81 – or more?

 

      81  Conservative MPs voted for the referendum motion. 9 more abstained, because they disagreed with the government’s stance.

        However, some of those who voted “No” to a referendum did not necessarily do so because they endorse the current approach to the EU. My neighbouring MP, the Conservative Dr. Phillip Lee has made an interesting statement this week in a local newspaper. He says  his decision to vote “No” “had nothing to do with the Goverment’s whipping operation”. He voted “No” because he feared  a three way referendum as proposed  could mean “no  mandate for withdrawal (from the EU-ed) and a cause in which I believe would have been set back for a generation”. (Wokingham Times  2 November 2011)

           I wonder how many others who voted “No” feel like that?

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27 Comments

  1. lifelogic
    Posted November 5, 2011 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    Well perhaps a few but with the Libdems, Labour, Cameron, the BBC and the power of the EU in place will it matter very much anyway. Anyone who can appoint Lord Patten to head the BBC trustees or anything important is surely a hopeless case – even without the LibDems pushing Cameron the wrong way at every turn.

  2. william
    Posted November 5, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    I read the second paragraph 10 times,but I was still unclear as to the meaning.The likelihood is that the EU and the Eurozone,together, are going to change radically in the next few months,due to events.Whatever emerges,the pricipal remains that the electorate should have a choice,in a 3 0r more alternative proposals,to pass judgement on this important single issue which cuts across political parties,after 36 years.Mr. Lee was able to make an ‘interesting statement’.I would like to be able to register my vote.

  3. Steven Whitfield
    Posted November 5, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    On the face of it genius – how to cosy up to the Con/Lib leadership , appear ‘Euro sceptic. and not look like a government lap dog… all at the same time. Mr Lee has admirably displayed his ability as a polished profesional politician. But…

    But what a load of old nonsense. The exact timing and wording of the referendum question were up for negotiation anyway as I understand. He obviously has one eye on the government Daimler and another courting Euro Sceptic opinion.
    I think the people of Wokingham won’t be impressed by these weasel words.

    • Tim
      Posted November 6, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      Dr Lees specious explanation is exactly why people hold most politicians in contempt. We all know that he is not telling the truth but he is hoping that a dumbed down electorate will believe his soundbites. It’s actions not words that I believe these days as all three political parties have not lived up to their billing and there isn’t a fag paper between the policy outcomes. Whether its EU, immigration, Human Rights Legislation, foreign aid, big Governments, all we really have is more taxation and less representation. After 18 months of coalalitian rule there is no discernable difference on the ground and people are waking up to shrinking living standards and high inflation brought on by money printing.

  4. zorro
    Posted November 5, 2011 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    I find this argument difficult to accept…I think that George Osborne’s new PPS intimated something similar recently as his reason for not voting yes whilst supposedly being a Eurosceptic……I give both explanations equal credence.

    Zorro

  5. Amanda
    Posted November 5, 2011 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

    Sounds a little bit like the EU itself. I voted No but I really meant Yes. I would have though an abstension in that case would have been more honest !! One cannot help but think that those who voted no are under a little bit of pressure from their constituents !!

  6. forthurst
    Posted November 5, 2011 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

    He’s a point: we’ve been ‘renegotiating’ for donkey’s; where’s it got us? ‘Renegotiation’ is an invitation to a stitch-up. In reality, there are only two options: digestion or regurgitation. When we take away everything we don’t like about the EUSSR, what remains apart from trade?

  7. alan jutson
    Posted November 5, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    I am confused.

    I thought there were three possibilities available on the proposed referendum

    Stay as we are , out, or renegotiate.

    Thus people could vote for out (his wish I assume) if they wanted to.

    Perhaps his concern is that too many would vote for renegotiate, rather than out, and that was his reason for being unhappy.

    Given that he knew if he voted no and against the motion, there would be no referendum on any question at all, his position on the wrong question being asked seems odd. Surely better to have a referendum, than not one at all

    Perhaps we should examine his voting record to date for a clue as to his real thoughts.

    If he feels so passionate against the EU that he wants out, perhaps he should be a little more vocal. I will listen to his further announcements with interest.

  8. John C
    Posted November 5, 2011 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

    Well,

    If Cameron had allowed a free vote, no doubt more MPs would have summoned up the courage to tell their constituents what they actually, REALLY, thought.

    As it is. We are left to the courageous few, like yourself, to give us a glimpse into the fog that is MPs’ true opinions.

    What annoys me is that, people like you, who are obviously top draw material when it should come to doling out the ministerial jobs, are ignored and jobs given to those who simply toe the party line and are basically an embarrassment.

  9. Mick Anderson
    Posted November 5, 2011 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

    The implication of Dr Lees statement is that the only approach acceptable to him is a hard-line in/out referendum. I’ve no problem with that, assuming that the two options are given enough time to be debated by the Public before the actual vote.

    However, it also means that there is even less chance of the Government giving us any sort of practical voice.

    As for his suggestion that a three-way vote would set things back for a generation, I understand the argument. The counter to that is that if this eternal procrastination means that we never have a say, we are no better off for waiting. At least a three-way vote would allow the electorate a chance – for the foreseeable future, we have none.

  10. DaveK
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 12:36 am | Permalink

    John

    Having become more cynical as I get older I have acquired a distrust of politicians.

    The EU referendum issue was probably the last straw for me. As I see it, over 100.000 people responded to a petition asking for a debate on the orderly withdrawal from the EU.

    This was then twisted by your peers to be put as a three way question which, even without the whipping, was designed to split the issue. I am inclined to agree with Doctor Lee in his belief that this three way referendum caused more No votes.

    Perhaps they were nobbled to modify the debate as has been witnessed during previous issues. The three question issue did attract unwanted attention before and during the debate.

  11. Kenneth
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 1:20 am | Permalink

    I think there has been a fundamental shift in attitudes in our media and especially at the BBC.

    It is no longer tenable for the BBC to treat eu sceptics as mavericks and extremists. The reality is that the sceptics were right all along and nearly everything they warned of is coming to pass.

    Mind you, it is sad that it took the intervention from Jack Straw over the ECHR to signal to the BBC that it was OK to criticize anything European. I would say that it was his intervention that made it socially acceptable for politicians of any party (apart from the Lib Dems) to be openly sceptical about the eu.

    Many Conservatives capitalised on this by pragmatically calling for a change in relationship with the eu instead of withdrawal. This may be seen as a ‘sell out’ by some, but this approach does seem to have broadened the church.

    I have no idea if David Cameron has any political convictions. However I admire him for his outstanding presentation skills and his nose for good PR. Because of this, if the BBC is treating eu sceptics with respect, then so will David Cameron as he, above anyone else, will know the power of the media.

    I suspect there will be other MPs who think along the same line as Dr Lee but I also think there will be yet more who are increasingly emboldened to vote against the insanity that we have had to endure coming from Brussels, not just because it is right to do so, but because it is socially acceptable to do so. The sad thing is that social acceptance requires BBC approval.

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted November 6, 2011 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      It isn’t just politics where the BBC sets the political agenda and parameters for acceptability – it does so culturally too.

      I cannot listen to daytime radio (except R4) anymore as there is so obviously an ‘approved’ and restricted playlist of music.

      Queen, Roxy Music, George Michael feature disproportionately. You would not have imagined that Britain had such a diverse cultural range if you stuck to listening to R2.

      Then there are the current artistes who are played to death and I do not believe that it is the market driving it. Coldplay, Matt Cardell, Cara Emerald …

      One believes that certain favourites are being pushed.

      Then there are the football pundits paid 40k per show.

      This is all done at licence payers’ expense. Quite clearly the BBC is not beyond manipulating the cultural environment.

      • Kenneth
        Posted November 6, 2011 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

        Yes, and I do not understand how the BBC cannot advertise toothpaste yet it manages to advertise:

        Commercial recordings (as you say, certain favourites)
        Cinema releases
        Theatrical Productions
        Books (once again, favourites)
        Newspapers and magazines (its favourite being The Guardian)
        Tv shows (on commercial channels)
        Web sites (its favourites are Facebook and Twitter)

        Lately it has been promoting Apple products (phones/apps etc)

        The silly thing is that we use toothpaste everyday.

  12. Mike Chaffin
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 1:24 am | Permalink

    There were many who apparently supported the motion, but who found a comma in the wrong place or some other reason to vote against it.

    I wouldn’t like to be in their shoes come election time.

    Whether they betrayed their constituents or not is debatable, whether their parties betrayed the electorate as a whole is not.

  13. Robert Pay
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 3:47 am | Permalink

    My guess is that the majority of the party is increasingly Eurosceptic.

    However, , we are sunk while the majority of the country still believes that the government can magic jobs, unsustainable public sector salaries and pensions (even when the Coalition has done a great job to protect the poorest paid in pension reform) and protect against the laws of finance. The laws of finance are as ruthless as physics though, as Balls and Brown found, they can be distorted and delayed in their impact. For the majorityof people our situation is down to evil bankers rather than Balls/Brown. The we are cutting too fast narrative is winning out and will make Balls look prescient even when we know it is the problems in the Eurozone and too much government debt in the west slowing the world economy.

    The ignorance of basic finance means that too much emphasis on Europe plays into the well worked out Labour/BBC narrative…swivel-eyed extremists out of touch with the man in the street. The current line that public sector pensions are unfair because private sector pensions are poor means that the Tory party has played into the hands of those who think they are sustainable even though the recipients pay about 30% of what they receive. Hutton bottled the reforms needed but we have to cling to what he achieved…

    I understand that the EU is a core proble as a classic bunker mentality where it can demand and receive support because the administrative and political class seems to have no skin in the game (we will pay for them ahead of anything else). However the government has to get a message out there about where we are. PR people, even those of the calibre of David Cameron are short termists – we need some strategic thinking at Tory HQ.

    James Delingpole said what no politician could say on Any Questions – the Public Sector has bankrupted us…There were few takers in a general Conservative audience…and the Dave Spart character who is apprently a doctor still living in 1977 makes me despair.

  14. norman
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 4:16 am | Permalink

    So the choices that this MP wants on the table are:

    1) Complete withdrawal from the EU, as campaigned for by the Better Off Out campaign (presumably this MP has signed that. No. Does he consistently vote with the 30-40 Euro-sceptics in the Commons? No again, hmmmm my spidey sense is tingling)

    2) The status quo

    As has been said time and time again on this site there is no majority for complete withdrawal, probably not in the public at large and certainly not in Parliament.

    So this MP is either a fanatical idealist or, shockingly for a politician, he’s using weasel words to obfuscate.

    I don’t think we need to put that to a referendum to find out what most people would think.

    MPs should be judged on their actions, that’s why a lot of us hold John Redwood in such high esteem and most others, like this chap, in contempt.

  15. Antisthenes
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    If you are allowed a vote on the IMF contribution to the Euro bailout it should be no. Despite assurances that money has never been lost this time around there is a strong possibility it will as the conditions attached to IMF loans cannot be met. As I see it it would be more good money following bad, bailouts have reached the stage where they are self sustaining each bailout follows yet another larger bailout. Instead of bailouts and QE politicians from the outset of the banking crisis should have tackled the fundamental structural problems in their economies and allowed orderly failures, it would have been painful but return to strong growth would have followed. Now having wasted time and money for insubstantial return the root causes of the crisis remain, the crisis will not be solved until they are addressed and now it may be too late for reasonable growth to ever return. The PIIGS have problems that are not just applicable to them they are simmering beneath the surface of all Western nations the PIIGS happen to have felt the consequences first but they will be no where near the last.

    A serious conflict of interest arises from Christine Lagarde being the head of the IMF especially as France is extremely vulnerable to the euro-zone crisis. It appears the IMF rules are being widely distorted to accommodate propping up the euro. The IMF is not mandated to prop up currencies in fact a loan would normally have the opposite effect.

    Reply: I have already voted No to the IMF money – and lost

  16. Gary
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    “Fence sitter”, comes to mind. Or worse, covering his you-know-what.

    He voted WITH the govt because he did not think the motion AGAINST the govt , ,,which he supports, could work ? That is called a self fulfilling prophesy.

  17. English Pensioner
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    Certainly a referendum needs to have a very clear cut question which does not allow prevarication, and a simple yes or no answer. Multiple choices give problems, what happens if a third vote to stay in, a third vote to get out and a third vote to renegotiate?
    Even if just over a third voted to get out and thus won the vote, the others would still say the majority wanted to stay in.
    But I tend to disagree with you colleague.. If a referendum had been agreed, surely a Referendum Bill would need to come before Parliament in order to permit it to be held, I would have though then would be the time to pursue his argument. As it is, he won’t get the chance.

  18. Sue Doughty
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    Referenda should always have a Yes No answer, not a choice of three answers.

  19. Neil Craig
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps but I also wonder how many will try to fool others, ir even themselves, with such sophistries. The motion was a non-vinding one so any binding referendum motion would have been based on what the parties agree not on the e-petition which forced the debate.

    There are other e-petitions on the government website (I find this one on the publishing of a cost benefit analysis of membership particularly admirable http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/4006 ) and doubtless several more will hit the 100,000 mark triggering future debates, unless the rules are retroactively changed.

    Reply: The trigger is not automatic, and the debate depends on government making enough time available to the Backbench Committee to be able to fit these is. It is not government time.

  20. Paul
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    Clever tactic, but it won’t work. I hope his constituents look at his pro EU voting record and throw him out at the next election. Mr Lee is exactly like my Conservative MP in Reading West – talks tough on the EU, but doesn’t mean a word of it. Unfortunately, we have a pro EU parliament and we have to hope the British people wake up and realise we can only get a referendum by voting UKIP.

  21. Freeborn John
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    Dr. Lee, who is my MP, wrote to me saying much the same. His preference is apparently to leave the EU, but this was ‘the wrong question at the wrong time’. Among his reasons for believing it to be the wrong question is that if renegotiation were the 1st choice in referendum, and the EU were to say ‘No’ then “what would we then do”. I would have thought a 3-way referendum would be able to answer Dr. Lee’s question perfectly as the government should then follow whichever of the 3 options garner the 2nd largest number of votes ( which opinions show to be leaving the EU).

    Dr. Lee writes to his constituents saying he would like to leave the EU. But according to his voting record (below) he votes ‘very strongly in favour of European integration’…

    http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/mp.php?mpid=40107&dmp=1065

    He has voted for the EU External Action Service, for EU Economic Governance, for eurozone financial assistance, and for an increase in the EU budget. Are we to believe that all these were also ‘wrong questions at the wrong time’? He has however always voted with the whips. So can we believe that he really wants to leave the EU when he consistently votes ‘strongly in favour of European integration’? Or that he is impervious to the whips when he has a perfect record of voting as they tell him too?

  22. Martyn
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    John, what you are saying to me is that when the government of a country is changed by the voters, the new goverment simply continues to subordinate itself to the ‘EU Master Plan’. So the electorate, feeling that they had got (or not got!) what they wanted with their new government in fact change nothing and the election was actually a waste of time and money.
    So what is the point of having a national government – it seems to be little more than a democratic fig-leaf to keep voters feeling they can influence national governance, which they clearly can and do not under the present EU arrangements.

  23. A different Simon
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    Surely it would have been helpful to entitle this article “111 or more” instead of “81 or more” .

    Anything which frames democracy or membership of the EU as a party political issue is unhelpful . This is exactly how the BBC framed it .

    Some Labour MP’s including David Crausby (Bolton North East) made it clear they could not vote for the motion because it was framed as if it was a right wing motion and did not give safeguards that effors would be made to maintian protection for workers .

  24. adam
    Posted November 9, 2011 at 1:09 am | Permalink

    They conned us into asking for a referendum because they promised one and then reneged
    A referendum is a form of Direct Democracy it doesnt fit in with Representative Democracy + we have seen how they are abused by the World Order if people vote the wrong way

  • 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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