A fair referendum

On Monday the Commons resumed consideration of the Referendum Bill. Many of us had in mind three big issues to ensure a fair referendum. The first was the rules controlling the conduct of government in the referendum campaign. The second was the role of the broadcasters. The third was the question of how much money each side can spend. Labour only had sympathy for our concerns on the first of these, so where we disagreed with the government we only had the votes to make changes in that area.

The government understood our concerns about the so called purdah rules. Following a very unfair Welsh referendum Mr Blair’s government had put in the 2000 Act to regulate the activities of government during referendum campaigns. Conservatives had broadly agreed with their actions on this legislation, and the Coalition continued with it for the referendums on the AV voting system and Scotland. The rules limit what Ministers and civil servants can do during the short campaign period for a referendum close to voting day, to avoid the use of impartial civil service staff time, government money, powers and information in ways that could directly affect the votes and which had a bearing on the issues in dispute in the referendum.

The government’s Bill on the EU referendum had sought to remove these protections from the 2000 Act for this referendum. Seeing the force of opinion when we last debated it, the government moved amendments to its original Bill to restore much of the framework of the 2000 Act. They explained that the intention behind amending the 2000 Act was to allow Ministers in the four week campaign period to attend Ministerial meetings in the EU and if necessary to make statements and defend the UK’s position on issues which come up, without wishing Ministers to stray into the question of whether we should remain or leave. Ministers said they had legal advice which they could not publish suggesting problems for them if they did not amend the 2000 Act and went about their normal business in Brussels. Ministers sought a provision in the Bill that would allow them to exempt various Ministerial activities from the restrictions of the 2000 Act.

The Commons decided to back the cross party Public Administration Committee’s proposal to strengthen the government’s protections, by disallowing any changes to the rules governing Ministerial conduct for the last four months before the vote. The Commons after a good debate went further and decided not to accept the government’s proposed compromise limiting government conduct, and to opt instead for the restoration of the full protections of the 2000 Act, subject to the opportunity for the government more than 4 months before the vote to seek a further exemption from the House. Should the government come forward with wide ranging exemptions the House is likely to decline them. I will deal with the other two issues in later posts.

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71 Comments

  1. Lifelogic
    Posted September 9, 2015 at 5:35 am | Permalink

    But the elephant in the room is the BBC which is absurdly biased on the EU referendum issue (and greencrap, open door immigration, fake “equality” and ever more tax & ever more government).

    So much so that with the possible exception of Andrew Neil they have no one even capable of discussing or questioning people impartially on these issues. Cameron clearly like the BBC this way or he would not have allowed Lord Patten anywhere need the place.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted September 9, 2015 at 5:39 am | Permalink

      I see the BBC are suggesting they might have to scrap BBC4 to save money. This despite the huge amount of fat they have available to cut in waste, wages and pensions. Surely is does not cost that much to put on endless repeats of Portillo’s train programmes and the likes. Only from 7PM each night too, just a DVD player and someone to press the go button occasionally surely?

      • Lesley
        Posted September 9, 2015 at 8:16 am | Permalink

        Why don’t they just make BBC4 into BBC1 +1 so that I can juggle what I want to watch easier?

        • alan jutson
          Posted September 9, 2015 at 9:40 am | Permalink

          Lesley

          BBC4 == BBC1+1

          What an excellent idea, guess would only cost a couple of hundred quid to repeat broadcast programmes 1 hour later.

          • Know-Dice
            Posted September 10, 2015 at 8:47 am | Permalink

            As I suggest below, the BBC no longer own their transmitters, so the saving would be the charge the third party (Arqiva) make for the provision on a national MUX. Which seems to be in the order of £20m for BBC3 I guess BBC4 would be the same.

            But then on the other hand with a loss of those two services could be that the transmitter provider would/could put up their charge for the remaining services – To paraphrase a well know saying “What they lose of the swings they get back on the roundabouts”…

      • Roy Grainger
        Posted September 9, 2015 at 8:36 am | Permalink

        Did you also see they were claiming big savings (20m a year I think) by transferring BBC3 to digital only. How’s that supposed to work ? Why does it save anything ?

        This latest is just Hall’s attempt to whip up public hostility to any BBC changes, he knows that the chattering classes favour BBC4.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted September 9, 2015 at 10:18 am | Permalink

          Exactly right.

        • Rita Webb (Mrs)
          Posted September 9, 2015 at 11:50 am | Permalink

          I cannot wait for Hall’s plan to broadcast local council meetings to come to fruition. A debate on the condition of bus shelters should be on a par with what BBC 1 & 2 offer on a Saturday night. Lord Hall though has failed to notice that some councils already put their proceedings live on the internet. I think Bristol managed to get around a handful of viewers despite the enormous cost of doing so to the local council tax payers.

        • Bob
          Posted September 9, 2015 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

          @Roy Grainger

          “This latest is just Hall’s attempt to whip up public hostility to any BBC changes, he knows that the chattering classes favour BBC4.”

          The same ploy is used whenever tax cuts are discussed; the lefties always translate it into a reduction of doctors, nurses, teachers and policemen, but never time serving non-jobbers, bureaucrats, welfare abusers or the foreign aid budget.

        • A different Simon
          Posted September 9, 2015 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

          I watch BBC4 myself .

          It’s typical of the BBC to try and inflict the maximum pain they can get away with on their customers and blame it on others rather than wind back the largesse .

          Anything but the pensions or the champagne budget .

        • Know-Dice
          Posted September 10, 2015 at 7:15 am | Permalink

          Several years ago the BBC foolishly sold off it’s transmitters, they are now owned and run by an Australian financed company…

          So, I guess that 20 million is the charge they have to pay the third party company.

    • Rita Webb (Mrs)
      Posted September 9, 2015 at 8:53 am | Permalink

      “Fake equality”, you have to laugh at the BBC saying that they are an “equal opportunities employer”. It did not seem to apply to David and Jonathan Dimbleby, John Ravenscroft, James Reynolds, Dan Snow, Sally Magnusson, Zoe Ball, Leo Green all of whose daddies seemed to have worked for the BBC too.

      Reply As someone who did not have a famous father, I do not think having one should bar you from a good job!

      • Lifelogic
        Posted September 9, 2015 at 10:33 am | Permalink

        Nepotism or employing relatives of friends can in fact be quite an efficient way to recruit in your own business.

        The problem with the BBC is that they are largely wasting other people’s money, often through independent and tax saving production and personal service companies.

        Do as they say not as they do is the BBC message.

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted September 9, 2015 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

        Dear John–Nobody’s talking about barring–We are light years away from that and in any event “good job” is not quite the same as “instant TV celebrity”

      • Anonymous
        Posted September 9, 2015 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

        Reply to reply: Quite clearly there are serious advantages to having a famous father in getting a leg up as a celebrity.

        Genetics or connections ? I’d say the latter.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted September 9, 2015 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      Today I had (by law) to waste about £120 on an energy performance certificate for a property which currently has no boiler fitted, missing windows and was build perhaps 60 years ago – it is being refurbished. This before my agent can legally offer the property for sale to someone who has said he wants to buy it in the current state for him to finish off.

      Why on earth do they pass these damaging & moronic laws? A complete waste of my time, my agent’s time, my builders time and petrol, the energy “expert’s” time and petrol. All for a very silly, often totally inaccurate report that no one even wants. If the Government want to improve productivity get rid of the many damaging laws like these, and kill all this pointless waste of people’s time and money.

      Still at least we did not get the HIP pack insanities I suppose.

      Reply I was told we cannot repeal this as it is an EU requirement

    • Mactheknife
      Posted September 9, 2015 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

      I have to agree with the BBC comments here. It seems Whittingdale is mellowing his tone towards the BBC even when the organisation has a full on campaign against any form of change. Has he had the hair dryer treatment from ‘call me Dave’ ?

      Like you I suspect Cameron needs the Beeb and its EU propaganda arm i.e. BBC News (BBC1, Newsnight, Radio 4 etc) on his side, so the status quo will remain.

  2. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted September 9, 2015 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    Had not the Blair government sorted the procedures then one can perhaps see reasons for debate .
    I heard some of the offerings in Parliament and your own. It was annoying hearing strained efforts by your opponents JR. Any counter-argument would do it seemed. Any get-out from a proper referendum. The longer and nitpicking the better. So you were always arguing the obvious but with intelligent people who cannot be forgiven for they are unmistakably intelligent, street-wise in politics. One is left with the remainder after such conduct that they are dishonest.

  3. Ian wragg
    Posted September 9, 2015 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    Dave will do all he can to frustrate the electorate and get an in vote. What are you doing about the BBC and HoL and various organisations like the CBI which receive EU funds.
    They should be made to declare an interest or be banned from commenting on the EU

    Haughty Naughty was well and truly screwed by Jenkin on the Today programme. Good for him.

  4. agricola
    Posted September 9, 2015 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    What about the issue of who is allowed to vote in the UK referendum. Can it not be confined to British passport holders only who are on the electoral roll. No opportunists from Ireland or the rest of the EU.

    Secondly there is a very strong need to keep the EU itself out of the run up to the referendum. The ban here should be absolute. So that we can better appreciate the opinions of various disparate bodies can we have a list of all those organisations in the UK who are in receipt of funding from the EU that could be considered to be for political purposes. We need to know who is getting payola.

    • oldtimer
      Posted September 9, 2015 at 7:48 am | Permalink

      Who gets to vote is indeed the fourth big issue to be confirmed. Your suggestion of UK passport holders/citizens only sounds a good start point; it should not include Irish passport holders/citizens.

      Reply There is no appetite in the Commons to change the normal Parliamentary franchise. An attempt to extend the franchise for the referendum to 16 and 17 year olds was defeated. No-one proposed changes for Irish voters.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted September 9, 2015 at 8:07 am | Permalink

        “No-one proposed changes for Irish voters.”

        Let’s correct that to:

        “No-one in the Commons proposed changes for Irish voters.”

        Outside the House it was pointed out straight away that the franchise for our general elections includes foreign residents who should not be allowed to help determine the future of this country, which is not their country.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted September 9, 2015 at 7:50 am | Permalink

      It also has to be asked whether a UK government recommending that we vote to stay in the EU would seek to enforce any such ban on EU and EU-funded interventions in support of its case, given that the Irish government reputedly has a track record of conniving to get such interventions during their referendums on the EU and it has proved impossible for ordinary Irish citizens to stop them through the courts, or even get them condemned retrospectively, when of course it is too late anyway.

      • Douglas Carter
        Posted September 9, 2015 at 8:12 am | Permalink

        ..’It also has to be asked whether a UK government recommending that we vote to stay in the EU would seek to enforce any such ban on EU and EU-funded interventions in support of its case..’…

        …or that the EU be prevented from indirect influence by announcing dramatic concessions at the eleventh hour to a rogue poll (as per Gordon Brown last year). Albeit in particular, ‘dramatic concessions’ which have no substance on closer academic examination, nor sustainable democratic legitimacy.

        Reply We are advised that we cannot by UK law stop the EU acting during our referendum. We can seek to make it as difficult as possible to them to interfere in an unfair way by the conduct of a proper campaign. Mr Brown and the 3 leaders intervention in Scotland was not something I welcomed, but was of course an intervention by politicians which is allowed, not an intervention by government Ministers which is not allowed.All 3 leaders promised to put a policy in their next GE Manifesto. Government policy did not change during the referendum campaign.

        • matthu
          Posted September 9, 2015 at 10:30 am | Permalink

          “We are advised that we cannot by UK law stop the EU acting during our referendum.”

          Would it be possible to prevent media from reporting such interventions?

        • Lifelogic
          Posted September 9, 2015 at 11:57 am | Permalink

          If you cannot stop the EU pushing pro EU propaganda (on top of the BBC’s bias) it rather makes a nonsense of the idea of having any fair referendum.

          Perhaps the only fair way would be to assess the inevitable large scale of the bias from the EU and adjust for it numerically in some numerical way. That way they might not bother with it, knowing it would be countered for in the vote. Hardly likely to come from Cameron given he is so determined to slope the pitch the other way.

          Anyway what is the government going to do about the appalling level of BBC bias which is huge, out of control and far more influential?

        • Chris
          Posted September 9, 2015 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

          I understand that the EU is planning a large scale publicity campaign in 2016 on the merits of the EU. Apparently 26 millions euros are going to be spent on this “vanity project”.

    • Hefner
      Posted September 9, 2015 at 7:55 am | Permalink
  5. Denis Cooper
    Posted September 9, 2015 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    Well, it’s too late now unless the Lords amend the Bill, but I’m still waiting for somebody to provide a good reason why Irish citizens should be permitted to vote in a UK referendum to decide the future of the UK when UK citizens are not allowed to vote in any referendum in Ireland whatever the subject matter.

    This is supposed to be a referendum to discover the will of the British people, not that of the British people plus assorted foreign citizens who happen to be resident in the UK and who are allowed to vote in our general elections, also for no particularly good reason.

    If the outcome of the referendum is a narrow vote to stay in the EU then questions will inevitably be asked about whether it had been swung by foreign citizens, not least when the Irish may well be told that withdrawal of the UK from the EU could harm their own country, as has been suggested by Open Europe.

    • oldtimer
      Posted September 9, 2015 at 7:50 am | Permalink

      An Irish minister has also said recently that Brexit would be bad for Ireland.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted September 9, 2015 at 8:26 am | Permalink

        No doubt in principle the new treaty arrangements for the UK could be designed to mitigate any adverse effects on Ireland, except of course it is unlikely that there will be any new treaty arrangements unless the “we all hate you David” Empress Angela decides that she wants to reopen the EU treaties, once again, for a fifth time since the Treaty of Lisbon came into force.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted September 9, 2015 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      I agree that the Irish voting in our Elections (and with no reciprocity) is crazy. Maybe I am missing something but I cannot see even the slightest justification. Was it perhaps a hope originally that Eire would rejoin the UK? Cannot think of anything else at all. Education please.

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted September 9, 2015 at 9:03 am | Permalink

        Postscript–And as for continental EU citizens, again I have no clue–Again must be missing something–Why aren’t Nigel and Bernard and others (including JR) not jumping up and down about this? I would have thought it close to a given that an EU citizen living here would vote to stay in. Maybe they shouldn’t have to vote at all meaning their ‘votes’ could be taken as ‘stay’ without their needing to traipse to a booth.

      • Roy Grainger
        Posted September 9, 2015 at 10:31 am | Permalink

        I believe UK citizens can vote in Irish parliamentary elections. I also believe that citizens of any Commonwealth country (eg. India, Pakistan, Australia etc.) resident in UK can register to vote in UK general elections. But resident EU citizens cannot. So the Irish situation is a total anomaly and should be removed – after fighting to leave UK and leaving the Commonwealth in 1949 they want to have their cake and eat it by having the same voting rights as Commonwealth citizens. Of course when Scotland gets independence they’ll demand voting rights too.

  6. alan jutson
    Posted September 9, 2015 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    Very pleased that you voted for common sense and fairness, but disapointed that the vast majority of Conservative Mp’s chose not to join you.

    Cardboard cut outs towing the party line yet again, do they not see how foolish they all look.

    Has Mr Cameron changed his mind yet on Ministers having to resign their positions, if they want to vote to leave in the referendum vote ?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted September 9, 2015 at 8:03 am | Permalink

      Yes, the Tory rebels, a small fraction of the Tory MPs, only won the vote because Labour and the SNP wanted to cause embarrassment to Cameron. So it seems that whether we get good or bad government does not depend upon the views of the MPs of the governing party, almost all of whom will supinely vote in support of whatever the government may want, good or bad, but on how much importance the opposition parties place upon embarrassing the government.

      Reply Government policy is the result of continuous dialogue between interested MPs and Ministers.

      • Timaction
        Posted September 9, 2015 at 10:35 am | Permalink

        Quite right. It is never about National interest but self serving legacy parties. Its our job to educate the masses regarding the truth in who really Governs us, and nodded through by the puppet Government in Westminster. I see Mr Farage was the ONLY politician telling Mr Junker the truth again today in the EU!

    • Duyfken
      Posted September 9, 2015 at 8:30 am | Permalink

      There are too many Tory MPs on the government payroll or still have ambitions to be so. With Dave’s indication to stand down before the next GE, I should think that same lot are looking to the probable successor and trying not to put their heads above the parapet by taking any position on the EU issue. Yes, a sorry lot worthy only of contempt.

      • Hefner
        Posted September 9, 2015 at 9:43 am | Permalink

        This is linked to the unwritten British constitution and tradition (I guess): a Government minister must be a member of the HoC (or less frequently of the HoL).
        In other countries (Sweden, the Netherlands, France), there is an absolute rule of incompatibility: a government minister is required to resign the parliamentary seat he/she might have. In Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain, a minister is not required to be an MP, but he/she may be. All these countries can have Ministers coming from the “civil society”.

        “The ministerial gene pool in Britain is far smaller than in most other countries” (Who runs Britain? Anthony King).
        So non MPs cannot become Ministers in the UK. In the old days (pre-80s), the advice to Ministers was essentially coming from the Civil Service. Since then, with Mrs T, and even more since Tony Blair, the advice to Ministers come more often than not from the (usually heavily politicised) special advisers (more than 140, it seems in the present Government).

    • Chris
      Posted September 9, 2015 at 8:41 am | Permalink

      Yes, agree with you about the disappointment. I find it hard to believe Jenkin’s claim yesterday that most Conservative Party members would vote to leave the EU. The fact that there were only 37 MPs who voted for a measures which would effectively make the referendum fair is most revealing. How does he explain that? If most Party members would vote to leave the EU why aren’t their MPs working for them and doing their best to get a fair referendum?

      • Timaction
        Posted September 9, 2015 at 10:37 am | Permalink

        Because it personal and party interest before National interest. If they were serious about leaving the EU they would change their Europhile leaders Messrs Cameron/Osborne.

        • Chris
          Posted September 10, 2015 at 11:46 am | Permalink

          Sadly you are right, Timaction. They seem so weak and unprincipled.

      • A.Sedgwick
        Posted September 9, 2015 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

        In a word – whips.

  7. Douglas Carter
    Posted September 9, 2015 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    Good and justified victory John, although as has already been mentioned, it’s a shame that it seems the Government feels it appropriate that non-UK Passport holders or improperly qualified voters can enjoin the eventual poll.

    I’m also gratified that the franchise has not been extended to younger voters, and similarly as has already been mentioned that your colleague Patrick Jenkin floored his questioner on the Today programme in less recent hours.

    Moving forward, we now look to the establishment of the official ‘Remain’ and ‘Leave’ campaigns, and who heads them. Something which will be settled quite soon, to my understanding. Whilst much attention has focussed on the identity of a putitive ‘Leave’ campaign, I’m interested in the case of an emergent ‘Remain’ group in possession of public funds. In that no matter the subjective case they may currently make for continued membership, they will – for some considerable time – be dispossessed of an accurate or comprehensive illustration of the future EU to put before the public, and the UK’s place within it. They may well wish to remain in ‘The EU’. They will be quite unable to show us ‘the EU’ that the UK will participate in.

    I have no doubt that when the time comes, that an official ‘Leave’ campaign will present such an illustration. It’s something of a democratic anomaly that ‘Leave’ Campaign will be denuded of the proper argument the ‘Remain’ Campaign might present for some considerable time. In particular where, as I say, they are the recipients of generous Taxpayer funding?

    Reply MY colleague who did so well on the Today programme is Bernard Jenkin.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted September 9, 2015 at 9:05 am | Permalink

      Yes totally agree that Bernard Jenkin was excellent

  8. Horatio McSherry
    Posted September 9, 2015 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    John,

    Could there be further changes to the bill proposed by other parties?

    I was a bit confused by the empty vessel that is Mike Gapes. He said in his speech that he had two amendments (20 and 21?) but wasn’t going to ask for them to be voted on.

    The first question would be why make them if you don’t intend to put them forward? Secondly, and more alarmingly, they included provision for EU nationals working here to be given a vote. He was strongly backed by the SNP and other members of New Labour.

    Could/has an amendment be tabled to give EU nationals the vote?

    Kind Regards

    Reply A backbench amendment with little support like that is tabled to give the issue an airing without the promoter thinking it can win. Sometimes they hope the Lords will take the idea up, where the voting balance pro EU is even stronger. Yes, an amendment could be tabled to widen the franchise, but the Conservative majority in the Commons can block it and would I assume do so.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted September 9, 2015 at 9:22 am | Permalink

      Perhaps we should hope that the Lords do make such an amendment to widen the franchise, as presumably that would give the Commons an opportunity to not only roundly reject that Lords amendment but also pass a new amendment to exclude all foreign citizens from voting in our referendum, as not being part of the British people which Cameron says he wishes to consult.

      A simple amendment, which I think would only involve replacing the present word “persons” by “British citizens” throughout Section 2, eg:

      “(1) Those entitled to vote in the referendum are –

      (a) the persons who, on the date of the referendum, would be entitled to vote as electors at a parliamentary election in any constituency … ”

      becoming:

      “(a) the British citizens who, on the date of the referendum, would be entitled to vote as electors at a parliamentary election in any constituency … ”

      I see in passing that a Conservative peer, Lord Balfe, who was an MEP from 1979 to 2004, has introduced a Private Members’ Bill to give all resident EU citizens the right to not only vote in our general elections but also be elected as MPs:

      http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/lbill/2015-2016/0027/lbill_2015-20160027_en_2.htm

      “European Union Citizens (Electoral Rights) Bill”

    • ian wragg
      Posted September 9, 2015 at 9:53 am | Permalink

      But you can’t be certain that it would be voted down given the number of soaking wet Europhiles in the Conservative ranks.
      If EU nationals and the Irish are allowed to vote it will be a totally ridiculous exercise with no legitimacy whatsoever.

    • Horatio McSherry
      Posted September 9, 2015 at 11:47 am | Permalink

      Many thanks, John. Much appreciated.

  9. Posted September 9, 2015 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    There is still the question about what the EU will do to get a stay in vote. Even if they desist from any direct involvement in this country, there is nothing to stop EU officials and and European politicians speaking out for a yes vote, ostensibly telling their own people what is happening, which will, of course be reported with glee by the BBC as European news.

  10. Posted September 9, 2015 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    I witnessed much of the debate on the referendum and , I have to say , much of it was tedious and boring . When our host got up to speak he had got no further than a few words when he felt obliged to “give way” ; this happened so many times – I felt like exploding ! There were some good points made in the debate and I am delighted how the final votes went ; nonetheless so many speakers were laborious in the way they spoke repeating many points that had already been made . The HoC ought to be better controlled .

    I doubt that the Lords will overturn the decisions reached but , if they do , it will create an uproar likely to bring about its end . Restricting those eligible to vote to the electoral list is essential ; also keeping the BBC completely neutral and those large businesses under control equally so . Recipients of financial support from the EU (and the EU itself) must be kept out during the purdah period – impartiality has to be maintained . Many said ” if we lost then we have to be satisfied that the voting system was fair to all”.

    Reply An MP does not have to accept interventions, but I usually do unless time constrained, because it is meant to be a debate, and it can be helpful to show you have considered and rejected another point of view for good reason.

    • Posted September 9, 2015 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

      I am hearing the U.S has forced Bulgaria and Greece to refuse Russian aid aircraft travelling to Syria. The U.S need to work out whose side they are on. They cannot bomb ISIS and at the same hope Assad falls. There are no moderates in Syria, Biden has already admitted that.

      This is very annoying and selfish behaviour from our American friends.

  11. Know-Dice
    Posted September 9, 2015 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Don’t under estimate the “Jeremy Corbyn” type of effect, where intervention by Blair and others has actually had the opposite effect than that intended.

    We see it with our children, we ask them to do one thing and they do exactly the opposite 🙁

  12. formula57
    Posted September 9, 2015 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    Thank you for your efforts in resisting and thwarting the goverment’s gerrymandering-like proposals.

    Although “Labour only had sympathy for our concerns on the first of these” let us be ready to rejoice once Mr. Corbyn has had chance to instill some backbone.

    As for who will be allowed to vote, I trust selection of our 20,000 new friends from Syria will include screening to ensure they hold the correct view. Will Mr. Cameron give such a commitment?

  13. Roy Grainger
    Posted September 9, 2015 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Off topic, but interested to hear your views on how the parliamentary vote against military action in Syria squares with Cameron’s unilateral decision to take military action in Syria. Is he able to order assassinations anywhere else ? Could he order drone strikes in Russia without a parliamentary vote ? If no, why is Syria different ?

    Reply. Parliament turned down the idea of bombing to get rid of Assad. The government states its legal base as national self defence against named terrorists who represent an immediate threat to the UK and who cannot b e arrested.

    • Posted September 9, 2015 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

      Could he order drone strikes in Russia without a parliamentary vote ?

      >
      What do you think our new Taranis stealth drone is for? It only really serves one purpose, extrajudicial killings while evading enemy radar. (words left out ed)

      Reply A dangerous and absurd idea. The only use is in national self defence, so obviously it would not be used in a way which could provoke a bigger threat to our country!

      • RB
        Posted September 10, 2015 at 8:33 am | Permalink

        Reply A dangerous and absurd idea.

        >
        I know you think that, but it is not you I am worried about.

  14. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted September 9, 2015 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    The point is that your government and the majority of your party showed their true colours reagrding the EU referendum – keep us in at all costs. Admit it, when it comes to it most MPs put party before country.

  15. agricola
    Posted September 9, 2015 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    I have I think a pertinent question. Should the majority of us vote to leave the EU, what next.

    Does Cameron resign because he has just suffered a massive vote of no confidence, or does he hang about trying to salvage as much of what he sees as a worthwhile marriage to the detriment of our decision.

    What is plan “A” for our detachment. Is there a mechanism for cancelling all the unwanted legislation that Brussels has heaped upon us, reverting in effect to international law in matters of territorial waters etc. Do we have our own legislative proposals on file for immediate implementation in the aftermath of such a joyous event.
    Thinking from the history of the Iraq wars, we do not want to win and then face a vacuum that only benefits lawyers. Give it some serious thought, there will be much to do in a short time.

  16. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted September 9, 2015 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    In response to Mr Juncker’s State of the Union address in the EU parliament this morning, Mr Farage stated without denial that Mr Juncker would be coming to the UK in the Referendum Campaign spending millions of our own money to “tell us what to do.”

    It goes without saying Mr Juncker as President of the European Commission is obviously an interested “party” but no way is he a representative of a British Party nor a British MEP and most importantly not a British subject or a resident of the UK.

    The conduct of the British Government in a Referendum Campaign should be to disallow foreign politicians from interfering in internal democratic procedures. Of course they can express their charged political rebel rousing words within their own political context but not in our context, not in our country surely. Would a North Korean politician be allowed by the Foreign Office to campaign on anything at all here?
    Mr Farage does not speak for England so it was a mite cheeky of him to also say that Mr Juncker is very welcome, nevertheless, to come to England and interfere.
    No he is not.

    • DaveM
      Posted September 10, 2015 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      Your last paragraph – “The conduct of the British Government …etc ..No he is not” is absolutely 100% bang on.

      Having been successful thus far in terms of notice, purdah, etc, I would suggest that the likes of Mr R and Mr Cash switch fire to this issue. It’s a UK issue and therefore none of Juncker’s business.

      Will he be going to the USA to try and influence the Presidential elections because it might have a knock on effect on his beloved EU? Or campaigning for Hollande in 2 years because he knows Sarkozy and LePen are his worst nightmare? I doubt it. Mr Cameron should tell him to keep his nose out, along with all the other EUcrats.

      On the other hand, his meddling and presumed authority could just be the OUT campaign’s best weapon
      Reply yes I think his presence here should help the leave campaign

  17. bigneil
    Posted September 9, 2015 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the laugh – -“fair” referendum – -with Cameron involved? – -the man has lied that much I bet he isn’t even sure of which face he is using at any one time.

  18. Denis Cooper
    Posted September 9, 2015 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    Just to clarify, the exclusion of foreign citizens from voting in Irish referendums is not just the result of a law passed by the Irish Parliament which it would be free to change at the behest of the Irish government of the day, rather the prohibition is embedded in the Irish Constitution which can only ever be amended after approval by the people as a whole through a referendum. If the Irish government were to propose amending the Constitution to allow resident foreign citizens, for example all EU citizens, to vote in future referendums in Ireland then I very much doubt that the Irish citizenry would agree to that.

  19. Javelin
    Posted September 9, 2015 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    The EU leaders will be putting the EU into serial states of crisis and every solution will be yet further integration. This process will take decades as tiny steps are made each time.

    The only variable here is how deep a crisis the public can take without revolting. The deeper the crisis the deeper the integration the leaders will offer to let the people out of their suffering. It is in the interests of the leaders of the EU to make the people of the EU suffer for decades so they lose track of what freedom really is.

    Remember these so called leaders are fallible so the slightest miscalculation and Europe will be plunged into war as an unexpected person hijacks their undemocratic processes.

  20. Iain Gill
    Posted September 9, 2015 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    I notice your area gets mentioned in the top 10 most overcrowded trains list in the press today…

  21. fedupsoutherner
    Posted September 9, 2015 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    I listened to Farage give his No to Europe speech in Margate last night and thought it was excellent. Just like yourself John, he makes a good argument for coming out and points out all the rubbish being spoken by the likes of the BBC who are scaremongering about jobs etc. He has said this campaign is not about party politics but is about getting the UK to vote NO in the referendum. He is willing to work with anyone against the EU from whatever party and feels that all ministers should work together to achieve this aim. He has a point. The public are not interested in what party people are from, only in their arguments to come out of the EU. John, will you and others work with Farage to achieve a common aim?

    Reply The referendum campaign must not be about individuals or personality or party matters, but about the British people and the restoration of our democracy. All are free to join in the campaign, and all will doubtless make their own contributions in their own ways. Please do not divert us into BBC style split stories, nor erect new tests of purity for spokespeople and voters on the leave side!

  22. Sean
    Posted September 9, 2015 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    After watching the EU destroy its self over the last ten years or so, anyone wanting to join a federal Europe must be bonkers. I can’t think of a single reason to continue being part of the EU hell hole and money pit, yet Minister and other Mp’s seem to be blind to the fact.
    Most likely they are not thinking what is best for Britain, but what is best for their careers.

  23. margaret
    Posted September 9, 2015 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    It is the BBC who broadcast live parliament daily. How can they be bias towards the left?

  24. DaveM
    Posted September 9, 2015 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad the referendum is becoming less skewed and biased, but it shouldn’t really matter that much if the OUT campaign presents a solid case for a prosperous future outside the EU.

    Who cares if European leaders come here and gob off? Merkel coming here as a guest of Her Majesty and standing telling us that we can’t have what we want was a big factor in turning the English against the EU. And the little Luxemburger’s speech today telling us what we must and mustn’t do, and claiming that “we” are fighting IS – what a joke. How many refugees are going to Luxembourg? How many Luxembourgois forces have fought anything recently? Why do people who comment here think that the EUrocrats will persuade the people of this country to stay in a foreign run organisation?

    And as for the BBC, their election campaign on behalf of the Labour Party didn’t do much good did it? So far, the OUTers who have appeared on TV and radio have presented sensible, sober arguments (as the Tories did in the GE) whereas the INners have just shouted and bleated unsubstantiated and vague scare stories about massive job losses.

    My biggest concern is that the LEAVE Campaign will be more fragmented than it should be.

  25. Posted September 10, 2015 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    One danger you have not safeguarded against is the possibility of a mass of pro EU propaganda by the BBC, funded by hidden payments from the EU. I don’t trust either of them.

    The answer is a form of purdah for the BBC, during which time they may not broadcast ANY political programme. There would also be independent vetting of their news programmes to ensure that political content was minimal and unbiased.

  26. Monty
    Posted September 10, 2015 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    I would like to add my support to previous commenters who have raised objections to the inclusion of foreign people in the voter base.
    I would like to add that any Britons in local or national government, or the civil service, who receive any current or deferred financial advantage (pensions, allowances, retainers ) from the coffers of the EU, should be obliged to declare that interest and banned from campaigning.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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