Limited democracy only lasted a day

On Tuesday, following a big row in the Commons the previous day, we were granted two and half hours to discuss amendments to the EU Treaty Bill on police, borders, criminal justice and immigration, instead of the derisory one and half the government originally offered. It was not enough, but clearly better than the first proposal.

Yesterday. on energy, the governemnt reverted to type and allowed only one and a half hours for all the amendments. Needless to say, discussion did not even finish the first group before the guillotine came down and a vote was taken.

With the Lib Dems in full support the government has large majorities. It is determined to prevent proper debate on the detail of the Treaty, preferring hours of general discussion of things like climate change which are peripheral to the impact of the Treaty.

So the government has not only broken its promise to the people to hold a referendum, but also broken its promise to Parliament to allow line by line scrutiny of all the complex new powers the EU is winning from us.

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  1. Susan
    Posted January 31, 2008 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    I simply do not understand why the twists, turns and squirms of the government on this issue are not given more wide-spread coverage in the newspapers and on television news. Why is no one paying attention?

    I admit I have become something of a political ‘anorak’ in the past few years and increasingly concerned about the aims of the EU in particular but it seems that any in-depth intelligent debate is restricted to a few websites.

    How on earth can the British people know what is happening if the mainstream media refuse to engage with them on an intelligent, non-patronising level and report the facts?

  2. haddock
    Posted January 31, 2008 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    It is quite obvious to those following the path of this bill that the Conservative Party will be able to change not one jot or tittle of the constitution that labour are forcing through.
    Please show my contempt, and that of the great majority out here that care, by just not bothering to turn up. The sight of empty Conservative benches on TV would bring home to the general product the futility of trying to bring democracy to an elected dictatorship.
    Your whole party should take some time off and go fishing or whatever, time better spent than contributing to an illusion that we are living in a democracy.

  3. haddock
    Posted January 31, 2008 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    how did that get there ?…… general populace

  4. APL
    Posted January 31, 2008 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Susan: "How on earth can the British people know what is happening if the mainstream media refuse to engage with them on an intelligent, non-patronising level and report the facts?"

    Most people are busy getting on with their lives, they have other more important things to deal with day to day. That is why these things are delegated to MPs.

    Unfortunately having done so, one has to be able to trust our representatives not to sell out to any and every passing supra national mad cap scheme that happens to amble by.

    Clearly we can't.

    By the way, you may know the BBC is taking significant amounts of cash from the European Union. So do not expect any impartiallity from that quarter.

    Haddock: "It is quite obvious to those following the path of this bill that the Conservative Party will be able to change not one jot or tittle of the constitution that labour are forcing through."

    Then it is the Lords we must pin our hopes on, they should out and out refuse to ratify it. Of course that place is but a shadow of its former self, having been stuffed to the gunnels with yes men and place men. For goodness sake, Kinnock is there now!

    He is not suitable material to be extended the title 'Lord'.

  5. Mike H
    Posted January 31, 2008 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    If MPs showed more loyalty to the principle of parliamentary democracy than they do to their party, and voted against the government until bills were given appropriate time for discussion, perhaps things would change.

    Of course, pigs might fly as well.

  6. Elizabeth Elliot-Pyl
    Posted January 31, 2008 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    I do agree with your correspondants about the lack of interest in the media on this important debate. It is very difficult to find ANY mention of the previous day's doings in any of the media – even the Daily Telegraph.
    I have found the proceedings most illuminating and interesting.
    I cannot agree with Haddock about the Conservatives just not showing up – cant you see the sort of stick you would be giving the government with which to beat them for years to come? ….. the party opposite couldnt even bother to debate the Treaty, blah blah blah.
    It must be terribly frustrating for you guys because despite making some really good speeches, and killer points, there is no way you can win against the government's majority.

  7. newmania
    Posted January 31, 2008 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    I think the time has come for a futile gesture as well. I was thinking of covering the war memorial up in town with an EU flag. It might get some discussion going ..

  8. mikestallard
    Posted January 31, 2008 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    I am in full agreement with- and indeed feel the same consternation for – the two above comments.
    PLEASE show some leadership!
    This is the most serious decision – by far – that any parliament has taken certainly since 1941 and really since before 1832.
    And nobody seems to care or even be listening.
    Maybe if we all blogged on the BBC website, there might be something come of it?

  9. Adrian Peirson
    Posted February 1, 2008 at 3:41 am | Permalink

    Maybe you can find out of this is true and Perhaps ask in the House at PMQ's if it is to become compulsory for everybody once we are in the EU.

  10. number 6
    Posted February 1, 2008 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    I believe that we no longer live in a democratic country. Any country that allows itself to be ruled by another state/country/federation, where laws are framed by an unelected cadre of 'politicians' point in case the EU, ceases to be a self determining democratic nation.

  11. Werner Patels
    Posted February 2, 2008 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    I am a proud Eurosceptic. Pushing through such a far-reaching treaty over the heads of the voters is utterly undemocratic.

    Besides, the EU does not exactly benefit Britain.

    The BBC series "The Amazing Mrs Pritchard" should have been an eye-opener for many, in particular the episode in which a plane crashes in central London and they find out that Britain has had to lower its safety standards to "comply" with the much lower EU standards on aviation safety.

    The EU provides a common denominator by dragging everything and everyone down to the same low level.

  • 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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