the uk?
    it's time to follow the logical consequences of protecting sovereignty, democracy etc. it's time for an independent england.
    http://independentengland.blogspot.com/2010/01/wh

    • Adrian Peirson
      Posted January 24, 2010 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

      Divide and ConqEUr.

  14. mikestallard
    Posted January 20, 2010 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    I am a democrat. I want our future in Europe, which has been on the cards since the end of Empire in the 1960s, to be discussed.
    I am all for talking to Europeans and indeed I mix with a lot of Europeans and like them and admire them very much. I want to see a sort of concert system where the Council of Ministers meets regularly to discuss things.
    What frightens me is all the USSR sort of Commissariat, Aparatchiks, sham parliament of all the soviets, and the open door to a "strong man".
    That actually terrifies me – especially with modern technology and information.

    • backofanenvelope
      Posted January 21, 2010 at 8:56 am | Permalink

      We have a perfectly good model for the EU – NATO. You want your soldiers to have long hair – no problem – as long as they turn up on the day and fight.

  15. Andrew Johnson
    Posted January 20, 2010 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    US Media round up Republican Election Victory From the BBC Web site today

    On Real Clear Politics, Jay Cost says all presidents (Potential Prime Ministers) in US (UK) history have made political mistakes, but asks whether the "untested, young, inexperienced" Mr Obama (Mr. Cameron) has the necessary skill to recover from the Massachusetts defeat (Lisbon referendum blunder):

    "The test of a President (Potential Prime Minister) is how he handles the jam once he has gotten himself into it. Does he continue to do the same thing, hoping against hope that somehow, someway doing the same-old same-old will yield a different result? Or does he recognize that he has made mistakes, try to learn from them, and ultimately make adaptations? That's the mark of a superior political talent."
    (All italics mine)
    What do you think fellow Redwood bloggers?

    • Y Rhyfelwr Dewr
      Posted January 21, 2010 at 10:53 am | Permalink

      Sadly, DC is no revolutionary. What this country needs is an axe-wielding prime minster who is going to thoroughly overhaul our relationships with the EU (let's face it, the mere threat of a referendum on our future membership would induce blind panic among the Brussels oligarchs), Parliament, the civil service and the law.

      At present, all the people are permitted to do is, every so often, elect a PM who (as long as he's got a comfortable Commons majority, which they usually do) is basically a dictator, free to do as he pleases for the next five years. Then and only then are we permitted to decide whether we want to continue with the current dictator, or get ourselves a new dictator.

      Of course, the dictator spends much of his time enacting the instructions of the Brussels oligarchs, over which the public has even less control.

      Is DC going to change all this? His pledges on devolution are certainly to be welcomed, although I can't imagine how this is gong to work against the oligarchs' micro-managing brand of socialism. When the EU decrees that rubbish can only be collected every fortnight (oh yes, that was an EU initiative, and the British authorities merely carried out their orders — didn't you know?), what's going to happen if the people of a devolved local government think otherwise? Well, the EU's wish is our command, so we'll be required to submit, and devolved authority be damned.

      Beyond that, I don't see DC wielding any axes. He's already surrendered to the will of the EU, stating that "we don't want a bust-up with the Europe" and replacing his cast-iron pledge with a promise to close the door after the horse has bolted. I wouldn't expect any revolutions there. No Brussels oligarch is losing sleep at the prospect of a Cameron government.

      So no, I expect very little from DC. He'll be better than Gord Almighty, but so would a trained monkey. In my more-optimistic moments, I dream of being surprised, but based on what I've seen so far, Cameron will be more Heath than Thatcher.

  16. adam
    Posted January 21, 2010 at 12:07 am | Permalink

    Personally i dont want a referendum on any new powers.

    The referendum issue was about labour backing down on their promise to have one.

    We all know what happens with referendum, when the people vote the wrong way they are just ignored. If they dont it can be used to give democratic legitimacy to something.

    Referendums have a history of being rigged and of being used by dictators.

    Napoleon I

    "On 7 February 1800, a public referendum confirmed Napoleon as First Consul, a position which would give him executive powers above the other two consuls. A full 99.9% of voters approved the motion, according to the released results."

    "On 2 August, 1802 (14 Thermidor, An X), a second national referendum was held, this time to confirm Napoleon as "First Consul for Life." Once again, a rigged vote claimed 99.8% approval."

    "On 18 May 1804 the French Senate voted to give Bonaparte the title of emperor, a move that was ratified by yet another public referendum on the same day. The Emperor Napoleon I crowned himself later that same year – the Consulate had passed away in favour of the Empire."

    Napoleon III

    "After months of stalemate, and using the money of his mistress, Harriet Howard, he staged a coup d'état and seized dictatorial powers on 2 December 1851, the 47th anniversary of Napoleon I's crowning as Emperor, and also the 46th anniversary of the famous Battle of Austerlitz (hence another of Louis-Napoléon's nicknames: "The Man of December", "l'homme de décembre"). The coup was later declared to have been approved by the French people in a national referendum, the fairness and legality of which has been questioned by Napoleon III's detractors ever since. "

    "New constitutional statutes were passed which officially maintained an elected Parliament and re-established universal male suffrage. However, the Parliament now became irrelevant as real power was completely concentrated in the hands of Louis-Napoléon and his bureaucracy. Exactly one year after the coup, on 2 December 1852, after approval by another referendum, the Second Republic was officially ended and the Empire restored, ushering in the Second French Empire. "

    • Y Rhyfelwr Dewr
      Posted January 21, 2010 at 11:11 am | Permalink

      You're absolutely right. But the problem is that something needs to be done to fix the democratic deficit in the EU! Either the public needs real control over the people who make policy and propose legislation, or we need out. Because at present, we are marching steadily and irresistably toward national subsumation into a foreign and unaccountable oligarchy.

      Now the Lisbon Treaty has alieviated the need for further treaties, that process can be expected run much faster now. Just a few days ago, the ECB published a report stating that the EU has created a “new legal order” replacing the “largely obsolete concept of sovereignty,” placing a “permanent limitation” on the rights of the member states.

      There are many things wrong with the democratic system of government, but it's the only way that nobodies like you and me can have any control over the political decisions that affect us. We are allowing this to be taken away from us. When it has been entirely removed, and we are reduced to living at the mercy of our government, turning back the clock on centuries of slow, bloody progress, we will be deeply sorry.

      If he could see us now, Oliver Cromwell would be shaking his head. Benjamin Franklin would be saying, "Told you so."

  17. Jordan
    Posted January 21, 2010 at 12:43 am | Permalink

    Yet another Conservative tries to whip up hysteria over Europe. Where was the Conservative call for a referendum when the UK was capitulating to Bush/Cheney demands that Britain join them ib the Iraq invasion ? Sovereign nations resisted, but not Britiian. And the Conservative party supported Blair n rejecting calls for a referendum.

    Where comes from this new found appetite for letting the British people have a voice.

    (abuse left out)

    Reply: I favour referenda on constitutional matters, where it affects how we are governed. The decison over war and peace has always beena decision for government answerable to Parliament..

    • Y Rhyfelwr Dewr
      Posted January 21, 2010 at 11:12 am | Permalink

      Don't be silly. The Iraq invasion hardly compares to handing away sovereignty.

    • Y Rhyfelwr Dewr
      Posted January 21, 2010 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

      And the Conservative party supported Blair n rejecting calls for a referendum.

      What on earth are you talking about????????

      The Conservative party vociferously campaigned for a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. How in the world did you miss it? Were you asleep for a couple of years?

      • Jordan
        Posted January 21, 2010 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

        I thought it was evident that I was talking about a referendum on going to war in Iraq (over 1 million marched in London calling for one). I think that perhaps it's you that were snoozing as you read my comment.

        • Y Rhyfelwr Dewr
          Posted January 21, 2010 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

          Don't remember any calls for a referendum. Lots of shouting and placards saying "Make tea, not war." Nothing about having a referendum on the subject.

          There's no reason why one should have held even if there were. Historical precedent as well as simple practicality absolves the government of such a requirement.

          In the case of Europe, the modern EU is a radically different beast from the Common Market, upon which our parents were permitted a referendum thirty years ago. Furthermore, all but eight of the current members of Parliament were elected on a promise that the British public would be given an opportunity to vote on the draft European constitution. This is a promise which senior politicians in London and Brussels knowingly conspired to break once the probable result became clear.

          I remember seeing the anti-war demonstration in Cardiff. Eight people looking rather cold, and being crapped on by seagulls. But no demands for a referendum.

        • Jordan
          Posted January 22, 2010 at 10:58 am | Permalink

          Y Rhyfelwr Dew. Your disdain for the anti-Iraq war protesters is clearly apparent. Might I guess that you were a supporter of the invasion of sovereign Iraq. It's ironic that you are concerned about the loss of British sovereignty to the EU (without so much as a blessed referendum). You aren't alone. Britain is famous for its hypocracy in this respect. I've long noted that the hand-wringers when it comes to loss of British sovereignty are supporters of invasions of recalcitrant govts. If Sadam's tyranny was justification for the coalition of the willing to invade Iraq, then any number of Britain's allies should be next on the list (Saudi Arabia, Egypt). Also, Sadam was the same tyrant in 2003 as when he was invading Iran (with British/US support).

  18. Freeborn John
    Posted January 21, 2010 at 2:41 am | Permalink

    The CONservatives have been a letdown on Europe with Cameron basically accepting the entirety of Lisbon, Nice and Amsterdam and limiting his ambition to a woefully inadequate goal of restoring part of the social policy opt out from the 1992 Maastricht treaty. The Conservatives have surrendered on Europe and should be punished for it on May 6.

    • Andrew Johnson
      Posted January 21, 2010 at 10:22 am | Permalink

      Yes, I believe Mr Cameron's decision not to hold a referendum on Lisbon, may be seen to be the point where the Conservatives lost the opportunity to secure a sensible majority at the coming election. Considering just how incompetent and devoid of strategically beneficial policies Labour have been, the Conservatives should be way ahead in the polls, but they are not.
      Why?
      I also believe the electorate are pretty fed up of all three parties. I think this will skew polling predictions so there will be plenty of surprises and shocks on election night.

      • Y Rhyfelwr Dewr
        Posted January 21, 2010 at 11:19 am | Permalink

        I agree with you. DC's popularity dropped signifcantly immediately after his announcement, and it's never returned. His poll rating has been consistently around 40% ever since last September, and if it's not picking up three months before the election, there's no reason to assume it ever will.

        This is the peak of his support, and assuming it's enough to give him a Commons majority, it'll be a slim one. That's why he's talking to the Ulster Unionists — if he's going to govern, it will have to be as a coalition.

        He's lost at least several percentage points to UKIP, which would be sufficient to assure him of a comfortable majority. Privately, he must regret his Europe policy, but there's no way he could acknowledge that and change strategy without appearing weak.

    • Y Rhyfelwr Dewr
      Posted January 21, 2010 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      What beats me is how DC hopes to govern. The Brussels oligarchs are staunchly left wing, with a passion for meddling. Nothing is none of their business, so far as they're concerned, and nothing inflates their already tremendous egos so much as telling a prime minister to jump.

      So how does DC, a conservative, expect to run the country? At every step, the lefties in Brussels will be telling him, "You're not allowed to do that." Had "Cast-iron" Dave declared his intention to cause trouble, the oligarchs might have felt the need to tread carefully. Given Dave's actual announcement that "we don't want a bust-up with Europe," with actions to match, the oligarchs have reason to assume it's business as usual.

  19. Derek Buxton
    Posted January 21, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    I'm afraid that DC is a fully paid up member of the EU lovies. Interesting point on the I/Net about the EU arrest warrant, with the usual "extradition" warrant, a magistrate or higher had to see the evidence that a crime had most probably been committed. But apparently this does not apply to the EU AW, he is not allowed to refuse extradition on the grounds of lack or poor evidence in complete contrast. So we have no protection against the evil Napoleonic Code. This is a complete breach of our rights as British subjects. This alone calls for the removal of all EU inspired laws affecting our Country.

    • Y Rhyfelwr Dewr
      Posted January 21, 2010 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

      As I understand it, a British judge is not allowed to refuse extradition because the crime the defendant is charged with is not a crime in the UK.

      So not only are we presumed guilty until proven inocent, we don't have to be suspected of a crime before we can be arrested.

      I'm trying to figure out when was the last time that situation existed in the British legal code. I'm going to guess not since Henry II in the twelfth century, or maybe since the Magna Carta in the thirteenth.

      What do you all think, Redwood bloggers? Any advance on the twelfth century?

  20. Derek W. Buxton
    Posted January 22, 2010 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Our freedoms are not granted by any government, they were won, bloodily, by our ancestors and cannot be taken away. The Coronation Oath affirms this. So all the new laws taking away those ancient freedoms are, by definition, illegal. The first step taken by a new government should be the prompt repeal of them all. Mind you, with the quality of our present MPs with a few, very few exceptions, I will not hold my breath.

  21. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted January 23, 2010 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    All this is bolting the stable door after the horse has gone. By what mechanism are we going to recover powers aleady conceded? What are we going to do about the fact that the Lisbon Treaty, already incorporated into European Law, can be 'self amending'?

    Sorry, Mr Cameron, but to reclaim most of our lost sovereignty, there is going to have to be a huge bust up. In case we are threatened with expulsion, we are going to need allies in Europe and a few tricks up our sleeves – e.g. expel us and European rights to fish in our waters disappear overnight.

  22. Adrian Peirson
    Posted January 24, 2010 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    There is only one way you will get those right back, and I'm sure I don't need to go into gory details.

  23. Independent England
    Posted January 24, 2010 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

    There is a fundamental lack of honesty in the Conservatives position on Europe.
    All their arguments against further European intergration, and all the arguments of those on the 'sceptic' wing for withdrawal (loss of sovereignty, loss of democracy, financial cost, lack of real national identity) are equally valid for arguing that England should withdraw from the EU.
    Further, the Conservatives are a party with an almost entirely English power-base – if they win more than 15 seats outside England in the election it will be amazing. But rather than standing up for England, they are silent about what to do about the Barnett formula, the West Lothian Question etc…

    They won't stand up for the UK in the EU, they won't stand up for England in the UK.

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    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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