Labour doesn’t know whether to let us have a referendum or not

 

 We learn that Labour is to be told to abstain on the Referendum Bill when it comes before the House. It just shows how little Labour cares about whether we have a UK democracy or not. They do not have the decisiveness  to come and try to vote it down, but nor do they have the wisdom to come and support it. The party that denied us a referendum on Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon when in office, now does not want to help to give us a referendum on a future attempt to sort out  the totally unacceptable relationship we currently have with the EU as a result of their federalising policies.

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30 Comments

  1. Leslie Singleton
    Posted June 14, 2013 at 3:49 am | Permalink

    The Labour Party these days seem to have an ability to lie even to themselves but I suppose that after the blatant underhandedness in particular of Lisbon anything goes. In my eyes it is impossible to make Cameron with his hideous wrong decisions look good but they are certainly trying hard. What a bunch of (individuals).

    • lifelogic
      Posted June 14, 2013 at 7:29 am | Permalink

      One of the few positive about is the uselessness and absurdity of the Eds, Balls and Miliband, these voices of the state sector unions is the last thing the UK needs. Alas Cameron seems determined to make sure we get it nevertheless.

  2. Kevin R. Lohse
    Posted June 14, 2013 at 5:52 am | Permalink

    Dear John.

    You cannot expect the present crypto-communist leadership of the Labour Party to endorse the soveriegn right of the people to decide how they are governed. Just like the social democrats at present mis-governing our Party and the Nation, they will always know best, even in the teeth of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

  3. lifelogic
    Posted June 14, 2013 at 5:58 am | Permalink

    Indeed but Cameron will still lose to Labour in 2015, and UKIP in the MEP elections, on the current course. He will spit the party, in a post election leadership battle. In the highly unlikely event of the Tories winning he will (having negotiated nothing of substance) try to lead the party into a vote to stay in the EU.

    His position is hopeless. Has he decided what fig leaf he wants from the renegotiation yet, or can he not even tell us this?

  4. alan jutson
    Posted June 14, 2013 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    Labour are playing a political game, let us hope enough of its Mp’s show enough courage and vote for a referendum.

    Once again we will see that all main Party leaders want to be in the EU.

    Keep up the hard work John, and try to continue to enlighten those who are against such a vote.

    As Bazman may say, time for the sheep to grow a pair and ram it.

    • DaveK
      Posted June 14, 2013 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      Alan

      I would not leave it to “hope”, if I were a campaigner for this I would ensure that in Labour/Lib Dem seats (especially marginal ones) there would be local and national publicity along the lines of “Does your MP trust you the voter? Let’s see on 5th July”.

      • alan jutson
        Posted June 14, 2013 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

        DaveK

        David I can only hope for others, as I already know exactly what my own Mp will do on my behalf, as it is JR.

        So you could say, I am fortunate that my beliefs and wishes will be represented and supported in parliament on this subject.

  5. Peter Davies
    Posted June 14, 2013 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    I guess the Labour leader is waiting for authority from his Union Paymasters, so whatever tune they want he will sing. If they can’t make tough decisions either way when in opposition – what hope would they have in government?

    They need to show their colours and peg them to the mast now, if they are for a referendum vote with the Tories and put it through like most of the UK wants, if they are against like the Lib Dems (even though they had it in their last manifesto), vote against it – its got to be that simple. All this stuff about a smokescreen is complete rubbish, there is uncertainty everywhere, including whether the EU currency union will even last.

  6. Jerry
    Posted June 14, 2013 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    John, Labour don’t need to decide for another 18 months as they are not in power, on the other hand the government needs to decide if they will allow the people to have a say before the next election – stop trying to deflect the debate to what the opposition can’t do from what the government won’t do!

    Reply: I am not deflecting any argument. Conservatives including me who want an early referendum do not have a majority in the Commons, and would not have one even if Conservative Ministers joined us. We may be able to get through legislation for a referendum in the next Parliament as Labour is not voting against. IF they decided to vote against we would probably lose even that.

    • Jerry
      Posted June 14, 2013 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

      @JR reply: If the government decided to hold a referendum they could force it though on a three line whip if needs-be, the problem is not what Labour might do but the LibDems (as part of the Government) are doing – or, such I say, won’t do!

      Reply Indeed, Lib Dems refuse to back a referendum so the government cannot do anything about it. That is why it is a Conservative proposal from the backbenches, supported by Conservative Ministers acting as individual MPs.

  7. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted June 14, 2013 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    Is it not the case that Labour has seen that this is merely a political ploy by Cameron-who is determined to keep the UK in the EU- to win back defectors to UKIP? You need only look at his previous record of opposing attempts to have a referendum to see through the man’s mendacious duplicity.

  8. Denis Cooper
    Posted June 14, 2013 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    If Labour MPs abstain then they cannot be accused of having voted against it.

    But even if the Bill gets through the Commons the Labour leadership could quietly arrange for it to be blocked in the Lords, as the Labour peers need not worry about getting themselves re-elected.

  9. Peter Stroud
    Posted June 14, 2013 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    At least we now know where we stand with Labour. But what about the LibDems? I guess we will have to wait until the last minute before we really know how they will vote.

  10. Mike Wilson
    Posted June 14, 2013 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    I always permit myself a wry smile when politicians talk about other people not being interested in democracy.

    As if getting a massive majority in parliament based on the votes of 40% of the 60% that bother to vote is, somehow, democratic.

    As if having a political system where the two main parties agree on something (our continuing and ever more undemocratic membership of the EU) whereas (it could be argued) a majority of the people are no longer in favour of it.

    As if having a political system where the power to make law is passed to someone else – without asking the people if they are okay with it.

    ‘Democracy’! The word ought to get stuck in the throat of any UK politician that utters it. My vote at a general election, over the last 42 years, has never been for someone who got elected. I have been disenfranchised all my life.

    At the next election I will vote UKIP and, probably, get a Labour government as a result. What a fantastic democracy!

    Reply If getting out of the EU and having a vote to do so matters to you, then voting to achieve that end could be more sensible in 2015. The fact that you usually vote for losing candidates does not make the UK undemocratic. Democracies give power to majorities, whilst having a rule of law to prevent oppression of minorities.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted June 14, 2013 at 11:23 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply. Labour won massive majorities on 40% of the 60% who still think there is a point to voting.

      Getting 24% of voters to vote for you does not constitute a majority.

      Our constituency based system is an anachronism and undemocratic. I imagine it would be possible for Labour and the Tories to poll exactly the same number of total votes – and Labour would still have a comfortable majority.

      General elections are fought and won in a small number of marginal seats. This is not democratic. It is ludicrous. But it suits the Tories and Labour as you play pass the parcel with power.

      As I have commented before, by 2020 you (the Tories) will not have won an election for 28 years. At which point your party will also start complaining about our undemocratic electoral system.

      If a political party can form a government on the basis of 40% of the votes of those that vote then, BY DEFINITION, 60% of those that voted – voted for losing candidates. Doesn’t sound very democratic to me.

      Reply UK electors have recently rejected changing the voting system. Letting the person with most votes in each place win seems perfectly fair to me.

      • Mike Wilson
        Posted June 15, 2013 at 8:06 am | Permalink

        Reply to reply: No, it isn’t fair.

        If you have 3 constituencies with 100 voters each and two parties, A and B.

        In Constituency 1, 51 vote A and 49 vote B.
        In Constituency 2, 51 vote A and 49 vote B.
        In Constituency 3, 20 vote A and 89 vote B.

        Total votes for A – 122
        Total votes for B – 178

        A forms a government.

        How anyone can argue this is ‘fair’ baffles me. It might be a lot of things – it might, it could be argued, lead to a government able to make decisions – but one thing it isn’t – clearly – is fair.

        As to your weasel words about voters recently rejected changing the voting system – that was because a useless, watered down form of AV was offered where other people’s second choice could affect who won. It was clearly a stupid system that was proposed. Politicians like you are, of course, terrified of proportional representation. Heaven forbid we have a political system where everyone’s vote counts.

        • APL
          Posted June 17, 2013 at 7:01 am | Permalink

          Mike Wilson: “How anyone can argue this is ‘fair’ baffles me.”

          The problem is, our system isn’t supposed to be about electing parties. Constituencies 1,2,3 are electing representatives, it is only problematical when the winners organize along party lines to subvert the will of the constituents.

          It isn’t the voting system that is rotten, it is the Party system that has been superimposed over the top of it.

  11. ian wragg
    Posted June 14, 2013 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    and the Tories who denied us a vote on Maastricht which set the rot……….

  12. forthurst
    Posted June 14, 2013 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    The Labour Party do not wish to give the British people a referendum, but they do wish an endorsement of that fact through a vote in parliament to be used against them at the next general election, at which they anticipate the EU will have become even less popular with the British people than it is now.

    • forthurst
      Posted June 14, 2013 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      …but they do NOT wish….

  13. Robert Taggart
    Posted June 14, 2013 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    Cameo does not really want a referendum – hence the wait until after the next general election – which he does not expect to win – AGAIN !

  14. waramess
    Posted June 14, 2013 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Hardly a surprise and, I expect, firmly in Cameron’s mind when he promised a referendum. Even with a majority in government he would be unlikely to have parliamentary support to initiate a referendum so long as the Socialists abstain and the Liberals vote against.

    The electorate will be denied a referendum on Europe until such time as we have a Eurosceptic Prime Minister or until UKIP become a strong enough force to force one through before we have become inextricably embedded in the system.

    The political agenda in keeping hope alive should be quite clear and the Eurosceptics well advised to watch the maneuvers of the Europhiles very carefully for their desire to stay in the Euro is far greater than the desire of the Europhiles to get out.

  15. John Wrake
    Posted June 14, 2013 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    Let us, above all things, be practical. Let us recognise that hanging on the words and intentions of the present Parliamentary parties, looking for alliances between members of parties all in favour of staying in the E.U. accomplishes nothing. It is no co-incidence that fixed-term Parliaments have been introduced, for they encourage the thought that change can only be achieved once every five years.

    What can be done NOW?

    It will take great courage, by those Members who genuinely see our continued membership of the E.U. as the end of our life as a self-governing nation, to act in the interests of our nation and people, rather than their loyalties to Party, personal friendships and personal security and advancement.

    It will entail great cost to them – cost that the nation must recognise and reimburse in the future.

    Change now can be achieved by advancing the date of a General Election to this year, when candidates and parties can set out their stalls in relation to the real concerns of the nation.

    How could this be done? If every Member of the House of Commons who is a real Eurosceptic would be prepared to nail his colours to the mast and resign his Party Whip and resign his seat, this Parliament could not survive and a General Election must follow.

    In those circumstances, the will of the electorate would be heard.

    John Wrake

    Reply Dream on. There is a federalist majority in this Parliament. Conservative Europsceptics are numerous but in a minority within the overall Parliament. If individual Eurosceptic MPs resigned doubtless there would b e more than one Eurosceptic candidate for each by election, adding to the risk that the exercise would simply reduce the nmuber of Eurosceptics. It could not by definition increase the numbers, so we could not be better off! As I keep on explaining, the problem in this Parliament is not the bravery or tactics of the Eurosceptic MPs, but the fact that there are too many federalist MPs with Labour, Lib Dem and nationalist parties all federalist.

    • John Wrake
      Posted June 14, 2013 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

      Mr. Redwood. Are you suggesting that there are no Eurosceptic M.P.s in any Party other than the Conservatives? Are you suggesting that a mass walk-out, in excess of 100 Members would have no effect other than a number of bye-elections? Are you suggesting that such a walk-out would not trigger a vote of no confidence in a government which allowed such an event to happen?

      And are you suggesting that a majority of federalist M.P.s effectively prevents any action?

      I am reminded of the words which spoke of the folly of those who strain at a gnat and swallow a camel and of those other words by W.S.C.,written on a document containing grammatical corrections by a Civil Servant. “This is the sort of arrant nonsense, up with which, I will not put”.

      Tie for some boldness and concerted action.

      John Wrake

      Reply There is not about to be a mass walk out by 100 Eurosceptic Conservative MPs, because we cannot see what good it would do.

      • John Wrake
        Posted June 15, 2013 at 10:00 am | Permalink

        Mr. Redwood,
        Are you sure that resistance to a mass walk-out of Eurosceptic M.P.s is just because you do not see what good it would do? Might resistance not also stem from a fear of personal loss?

        I think that I suggested in my first comment that the electorate must remember the risks that those who followed the suggested course were taking and that their personal losses and their bravery on behalf of the nation must be recompensed in the future.

        Is it possible that you have not yet fully recognised the change that is taking place in British Politics? There are now four major political parties at work in the nation. The latest arrival is growing rapidly, both in numbers and support for its policies. Predicating the future, on the basis of what would or would not happen when there were only three major parties, is not sensible.

        What is required is action which can break the log-jam caused by the House of Commons large majority in favour of a federalist Europe. While things remain as they are, you can never succeed, as you rightly say.

        So it is time for some radical action. There is a growing mood in the country which appears to favour withdrawal from the E.U., and with good reason. Time for those who represent their fellow-countrymen to step up to the crease.

        John Wrake

        • APL
          Posted June 17, 2013 at 7:10 am | Permalink

          John Wrake: “Is it possible that you have not yet fully recognised the change that is taking place in British Politics?”

          No it’s not possible, but rather than embrace change, like the Luddite the Tory party is opposing change.

          Radical change would is destroying the parties. In the ’50s the parties had millions of paid up members, now less that half a million.

          Change, the established political party politicians are resisting it while trying to ignore that it is taking place.

          They’ll be voting themselves state support for political parties next, the pretext to enhance democracy, the reality to prop up their rotten parties in the face of massive voter apathy.

      • John Wrake
        Posted June 15, 2013 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

        Mr. Redwood,
        As I wrote in an earlier reply, which has not appeared, is it because Eurosceptic M.P.s cannot see what good a mass walk-out would do, or are there those who count the cost of such action too risky in personal terms?

        As I suggested earlier, the nation must take note of the losses incurred in taking such unusual measures and make sure that those who put the nation above their personal security are properly reimbursed in the future. We claim to do it for the Armed Forces – we should be prepared to do it for those who fight for our freedom.

        It is no longer realistic to judge the effect of such an action on the basis of a Parliament made up of three main parties. There is now another party, gaining numbers and support for its policies at a rapid rate, from an electorate which appears to hold a similar Eurosceptic view as it and you do.

        As you rightly say, the present House of Commons contains a large majority of members with federalist views, so no action by a minority of Eurosceptics is possible, while action depends on normal business. Therefore the composition of the House must be changed. For that, a General Election is required.

        Do you not judge that the mood of the country shows a growing frustration with the way that Parliament is currently dealing with national affairs? Is it not time for leadership of a new kind, to break the log-jam?

        Reply If various Eurosceptics resign all you get is a series of by elections in seats we need to hold. It does not advance us one inch.

        • John Wrake
          Posted June 15, 2013 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

          Reply to reply. It is about numbers, isn’t it? If three or four Eurosceptics resign, you are probably right, though that takes no account of the fourth party, the new kid on the block.

          But if one hundred resigned? Do you really believe that the result would just be bye elections?

          Alternatively, what sort of advance do you expect in the current state of affairs? How many inches may we expect from the present minority view?

          John Wrake.

  16. uanime5
    Posted June 14, 2013 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    I suspect Labour isn’t going to vote on this bill so that any problems that occur will be due to the coalition and the coalition alone.

  17. Mark B
    Posted June 15, 2013 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    Its called, keeping your powder dry.

    Trust in your party, and in Cameron especially, is all but gone. Even your own supporters are leaving you. You may, just, get back in. But then again, it is more lightly that you won’t.

    The referendum offer is just a hopeless sup to the electorate, to try and fool us into voting for you. Well, you might catch a few, but not as many as you might think.

    And as for your constant carping about not having a vote on Niece, Amsterdam and Lisbon. I do not seem to remember ever being asked about a vote on Maastricht, or for that matter, the grandaddy of them all, Rome !

    Trying to paint the Labour Party as a pro-EU party and your own as a Eurosceptic one may have worked long-ago. Not now !

    Reply We did have a vote on Rome in 1975 and I voted No. We opted out of most of Maastricht as it set up the Euro.

  • 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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