That referendum again


           This week a group of mainly Conservative MPs tabled an amendment to the Queen’s Speech. The amendment states, in Queen’s speech style language,

               “This House respectfully regrets that an EU referendum Bill is not included in the Gracious speech”.

           Some of you would want a full bloodied motion, but I can assure you this did the job in Parliament. Everyone deciding how to vote on this amendment knows what it means on the main point. If you vote for the Amendment you want legislation in this session to hold a referendum. If you vote against it you clearly do not want a referendum. It would be most unusual for an amendment critical of a Queen’s speech to pass. Previous governments of a single party have united behind their Queen’s speech programme and voted down criticisms.

            The Motion does not tell us when the referendum should be held, or even what the referendum should ask in detail. The reason for that was simple. Mr Baron wished to maximise support for his motion. This motion allows an MP who wants to legislate soon  for a referendum in 2017 to vote Yes, as well as a person who wants an immediate In/Out referendum and an MP who wants a Mandate referendum now.

               Those of you who want an In/Out referendum now will probably complain. The truth is that amongst MPs  even on the side of a referendum on the EU there are split views on how and when. It would be a pity to lose this motion by being too specific and putting off MPs from supporting it because they do not like the detail.

               It appeared yesterday  the motion has already attracted the support of a very important MP, Mr Cameron. He was reported to  say Conservative Ministers can vote for it, a necessary condition for the motion to have a better  chance of passing. This morning we read that Conservative Ministers can merely abstain whilst backbenchers can vote for it.

            Now the question is what will Mr Miliband do? If he asks Labour to vote for the motion,  it would pass with or without the Conservative Ministers. I read he is not going to support it.  If he  merely ask them to abstain from voting, the motion will now pass thanks to the majority of Conservative MPs voting for it, with many Ministers abstaining. I assume the Lib Dems, Green  and most Nationalists will vote against the referendum. There will be quite enough Conservative backbenchers for the amendment  to carry it  if Labour abstains en masse.  Conservative Ministers abstaining will swell the majority.

               If Parliament approves this amendment, then the next step will be to present a Bill, where the questions of when and what referendum have to be addressed. There is substantial debate within Parliament on these issues, which I  will talk about more tomorrow. Parliament needs to get closer to a common view to be able to legislate.

              If Parliament passes the amendment it will not be good enough for the government to say that there will still be no Bill for a referendum. The will of Parliament will have come into line with the wishes of ther people to get on with sorting out our relationship with the EU by involving the voters in this overriding issue.

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  1. matthu
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 5:36 am | Permalink

    I hope you are right, John.

    But The Telegraph is suggesting that Downing Street has instructed ministers to abstain on that vote. Everyone would draw their own conclusions about what that would mean, especially as you have spelt it out so clearly above.

    “Downing Street said it would tell ministers to abstain this week from a key vote that effectively calls for Mr Cameron’s pledge to have an in/out referendum on Europe in 2017 to be put into law.

    Downing Street said that ministers would be expected to abstain from the vote — creating the almost unprecedented situation where members of the Government would not vote in support of the Queen’s Speech.

    The plan creates a loyalty test for every Cabinet minister and more junior members of the Government.

    If any of the approximately 100 ministers and parliamentary private secretaries (PPEs) were to vote for the motion, it would be a huge embarrassment to Mr Cameron. “

    It seems to me that David Cameron is either engineering his own defeat, or the defeat of the CP at the next election.

    How do you see it?

    Reply This is a change of stance from the one reported yesterday. I will tweak my article accordingly.

    • lifelogic
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 6:24 am | Permalink

      “It seems to me that David Cameron is either engineering his own defeat, or the defeat of the CP at the next election.”

      Well he certainly engineered the partial defeat in 2010 and a defeat in 2015 looks inevitable on Cameron’s foolish course so far. I do not imagine that this vote will make much difference other than exposing the MPs and the parties who are acting against the clear will of the voters and the dishonest promises they had often made.

      • Boudicca
        Posted May 12, 2013 at 7:36 am | Permalink

        Agreed that he engineered the coalition although he may have preferred a tiny majority to complete dependence on the perfidious Clegg.

        However, he can now see that the hope of another coalition with the LibDems is disappearing and I doubt if the Paty would wear it anyway. Clegg will not do a deal with the Conservatives that includes an In/Out Referendum on the EU. His loyalty is to Brussels not the British people.

        Clegg is already showing left-wing ‘leg’ to the voters and Labour and Lord Adonis responded by ‘suggesting’ that Labour should already be discussing terms of a coalition with Clegg.

        The Conservative Party has to make a decision. Is it going to do a pre-election deal with Farage or watch a LibLab coalition destroy the economy and sink us even further into the EU.

        • Mark W
          Posted May 12, 2013 at 9:19 am | Permalink

          I think labour may offer a referendum like the Tories if they form a government.

          Both will get out of it by using Lib coalition as excuse. What journalists should push for us that neither (subject to labour promising one) will join a coalition without promise of referendum. Especially as in this scenario lab and Tory MPs would have huge majority.

          • Hope
            Posted May 12, 2013 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

            Last week Cameron was relaxed about it and were told by the no. 10 spokesperson he would vote for the amendment. This week all change again, another U turn.

        • Chris S
          Posted May 12, 2013 at 10:40 am | Permalink

          “The Conservative Party has to make a decision. Is it going to do a pre-election deal with Farage or watch a LibLab coalition destroy the economy and sink us even further into the EU”.

          Boudicca, you are absolutely right on this.

        • Hope
          Posted May 12, 2013 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

          I am confused. I read an article to say Lib Dem ministers will vote against. How can they vote against and Tories told to abstain? Cameron cannot renegotiate with the EU unless article 50 is invoked therefore this all appears a waste of time because he has made it clear he will fight heart and soul to stay in. This is just a Cameron gimmick to grab headlines. What a mess. These clowns are not fit to be in government.

          Reply The Lib Dems and the Conservatives have their own diferent whipping systems. As the two parties will need different policies and plans for the election, I see nothing wrong with them setting some of them out now in Parliament. It will be interesting to hear why the Lib dems are against any referendum on the EU.

          • Hope
            Posted May 12, 2013 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

            Okay, so why can’t Cameron leave his ministers to vote for the amendment? The excuse of cabinet responsibility does not count if Lib Dems are doing the opposite and they have done so before ie boundary reforms.

        • Life logic
          Posted May 12, 2013 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

          It will just be Labour, not LibLab, led by the representative of the state sector unions Ed.

        • Timaction
          Posted May 12, 2013 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

          If anyone continues to vote LibLabCon we will just get the EU. These people will not allow our exit from a pro EU Westminster. Mr Redwood always tells us this. There is total disconnect from the public who are sick to death of the lies and deceits of all of our mainstream parties over 40 years on the EU superstate by stealthy incremental steps and Treaty change. Remember that qualified majority voting comes into many areas of competencies from October 2014. That is why Europhile Cameron is constantly kicking the can down the road. 2017 will be too late.

      • nina Andreeva
        Posted May 12, 2013 at 7:47 am | Permalink

        Why not just dump the liberals (and that includes Cameron and Osborne) and cause a general election on which membership of the EU is the main topic? Instead of wasting time on some weasel worded referendum question.

        Labour cannot be too much of a problem, are people seriously going to consider electing Milliband as PM? Rotherham, Middlesborough and S Shields show that they have pee’d off enough members of the white lumpen proletariat into voting UKIP. Remember these are all post industrial holes they are not marginals full of c2,c1’s and above.

        I cannot stand anymore of government by the metropolitan liberal elite

        • Mark W
          Posted May 12, 2013 at 9:22 am | Permalink

          Couldn’t agree more. I’m not convinced that labour would win a general election at present.

          I can’t see how five year parliament act can not be overruled by confidence vote to force dissolution

          • zorro
            Posted May 12, 2013 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

            The five year Parliament conveniently gets them past 2014…..


      • Denis Cooper
        Posted May 12, 2013 at 8:01 am | Permalink

        “he certainly engineered the partial defeat in 2010”

        There are those who believe that he actively wanted a coalition government, planning to use his LibDem coalition partners as a kind of human shield to resist pressures from his own party. But I don’t think the outcome of the general election was sufficiently predictable for that to be “engineered” by anyone; I think it was more a case of him not minding too much if the Tories failed to get an overall Commons majority and he had to team up with Clegg. I think there’s no doubt that for a variety of reasons, and not just their shared love of the EU, Cameron would certainly prefer to be in harness with Clegg rather than with Farage, should it ever happen that UKIP won some seats.

        • Leslie Singleton
          Posted May 12, 2013 at 9:26 am | Permalink

          Denis–You may be right about Cameron but I hope he is not quite that bad. In any event what Cameron wants or doesn’t want will with luck soon not matter if it ever did. It is a question of judgement not (historical) mathematics and my judgement is that UKIP are going to keep on coming and Cameron will be swept aside and the sooner the better.

        • Hope
          Posted May 12, 2013 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

          Lord Ashcroft made it clear that he failed to win the election because no one knew what he stood for. I think they do now. This was more about changing the Tory party than anything else. Unfortunately for him it is turning out rather badly. Like his advisers, Heseltine and Major, he wants in the EU. That was clear from the three line whip to prevent a referendum taking place last October. Unless he has a game changer like an in/ out EU referendum he and the Tory party are toast.

          I suspect a deal will be done between Labour and the Lib Dems, with Cable leading the Lib Dems. Cameron has been plagued by stupid decisions and poor judgement, unfortunately for him his expensive education will not help improve the failings he has in these qualities.

        • Alan Wheatley
          Posted May 12, 2013 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

          In the event that UKIP does get some MPs elected at the next general election I think a Cameron/Farage coalition is a non-starter. Further, I think UKIP would be well advised to keep well clear of any coalition; you only have to look at what it has done for the LibDems to see it as the kiss of death.

          • Vanessa
            Posted May 12, 2013 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

            I quite agree. Labour declined a “deal” in the 1940s and won the next election. The Liberals accepted a “deal” and were destroyed by the electorate.

            If UKIP were to make a deal with tories it would be a disaster for Britain and a disaster for UKIP.

        • zorro
          Posted May 12, 2013 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

          One has to assume cockup rather than conspiracy. I doubt that Cameron is capable of engineering anything remotely as difficult as that…..We all know where his ‘heart and soul’ is…..


          • Hope
            Posted May 12, 2013 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

            Come the EU elections next year, I think there will be a huge shift to UKIP collecting voters from all parties. QMV comes on line in November next year, we will then have this as the excuse why nothing can be done to inside the EU. Borrow so claims the EU will be federal in three years. This makes Cameron’s claim to hold a referendum a nonsense.

            Stick to your guns and watch the Tory party disappear along with the Lib Dems

      • Bazman
        Posted May 12, 2013 at 8:19 am | Permalink

        Your right wing fantasies will get them elected I suppose? A fair point that you and many others like you choose to ignore. We are not all that stupid to vote for these self serving policies.

      • lifelogic
        Posted May 12, 2013 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

        What was included in the “Gracious speech” was mainly vague but quite sensible, but I respectfully regret that it bears no relationship to what the Coalition has actually been doing for three years. In most cases it is the complete opposite. I suspect they will not do it for the next two either under Cameron and Clegg.

    • Bazman
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 8:25 am | Permalink

      So by abstention they are actually voting for a referendum. This needs to be noted. Can I be an MP and not vote for anything? Like mindless managers making no mistakes by not doing anything and arguing with you if you put any points or ideas forward. You know who you are.

      • Duyfken
        Posted May 12, 2013 at 11:09 am | Permalink

        I gather that Ministers are directed to abstain whatever their leaning, for or against the Amendment. That keeps them all out of the fray. Were it that the advice was only for those likely to support the Amendment, then yes any abstention by a Minister would be taken as support (and would be likely to incur subsequent disfavour from Cameron). It would be nice to see one or more Ministers showing some gumption by ignoring No. 10.

      • Nina Andreeva
        Posted May 13, 2013 at 4:31 am | Permalink

        Yes you can ask Gerry Adams MP and Martin McGuiness MP

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 8:46 am | Permalink

      Later in that same article it states: “It is one of the biggest tests yet for the Prime Minister. Last week, as the motion was proposed, Downing Street suggested that ministers could be allowed to support the amendment. However, yesterday No 10 came up with its new plan: to allow Tory backbenchers a free vote, while making it clear that all ministers and PPSs would be expected to abstain. ……And in a sign of the pressure on the party, there were reports last night that Downing Street was trying to persuade Tory MPs to withdraw their amendment. ”
      Is it any wonder there is a complete lack of trust in Cameron?

      • Life logic
        Posted May 12, 2013 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

        Trust in Cameron when he always does the opposite of what he says? Just look at the Queens speech, has he not been doing almost the exact reverse of every item in it.

  2. Jerry
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    John, it is a pity that there is no method in parliament to remove the whip on such motions if the house rather than the government wishes [1], after all this is more or less about our very own constitution, if those within and outside of the EU who favour constant and ever closer union (the USoE) get their way our constitution will be worth nothing more than squares of old newspaper hung up in the smallest room of the house – if you get my drift.

    This, like any later Referendum Bill, needs to be on a full Free Vote.

    [1] yes I know MPs can disobey the whip but that is less than satisfactory on many levels

    • A different Simon
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 7:57 am | Permalink

      If an MP never disobeys the whip is there any point in them being there or are they just lobby fodder ?

  3. alan jutson
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    Our Parliament works in strange ways !

    The Government Ministers writes the Queens speech, but does not mention a referendum.

    One week later the expected majority part of the government (including its Ministers) may support the mention of a referendum by others, which they did not include, and then vote for it.!

    Thus I can only assume the LibDems did not want it mentioned, and won the argument, (if ever there was one) even though it was in their manifesto pledge.

    Whilst I fully appreciate that you have to perhaps jump through some hoops in proceedure to maximise support for a referendum John, does this not highlight exactly what is wrong with our system of government, and the lack of determination of the Prime Minister.

    No wonder as a Country we are falling behind others in almost everything we do, whilst we may eventually get there (or not as the case may be), it all seems a very long, complicated, and by virtue of that, an expensive way to run our affairs.

    No wonder we have not yet decided on things like Airport expansion, Power stations, Border controls, Welfare, NHS, and the like, it takes forever.

  4. Boudicca
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    It’s about time a few high profile Conservative backbench MPs sent a very clear signal to the PM by resigning the Conservative Whip. If they can’t bring themselves to join UKIP, they should become Independent Conservatives.

    Conservative Party policy is to remain a member of the EU and engage with it in a constructive manner. If you genuinely believe we would be Better Off Out (which we would be) then staying in a Party with a policy intended to keep us in is both hypocritical and self-defeating.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 10:29 am | Permalink

      That is a very salient and poignant point Boudicca. They can tell us all they like, they are all for Britain’s best interests, and are true-blue and solidly Eurosceptic in their attempt to fool all the people all of the time, but their actions when the chips are down tell a different story.

      Save but a rare few, there aren’t many Tories who are prepared to go so far as to resign the whip. Sir George Gardiner was one of those brave men, but most of the others haven’t got the guts to put principle before party.

      Cameron is now showing his true colours, but they sure aint blue! You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig!

      My youngest daughter is about to go to university to study media. She’s very artistic (she gets it from her little old dad). I’m going to get her to make a cartoon of Cameron as a puppet, but showing the figures Clarke, Heseltine, Clegg, Van Rumpoy and others outside the little puppet theatre pulling the strings. I’ll put it on the internet. If she can animate it, I might even put it on YouTube!

      A figure of ridicule who has lost all credibility, surely cannot be of sufficient calibre to be Prime Minister, but unfortunately, our collective future is in the hands of such people, detached from reality, and quite cosy in their Westminster bubble.

      Tad Davison


      • Tad Davison
        Posted May 12, 2013 at 10:40 am | Permalink

        ……………….and it might be good to have the audience in the shape of the British public, shouting up to the stage, ‘Start dancing to our tune Cameron! Not your puppet masters!’


    • Jon Burgesd
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      Your wasting your time here, I’m afraid. It seems no amount of deception from his leader will drive Mr Redwood to consider a divorce.

    • Alan Wheatley
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

      I would think becoming an Independent Conservative at this time is far from appealing, an inconsequential gesture.

      On the other hand, if UKIP can get a reasonable number of MPs after the next general election a change of party then would look far more appealing and far more effective.

  5. Denis Cooper
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    JR, you write:

    “If Parliament approves this amendment, then the next step will be to present a Bill”


    “If Parliament passes the amendment it will not be good enough for the government to say that there will still be no Bill for a referendum”.

    I think we can assume that if the passage of the amendment would be more than symbolic and would have substantive consequences of that kind then the Labour leadership will not allow it to pass.

    From their point of view it would better for them to quietly nip it in the bud now, rather than getting into the position of having to decide whether or not to block a Bill.

    So the most interesting point will be how many MPs vote for it, including rebel Labour MPs, and which MPs vote against it.

    • Acorn
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

      Denis, this needs some research but the EU has a system now in place “The European Citizens’ Initiative” procedure. .

      You may remember D. Carswell MP, tried a private members Bill back in 2007/8 on the very same subject for the UK; a bit of direct (nearly) democracy; alas, not exactly Swiss style. Naturally, like so many such Bills the little people might want, it has never got passed first reading. I am wondering if this EU procedure might have a Treaty provision that has a competence to kick the UK out of the EU from the inside?

      It is ironic that the EU now has a democratic procedure denied previously to UK citizens, by its own government elite, that now wants out of the EU because that same government considers the EU undemocratic!

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted May 12, 2013 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

        Although it would stick in my craw to make use of that provision I would support doing so if it would hasten our escape from the EU.

        But I can’t see how it could, as the petition would be addressed to the Commission and would ask it to make some proposal within its legal competence, and the Commission certainly has no competence to propose the ejection of a member state from the EU because the treaties provide no mechanism for that to be done on any grounds whatsoever.

        This was something certain eurofanatics forgot when they called for Ireland to be thrown out of the EU because the Irish people had dared to reject the Lisbon Treaty.

        • Acorn
          Posted May 13, 2013 at 6:12 am | Permalink

          Understood, thanks for reply Denis.

  6. Bazman
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    The problem is with referendums is that you have to ask yourself why we employ MP’s? A referendum will not by default give the right answer even if everyone understood the issues and voted. How many will not vote and should they be forced to? It’s a bit like a referendum on capital punishment. You would get the death penalty, but this would be the wrong vote.

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 10:04 am | Permalink

      Dictators of all stripes love referenda. A slight alteration of the question will cause a massive swing. Referenda are easily manipulated: even without postal votes and unjust boundaries.
      And, of course, the EU will pay not one jot of attention.
      But the Guardian and the Telegraph and the BBC might just listen to the will of the people as expressed in a referendum – perhaps?

    • Alan Wheatley
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

      In a democracy, how can the result be “wrong”?

      • Vanessa
        Posted May 12, 2013 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

        The EU certainly receives “wrong” answers so we should be able to apply the same rule.

        If the referendum (which will never happen) ever got a yes stay in vote we could always apply their rule and say “sorry, that was the wrong answer try again !!!

    • Mark W
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

      How do you define right and wrong. I tend to agree that MPs should not rely on referendums but I can see why it’s a good tool to avoid big decisions.

      I’ve assumed that an EU referendum has been avoided on the last two decades as it is more likely to be a No like other EU countries sometimes produce. Ireland and France.

      What ever your opinion on capital punishment how can it be right to not have it if you think there’s a big majority for it. This is not quite the same as mob rule which is rather more sinister. Am I assuming that your distaste of a majority opinion is exclusively reserved for perceived right wing things.

      • Bazman
        Posted May 16, 2013 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

        Having a majority on capital punishment does not make it right. This also applies to other issues. The EU may be one of them. If you had a vote for free chips and petrol would that be right?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

      Leaving aside the other duties of MPs, even if we had numerous referendums we would still need to employ MPs as representatives of the people to make the far more numerous decisions that were not being made directly by the people in the referendums.

      There is no inherent contradiction between operating representative democracy as the norm but with the elected representatives agreeing that they will “refer” some decisions back the people who elected them.

      Nor does any contradiction arise even if the elected representatives pass a law enabling the people to petition for and obtain a referendum on any matter they want to decide for themselves, when they want to do that, rather than leaving it to the representatives to decide whether or not they should be allowed a direct say through a referendum.

      It’s belt and braces, and God knows that the belt of representative democracy has repeatedly failed us bigtime and we need the braces of direct democracy if we are not to have our trousers falling down again and again.

      In contrast the Swiss are rarely caught with their pants down, and of course the most important example is that whenever their treacherous elected politicians want to sell them out by joining the EU the people are able stop them.

  7. A.Sedgwick
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    Sounds good, the key point is enough of the people, perhaps a sizeable majority, have indicated we want a say and quick, no 2017 nonsense with renegotiation pipe dreams. Denying that say is contrary to what four centuries of our history have been about, but very much in keeping with the dubious democracy of Continental Europe, now evident in the EU.

    Why Cameron has denied the referendum to date is totally unsatisfactory and is a real element in his electoral demise. I, for one, could not care less if he voted to stay in but his dictatorial approach says a lot about his politics, so much for the Big Society – what ever happened to that?

    • Tad Davison
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 11:17 am | Permalink

      It’s like so much of what Cameron says he stands for, it’s bunkum, but his actions tell the true story. Yet the Tories haven’t got the bottle to get rid of him, before he drives them into the ground, and delivers twenty years of opposition.

      To make a parallel. A person walks along the middle of a high-speed railway track, and leads others by the hand, all the while ensuring his followers, this is the way to go. Another person standing a little way off can see the dangers and clearly spells out what will happen if they keep going, yet the ones being led, won’t cut loose from their leader.


      Is it because they are scared to show they are listening to others, which might be construed as disloyalty, thus ruining their career prospects?

      Or is it because they are not yet convinced that the voices calling out to them have made a strong enough case?

      If it’s the former, we’re back to the bland leading the bland, and weathercocks turning with the prevailing wind.

      If it is the latter, then again, it is the bland leading the bland, because they cannot recognise the truth of the present situation, and are lacking in judgement, which effectively means they are not of fit and proper people, and of sufficient calibre to hold public office anyway.

      This is the very thing the Europhiles have depended upon. Gutless no-hopers who go along with what they are told to do, rather than have a mind of their own, exercise judgement, and do what’s right for Britain!

      Tad Davison


  8. oldtimer
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    The voting behaviour of the Tory payroll vote will be revealing – and interesting including how many have been able to secure pairs to justify their attendance to more pressing business.

  9. Nick
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    Some of you would want a full bloodied motion, but I can assure you this did the job in Parliament.



    It’s a fudge and you know it.

    Skeptics get to claim it means one thing.

    Europhiles get to claim it means something else.

    Meanwhile you just carry on screwing the country.

    Notice the current agenda that the Tories Lib Dems and Labour want talk about.

    The agenda is “We must control the borders”.

    What’s missing?

    What to do about the million illegal immigrants here, and what to do about the millions of low skilled low paid migrants already here.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      I agree with Nick

    Posted May 12, 2013 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Our not fit for purpose Parliament continues on its weary way . Posturing , prevaricating and dissembling . Only antidote ? Vote UKIP

  11. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    Are LibDem ministers going to abstain or vote against? Under Cameron’s lack of leadership Clegg et al seem to have carte blanche. I am sick of hearing Conservative ministers and MPs hiding behind the coalition for their lack of action. Any MP who abstains should be regarded by the voters as having voted against.

    Replky Lib Dems will I think vote against our amendment

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 9:23 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply,
      Thanks for your reply. You are confirming that Conservative ministers will be ordered to abstain and LibDem ministers will vote against. That confirms what we think about this coalition and Cameron’s lack of leadership and questions his good faith regarding an EU referendum.

      • Mark W
        Posted May 12, 2013 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

        Seems logical to me. The LibDems will be voting in line with government policy on its own Queens Speech.

        The grey area is why as conservatives they can’t vote on party policy like LibDems on boundaries against their government.

        • Brian Tomkinson
          Posted May 12, 2013 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

          What is logical about one minority portion of government ministers being allowed to vote how they wish whilst the majority are instructed to abstain. Why are they not forced to abstain? Obviously there is no collective responsibility and as usual the LibDems get to do what they want whilst Conservatives have to dance to their tune.

          • Mark W
            Posted May 12, 2013 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

            The LibDems, maybe correctly in the current dwindling support of main parties, see themselves as the only continual party of government. Therefore they can be the tail that wags the dog. Of the Tories don’t do as they are told then Nick Clegg will choose labour next time.

            A Tory majority it not really less likely today than in two years time. LibDem and Labour could get stronger, UKIP could go either way. If I was Cameron I’d call a general election now or table a confidence motion to force it. I imagine labour would fear an election now as much as LibDems would.

          • zorro
            Posted May 12, 2013 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

            Because Nick wouldn’t like it……


    • Life logic
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

      Not surprising the Cleggy dopes also think they should fix nursery ratios when clearly it should be the parents and schools who are in a position to do so sensibly.

    • behindthefrogs
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

      Not only the libdems but also any pro-EU MPs whether Conservative or from any other party will presumably be voting against the amendment that has been proposed by what can only be described as a group of rebel MPs.

  12. Brian Taylor
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    I hope this is passed next week and I hope any future bill will state clearly that the government is prepared to use Article 50 in the Lisbon Treaty,in which it states the EU must negotiate a new arrangement.
    Why do only a few MPs and the Media understand the EU?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 9:23 am | Permalink

      Well, in the aftermath of the Irish “no” to the Lisbon Treaty the French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said that he didn’t understand it either.

      This was in the FT on June 30th 2008:

      “Mr Kouchner told reporters that two factors were damaging European citizens’ faith in the EU: the first, economic uncertainty and fears related to globalisation; and the second, an inability to understand the EU’s complex institutions and legal arrangements.

      “No one understands the institutions and no one’s interested. No one understands anything, not even me,” he said. “My feeling is that we need to return to fundamentals, improve transparency and give more confidence to people. A Europe of sincerity and openness will be an effective Europe.” ”

      Of course his lack of understanding hadn’t held him back from issuing threats against the Irish during the referendum campaign.

    • Life logic
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

      Are they being bought perhaps like the BBC.

    • Vanessa
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

      The only problem with that is immediately we invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty we are barred from any negotiations or discussions on our exit. Not actually a very good way of doing things. Knowing the EU, they will make it SO onerous for us and so expensive (to stop us leaving) that we will give up.

      They do not want any country to be able to leave and Britain starting the process would terrify them that others would follow.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted May 12, 2013 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

        No, that isn’t correct.

        Under Article 50 there would be negotiations, which would be between the UK on the one side and the other EU member states acting as a group on the other side. During those negotiations the other member states would make their decisions by qualified majority voting, and naturally as the counterparty to the negotiations the UK would not be included in that.

        There is actually a technical flaw in Article 50, insofar as it is designed on the assumption that any time only one member state will have given notice of its intention to leave; if it happened that several member states said they wanted to leave at the same time then there would have to be agreed ad hoc modifications to the procedure laid down, because obviously you could not have one withdrawing state still participating in the discussions of the group of states which are not withdrawing during their negotiations with another withdrawing state.

        Anyway Article 50 TEU may be read here, starting on page 43:

        I hope that nobody will accuse me of being an apologist for the EU because I give a reference to that EU website.

        • zorro
          Posted May 12, 2013 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

          Clearly a covert Europhile disinformation agent…… 😉


  13. Wokingham Mum's
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Gove, said ” If there was a vote now to stay or leave the EU he would vote leave, but next week he intends to abstain”
    What is “Abstain” does it mean scared to vote? I have no opinion?
    Please explain?

    • Mark W
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

      Gove is a big enough player to vote for amendment. He should have the bottle.

    • Wokingham Mums
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

      We all agree. We like Gove!!! If he votes where with his principles, he’s our man. Next leader.xxxxx next PM. Cameron beware. One hundred percent support. But if he’s just playing politic’s and lets C get the better and discredit him and C will. The C party needs to pick replacement and promote. We like Gove.

      • Mark W
        Posted May 12, 2013 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

        I think Cameron and Gove are friends.

  14. Leslie Singleton
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    So once again there is agonising over Europe. Many questions have been asked in the past about why we are where we are, never to my mind with much by way of convincing answer. Maybe we should try simpler questions. Can anyone explain why the supposed need for us to be part of a dreaded “Single Market”, tying ourselves up in knots, is alleged to be so important that, at least to believers, everything else pales in to nothingness, when no other country in a similar situation (meaning an economy adjacent to a larger one) even begins, or has ever begun, to talk about such a thing? What is it about us that according to the EUphiliacs makes us (not sure of right words here) so uniquely inadequate–especially given our ranking in, and contacts around, the world–that we cannot rule ourselves? The idea that, OMG they are forming a bloc so we have to join them, has never made the slightest sense to me. Why on earth wouldn’t they want to trade (never mind allow us to trade) with them on reasonable terms?

    • Mark W
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

      Can anyone explain why the supposed need for us to be part of a dreaded “Single Market?

      No they can’t

  15. Roger Farmer
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    Can the will of the people be ascertained without reference to Parliament, that due to career and vested interests seems incapable of acting in the interests of the people. Could Gallop or any other polling company with the backing of at least three national newspapers not conduct a private referendum. Maybe the internet could be used with certain security measures in place to minimise the sort of fraud that is endemic in the postal ballot system. Were this to produce an out result then it would be a particularly arrogant party or prime minister that went against the wishes of the people. We could then activate Clause 50 to notify the European Council and start the withdrawal process.

    • Mark W
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

      Your district or unitary authority can hold a parish poll if they get a number, possibly only 10, people request it.

      If a body like UKIP tried to organise this I’m sure the media would follow it if across all local authorities.

  16. me
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Remember this is happening because of UKIP’s performance in the recent elections.

    Keep voting UKIP and get increasing common sense from politicians.

  17. Mike Stallard
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    I think you and the other backbenchers who are standing up for our country ought to get a big word of praise. It is not easy going against the tide. But you all have. and you are right too.
    Well done!
    Parliament is the best place to put a stop to the wicked things that the EU, who honestly do not seem to care about anyone else, are doing to us.

  18. English Pensioner
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    I consider that anyone who opposes a referendum is at the same time saying that they don’t believe in democracy. The LibDems are the worse, saying in their manifesto at the last election that they supported the concept of a referendum on the EU and now reneging on their promise.
    Being a believer in democracy (which seems to be rapidly disappearing in this country), I would support a referendum on any subject, whether I was for or against the issue being discussed.
    Those politicians who are now saying that they will oppose a referendum on withdrawing from the EU are saying, in effect, that they know they will loose the referendum, but as they know far better than the general public, they are going to prevent us from making a stupid decision by not allowing us having a say in the matter.
    Many politicians seem to have forgotten that they are supposed to represent their electors, and if a majority of their electors want something, however stupid, they should either support the idea or, if they feel that they can’t, they should have the decency to resign. These days, unfortunately, most politicians don’t see themselves as representing the public, but representing themselves first, followed by their party second, which I suspect is part of the reason we get such low turn outs at our elections.

  19. Denis Cooper
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    I expect that Labour and the LibDems will plead that this is not the right time for an EU referendum; with so many other much more important problems to deal with it would be ridiculous to give any priority to this.

    Those who don’t want a referendum, ever, will always argue that now is not the right time, for this reason or that; but if by any chance the same people do want a referendum then it becomes a matter of urgency and should be given high priority.

    For example, if they support having a second referendum to get the Irish to reverse the decision they made in a first referendum then the only concern is:

    “How soon can they be made to vote again, and get the right answer?”

    Which a little thought showed would most probably be October 2009, crucially still well before the latest permissible date for the next general election in the UK; so that if the Irish could be bullied into voting “yes” the second time round Cameron could claim that it was too late to have a UK referendum, as indeed he did on November 4th 2009.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

      Denis–I had to laugh earlier when I read an article in the Mail I think it was saying that there was, is, or might be a change of plan………and that instead of leaving the Referendum to 2017/8…….. (roll of drums)………there was talk of making it 2016/7. Wonderful, I don;t think. As you say, they could move a lot faster if they were so minded. I suggest before Xmas. My only hesitation is that it would harm UKIP but if the Conservatives had one and a half brains (that’s John’s plus a half) between them they would see how advantageous that might be for them re the next Election. Way To Go is to ignore the 1% 7th place Liberals at every turn.

  20. Chris S
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    You know from previous posts that I support the idea of legislation for an In – Out referendum and this week’s amendment is a worthwhile step on the way.

    However, it was first reported that David Cameron was “relaxed” about it and then that he supported it. Now he’s telling ministers to abstain !

    This kind of Flip-Flop is very damaging.

    If it’s an attempt to placate the LibDems and the Ken Clarke wing it won’t work – it’s just giving UKIP another opportunity to say that he’s not serious.

    What Nigel Farage offers is firm policies and direction. All too often the coalition seems wishy washy and indecisive : child care is but the latest example. With only one sixth of MPs making up the coalition, the LibDem tail is most definitely wagging the coalition dog far too often.

    It would be good if David Cameron could find an issue supported by Labour and opposed by the LibDems. He could them put Clegg firmly in his place by putting it to a vote in Parliament.

    Let’s hope the LibDems are all but wiped out at the European and General Elections.
    Perhaps the Conservatives could help by simply deciding not to stand against UKIP in LibDem seats in 2015 ?

    • Mark W
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

      The LibDems are incredibly vulnerable in seats where Labour is second such as Cambridge. I would wish to see the annihilation of the LibDems above everything else domestically.

      I would advise Tory and UKIP supporters in seats like Cambridge to vote labour to rid the nation of the yellow peril once and for all

  21. Martyn G
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    John, you say “……. The will of Parliament will have come into line with the wishes of ther people to get on with sorting out our relationship with the EU by involving the voters in this overriding issue”.
    That would be a first, then? Few if any signs of that having happened in the past, so guess I’d better not hold my breath!

  22. Onnalee Cubitt
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    I believe that there should be an In/Out Referendum held at the same time as the European elections next year. That would be clean, clear and cost effective. It would flush the Lib Dems out too , given they promised one in their last Manifesto.

  23. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    I’m trying to think what I would do in Ed Milliband’s shoes. I think that I would allow my backbenchers a free vote and ask the Shadow Cabinet to abstain. I would hope that enough Labour MPs voted against the proposal so that it was in practical terms dead in the water, with just a single figure majority in favour. In Ed Milliband’s shoes, I wouldn’t want the proposal to be defeated by Labour votes.

    I hope that the Conservative MPs proposing the motion put on record the fact that the Prime Minister and his Cabinet ought, if they are sincere, to support the motion. It is important to keep up the pressure on the Prime Minister. The next move is to write a letter to the PM suggesting that his Bloomberg speech is incompatible with continued UK acceptance of the Maastricht, Amsterdam, Nice and Lisbon Treaties.

  24. Christopher Ekstrom
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Since, at the moment, what’s best for UKIP & England is one in the same…this PM serves a purpose by hanging on. The longer Cast Iron survives the more vividly clear there is not a Tory party. Maximum defections to follow; hopefully a cascade. Cash to be first. Then the recriminations start to be followed by a silent coup. But please let it linger! UKIP is the Conservative Party!

  25. Vanessa
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    Whipped to abstain, eh! The Conservatives are dead !

    Dave obviously hasn’t a clue on leadership, honesty, moral integrity – all the qualities of an Englishman. Remind me, where did he come from ? Oh yes, the EU, of course.

  26. Ben Kelly
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    An interesting manoeveur and politically astute. Like fire in scrub it flushes out all manner of organisms, the cover is no longer there.

    I hope you and your cohorts can persuade a national title or populist blog to publish the full voting list whatever happens.

  27. Alan Wheatley
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Parliament could do a great service to the benefit of the Nation, and at the same time Members of that Parliament could bring credit upon themselves in the eyes of the electorate. They could acknowledge that the issue of the UK’s membership of the EU is THE issue of these times, and in 2013 pass a Bill that there WILL be an IN/OUT referendum in 2017 on a date chosen by the then government, to be held irrespective of the results of elections in the meantime and irrespective of any negotiations that have been, are being, or about to be held as to the relationship: “IN” will be taken as having accepted to the terms then pertaining.

    It would also be best if ALL MPs are allowed a free vote for or against such a Referendum Bill.

    This will allow time for the merits of the case to be advocated by the supports of both IN and OUT.

    It will mean that it is the merits of the case that will be the focus of the debate and not inter and intra Party rivalries.

    Of course the referendum itself does not decide the issue, but it is not plausible for the then government to act contrary to the result.

  28. John Wrake
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Redwood,
    Votes on calls for legislation on a referendum, votes on timing of a referendum, votes by Ministers, votes by Labour, votes by Lib Dem Ministers, the wording of the amendment, all are becoming irrelevant. There was a time when consulting a rulebook was the right way to tackle a problem, but that time has now passed.
    Parliament in both Houses must return to the Rule of Law as it is set out in Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, the Act of Union and the Monarch’s Coronation Oath. That is the sole Rule Book which must prevail.
    Treason has distorted governance and has been condoned by Parliaments of all colours.
    It is now necessary for individual members of both Houses to choose. Will they continue to operate under the direction of their Party Whips and sustain this unlawful system, or will they resign the Whip, stand as Independent Members ready to uphold the historic English Constitution and act in such a manner as will bring about the needed return to Rule under the Law.
    The Constitution is quite clear. Neither Monarch, nor Lords, nor Commons, nor Judges nor the Common People are above the Law as set out in the English Constitution, which stands for all time.
    It is time to choose.

    John Wrake

  29. Kenneth
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    Labour’s stance on a referendum doesn’t make much sense to me.

    They say that the prospect of a referendum and uncertainty it may create will unsettle future investment in the UK.

    Whether one agrees or otherwise, it does make sense. So far so good.

    So, there are only 2 ways of dealing with this problem:


    1. Rule out any referendum
    2. Get on with renegotiation now and hold the referendum as soon as possible.

    Both outcomes deal with the ‘uncertainty’ argument

    Instead, Labour says it may consider a referendum some time in the future. This is an illogical response as it results in the same uncertainty.

    Labour appears to be in a mess. It’s little wonder that the underreported splits over Europe in the Labour party are getting worse.

    • SteveS
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 10:59 am | Permalink

      You touch upon the real story here, and the reason why this little spat has far reaching consequences. It suits Labour to portray this as a Tory split story, but the voting list is going to make some uncomfortable reading – pro-euro Labour members will be on it, aswell as the sceptics in their party. Their likely policy of no re-negotiation and no-referendum will be a big lead weight around their legs going into an election.

      All the time, the UK voters are going to become normalised to the in/out debate and refuse to be characterised as Little Englanders or morons. The levee is beginning to break, in my opinion.

  30. Anne
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    I think the people are ahead of you John, for this is what is proposed. The people are not going to wait for a referendum because the people are going to put their Country before any Political Party and perhaps it is about time they did. The people of this Country are going to use the GENERAL ELECTION in 2015 as the REFERENDUM they have been denied, and as they know-without doubt, that all three major Political Parties want to remain in the EU-FOREVER the people are only going to vote for those that want out of the EU NOW-even the raving Looney Party if that is all there is. Only those well known Politicians that seem to want freedom from foreign rule and are urging their Government to hold a referendum are likely to get into Parliament, for THEY, like the vast Majority of people, now put their Country before Party Politics and the European Union. The people’s total commitment is to freedom from foreign rule, total commitment to their Oath of Allegiance to the British Crown and all the people in this Country that the Crown Represents.

    • James
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

      Agreed, and the GE 2015 will also be a referendum on whether we wish to continue in this dreary way of having politicians worry about nursery school ratios, same sex marriage and other such trivia or whether we pay them to answer bigger questions.

      • Brian Tomkinson
        Posted May 12, 2013 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

        The problem is that, since they have given away most of their powers (without our consent or even asking our permission) to an unelected anti-democratic organisation currently calling itself the EU, they have relegated their own role to that of overpaid social workers.

  31. Paul
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    Being an MP seems such an easy and amateurish occupation, no wonder we have so many career politicians who have never done a days work in their life. Many are just puppets with no backbone quite happy to do whatever their leader – those who abstain appear weak, lazy and devoid of principles. No MP should be allowed to abstain. It is fortunate for those MPs that very few people in this country are interested in politics and are, therefore, able to get away with not attending/contributing to debates because there is no scrutiny of their efforts. I suspect many MPs chose to go into politics because they could not handle the reality and pressure of real jobs in the real world. This is yet another reason for supporting UKIP.

    Reply There is nothing wrong in principle occasionally abstaining in person on an issue where you have genuinely divided views or where you do not think the outcome is significant, or where you think the motion is wrongly framed. To show you are not being lazy you can do so by voting in both lobbies. I am not recommending abstaining on this issue however.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply,
      Your leader is not only recommending abstaining but whipping ministers of your party to abstain whilst allowing LibDem ministers to vote against and you wonder why we don’t trust him on the EU (or anything else for that matter).

  32. zorro
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    John, it is interesting that you chosen not to comment on No.10’s change of heart……. Surely this, along with the tree line whip last year should tell you all you need to know of Cameron’s credibility. When would the new negotiations start? Would Cameron ever request renegotiation of trading arrangements under Article 50?…… Not in a month of Sundays!

    It’s just not credible as more of your colleagues are coming out and saying…..


    Reply I do know about No 10’s change of heart. Mr Cameron’s instinct and first response was to back this amendment, but others have persuaded him to ask Ministers to adopt a neutral line instead.

    • James
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

      reply to reply:
      you think there’s still time to get him to change his mind again? Surely so.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply,
      What is even worse than Cameron’s change of mind is the fact that you told me earlier that LibDem ministers will be voting against. Do you know whose side Cameron is really on? I don’t think it is yours!

    • alan jutson
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

      reply – reply

      So Mr Cameron has done yet another ” u turn”

      This really must bring his judgement into question, as your first gut reaction is usually the correct one !

      I have heard of spin, but he is now turning around so many times, he will fall over soon !

      • Jerry
        Posted May 13, 2013 at 5:24 am | Permalink

        @alan jutson (and others):

        I quite like someone who, in the face of changing facts, is prepared to change his or her opinion – that is not showing weakness – being dogmatic in the face of the changing facts is being weak!

        • Ben Kelly
          Posted May 13, 2013 at 7:19 am | Permalink


          I would suggest that in this instance facts have not changed just opinion.

          • Jerry
            Posted May 13, 2013 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

            @Ben Kelly: Is that suggestion a fact or just an opinion?…

        • zorro
          Posted May 13, 2013 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

          Sometimes, not most of the time……..


  33. Mark B
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    The thing to remember about referendums in this country is, they are not legally binding upon the government. If we were ever to get a straight IN/OUT referendum, which is not likely, and the country voted to leave the EU, the government can simply ignore the result. We the people have no recourse to the law. The political-class, as we all know, are a law-unto-themselves.

    This is an attempt to stymy the growing UKIP effect in England and especially in key marginals ahead of next years Euro-elections and the 2015 GE.

    It is a ‘fig leaf’ to the electorate, and nothing more than. If those who truly wish us to leave the EU were to raise debate about Article 50 of the TFEU then I would take them a little more seriously.

    The HoC and the HoL are europhiles through and through and they will not change, until change is forced upon them, whether this be internal or external.

  34. Tad Davison
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    Just an idle thought, but I wonder if someone like Nadine were to come out and say she wanted a referendum on our membership of the EU at the earliest opportunity, before the next election, to give the people the only thing they ever voted for, and that she would challenge for the leadership if that wasn’t forthcoming, whether other Tories would back her?

    After all, she’s no fan of Cameron and Osborn, and is ideally placed. And if she wants a role model, then she has to look no further that Mrs. T. I think that would cause a seizmic shift, and give a lot of people a cause to rally around. I can’t see us geting out of the EU mess without something like that happening. Something has to shake these Europhiles up and give the people their country back, and I think it would surprise a lot of people just how popular that would be. Cameron’s own popularity has risen every time he has either done or suggested something even mildly Eurosceptic, but it needs a fresh face as he’s been found wanting far too often.

    Tad Davison


    Reply No I do not think Nadine could win a leadership election.

    • Mark W
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

      It’s too late for Cameron to go. Nadine, whether right or wrong, caused a division of opinion with her TV reality show. That’d make her an electoral liability.

      Remember in 95 Major invited a challenge and JR with a long record in advisory and government posts didn’t win. Very disappointing result as he then was out of government too. If ever there was a history lesson for those that suggest defecting then that is it. You’re no good off the field of play.

    • Jerry
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 4:52 am | Permalink

      @JR Reply: But that isn’t actually what Tad asked, would she get enough support (in the same way as Heseltine did back in 1990) to spark a leadership contest? I’m not sure she could do even that, in fact as far as her career goes she should be thankful that she is in a very safe Tory seat and has the confidence of her local party…

      But thanks Tad for giving me an early morning chuckle!

      Reply Nadine is not currently collecting 47 names to force a confidence vote in the PM. If she did and if she succeeded he would win that vote.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 6:22 am | Permalink

      Comment on Reply–It would not be necessary for Nadine to win for her to achieve a great deal in one of many possible ways, in particular if she were to say two fingers to all this, join UKIP, resign and fight a by-election. Do not let the best be the enemy of the good. If there were any logic around, the Conservatives would not stand against her thus ensuring a solid Right wing vote and annihilating the Liberals, a major goal in itself–but I accept that that would be too good to be true.

      reply Nadine is unlikely to join UKIP now she has the Conservative whip back, when she did not do so when she was whipless and therefore then unable to stand again as a Conservative candidate.

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted May 13, 2013 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

        Comment on Reply–I did not say it was likely, only that she might have achieved a great deal if she had.

      • Jerry
        Posted May 13, 2013 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

        @Leslie Singleton: I suspect that the only circumstance for someone in a similar position [1] to that Nadine found herself would cross the floor of the house is if, as John suggests, they didn’t have the whip and there was little prospect of it being returned and thus they wished to simply embarrass their old party before retiring at the next election – unless they stood in a different constituency, but then voters do not always like candidates who land in their neighbourhood by parachute.

        [1] as I’ve pointed out before, in a very safe Tory seats

  35. they work for us
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    I find it irritating that PMs don’t want to “allow a referendum” on a topic.

    It is no wonder that politicians are held in low regard. They are supposed to work for us and they should be following what the electorate want and not to do as they want to do regardless.
    If it is against their conscience to do what their electorate want then they should resign so that their electorate can replace them with someone who will represent them properly.
    I note a previous correspondent was against referenda because they might give the “wrong answer” on some issues like restoring the death penalty.
    In a democracy what the majority want will always be the “right answer”. We should have referenda on all major issues because that would make governments properly legitimate. For too long governments and parties have done exactly as they pleased and often at variance with that the electorate want. General elections are seen as a temporary inconvenience before being able to get back to business as usual.

    • Mark W
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

      Whilst the EU issue has been a big story for many years regarding a referendum (personally I just want to leave without one), but if the govt looked like it could be pressured into giving them there could be vested interests all the time:

      Capital punishment.
      Controlled drugs.
      Smoking in public places.
      Govt borrowing.

      Some of these issues can induce strong public opinion that is not strictly speaking well founded. MPs are elected to debate to a degree most of us haven’t the time to. They can obtain specialist advice on topics and make better informed decisions.

      The European issue is not a flash in the pan.

    • Jerry
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 5:01 am | Permalink

      @they work for us: “I find it irritating that PMs don’t want to “allow a referendum” on a topic.

      But surely, why do we bother to elect MP’s if we then expect to make all the decisions instead of them, surely that is why we elect them? Allow circular argument to commence…

      I agree that referendum should be used, but used sparingly, in countries that have laws requiring the use of referendums (such as Switzerland) many voters think they are being asked to often and that risks breading even more voter apathy than our own political system.

      • they work for us
        Posted May 13, 2013 at 9:59 am | Permalink

        There is reason in all things. But the point is that the balance has gone too far the other way and many MPs believe they have a 5 year sinecure and the only views they tend to listen to are lobbying groups in which they may have an interest (e.g Directorships or consultancies in the green energy system) or to the party whip because they want a career in politics and the views of their electorate at times are a nuisance.

        When/ how often do MPs say to a whip I will not vote your way on this issue because my constituents (who I purport to represent!) don’t want it.

        Major issues should be decided by referendum. If the people had been asked whether they wanted mass immigration that would change the nature of parts of their country.,whether they wanted to be in an EU that aimed to be a United States of Europe in which the UK would be seen as an offshore province or whether the deal for the abolition of the death penalty meant that “life” would not be “life”. What would the answer have been and how how much more would politicians be trusted now if they did not lie to us and did do what we wanted on major issues?

        • Jerry
          Posted May 13, 2013 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

          @TWFU: “Major issues should be decided by referendum

          First problem, define what a “Major Issue” is…

  36. The PrangWizard
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    I was going to make a similar point to Boudicca’s. This business has being going on for longer than I care to remember, ie., the issue of ‘splits’ in the Conservative party over the EU. The press make a sensation out of it every time, and it always makes the party look bad and open to attack and ridicule, and we never hear about ‘splits’ in Labour. The critics of the EU and our membership of it are thus never treated seriously by an already biased broadcast media.

    I agree there is no point in the members of the Conservative party who want out of the EU staying with the Conservative party. If they cannot bring themselves to go to UKIP then they must leave and form a new party, or else this will go on and on with no resolution and UKIP will take more and more votes and eventually they have their first MP, Mr Redwood, and then their second. Loyalty is being stretched beyond its limit. If the issue is as fundamental as they claim it to be to the way Britain and the UK is government and for our freedoms it should be above party loyalty by now.

    But I do not think a new party should be called ‘Independent Conservatives’. A new distinct name with distinct policies needs to be created, ‘independence’ and ‘independent’ are effectively taken by another, and if there are any residual connections in the minds of the voters it will not be credible. This is the only way that the issue can be fully and openly debated and tested, and proper campaigns undertaken.

    I urge those to whom it applies to have the courage of their convictions, honour is at risk. The rise of UKIP is surely proof positive of the need for something radical to happen.

    • Jerry
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 5:11 am | Permalink

      @TPW: “I agree there is no point in the members of the Conservative party who want out of the EU staying with the Conservative party. If they cannot bring themselves to go to UKIP then they must leave and form a new party

      Mass (political) suicide, on a point of protest, rarely has any effect…

  37. Jerry
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    I’ve just been remained of this, it seems as pertinent today as when it was first said in the HoC, and the ultimate outcome might be much the same (less the obvious);

    “May I say that I agree wholeheartedly with what just fell from
    the lips of the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) as to the
    responsibility of the Opposition in playing a constructive part at this
    critical moment? The whole of Parliament has a grave responsibility
    at this moment; for, after all, it is Parliament itself that is on trial in this
    war. If we lose this war, it is not this or that ephemeral Government but
    Parliament as an institution that will be condemned, for good and all. I
    fully realise that this is not an easy Debate. There is much that ought to
    be said which cannot well be said in public.”

    The beginning of a speech made in the House of Commons by Leo Amery on the 7th May 1940…

    Although I would not describe our present dangers “a war” some of the more europhobic might think otherwise!

  38. matthu
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t had a chance to read all the comments yet, but thinking it through I suggest DC wanted to avoid at all costs a breakdown of the coalition which might provoke an early election even before the next European elections.

    Better to allow the “OUT” vote to harden: it needs time. People need to see that the negotiation will get nowhere i.e. there are still Europhiles who believe there is a chance for negotiation to succeed. More need to become disillusioned.

    Just my thoughts.

  39. Anne Palmer
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    To Mark BMark B at 3:28 pm
    You remind us that Referendums are not legally binding, this is exactly why I have suggested using the General Election in 2015 as the REFERENDUM we have been denied, and as the people know-without doubt, that all three major Political Parties want to remain in the EU-FOREVER the people should/are only going to vote for those that want out of the EU -even the raving Looney Party if that is all there is. We know without doubt some well known “back Benchers want out of the EU”-and they should indeed be voted for. Their total commitment to their Oath of Allegiance is, as is ours, to the British Crown and all the people in this Country that the Crown Represents. Our Constitution forbids foreigners Governing this Country, and how much longer before the EU Regions set up by Mr Cameron are to be governed directly by and on behalf of the EU, by the EU’s Committee of the REGIONS. absolutely no need of National Governments again because it will be simply all EU REGIONS. Maybe EU REGIONS of the European Union State.

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    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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