Labour and a referendum

I listened carefully to the Today programme interview of the Shadow Foreign Secretary on Saturday morning. It was a typical Today interview with plenty of interruptions and assertions by the interviewer. As a result we got less out of it than we might had it been more forensic.

Labour made clear that they are against an In/Out referendum. They think the threat of one will lose us jobs and investment. They are now unable to rule out one for ever, but they offered no hope of one anytime soon. Their modification of their opposition to one amounted to no more than “You can never say never”, a stupid phrase in politics. I can always say “Never” to legalising murder, for example.

What we needed was an interview which probed the small window of opportunity for Labour to want an In/Out referendum. On what was said it is difficult to believe they would ever seriously consider one. If they fear that the offer of one now is damaging to jobs, why wouldn’t the offer of one in the future be similarly damaging in their view? If we do not need one now, after an intense period of movement to a common European governemnt in so many areas, when might we need one?

I can’t help thinking the Labour’s position on this is unsustainable. They are the party in office that forced through three major Treaties, Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon, against the strong opposition of the Conservative party, and without any referendum to ask UK voters if they accepted such a huge transfer of power. Their decision to do this is very unpopular, and makes governing the UK now very difficult as Ministers so often find they do not have the power to do what is needed. The Single European Act and Maastricht were different, as Labour in opposition supported the general principles behind those changes, and the government opted us out of the single currency, and main point of Maastricht. Both main parties were persuaded to offer a referendum should they ever want the UK to take up the main point of Maastricht, joining the Euro. Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon were unacceptable, because the Opposition and much of the nation fundamentally disagreed with the large changes they made to our ability to govern ourselves.

Maybe someone in the weeks ahead will succeed in questioning Labour more intelligently over their stance. How can they refuse the British people a say on this mighty matter? Have they seen the polls on how popular a referendum would be? In what circumstances would they rethink? Are they seriously planning to fight the 2015 election on the wrong side of this issue? Do they agree that the UK cannot join the fiscal, political and banking union the Euro area now needs? Do they not think these changes are large and will have some impact on the UK? How would they wish to guide the UK during an intense period of European centralisation?

On the Today programme the issue was muddled by discussion of referenda on any further transfer of powers. There Labour has accepted the new settlement, that a further transfer would need a vote to approve it before it could happen. That is now a relatively minor matter compared to the large issue of do we want to stay in what we have got? How does Labour plan to get the nation to love the huge changes to our constitution that Nice,Amsterdam and Lisbon inflicted? Why didn’t they bother to explain them and persuade us at the time they rammed them through the Commons?

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  1. Kevin R. Lohse
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    Dear John. It may be possible to question Labour more intelligently over the EU, however,that will not lead to more intelligent answers.

    • Disaffected
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

      Remind us what the Tories are going to do about mass EU immigration from Romania and Bulgaria next year, not 2017, next year? The veto that you harped on about for so long, what about part two where Cameron was also going to stop the Eurozone countries from using EU institutions? When is that going to happen? How about Cameron’s opposition to Strasbourg and the duplicated cost of it to the UK taxpayer, what happened to the opposition of it? I think the answer is he caved in because he is pro EU through and through.

      And this week he listened to the public so much, he dismissed the views of 600,000 people opposing gay marriage in introducing legislation to parliament for gay marriage. Democracy, listening to the public- I think not.

      • zorro
        Posted January 28, 2013 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

        Indeed………’They are the party in office that forced through three major Treaties, Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon, against the strong opposition of the Conservative party, and without any referendum to ask UK voters if they accepted such a huge transfer of power. Their decision to do this is very unpopular, and makes governing the UK now very difficult as Ministers so often find they do not have the power to do what is needed.’

        Let us examine this statement in the cold light of Cast Elastic reality…..

        Let us assume that a Conservative government in power would not have acceded to these treaties, even partially……OK, if, as you say, later……’Have they seen the polls on how popular a referendum would be?’…… a valid reasoning, why on earth did Cameron not offer a referendum in the run-up to the 2010 election against ‘Sitting Duck’ Brown? Surely that would have guaranteed a Tory majority in which, of course, you could have had a referendum on Europe….IN or OUT even bearing in mind that Nice, Amsterdam, and Lisbon have been so ruinous to the governance of this country or so government ministers have found out since 2010, having mysteriously forgotten the arguments against these treaties in years gone by…..

        I’m sorry John, you are an excellent MP for Wokingham, but it just doesn’t wash! The Conservatives had an ideal opportunity to win back the UK’s independence by promising a referendum in the 2010 referendum. They completely blew it…..


        • lifelogic
          Posted January 28, 2013 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

          Indeed Cameron blew it because he is clearly an EUphile and professional politician with little interest, either in honesty or in the interest of voters.

        • APL
          Posted January 28, 2013 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

          zorro: ” why on earth did Cameron not offer a referendum in the run-up to the 2010 election against ‘Sitting Duck’ Brown? ”

          zimples! According to our esteemed host, the EU doesn’t ‘play’ on the doorstep, it’s schools ‘nd ‘ospitals’.

          It’s funny how only it is only two years from an election and Cameron and the Tory party are gettin’ all EUrosceptic on our arses.

          This former Tory is staying a former Tory. How many times do you think your party can gull its supporters, Mr Redwood?

          Reply I did promise to vote for a referendum in the 2010 election, and kept my promise by doing so.

          • Timaction
            Posted January 29, 2013 at 11:15 am | Permalink

            Mr Redwood we don’t doubt your sincerity its your leaders and as you often point out the majority of Tories in the Commons that we don’t. Camerons recent speach is not from the heart but a cynical ploy to try and gain political capital at UKIP’s expense for personal not NATIONAL interest. When you read the newspaper accounts in other leading Countries like Germany and France they already are saying this can be ignored/discounted. Cameron is kicking the can down the road for a referendum that will never happen on his watch for unknown potential repatriation of competencies that MAY be reclaimed or may not. He needs to invoke article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to withdraw and renegotiate as UKIP would, the rest is hogwash. LibLabCon are all the same with less than a fag paper between them.
            What are they doing to stop the next invasion from Romania/Bulgaria who will overwhelm our benefits, housing, international health service, education and other public services and infrastructure…….? Nothing, as we’re in the EU and have to accept it! England and its peoples are withering on the vine whilst Westminster dithers. There is no hope under the current political set up.

          • APL
            Posted January 29, 2013 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

            JR: “I did promise to vote for a referendum in the 2010 election, and kept my promise by doing so.”

            My criticism was not of you, but your party.

      • zorro
        Posted January 28, 2013 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

        Disaffected, as you rightly say, in the face of an immigration influx which this government is scared witless to attempt to quantify, they are doing 2/5ths of sweet FA to try and mitigate this scenario……


        • lifelogic
          Posted January 28, 2013 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

          I have seen some figure but I am not sure about them so cannot tell the voters what they are – this seems to be the government line. How long will this last?

        • APL
          Posted January 28, 2013 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

          zorro: “is scared witless to attempt to quantify .. ”

          I do believe Pickles was telling the truth, the figures supplied by the civil service were prepared by people who haven’t a clue, thus useless other than for building a bear trap for Pickles to fall into.

    • lifelogic
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

      Or indeed any answers at all – usually just silly phrases and appeals to envy and childish emotions.

    • Nicol Sinclair
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

      Oh, how I agree with you Mr Lohse. Well put. Any response from JR?

      • alan jutson
        Posted January 28, 2013 at 5:09 pm | Permalink



  2. lifelogic
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    I agree the Labour position will have to change. What helps them greatly in holding this absurd position though, is that the Labour position is basically supported by Cameron. He is clearly is only offering a referendum reluctantly and would want the referendum to vote in favour of staying it. He further “wants” the referendum only after he is voted out of office and has little intention of any serious negotiation first.

    The question surely is, are we better governed largely by British fools and crooks that we can vote out or by European ones that we cannot vote out. Labour, the satirically named “Libdems” and Cameron clearly all prefer that latter option.

    • lifelogic
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 7:47 am | Permalink

      I see they are pushing the green deal again today. With its expensive fees, expensive interest rates and many cowboys on the make. My experience with new boilers is that in practice they are over complex, do not save much energy in practice, break down a lot and are very expensive to maintain.

      Personally I would be very wary of this daft government PR scheme. Most energy saving measures do not usually pay for themselves, beyond some draft proofing, thermals, a new jumper and some basic insulation.

      • Bazman
        Posted January 28, 2013 at 10:20 am | Permalink

        Got to agree that this green deal sounds like a crock. Expensive and complicated should any money be need for improvement then it would be cheaper and less complicated to just increase the mortgage. The seller and buyer of the house could be at odds with this scheme and how is it going to save money on the bills?
        The boilers are being questioned from the point of view of a landlord who has to pay for their upkeep and of course can never be as cheap as an electric heater to maintain. Heating and cooling a 1974 three bedroom house with heavy loft insulation/double glazing costs me less than a grand a year allowing a couple of hundred quid a year in maintenance costs. Lifelogic can live in the 1950’s sweating and freezing in a hair shirt if he wants too. Why his tenants should is another question.
        Green electric low maintenance nonsense from a housing association. A bar maid I know who lives there tells me it is this bad. Tiny flat, massive bills. Replaced with gas boilers after a lot of arguments.

      • stred
        Posted January 28, 2013 at 10:40 am | Permalink

        The boss of an approved Green Deal firm quoted interest rates of almost 7% on R4 today. In my experience, these firms tend to recommend fitting extra roof insulation, when the law of diminishing returns means that this is the least effective insulation in typical older terrace houses, which often already have 4 to 6 inches of roof insulation, but no insulation in solid walls. Also, the underfloor voids are often ventilated but not insulated. Insulating these would cut energy use more effectively.

        It is recommended that heating is turned down when rooms are unoccupied, but regulations are leading to the outer face of the walls being insulated, rather than the inner face. One DECC minister has said he thinks putting 8 inches of foam insulation and render on the outside of our victorian and edwardian houses improves their appearance and a programme to do so is being subsidised. However, not only is this unlikely but it also means that the internal brick walls act like storage heaters and take a long time to warm up and cool down. They gives great thermal stability, but when coming in from work, what is needed is a rapid warm up.

        In order to do this it is necessary to install reflective foil backed plasterboard dry lining with insulation. However, building inspectors are still recommending that manufacturers of multifoil thin insulation should only be accredited with insulation values by the traditional ‘hot box’ test, which does not allow them to work properly. Manufacturer’s tests installed as recommended give a value 4 or 5 times as high. Conventional insulation is too thick to be used inside, unless rooms are large enough. Also regulations require the obtaining of Building Control permits if more than a small area of plaster is removed, causing expensive fees and delay.

        The most urgent needs for a large proportion of UK housing will therefore not be met. In fact, the simplest, most economical and best type of insulation and damp control is being prevented by building control and the DECC.

        • lifelogic
          Posted January 28, 2013 at 10:17 pm | Permalink


      • Wilko
        Posted January 28, 2013 at 11:45 am | Permalink

        Heat rises. Loft insulation should yield good value, if anywhere remains without it.

        How is this for energy efficiency?:

        A DIY chap found his old boiler leaking beyond repair, costing well over £1000 for the unit alone. £998 was the lowest available price. On visiting a church fete, he saw some nearly-new Bang & Olufsen speakers, hoping to buy them for about £15. On enquiring, the speakers were only £5, but the cost included a B&O music centre, unexpected & unwanted. He saved £10 on the speakers & decided to accept the unwanted music centre, to sell it via a free advertisement in Loot.

        On stopping at his local builders merchant, he saw a brand new boiler identical to the one he needed to replace, on the pavement, marked at £100 + VAT: £117.50. It looked like a 10-fold price-marking error, but the builders merchant explained that a customer at another branch depot had ordered it and then cancelled; the depot had closed down and the local branch merely wanted to dispose of it. The chap put the boiler in his hatch-back motor, drove home, & fitted it himself.

        The free Loot ad generated only one response, but the unwanted B&O music centre sold instantly for £125 to a delighted enthusiast.

        Expected costs: £15 plus £998. Actual costs: £5 + £117.50. Value received £998 + £125. Better value than loft insulation. Going to church can help. Even DIY is better than the cost of Labour.

        Reply : I hope he was boiler compliant to make the installation legal!

        • lifelogic
          Posted January 28, 2013 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

          Boiler controls and building regulations that force you to fit expensive unreliable condensing boilers (and get lots of silly bits of paper signed) are another regulation that needs to go urgently.

          • Bazman
            Posted January 28, 2013 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

            Just put Economy 7 in then. I had it for a while just to heat a 200 liter water cylinder. Was quite cheap I found if used correctly. Nearly as cheap as gas. Heating is another matter as the laws of physics and the weather are a problem. The house had a gas warm air system and no insulation for this. Like living in a car.

        • Bazman
          Posted January 28, 2013 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

          Got an e-mail from a company that now rents boilers £38 pm for 14 years. New boiler after 10 years and continue payments or buy the old one for £870. Service and breakdown costs included. Sounds expensive and what if you cannot keep up the payments? But if you are desperate..

      • bigneil
        Posted January 28, 2013 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

        ggrrrrrreen deal? – with all the snow in the last 2 weeks – and NO wind – could some one tell us exactly how much electricity has been generated by all the wind turbines -use the total cost of installation – up to now – and let us know the price per kilowatt generated?

        • lifelogic
          Posted January 28, 2013 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

          I understand it is about the same as can be generated by burning the birds and bats that are exploded by them. Certainly not enough to justify the costs of building them and destroying the environment anyway.

          • Bazman
            Posted January 31, 2013 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

            The same could apply to splitting atoms could it not?

      • lifelogic
        Posted January 28, 2013 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

        Greg Barker MP (the Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change) on the daily politics just now says he think about 7% (the interest rate charged on the green deal – fees too I understand) is fair. He absurdly compares it with unsecured loan rates. But this is secured on the property and secured mortgage rates are nearer 2-3% currently. Does he thing the house owning public is that stupid?

        The government scheme looks more like a dodgy, double glazing sales operation than a sensible use of tax payers money. Why on earth is the government in this business anyway?

        • dan
          Posted January 30, 2013 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

          …and Cameron in PMQs boasting about no payment up front.
          Prime Minister, my ass. He’s nothing but a cheap sales rep

    • lifelogic
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 7:53 am | Permalink

      More waste planned with HS train nonsense being pushed again today. Why are we governed so badly? Tax, borrow, print and waste is everywhere.

      The trains can save ten minutes just be sorting out a better and quicker ticketing and simpler fare structure. No need for any new lines at all. Just get on with the 5 runway Heathwick.

      • lifelogic
        Posted January 28, 2013 at 9:04 am | Permalink

        Osborne think the train will be an engine for growth. Clearly it will be quite the reverse as the Billions it will cost and waste will have to be extracted from real unsubsidised industry with the inevitable result. How can he be so wrong?

        • Bazman
          Posted January 28, 2013 at 10:27 am | Permalink

          Could push down rental costs in London too due the the expansion of the commutable distance as far as north Birmingham. A nightmare for some landlords..

          • lifelogic
            Posted January 28, 2013 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

            Not at the huge price tickets will have to be. Anyway trains will not run until 2026 (at the earliest). How exactly will this absurd environment destroying project help anyone or be an “engine for growth” – blighting as it will, millions of properties, for years to come and no trains for 13 years. Total madness yet again.

            Simon Jenkins has it exactly right on this daft vanity project.

          • APL
            Posted January 28, 2013 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

            Bazman: “Could push down rental costs in London ”

            No it won’t.

        • Alan Wheatley
          Posted January 28, 2013 at 11:54 am | Permalink


        • bigneil
          Posted January 28, 2013 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

          we are told that the HS2 will save time going from london to birmingham – and therefore generate “millions” – why if I buy a faster car and do the same journey do I get a speeding ticket? – can’t I claim I am trying to help the economy?

          • lifelogic
            Posted January 28, 2013 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

            No and on a train you can work anyway, so speed is less important than in a car.

            No doubt it will still take an hour to work out which ticket is valid, the best buy and to queue for it!

        • Mark B
          Posted January 28, 2013 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

          Not to mention the fact that the trains, the company/companies running them and much of the workforce designing, building and maintaining this ‘white-elephant’ will be foreign.

          Look what happen over Bombardier and the Olympics.

          • bigneil
            Posted January 30, 2013 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

            when some braindead decides to put a massive slab of concrete on the HS2 track – what will be the cost in lives of a 250mph crash?

      • stred
        Posted January 28, 2013 at 10:59 am | Permalink

        Interesting graph on page 128 of the Sustainable Energy book, available on the DECC website and written by the only qualified member of their team. High speed trains as used on existing tracks use about twice as much energy as ordinary trains (3-9kwh/100 seat kilometers). The consumption increases greatly when doubling the top speed, as HS2, and the lines cannot be curved to run to city centres. But the lines are drawn on an EU map, so we have to build them, even though they were planned when energy was cheap.

        • lifelogic
          Posted January 28, 2013 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

          Indeed also you need fewer train station stops to make them quick – so you have longer connections (often by taxi/car) to the stations. Nothing green at all about HS trains.

          • Bazman
            Posted January 29, 2013 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

            You don’t believe in green issues anyway so why are you bothered? Tax cuts for the rich is not going to pay for any infrastructure and because we have third world infrastructure they will not want to come here except to look at the views from their expensive flats and marvel at how British everything is.

        • Bazman
          Posted January 28, 2013 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

          They are going to need some brutal KW/HP that for sure. Increases in motorcycle speeds above 200mph need exponential power increases using the same aerodynamics. The amount of power/fuel for a train must be mind boggling!

        • APL
          Posted January 28, 2013 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

          stred: “But the lines are drawn on an EU map, so we have to build them, ”

          I am against HS2, it is a hugely expensive vanity project that will never ever provide a return on investment – I know this otherwise a private company would have tried to do it before now.

          But even if I weren’t against it, because it is an EU spawned concept, I am against it because it is an opportunity to use new magnetic levitation technology that our stupid civil servants have rejected. According to John Redwood*, even though the HS2 which isn’t anything to do with the EU ‘integrated transport’ plans, the rolling stock for HS2 must be able to run on the TENS network.

          EU regulations you see.

          If it is a ‘greenfield’ project, why are we chaining ourselves to 19th century technology?

          *discussed at length some time ago on this very blog.

          • stred
            Posted January 29, 2013 at 8:35 am | Permalink

            P 134 of the Sustainable Energy book gives a comparison of Maglev trains and a high speed Intercity. The manufacturers reckon the maglev uses 2.2kw/ 100 s-km as against 2.9 for the Intercity. The Chinese find them as noisy as a jet aircraft, and Prof MacKay doubts the figure to some extent. However the comarison is not with HS2, which will run at a speed which is ‘supersonic’ to ground transmitted waves. Energy consumption will be far higher.

            The time saved if Hs2 ran to Kings Cross and avoided the transfer to Euston would easily cancel out the need to have ultra high speeds. One wonders whether it is an engineering vanity project, with all the additional costs and fees, and depending on the fact that the many civil servants haven’t a clue about engineering.

    • Disaffected
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 11:24 am | Permalink

      Good try John. Labour’s position is no more confusing than Cameron’s irrational logic and acting in stark contrast to what he says. Both are firmly tied to the socialist EU superstate. Cameron is predicting that the EU will have to change and as a result he might get some small/very minor changes that he can sell to the UK as major alterations through negotiations. Pure deceit.

      It was only October when he made a three line whip to make sure a referendum is not take place, he sacked Tory MPs for voting against him. At this time he was allegedly writing his speech which we heard last week. His future position based on ifs ands pots and pans does not stack up against his actions. He cannot and will be trusted by the public.

      If he is genuine why not act now and stop any further EU financial increases, stop mass immigration from the EU, stop all regulation, stop all ECHR judgments- we might be able to kick out Abu Qatada.

      No. To be clear, he will allow the UK government to carry on being subservient to the EU for at least five more years and then we are expected to believe that he will do something. When his actions to date, including appointments and sackings, demonstrate otherwise. Good grief, what a pompous and contemptuous regard he has for the UK public.

      • Monty
        Posted January 29, 2013 at 2:06 am | Permalink

        I agree with Disaffected.
        Having promised a referendum, Cameron should announce that the UK will unilaterally postpone compliance with any adverse EU requirements, until the British electorate have voted to accept them in the referendum.

    • Disaffected
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      Don’t forget the unsavoury comments Cameron made about people in UKIP. Right out of the Rotherham Council’s book for diplomacy. What about his coalition with the LIb Dems? Did he not read the disparaging comments Mr Clegg made about the British culture? How about the current commotion concerning a Lib Dem MP making comments about Jews? How about the Lib Dem position on an in/out EU referendum?

      On the other hand, Cameron is not known for his good judgment in people is he.

    • Nicol Sinclair
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

      Lifelogic. Ditto to mine above.

    • zorro
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

      I am sure that Gandhi would agree with the sentiment….


  3. Andyvan
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    A little rich to blame Labour for all our EU woes. The Conservative party has been very keen on European integration as a whole despite individual MPs best efforts. It is only now that Dave has seen the light (due mainly to his abysmal election chances) and he wants to continue to be a member as do a large number of other Tories. To claim that the Conservatives have somehow been the only thing stopping us from slipping into euro serfdom is hardly accurate.
    (attack on armed forces deleted-ed)

    • lifelogic
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

      Indeed it have been mainly the Tories from Heath (Thatcher even), Major and now Cameron driving this destruction of democracy. Bliar and Brown too but mainly the Tories. The foolish ERM enthusiast John Major (still no ERM apology I note) in particular.


    • Nicol Sinclair
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

      JR: “(attack on armed forces deleted-ed)” Why was it (deleted) it pray? Uncomfortable perhaps?

      Reply: Potentially libellous against a category of people, and did not take into account their orders and the laws of war.

      • Nicol Sinclair
        Posted January 28, 2013 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

        Reply to reply to reply. Thank you for the explanation.

  4. alan jutson
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    You outline the problems with so many media interviews.
    They want instant answers to big questions, as there appears to be no air time for a proper planned forensic interview, when the detail and truth of a postion could often be teased out.

    Then you have the usual Party line non answers and vague statements, because all Ministers/Shadow Ministers now seem incapable of telling the real truth of their own position as well as expaining Party policy, and couple this with poor research by the interviewer/so called expert, who often seems to have a personal agenda on any subject, and the result you describe is what you get.

    Oh for the days of Robin Day, who had a complete programme to practise his art, and who practised and used his skills to best effect.
    He was not interested in the quick headline, he simply wanted to get down to the truth of a position.

    Do not surprise yourself John if Mr Miliband does not offer a referendum himself nearer to election time for some personal political advantage.
    Mr Cameron has beaten him to the punch this time, but I fear he is no more looking at our interests, than his own position.

    If Cameron was really behind an in out referendum, he would hold one in this Parliament and nail his colours to the mast instead of using a three line whip against such a motion just a few months ago.

    They say a week is a long time in politics, that stalking horse idea that has been aired over the weekend in the Press may need just a little bit more time to be tacked up in order to perform. !

    • Horatio McSherry
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 10:34 am | Permalink

      Don’t you think it’s ironic that now we have at least two 24-hour news channels the interviews are increasingly short and shallow?

    • Disaffected
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 11:31 am | Permalink

      Absolutely. He also would not be announcing today the HS2 EU infrastructure plan to have rail links to all major cities in the EU. Economically, socially, environmentally the HS2 project is utterly useless, like the wind farms and the Coalition’s cut backs to date to save the Uk economy. It appears to me they are not fit for purpose.

      Carrying on with Gordon Brown’s policies is not what the public expected or voted for. When Cameron says business needs to wake up and smell the coffee, I think he really needs to look in the mirror. When is he going to make a start on all the promises he made before the election, including cleaning up politics- waiting, only two years to go. Tick tock.

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      Newsnight is ridiculous now. Jeremy Paxman started it to be closely followed by Gavin Essler and Kirsty Wark. Even Any Questions is now unlistenable because of the constant interruptions – mainly I must say, to people of my own persuasion!
      What it needs of for someone to get up and walk out.
      If only!

      • Wilko
        Posted January 28, 2013 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

        John Nott, a Defence Minister, walked out of an interview with Robin Day. Opinions were mixed about its effectiveness.

        Perhaps the finest interrogator is Andrew Neil. He is usually well prepared, asks sharp questions, and repeatedly rejects mere replies masquerading as answers. Interruptions are best avoided, yet unless the interrogator does so, those replying may tend to waffle off within their comfort zone without answering the specifics.

        • lifelogic
          Posted January 28, 2013 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

          Andrew Neil to me is the only balanced person on the BBC. To me he is the sensible centre ground. There should be a similar number of BBC staff to each side of him. In fact they are all way, way to the left of him. Pro EU, big state, forced equality, big tax, art graduates and magic money tree thinkers to a man or woman.

    • Nicol Sinclair
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

      Mr Jutson: Oh, how I agree with all that you say. My delay in replying is regretted – I am picking this up in Nepal and I am soooooo ahead of you all…

    • zorro
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

      Absolutely, a complete charlatan….three line whip indeed…..sacking ministers who dared talk about an IN/OUT referendum….


  5. Acorn
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    BTW. Secretary Pickles is complaining about Councils dodging referendums using loop holes for Council Tax rises above 2%. The are setting 1.99%. All “loop holes” are created by politicians, be it Council or Starbucks affecting.

    My point is that Mr Pickles could not have used the “referendum” word until Cameron legitimised it in his EU, “time that British voters were given the referendum that they deserve” speech. Pickles would have been slaughtered in the media if he had made his statement before Cameron. This is a piece of media spin control worthy of the Blair administration.

    • Acorn
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      This EU fuss is going to struggle to keep the mind of the voters off our dismal economic performance, for another two years. There is no sign of an ideological shift in the coalition; and, it would appear cynical at this stage of a parliament anyway. The thing is, am I in the right place and holding the right currency?

      Call me thick but I have just realised, after listening to WS the other night; that you can sum up our pathetic parliamentary system by the fact that it is almost impossible to introduce into it; a new idea. I say that because many, as I, think that Land Value Tax is an excellent idea to replace Council Tax and Business rates. Our one green MP is having a go, I doubt she will get far but full marks for trying.

      We are only allowed to vote for a prime minister, from a small number of tribal candidates. We are not allowed to choose those candidates ourselves, they are chosen by other people, they in turn are instructed by others we know even less about. The voters make their choice by voting for the token candidate installed locally, by the elite, to represent the appropriate tribe of the prime minister. Isn’t it time the candidate chose the party instead of the party always choosing the candidate?


    • Nicol Sinclair
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 2:39 pm | Permalink


  6. David Burch
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    Quite glad that Labour are heading towards a pro Europe stance. We may have the chance of a rational debate on the pros and cons of membership and direction of travel. With UKIP anti and the Liberals pro it is reasonable to force the other two main parties the maker a clear stance. Neither were convincing at present

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      David–Please don’t call it pro Europe when I think you will agree that you mean pro EU–personally I cannot see much overlap between the two, rather the opposite.

      • Bob
        Posted January 28, 2013 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

        Europe is a geographical region

        The EU is a political construct

        You can be in Europe without being in the EU.

        Ask the Swiss.

  7. Martin
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Referendum – which one? Where does ‘Better Together’ begin or stop at – Berwick or Dover? The Shadow Foreign Secretary has this problem as does the small band of Scottish Conservatives. SLAB argues against a referendum on Scotland/UK – it would look odd to do the opposite for UK/EU.

    HS2 referendum anybody? Trust the people?

    • lifelogic
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

      Indeed trust the people a referendum on HS2 – we certainly would not have had the absurd Millennium dome for example or the gift/soft loans to the PIGIS. How are our promised profits coming on Osborne?

    • Nicol Sinclair
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

      Martin: “HS2 referendum anybody? Trust the people?” No, not really. I’m personally all for HS2 but only if it goes to Glasgow…….

  8. Lord Blagger
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    I can’t help thinking the Labour’s position on this is unsustainable. They are the party in office that forced through three major Treaties, Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon, against the strong opposition of the Conservative party, and without any referendum to ask UK voters if they accepted such a huge transfer of power.


    And yet, now you’re in power, you’re doing the same. You’re ramming the three treaties down our gullets.

    Very simple. Put all three to a referenda. If we vote no, then you derogate from the treaties.

    Reply: The Lib Dems will not agree to any such proposal from this government.

    • A different Simon
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      The Lib Dem’s might if the Conservatives agreed to grant them a referendum on P.R.

    • Captain Crunch
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply. Mr Cameron could bring the legislation and let the Lib Dems and Labour vote against it. He wins either way. He either gets the referendum or he shows that the British people what they need to vote for in the next General.

      • Monty
        Posted January 29, 2013 at 2:26 am | Permalink

        Yes, there is a case for bringing forward proposals that the Lib Dems and Labour will vote down. And yes from a Eurosceptic point of view it would ram rather a lot of them up against a brick wall. Advantageous. But not if you happen to be David Cameron. He is exploiting the restrictions of his coalition leadership to the max.

        Reply: He is not able to bring forward new proposals as PM if the Lib dems veto them, as the civil servcie will not assist and he could not launch them from the Despatch Box. We can -and do – launch proposals from the backbenches. We have proposed a referendum, and a lower EU budget, for example.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted January 29, 2013 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

          If you can and dod launch proposals from the backbenches, now would be an ideal time to propose a referendum to be held this autumn, on the fundamental question of whether we want to continue further with the process of “ever closer union” required by the present EU treaties.

          Cameron said in his speech that “ever closer union” is not Britain’s objective, so how could he possibly object to a referendum to check whether or not the majority of the British people agree with him on that?

    • Ken Adams
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

      To Reply, the LibDems do not need to because there are no such proposals. Conservatives are only anti EU when out of office.

    • Nicol Sinclair
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply: Reply: The Lib Dems will not agree to any such proposal from this government.

      So. Ditch the buggers NOW. They are finished anyway…

      • APL
        Posted January 28, 2013 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

        Nicole Sinclair: “They are finished anyway…”

        Oh I so hope so.

        But perhaps Cleggy isn’t such a dolt after all, perhaps the ‘fixed’ term Parliament was his insurance policy. At the tax payers expense as usual.

      • lifelogic
        Posted January 28, 2013 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

        But so is Cameron.

    • zorro
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply – John, and you know full well that Cameron would not have done so either even if he had a 200 majority in the Commons…..


  9. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    I can’t help feeling that all this discussion about the possibility of holding a referendum in 5 years’ time is a diversion. Cameron’s speech was purely based on party political considerations. He was basically telling us a little of what would be in the next Conservative manifesto. In the remaining time of this Parliament what will be the effects of our continuing EU membership? More contributions? More immigration? Continuing trade deficit? Just what are the benefits? More regulations? It is clear to me that the next stage of Cameron’s plan, if he were to win the next election, is to concoct some narrative to explain why it is essential that we stay in the EU. Cameron states that “ever closer union among the peoples of Europe…. for Britain it is not the objective” whilst we all know that is precisely what it is and Cameron himself is trying to force it on the members of the Eurozone. In their own ways Cameron, Miliband and Clegg will do all it takes to ensure that we remain in this totalitarian anti-democratic organisation. I have seen it suggested that if Miliband had supported the idea of an in/out referendum then there would be no excuse for not holding one during this Parliament and that wouldn’t do, would it?

  10. Chris
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    I think Boris Johnston’s article today will be the one that unsettles Labour. He has gone straight for the jugular and has delivered a message in blunt terms thatLabour knows will hit home.

  11. Kenneth
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Labour knows that our memories are short and that the BBC will not rake up the past.

    If we had politically balanced mass media it would surely be impossible for a political party to wreck our economy whilst in government and then ride so high in the polls a few weeks after losing the election.

    So, when it comes to an eu vote, Labour knows it can change its mind at whim and get away with it.

  12. lojolondon
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    Hi John,

    Sorry to change the subject, but no-one is addressing it – (wants to refer to a Daily Mail story about alleged rape and the attitude of courts to the case)

    Reply: I do not know anything about this case and am not informed enough to moderate a debate on it.

  13. oldtimer
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    I am not surprised that a BBC interview fails to get to the heart of a matter. The time available and the pursuit of the BBC`s own agenda militates against it.

    Labour is in a bad place place because
    (a) it previously promised a referendum and then reneged on that promise;
    (b) the evolution of the EU will mean that the UK, a substantial net contributor, can, and probably, will be outvoted under qmv on issue after issue by states that are net recipients. There is the prospect here of open-ended financial liabilties, in effect of more and more taxation without the means of redress by the traditional means of booting out the government of the day. In short the UK electorate will be stuffed, with no electoral means of redress. This is fundamentally unacceptable as well as dangerous. Labour made this possible by relinquishing opt outs and signing up to the three most recent treaties. In effect they sold the UK electorate down the river.

    Cameron is mistrusted because he is perceived as a closet European and that his speech is merely a sop to the Eurosceptic wing of his party and he sees the writing on the wall in the next election. This is a plausible view. I happen to agree with JR that he will find it impossible to renege on the course he has set himself; I think he would not survive as party leader.

    It is impossible to predict how this will evolve in the EU. Much will depend on how other net contributor states, notably Germany, react and see opportunities for making the idea of subsidiarity a reality. Several German newspapers agreed with Cameron on several issues that he raised in his speech. With Germany already on the hook for maintaining the integrity of the EZ they may well be ready to explore a realignment of the way EU affairs are conducted. It is certainly worth taking the time to find out. If the result is little or no change from the current arrangements, then the vote should be for the exit.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      oldtimer–If there is little or no change then Cameron will clearly still be campaigning to stay in anyway which makes his chances of a meaningful negotiation a good working definition of zero. How we ever got in to this box of contributors and recipients (who are obviously happy as things are, thank you very much) I shall never know. If we had to have an EU, which I don’t accept for a moment, what was wrong with each country ante-ing up a (small) percentage of its GDP? Milliband’s (non) statements are somewhere between fatuous and risible and I don’t think his own people are going to wear what he has (sort of) said.

    • uanime5
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

      You’re forgetting that under QMV a few large countries can outvote all the smaller countries. So the UK isn’t as vulnerable as you claim.

      • zorro
        Posted January 28, 2013 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

        Can I ask you a question?………Is there anything where you think that the UK should renegotiate the terms of our membership of the EU?


        • Denis Cooper
          Posted January 29, 2013 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

          Taking it upon myself to answering for him/her:

          “Of course there is, because our present membership of the EU does not yet involve the complete extinction of the UK as an independent sovereign state and our total subjugation to the European federation I wish to see established.”

        • uanime5
          Posted January 29, 2013 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

          Possibly reducing the budget of the CAP but that can be done by reducing the amount all EU countries receive, rather than the UK demanding special exemptions.

          Directly elected commissioners could also prove useful but again this can be achieved through negotiation with other EU countries rather than renegotiating the UK’s membership.

          • APL
            Posted January 29, 2013 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

            uanime5: “Possibly reducing the budget of the CAP but that can be done by reducing the amount all EU countries receive .. ”

            Given that the CAP is entrenched in the founding treaties of the Common Market, EEC, EU – I’d say you haven’t a CAPs chance in hell of getting it changed.

          • zorro
            Posted January 29, 2013 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

            That should do nicely Denis….but we have, apparently, the possibility of a CAP budget reduction…..doubtless seconded by the French not…..and some directly elected commissioners….. so yes, effective abolition of the UK’s ability to govern itself.


          • zorro
            Posted January 29, 2013 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

            uanime5, good luck on option one with the French!


      • DaveK
        Posted January 28, 2013 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

        As usual an on the face of it a true comment, but the reality is that after 1st April 2017 (2017 rings a bell) to pass any vote requires 55% of the votes (reduced from 63% by the Lisbon Treaty).

        Coincidentally the Euro countries votes add up to 62% of the total. Wonder why they changed it.

        Of the Non-Euro group only 3 are net contributors UK, Denmark & Sweden and many of the others are committed to join when conditions are met.

        So it appears that we will be in an organisation where every vote will be controlled by the Euro group and we will just have to shut up and pay.

        Hypothetical first vote 1st April 2017: Net contributors are not allowed to have referendums to leave – who are the fools?

        • Edward
          Posted January 28, 2013 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

          Indeed, QMV will be a disaster for the UK.
          QMV should have been based on the amount of money paid into the EU instead it is based on population size modifed to give smaller populated nations a heavier weighting.

          Those member states that pay nothing in are in the majority so those that do pay in can be out voted at all times.

        • uanime5
          Posted January 29, 2013 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

          Given that now every country that joins the EU had to join the euro even if they hadn’t reduced the threshold eventually the percentage of euro countries would be over 63%.

          • Edward
            Posted January 31, 2013 at 9:49 am | Permalink

            What has that got to do with it?
            Carefully avoidind answering the question as usual,
            Im beginning to think you are training to be a politician.

  14. Richard1
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    The Conservatives need to prepare for a combined onslaught on this policy area by Labour, the LibDems and their allies in the BBC. I think they will focus on the tactics. Labour & the LibDems, aided & abetted by all BBC interviewers except Andrew Neil will say something along the lines of: ‘It would be better to build alliances with our friends in Europe and give ourselves more time to agree a deal. The date for a referendum should move to the end of the next Parliament, not have a guillotine after 5 years’. Completely opportunistic and unprincipled of course, but that’s what we must expect. (After all you cant find a Labour or LibDem politician these days who will admit he was / is in favour of the Euro!) Mr Cameron needs a good answer to this or the issue will turn into a vote loser.

  15. Bill
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    The BBC needs to be shaken up to allow lots of different views to be heard. In any case we need to look at (a) what happened last time there was a referendum on Europe and try to learn lessons from this and (b) nail the oft-repeated assertion that coming out of the EU will immediate have a negative impact on jobs.

    Regarding (a) my memory is that no one really knew what the effects would be or if they did assumed that good and bad results would cancel each other out and that the decision should be made on the basis of an abstract principle [I am thinking of an article by A J Ayer in The Observer (?) in about 1974] and (b) get hold of the results of the audit the government is supposed to be carrying out on the EU’s economic impact on us.

  16. Denis Cooper
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    In a Guardian article today Professor Vernon Bogdanor is trying to edge Labour towards a referendum:

    “Why the left should support a referendum on Europe”

    “The EU is an elite project without popular support. Labour can bring it back to the people”

    • James Matthews
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      A rather strange excursion into democracy from Boggy, given his steadfast resistance to any suggestion that the English might be allowed their own parliament, or even English votes on English laws. However we must welcome the sinner that repenteth, however self-serving that repentance may be.

    • Kenneth
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 11:40 am | Permalink

      Yes, and I would wager that when Labour steal the referendum policy they will win the next general election while the genuine pro-referendum vote is split.

      Somehow, an accomadation must be reached with UKIP before it is too late.

  17. Denis Cooper
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    I don’t accept for one moment that it was OK for the Tories to agree to the Single European Act and the Maastricht Treaty without referendums, but wrong for Labour to deny referendums of the Amsterdam, Nice and Lisbon Treaties.

    The 1975 referendum was held on the clearly stated basis that the UK minister would always have a veto on EEC/EC/EU proposals; see “Fact No 2” in the “Will Parliament lose its power?” section of the government’s pamphlet urging a “yes” vote:

    That basis for the popular consent given in 1975 was destroyed by the abolition of a swathe of national vetoes through the Single European Act, which should have been put a fresh referendum.

    You yourself recently wrote, JR, that the Single European Act was (as I recall your words) “the first crack in the dam of Parliamentary sovereignty”.

    • zorro
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

      Indeed, the Single European Act was the necessary instrument to lead onto the other treaties. That is the treaty which should have had a referendum because of its widespread implications…..


    • Jon Burgess
      Posted January 29, 2013 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

      Agree wholeheartedly with this analysis. It suits Mr Redwood to distance his party from the state we are in, but we are precisely here because of the Treaties that the Tories signed in the 80’s and 90’s.

  18. Wilko
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    Muddled Today reveals toady.

    The last question may be answered by one of your commentators who is familiar with the notion of ramming.

  19. Denis Cooper
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    It’s also worth noting that the Single European Act was the subject of the Crotty case in Ireland:

    which has led to the Irish being allowed to vote on successive treaties.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 10:56 am | Permalink

      I should have added:

      “… much to the annoyance of the Irish government, who would very much like to remove the constitutional requirement for referendums, and in fact managed to circumvent it for the last EU treaty change, that embodied in European Council Decision 2011/199/EU of March 25th 2011.”

  20. a-tracy
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    The Labour party green lighted HS2 didn’t they in agreement with the EU transport plans or have I got the wrong end of the stick? Is the EU so keen on HS2 so they can force the UK to run their trains on the tracks, if it isn’t that then why aren’t the lines started from Birmingham to Scotland first where the need for speed is greatest and the current service slower and less regular than the services to and from London?

  21. waramess
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Whatever the electorate decide about EU membership must be right in a democracy. Perish the thought that politicians should themselves think the electorate are too ill informed to take such a momentus decision for that is the thin end of the wedge.

    Once the politicians take such a stand then they may start to question whether the electorate are too ill informed to choose a government at the election, and bang goes democracy.

    I guess we shall have to hope that Cameron is a repented sinner but I would not bet even my hat on it.

  22. Tad Davison
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    The EU is self-evidently undemocratic and socialist-centric, so why should Labour want to risk losing something is has been constructively creating since our one and only referendum on membership back in the 70s?

    The Lib Dems are also only too keen to keep the momentum going towards a federal socialist super-state, because they are similarly disposed.

    The whole project ever was thus.  The neon signs were there, illuminated against a blackened sky, and glaringly obvious, so why did the Tories take us down the same road?  What’s their excuse?

    And let’s not forget about what we actually voted for in that referendum, to belong to a trading bloc, so to be credible, the Tory position should always have been to remain a sovereign nation with trading partners on the continent of Europe and no more. 

    Having listened to Tory politicians for a great many years, something else is self-evident.  A significant number are not so anti-EU and pro-UK as they ought to be.  They have a pronounced purgative effect on my digestive system.  They speak of the benefits of  EU membership, then dry up when I ask them to explain to me what these fantastic, miraculous benefits are?

    They won’t get into a discussion about it, because they know they’d lose, but despite them being on the wrong side of the argument, they want more of it anyway.  And just to make it absolutely clear, these are Tories we’re talking about, not the other trash!  Does this not smack of a hidden agenda, and a blatant disregard for the wishes of the eectorate?

    No True-blue Tory should ever have anything to do with a project that cannot possibly be good for this nation.  Had I been Prime Minister, I wouldn’t have signed ANY EU treaty, but then the difference between me and the likes of Major, is I am honest and have resolve in spades!

    Yet it was John Major who made that infamous comment (bastards) about those of us who had seen what would eventually happen to the EU, and wanted no part of it.  I still take that as a personal affront, but wouldn’t it be nice if he and a few others finally crawled out of the woodwork, looked at the evidence in the form of the EU’s economic and social wreckage strewn all around, and admitted they got it wrong!

    The absence of publicly-demonstrated contrition on their part, tells me they would still be pushing towards EU federalism were they in a position to do so.  Certainly Heseltine is still wedded to it. 

    Sorry John, none of the three Westminster parties have any credibility left.  All three are essentially pro-EU, but only the Tories have tried to make us believe one thing whilst doing another.  Again, we want deeds, not platitudes designed merely to inflate the poll ratings in the Tories favour.  They’ve deceived us for too long, and we’re too wary of them now.

    Tad Davison


    Sent from my iPod

    • Tad Davison
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 11:13 am | Permalink

      And another thing. Who could ever forget the standing ovation the entire House of Commons gave to Tony Blair when he stood down as Prime Minister?

      After what he did, I’d have been sitting on my hands, but perhaps that one sickening gesture more than any other, gives a clue to the true political complexion of the place, if not the collective will. They’re all basically pro-EU.


      Reply: It was not the entire Commons. I was there and was not clapping.

      • lifelogic
        Posted January 28, 2013 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

        Good for you John – pro EU and worse having taken the country to a totally counter productive (& then losing) a war – on the basis of a clear & blatant lie.

      • Manof Kent
        Posted January 29, 2013 at 12:32 am | Permalink

        But it was led by Cameron who urged his benches to stand and clap.
        Quite nauseating.

      • bigneil
        Posted January 29, 2013 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

        pity tony blair didnt go before he signed the human rights act – -and gave every foreign criminal, (etc ed) the right to come here for a free life on the british taxpayer – -with no fear of having to work, no fear of losing their house and no fear of being deported back – -because tony made sure that any foreigners rights in this country were instantly more than ours. – -he is making us all pay for our own destruction.

  23. James Matthews
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    There is clearly some substance in the argument that uncertainty is bad for business (for Scotland, as well as the UK as a whole). Surely then, then, once the issue of a referendum has been raised, the responsible policy is to get on with it as quickly as possible, not kick it five years into the future?

    • JimF
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

      That is far too logical

    • lifelogic
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

      Indeed but he only “wants” one when he is out of office.

  24. matthu
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    A little OT perhaps, but topical nevertheless:

    I have been having fun trying to understand why anyone should engage with the government’s new “green deal” home insulation programme.

    Greg Barker, DECC Minsiter was explaining it on the radio this morning. It seems that the private company coming up with the finance will be providing a very secure loan which is linked to the property.

    They are therefore very happy to provide this loan at (‘only’) a very reasonable rate of interest (almost 7% which doesn’t include the annual admin charge which will be levied on top).

    But we are assured that the home-owner also scores well out of it, because he is guaranteed that his projected savings will exceed his costs of financing and repaying the loan. (‘Projected’? sounds reminiscent of endowment policy returns.)

    So let’s see what happens if the government raises the price of electricity (by e.g. obliging power companies to increase the proportion of renewable energy in the mix they supply to the home-owners).

    Now the home-owner is saving even more by having engaged with the green deal. So he is even happier!

    The company providing the loan could logically charge even more interest since it would be covered by higher projected savings. They are even happier too.

    The government derives more through sales tax. So they are laughing all the way to the bank.

    And the renewable energy providers are the happiest of all since they get paid even more subsidy for a product that no-one in their right mind would buy in a competitive market.

    The important thing is: there are no losers. Hang on … this sounds too easy! Why aren’t people beating a path to the door of the green deal providers?

    • lifelogic
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

      It is clearly a con in most cases just like the PV subsidy racket. The government is now a dodgy double glazing on expensive HP sort of company.

    • bigneil
      Posted January 29, 2013 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

      if the government says that energy companies HAVE to increase the percentage of “green ” electric in the total they supply – -BUT – – the wind doesn’t blow – -do they then have to DECREASE the total amount of non-green electric produced – just to keep the percentage figure up ????

  25. They Work for Us
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    We need to keep up the momentum on Europe and relentlessly debunk the pro EU myths:

    Just as very many people don’t understand the difference between the deficit and the debt, they don’t understand the difference between the single market (with all its EU bureaucracy and overhead cost) and a free trade agreement that would untie our hands in trading with the rest of the world.

    The “we do 40% of our trade with the EU” also needs to be debunked by pointing out what % is our export trade to the EU and not the total which is say 40%. This would bolster the assertion that they sell us more than we sell them and that they would not want to lose access to the UK market. This would be an important factor in free trade negotiations with the EU. We would also regain control of our borders and be able to govern ourselves without being overridden by a EU court.

    • Chris
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      The site that regularly “debunks EU myths” (and with great authority) is There is a section devoted to “myths”.

      However, the very considerable expertise that R North has on EU law is demonstrated in his blogs. See, for example,in the blog archive, articles on Norway and the so called fax democracy claims which he exposes as a complete myth. Also the following link which refers to Norway but also the role of global organisations in regulating trade, and how Norway is successful as a single country at gaining access to the negotiating table, whereas the UK has to rely on the EU, a legal entity, negotiating on its behalf and at a much later stage in proceedings than Norway does.

  26. Alte Fritz
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    Could not agree more. So far, the fact that this is a “mighty issue” is brushed over in the media with assertions that we have more important things to worry about and, in a nutshell, continued membership of the EU is vital to our economy. Certainly in the latter case, the pro EU argument has not moved on since “Jobs for the boys” in 1975. The world has moved on and in a very different direction from that taken by the EU’s policy makers.

    How I long for an honest and intelligent debate. I’ll not hold my breath.

  27. Alan Wheatley
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    It could be argued that the single biggest dictatorial act relating to the EU was when the Conservative Government under Ted Heath took us into the EEC, and there by set the course for the next forty years. I am prepared to accept that Heath did what he believed to be best for the UK, having the experiences of WW2 fresh in his mind, but he did so on a false prospectus, and more or less admitted so towards the end of his life.

    We seem to have descended into a “my referendum (or lack of it) is better than yours” argy-bargy. I think this it silly and pointless, for we know any promise can be side-stepped on the basis of any contrived argument that suites the needs of the moment. Arguments over a referendum are not the point: the point is the merits of being in the EU (and the terms that will apply) and being out of the EU (and the arrangements that will apply).

    Of course the media love an argy-bargy, the Today Programme in particular. But stuff them!

    Reply: The importance of this is it would be better if all political parties supported a referendum – then we could have one sooner. If Mr M could be persuaded to agree to one we could table a proposal and it could pass. It was getting Blair as well as Major to agree to a referendum on the Euro that saved the pound in the 90s.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply,
      So you agree that Milband is saying “no” now in order to avoid a referendum this Parliament, as I suggested earlier? The three party leaders are complicit in doing all they can to keep us in the EU.

    • Alan Wheatley
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

      Re reply: I take your point.

      But the thing is the referendum is not the end, it is only the means to the end. The more the debate is about the referendum the less it is about the real issue: the UK relationship in or with the EU.

      There is another way of looking at how to bring about a referendum. The more EU IN/OUT is discussed, including all the issues and the alternatives, the more likely there will be increasing popular demand that there is a referendum, which Mr M and Mr. C will find increasing hard to resist.

      • bigneil
        Posted January 29, 2013 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

        what is to stop mr cameron – assuming he got re elected – in just turning round afterwards and saying – -things have changed and there won’t be a referendum – -he would not be the first to say one thing and do the opposite – -would or could he be sacked??

        and in denying a referendum – does that mean we are no longer a democracy?? – -would be nice if they told us officially – -sorry – forgot – – – our thoughts do not matter – only our votes on one day every few years

    • zorro
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

      ‘I am prepared to accept that Heath did what he believed to be best for the UK,’…..hmmmm…..I definitely am not prepared to accept that argument.


      • lifelogic
        Posted January 28, 2013 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

        I think he was deluded – but why else do you think he did it?

        Ted Heath also kindly gave us the dreadful Michael Martin as speaker did he not?

        • zorro
          Posted January 29, 2013 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

          I seem to recall that it was your political hero, Anthony (Charles Lynton) Blair who was PM when Mr Martin was elected to the post of speaker in 2000…..

          As for Edward Heath, there are a lot of questions there which may yet come to more mainstream light. I think that there were some very continental influences in Mr Heath’s life which held a great hold over his direction in political life.


  28. HJBbradders
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    Where, Oh where, are the forensic interviewers these days? I mean the likes of Robin Day and Brian Walden who maybe had a whole hour to dissect the views of our leading politicians. These days the best that can be done seems to be a ten minute slot on the Today programme or the totally inadequate programmes Question Time and Any Questions, where they are allowed to get away with almost anything.

    • Wilko
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

      Brian Walden was quite good. In one programme, about half an hour was allowed, dedicated to an interview with James Callaghan. Callaghan responded obliquely to Walden’s questions & failed to give proper answers. Walden said to him that, as he was virtually refusing to answer the key question being asked, the interview was being terminated.

      The programme stopped abruptly within its first 10 mins of so. A kind of musical interlude replaced the remainder, with a still shot displayed on screen. Viewers were shocked. Time since may have distorted the recollection to some extent, but the effect was dramatic. Callaghan also seemed shocked & embarrassed. The idea of the option of instant termination may have been planned in advance. Nevertheless, it created a rare and dramatic moment beyond most current interviewers reach.

      Tom Bradby was assigned to one of the most exclusive interviews, of the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge. At such an important occasion, one wonders why each of them had to repeat “you know” so many times unintentionally. Does anyone have an accurate count?

  29. Ted Greenhalgh
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    By and large I am very much in favour of the concept of the BBC. However, I have stopped listening to the Today programme. The constant interruptions are a disgrace.

    • Alan Wheatley
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

      Agreed on all points.

  30. Muddyman
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    While accepting that the BBC holds certain views and pushes them blindly, could not the current Government start the process of privatisation and remove the enforced taxation. This would allow all those wishing to subscribe, to receive their full blown propaganda at the turn of a switch.

    • Alan Wheatley
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      The BBC is supposed to be independent and politically neutral. We stand far more chance of getting the BBC to live up properly to that obligation than we do a private, independent broadcaster.

  31. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    children , children , this is not party politics all are playing at ;it is the future of our great nation (and don’t say it is not great anymore because of’….)
    The media should take this on board and broadcast to us incompetent financial morons all there is to know about the in or out situation in pink pigs and blue cows.

    Take it from the standpoint ..WE are in the Eropean community , but still have a single currency. We can trade between all EU countries and that isn’t too bad as Germany and a couple of others are not doing too badly. We are at a stage where powers have been given to other countries who dislike the monarchy and are determined to break their great wealth into fragments. Of course they want to get their hands on the money (they wanted to get their hands on the NHS money and their greasy little fingers have ruined this)in whatever form their excuses are. Some here also would like to take away the royal powers( and let’s not pretend they don’t have any)
    Lets think about ourselves and how we diplomatically handle this situation . There again perhaps outsiders may see the political conflicts ,and as before the argument will be taken through the horns whilst no one is noticing in that selfsame third way, which ruined us in the middle.

  32. peter davies
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    He appears to have ruffled a few feathers on this issue and wrong footed Milliband and co. The BBC really does need its charter looking at though, something is telling me to wait for the coverage from them to be working for the pro side though at least Andrew Neill seems to take a sensible stance in his programs.

    Were now seeing so many scare stories and drivel from scientists, academics, journalists and MPs the whole issue is getting clouded. A simple impact matrix of pros and cons of leaving the EU and joining EFTA should be drawn up then put out in the media for the public to be better informed.

    Lets just hope @lifelogic is wrong and the ridiculous labour party don’t come back in 2015 or we will be headed for trouble in more ways than one

  33. David Langley
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    Miliband sat alone at the table when he signed the last treaty, he must have been either totally crapping himself or full of self importance and delusions of grandeur. Brown turned up later and signed it over a cup or glass of something nice.
    Therefore Miliband is never going to vote for either a referendum or a try at repatriation of powers. It will be over his dead body to present a bill for the repeal of those treaties that bind us to ” ever closer union”. Cameron and Farage is the only game in town, and we all know it. I do not trust Cameron, and I have no reason to distrust a man whose speeches and vision has transcended every politician on the topic that drives us. Every turn of the EU screw on us has been noted and ridiculed by Farage, his resistance mostly alone against the undemocratic EU has been a revelation. No man is perfect and I am aware of shortcomings but he is determined and unafraid. Given a chance I think our new party could grow into the kind of light touch government I want.

    Reply: Why do you ignore the endless speeches, votes and work of the Conservative Eurosceptics in Parliament? I do not recall Mr Farage opposing anything in the Commons, or backing the referendum there.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

      I think that was other Miliband.

    • Alan Wheatley
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

      Re reply: agreed, credit where credit is due.

      But I am not aware of which, if any, Conservative Eurosceptics in Parliament are actively calling for the the UK with leave the EU as is Mr. Farage. So, for now, he is saying, from the only hustings available to him, what Conservative MPs are not saying.

      Reply There is a group of Better off out Conservative MPs.

      • zorro
        Posted January 28, 2013 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

        Any plans to join that grouping John, or are you still keeping your options open?


  34. David Langley
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    I agree with those who have now been bored rigid with the attempt by Radio 4 “Today” interviewers and some others to dominate the interviews with their guests “victims”.
    All trying to be famous for destroying or making some revelation that will propel them into some kind of awards etc. Whilst making their victims look like incoherent trash. I find myself abusing out loud these interviewers and making my long suffering spouse have a bad start to the day.

    • Alan Wheatley
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps we should start a campaign to get Andrew Neil appointed as Head of Politics and Current Affairs within the BBC.

  35. pedroelingles
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    Daily reading of the reports of the work on controls and regulations emanating from the vast number of EU bureaucrats combined with the countless Meetings being conducted by senior figures leaves little to the imagination. Internet sites such as the “Press Review” and “Morning Bulletin” coming from provide an example amongst many of the spider’s web being woven. In 5 years time there will be a slim chance, if any, of an In/Out Referendum as our Parliament would have been utterly under-mined and the electorate too enmeshed by Brussels. Cameron and his “eminence gris” are well aware that playing along with the manipulative minority of the Lib-Dems may well be the only remaining straw to grasp for succeeding to a second term in office. The future well-fare and freedom of this country is being staked in a power game whereby the pursuit of an obfuscated ideology is paramount and it is quite clear that our Nation’s democratic principals are being frustrated and sacrificed. With the prevailing speed at which EU Regulations are being applied it is highly unlikely that there would or could be a Referendum held in five years from now. Therefore the proposal for such a lengthy delay can only be construed as a prevarication and thusly a denial of the avowed but deceptive intention to meet the expressed wishes of the vast majority of today’s electorate. Cameron is playing Canute and it is time his Party recognised it before it is drowned by UKIP.

  36. Bernard Juby
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    Labour simply loves the EU – full stop.
    How else would they have pushed through the social programme that Brussels rams down our throats via the one way ratchet to serfdom?

  37. Pleb
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    I think the gov is so scared of the massive debt that it will let our country be subsumed into the EU to bury the debt in theirs.

  38. JimF
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    Some points to consider:

    1 If this is so important, why wasn’t it offered by the Conservatives before? It ill behoves you to stand up for your party and chide Labour when your party denied us this for so long. Even now, we would see a camel go through the eye of a needle before a referendum result actually translated into us leaving the EU under the Conservatives.

    2 The LibDems, a party of government, have also declined to offer a referendum. So you have 2 parties against and one for in your 3 party system. Again, if Cameron considered the referendum to be as important as you infer, he would pull out of the Coalition with a party so viscerally attached to Europe. Only to lose the election of course.

    Repkly As an MP who has said I want a referendum and have voted for one in the Commons I have every right to seek to get others to join the cause. The Conservatiove party now agrees with us, so that is good news. Let’s get the rest of them to agree.

  39. uanime5
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    As long as Europe is not a major issue in national elections Labour and the Lib Dems don’t need to offer a referendum on the EU.

    I suspect Labour will not offer a referendum because they have no desire to fight Cameron’s EU battle for him. Though they may claim that they will hold a referendum at some point in the future when conditions are right if they need to make any sort of commitment.

  40. David Peddy
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    I congratulate you John if you can claim that you understood what the Shadow Foreign Secretary said because I can only make out about one word in three.When Douglas Alexander opens his mouth to speak it is as if he is trying do so whilst masticating toffee?
    Their whole position on EU is like everything else they did or did not do in 13 years : a disaster . In this case they agreed treaties & gave away our soverignty for a reduced rebate. That’s on top of allowing 4 million people in we neither needed nor wanted and who have simply depressed wages at the bottom end , lowered the standard of living of millions not to mention cost our Public Sector more.

  41. Jon
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    Trying to think from the shoes of Ed Miliband (not nice I know) he does have a problem. If he decides they shoudl also go for a referendum then that puts Labour in a muddled position, a muddled message to sell.

    Miliband currently has a clear stance and message and has already started to criticise the referendum proposal making it difficult for a U turn. Should they also try to get on the band wagon then why did they waive through all those treaty’s and not think they were worthy of a referendum at the time. They clearly don’t want a referendum so how would they justify the need for one? They don’t wish to contest the terms, after all they negotiated much of the terms and support them.

    All this would give Ed Miliband a vague stance and a lot of awkward questions to answer so I can see why he is not jumping at the chance.

    In addition to that are the Unions and also the Labour hierarchy that surrounds his every day environment.

    On Sunday Sky News had Tony Blair’s former policy negotiator for Europe on. By default through his criticism of Cameron’s negotiating position we got why we gave up our rebate for nothing. He sees the UK as nothing more than the Cayman Islands with nothing to offer. This was the person Labour chose to negotiate on our behalf and its no wonder why the hard working tax paying people were sold out by them. I took offence at someone who clearly has a hatred of the UK negotiating on behalf of the British people and their forbears.

    If Miliband goes for the referendum then he opens himself up to a weak stance without much defence. If he was to backtrack he would need to do it soon. If the economy turns for the better, it wouldn’t leave him with a distict alternative.

  42. Barbara
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    All day today, we’ve been bombarded with H2 extension, in the news, the bbc have really gone to town. For me its a complete waste of money at a time when we need all the money we can get. What will we get, a train that will knock 30 or 50 min off the time to get out or into London? Who will ride this expensive train, certainly not me or many others of the ordinary people. Its clearly not what the public want, and those effected will have their lives blighted. I would have thought this government had enough to worry about than fast trains no one wants.
    It’s the same with ‘gay marrige’, people don’t think it’s of a national interest, to what its doing at the forefront of public discussion.
    We can expect more problems as time goes on, and this coalition is not working, and by nest year they should disolve this parliament and go to the country. I’m not happy waiting five years to have my say on the EU, it should be now, before the next election. Who says Cameron will win, he may become a liblity well before then. The Conservatives have let us down badly, will let us have another five years of Miliband and Labour, and now we see Clegg, that is unforgiveable. Let us vote now so the decision is made, and Miliband knows what he people want, before he as a chance to ignore us, again.

    • bigneil
      Posted January 29, 2013 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

      a referendum in 5 years? – -what would be the point? – -even if it was an “out” vote – what time delay would there be before it became effective? – -and what would our population have grown to – -through mass immigration of other europeans? – -what would happen to them with an “out” vote? – -would they have to leave – -and give up their free house and money on our benefits system? – cannot see that happening – -hell and handcart ?? or shutting the stable door ?

      dont believe MPs want out – -all want a job in the euro trough.

  43. Vanessa
    Posted January 29, 2013 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    The BBC presenters/commentators LOVE the sound of their own voices and cannot be bothered to let their guests answer their innane questions, hence all the interruptions and more questions. Thank God I do not have a TV any longer and am spared this sort of drivel. I don’t know who they think they are or why they think their opinions are so much more important than the person being questioned.

  • 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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