Let them vote


Yesterday Catalans went to the polls. They want the right to settle their own governing arrangements. The Spanish government refuses to let them. Apparently the Spanish government intends to ignore the wishes of Catalans expressed in their vote.

Yesterday the Kiev government exchanged shell fire with rebels in Donetsk. The two sides in Ukraine  cannot bring themselves to try words and votes instead of violence. The rebels do not accept the way they are governed from the centre, and the government will not try to find peaceful ways to reassure and win over the rebels. Above all it will  not offer them a peaceful route to more independence or self government.

The UK has shown the world how these matters of identity and belonging should be settled – by passionate argument and by votes.  The Scottish vote shows how a nationalist movement can be listened to. It is no good pretending these nationalist movements do not exist. It is better to try to find ways of peaceful persuasion so  a majority wants to  stay in the union, or to find a way for peaceful change to the relationship where the impulse to more self government or complete independence is strong.

Why can’t other parts of Europe give them a try? I do not like living in a Europe where one advanced country refuses to listen to the  views of 20% of its electors who do not like the current arrangements. I dislike even more seeing in Europe a country torn by civil war where rebels arm and attack the state, the state arms and attacks the rebels with no political process to try to deal with the differences. It is an indictment of the EU that it apparently sees nothing wrong with what the Spanish  and Ukrainian governments are doing.

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  1. Mark B
    Posted November 10, 2014 at 5:50 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    The UK has shown the world how these matters of identity and belonging should be settled – by passionate argument and by votes.

    Or four men making promises at the last minute without consulting either Parliament or, the vast majority of the people of the UK. A people I might add, who have a large majority who do not have their own Parliament.

    What the, Spanish and other countries on the continent do is of absolutely no concern to me. Have we learned nothing from the past 100 years ?? We should have followed, Churchill’s advice, and looked to the sea, her Empire and her Commonwealth.

    The only interests we have in Europe, are the tending of some war cemeteries to men who made the ultimate sacrifice, so that people in SW1 can give it away.

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted November 10, 2014 at 8:09 am | Permalink

      Yes the slow burning desire for breaking away was headed off with promises of more cash from everyone else in the union. Offering the vote is to be commended, the campaigning and route to victory merely put off the issue until a later day.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted November 10, 2014 at 9:40 am | Permalink

      Indeed the last minute pledges (with out any authority) of the LibLabCon leaders to the Scots were a total disgrace as is Osborne’s forcing a Mayor on Greater Manchester against its clearly expressed will.

  2. Lifelogic
    Posted November 10, 2014 at 5:52 am | Permalink

    It is indeed (yet a further) an indictment of the EU that it apparently sees nothing wrong with what the Spanish and Ukrainian governments are doing. The whole structure of the EU is violently anti-democratic.

    Also why on Earth did George Osborne announce that Greater Manchester will get its own, directly elected, city wide mayor with powers over transport, housing, planning and policing when they clearly voted to say they wanted no such thing. Yet another layer of parasitic government parasitic is the last thing they need?

    • lojolondon
      Posted November 10, 2014 at 11:40 am | Permalink

      Good post – I cheered for Manchester when the rejected the Mayoral proposal from Labour and Prescott – and do you remember the disappointment when they roundly rejected the notion of a congestion charge? Two Liebour policies that the coalition is crazily supporting against all logic and against the will of the people.

      • Hope
        Posted November 12, 2014 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

        The EU wants the UK regionalized. This is the fudge and carve up of the UK following the Scotland muck up. The UK will be Balkanised and do not be surprised in years to come when these idiot MPs claim they do not know how Sharia law came into being or Islamic extremism (appears?ed) in some “regions” of the UK.

  3. Lifelogic
    Posted November 10, 2014 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    PM signals a £15bn ‘roads revolution’ I read. Rather little and too late now!

    The over taxed motorists who represent over 85% of the traffic get £15bn (jam tomorrow perhaps if lucky) and HS2, which will carry a tiny few (of the very few that travel by train anyway) get £50bn for one absurd line – a line worth perhaps less than £3bn even when finished.

    Cars are hugely taxed and trains are hugely subsidised yet still nearly everyone still chooses the car. Despite this cars are usually cheaper, quicker, greener and more convenient, yet politicians still ram the latter down the voters throats and using the voters own money to do so.

  4. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted November 10, 2014 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    Although personally I might agree with you, I think that officially these are national matters on which the EU is not to have an opinion. I don’t think that Baroso should have voiced an opinion on Scottish independence, and Juncker should not voice one on Catalonion independence, Flemish, Welsh or any such independence vote. I do think that Mogherini should use EU influence to help de-escalate the military conflict in the Ukraine.

    Reply But the EU does express a view on Catalonia – it is clearly against Catalonian independence.

    • Peter van Leeuwen
      Posted November 10, 2014 at 7:44 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply: In that case the EU (IMHO) is quite wrong.
      I haven’t yet heard the opinion from the new Commission, has anybody?

    • Douglas Carter
      Posted November 10, 2014 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      Peter – I know that’s been your view for some years and you and I share the same opinion. That any matter settled by proper non-prejudicial debate and a peaceful democratic process should be recognised at all levels – no matter how inconvenient that result may be to some levels of administrative politics.

      However, the follow-on adjunct it leads us to is one of the great misleading contrivances of the pro-EU lobby. In your treatment of the subject, a vote is treated fairly and is recognised. From what I see elsewhere, a vote to withdraw (say) from the EU (which rightly the Scots and Catalonians will have engineered for themselves in the case of a vote for independence), a dem0cratic and peaceful withdrawal will be seen as an affront and will be replied to with intentional punitive measures. In fact, some of the comments I’ve seen by ‘peaceful and level-headed’ Europhiles lead one to believe that any electorate voting to withdraw from the EU will have to be financially crushed by sanctions and international isolation.

      You will frequently berate Eurosceptics for an extreme or incoherent stance. On many occasions you would be right to do so. I hope you would pick up on the mismatch between your own observed stance and those extreme (and incoherent) stances taken by a great many EU enthusiasts on that matter, and try to let them know that a move to metaphorically pulverise a Nation for daring – democratically – to withdraw from the EU would be fundamentalist nonsense.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted November 10, 2014 at 11:39 am | Permalink

        @Douglas Carter: Greenland left the EU(EEC) without any repercussions

    • Lifelogic
      Posted November 10, 2014 at 8:48 am | Permalink

      The EU not only expresses its views on these matters but it uses tax payers money to work against the interest of those very same tax payers and influence their opinions.

    • Mondeo Man
      Posted November 10, 2014 at 9:15 am | Permalink

      Peter – I thought it was EU influence that escalated military conflict in Ukraine in the first place.

      “Mongherini should withdraw EU influence to help de-escalate the military conflict…” Might have been more apt in this case.

      • Tad Davison
        Posted November 10, 2014 at 10:50 am | Permalink


        It surely was the EU that escalated the problems in Ukraine, unless Labour’s Kathy Ashton was inciting the crowds in contravention of international law by her own volition. An inconvenient truth for those who still say the EU has kept the peace maybe?


        • stred
          Posted November 11, 2014 at 9:48 am | Permalink

          Don’t forget the EU was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 2012 and has a proud tradition of peacemaking and non interference and expansion. After all the award was awarded by an independent Nobel Committee chaired by a Thorbjorn Jagland, who also happened to be the Secretary General for the Council of Europe at the time. The same unelected Council of Europe that was at the forefront in punishing Russia for supporting the Eastern separatists.

          • stred
            Posted November 11, 2014 at 9:49 am | Permalink

            See Wiki.

          • Mondeo Man
            Posted November 11, 2014 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

            Stred – I don’t think the EU is punishing Russia over supporting the Eastern separatists. (The pro EU Ukranians are actually the ‘rebels’ btw – despite what the BBC says.)

            The Russian Communists were beloved of the Left… until Putin was cornered by the BBC about his anti gay position at the Sochi Olympics.

            Yes. The EU is expansionist – but what really got the EU ‘Commisars’ ‘ sticking their (noses ed) in was Putin dislike of homosexuality. The Eurovision Song Contest result at least partly a (response to that ed).

            Just a theory – but what a thing to start WW3 over !

            A difference in sexual preferences !!!

          • stred
            Posted November 12, 2014 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

            I noticed that at the opening to the Winter Olympics, when Andrew Marr interviewed Vlad, Marr wanted to talk about little else apart from how Russia mistreated homosexuals. Putin looked at him with an expression on his face as if thinking ‘how did they find this one’ and explained that he knew and worked with homosexuals and they were not committing a crime, but he thought that they should not promote it to kids. Not too different from a Tory policy, which they are now ashamed of.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted November 10, 2014 at 11:41 am | Permalink

        @Mondeo Man: we must be reading different papers.

        • Mondeo Man
          Posted November 10, 2014 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

          Peter – I refer you to Tad Davidson’s comment about Kathy Ashton at 10,50 above. This is not a matter of what papers we read but of fact.

          It seems that our choice of reading means that we disagree on lots of things. Isn’t democracy a wonderful thing ?

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted November 11, 2014 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

            A wonderful thing indeed Mondeo Man.
            With regard to Ashton’s visit, I imagine that her hero’s welcome was not because she stoked up the fire, but because people in Ukraine already wanted to be closer to the EU. It’s no rocket science, your neighbour Poland has doubled its GDP, while your’s hasn’t improved, next to many other motives which one also sees in former Sovjet- controlled countries.
            Even your most eurosceptic conservative MEP returned from Ukraine realising the genuine aspiration of the younger people there.

          • Mondeo Man
            Posted November 11, 2014 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

            Peter – a ‘popular’ uprising does not result in a country being split down the middle and at war with itself.

            A popular uprising results in the overthrow of a tyrant and a quick peace. Far from being the case in Ukraine.

            Again I find myself pulling you up about wording: *SOME* people in Ukraine wanted to be close to the EU, surely ?

            Do you advocate war to reach this aim rather than democratic vote ? Clearly so as you’re always sticking the boot in on UKIP whose only crime is to use democratic process.

            Perhaps it should not be about the paper you read so much as the lines in between the print.

            Seeing as so many Poles are here perhaps that’s had an unexpected effect on Polish GDP. The CBI and Labour are always telling us how good mass immigration is but it is Labour who keep telling us how awful things are for our people at the moment.

            There is genuine aspiration in all places. I’d say the EU is a pretty bad place to fulfill it – unless Ukrainians want to make sandwiches with UK benefit top-ups, which I don’t doubt they do.

  5. Lifelogic
    Posted November 10, 2014 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    So how may real Tories will there be on the dreadful EU arrest warrant vote today just 50 or 100 at best perhaps?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted November 10, 2014 at 10:46 am | Permalink

      JR could run a sweepstake …

      About 30, is my guess; the rest of the potential rebels will heed the disgusting exhortations of the Sunday Telegraph editorial that with the general election in the offing they should put Tory party unity before the trivial, in fact emotional, matter of protecting their constituents from being carted off to rot in some foreign prison for no good reason.

  6. Mondeo Man
    Posted November 10, 2014 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    “The two sides in Ukraine cannot bring themselves to try words and votes instead of violence.”

    I thought one side had already won the words and votes and it was the minority pro EU rebels who’d rejected the peace.

    Reply You only win with words and votes when the other side agrees you have won.

    • Margaret Brandreth-J
      Posted November 10, 2014 at 7:49 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply: This is so , but why does one side sometimes not agree? Is it because the methods used to reach that decision are corrupt and have a bias towards a particular establishment. Lifelogic outlines the latest decision taken for Manchester which is not democratic.

    • Mondeo Man
      Posted November 10, 2014 at 9:11 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply: Which is rather disturbing. One side can veto democratic majority.

      Picture if you will a UKIP government (however unlikely) and the violent outbreak from the Left. (We have a precedence in the Poll Tax demonstrations and the general disorder of the unions during the Thatcher reforms.)

      We wouldn’t be allowed to have a UKIP government (real Tory in fact) even if the votes were there.

      In the event that Labour win in 2015 – by default rather than true majority – will we be allowed to veto that win on the basis that there is a clear majority in this country that is Conservative but was not properly represented ?

      Reply No. Our system depends on accepting the peaceful verdict of elections, and working through politics to change things you do not like.

      • Mondeo Man
        Posted November 10, 2014 at 10:19 am | Permalink

        Reply to reply: That democratically elected UKIP would be rejected by violent upheaval is not so unbelievable is it ?

        (Note that it has never been UKIP involved in violent acts – rather victims of them.)

        So a sizeable minority in the UK think that EU membership was brought by underhanded means – illegal by any measure of true democratic process. Are we allowed to veto that membership by disagreeing that the Europhiles have won ?

        Reply I am pleased to report that the UK has a good tradition of smoothly transferring power from one elected government to another. Polls show no sign of UKIP emerging as a governing party however.

      • fedupsouthener
        Posted November 10, 2014 at 11:37 am | Permalink

        Mondeo Man. You’ve hit the nail right on the head. UKIP are the turning out to be the REAL Conservatives here with true conservative values especially when it comes to protecting our green spaces and our precious landscapes and countryside. This government seems to think it can build houses and wind farms etc on green belt land and get away with it. Many are incense over this. There are many brown sites available for homes and we all know wind farms are a complete waste of OUR money leading to higher bills and more people suffering because of fuel poverty. Poverty is also exacerbated in third world countries because of green initiatives. The rain forests are being taken down and replaced with crops for bio fuels. Consequently more arable land is taken for bio fuels meaning more will starve to death because food prices have escalated. If this is what Conservatism is then count me out!

      • David Price
        Posted November 10, 2014 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

        Reply to reply: the coalition government was not elected.

  7. alte fritz
    Posted November 10, 2014 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    I had to read this post twice and then reflect on how far reality and rhetoric diverge in the EU’s governing class .

    • Tad Davison
      Posted November 10, 2014 at 10:56 am | Permalink

      AF, a short post, but a very poignant one, so I’ll be equally brief in my response to it:



  8. DaveM
    Posted November 10, 2014 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    The EU blindly ignores anything that might derail the federal gravy train. Simple as that. You only have to look at the reaction to the vastly anti-EU vote at the recent Euro elections to see that. What was the reaction? It varied from absolutely nothing to even more EU government and federalism.

    I hope the Catalans vote 100% in favour of independence; they won’t just sit there and say “fair enough” when the Spanish govt ignores them. My bet is that a Barca-Real Madrid match will be the spark that ignites that tinder box (with the Basques joining the Catalans). No doubt the EU will just pretend that’s not happening though and that everythings rosy in their pretend euroland.

    How in God’s name did we end up in this situation?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted November 10, 2014 at 10:39 am | Permalink

      If many Catalans do not see themselves as being “the same people” as those in the rest of Spain then it seems particularly unlikely that they will see the Basques as being “the same people” as themselves, and vice versa; it follows that while the two might join against the rest of Spain for tactical purposes it would only be so that both could become separate from Spain and from each other.

      • DaveM
        Posted November 11, 2014 at 9:58 am | Permalink

        That’s what I meant. Apologies if it wasn’t clear.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted November 10, 2014 at 11:01 am | Permalink


      How did we end up in this situation?

      Heath, Heseltine, Howe, Hurd, Major, Clarke, Blair, Brown, Cameron, Clegg, Miliband, et al. got elected to Parliament, and their toadies are still there.


  9. Old Albion
    Posted November 10, 2014 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    85 percent of the people on this island are denied Democracy. There is not a word from the EU on this travesty of equality.
    Nor is there any significant desire from Westminster to put right this wrong (with one or two honourable exceptions)
    How about the English being given a vote on how we are governed?

    • John
      Posted November 10, 2014 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

      This is exactly the point I was going to make, Old Albion, when are the English going to get a vote on anything. All the main parties are trying to break up our country and we do not get any say at all. No one voted for regionalisation and nobody has asked for British MPs deciding how we should govern in England. Give us a parliament and we can devolve powers to the regions if that is what the English want.

    • David Price
      Posted November 10, 2014 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

      So what is one to make of the current UKIP postion (their website) that England is made up of regions and that one of them is Yorkshire?

      • DaveM
        Posted November 11, 2014 at 10:26 am | Permalink

        I don’t think you can deny that England has very strong regional and local identities – we wouldn’t have had such a football violence problem otherwise. There have always been differences, the same as there are in Spain and Italy. Even Germany to an extent.

        Using the football violence as a tenuous analogy; despite Leeds and Millwall and Newcastle fans (being lively for their own clubs ed) on a Saturday afternoon they always came together as a phalanx when they were supporting England. Not so with Spain – Barca fans are more passionate about their club than about their national side. However, with EU working regs and the consequent influx of foreign owners, players and managers, the local identity of the clubs has been diluted – most of the players don’t even speak the same language as the fans, let alone with the same accent! In short, football has turned into a bland, corporate-controlled “product” where fans feel isolated and ripped off by the clubs they helped to build – which might as well be renamed Prem1, Prem 2, etc.

        Maybe the EU is trying to use that as a model – swamp (I’m not scared of that word!!) the whole of England with foreigners, dilute local identities, then treat them as regions which are essentially the same except for their landscapes and climates. If so, they need to look at the phalanx which still emerges to support the England national team.

        Ultimately, the point I am trying to make is that England IS made up
        of regions with very different cultures and identities, and which mock each other and argue constantly, but that, since 1066 at least, the people of those regions have come together as a nation when threatened. And I have said here more than once that regional government based on traditional county areas is not necessarily a bad thing but there MUST be a central English focal point which can speak for the nation as a whole. No matter what they might think, England has been around since the time of King Cnut, and it isn’t going away. The question they need to ask is: “given our record against the English, do we really want to wind them up to breaking point?”

        • David Price
          Posted November 11, 2014 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

          Early pressure was for a distinct English parliament which has drawn increasing support in England though UKIP has been less than supportive of this in their policy statements. When it was then taken forward by some Conservatives the balkanisers (Labour, Libdems, BBC) really started coming out of the woodwork declaring that England was “too big” and it should be regionalised. It is notable that the BBC (Mark Easton) wheeled out three unknown Scots last week to unanimously declare this position.

          UKIP says nothing about an English parliament but has now started to refering to English regions on it’s website so I conclude they have aligned with the balkanisers. I am not sure what to make of the UKIP view that Yorkshire is a region unto itself.

          It seems to me that many people who are seeking to impose and support a regional administration are not interested in the interests and needs of the English citizens at all, they are only interested in how they can divide and rule. If this were a true democracy then the path would be to establish an English Parliament first which should then work with the English electorate to decide how to govern. Those outside should have zero say or influence in the matter.

          • DaveM
            Posted November 12, 2014 at 10:54 am | Permalink

            Yes, it’s unfortunate that Ukip are doing that. But I’m still inclined to think that if we can get out of the EU first we can sort this place out second – if we’re not in the EU the whole regionalisation issue will evaporate somewhat. The idea that England is too big is laughable, but there is no doubt that an English Parliament would have to regard different areas of the country differently hence the need for more localised administration. But that kind of thing needs to be sorted out at a national level initially, hence the requirement for an EP.

            The thing that annoys me more than anything is the way they’ve tried to carve the country up. England was divided nicely on a county basis which reflected natural borders, and they all had county towns etc. Labour tried desperately to get rid of our old county identities, but – and this could be an encouraging sign on many levels – in doing so they’ve revived county identities to the extent that nearly every county now has a new flag, many designed by schoolkids.

            A partially elected House of Lords could also be based on county lines……there’s another topic!

          • David Price
            Posted November 13, 2014 at 8:55 am | Permalink

            @DaveM: The EU have been used as a useful route to regionalisation by those who would remain even if the EU evaporated tomorrow. The issues of EU membership and English devolution are separate and must be treated separately as the EU itself accepts in the application of laws, eg Scottish discrimination on student fees.

            I agree a reasonable starting point is counties and the existing MP constituencies rebounded for the number of voters.

            I don’t believe UKIP is the salve for all our ills and is certainly not to be trusted on the issue of English democracy.

  10. Sandra Cox
    Posted November 10, 2014 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    Is this the EU that encouraged/supported the overthrow of a democratically elected government in Kiev? The EU that made countries continue voting until they came up with the right result?

    Closer to home, are you talking about the EU that doesn’t even include England on its map, that works behind the scenes to regionalise England in order to fragment its voice? The EU that uses the UK’s ever-increasing membership fees to influence our media, institutions and even our members of parliament?

    So, before we start concerning ourselves with other countries’ democratic processes, surely we should be more concerned about democracy in the UK and the way our own MPs are, probably, as people read this, conceding even more powers to the EU. At the same time, many of our elected representatives are denying the people of the UK any say over their loss of sovereignty and, in the case of the English, denying them even a whiff of democracy!

    Shame on them!!

    • Tad Davison
      Posted November 10, 2014 at 11:14 am | Permalink


      The EU is a disease. Once infected by it, it is almost impossible to get rid of.

      I liken the UK’s membership to the famous film, ‘Invasion of the Body snatchers’, and through apathy and a diet of misinformation, the UK allowed itself to fall asleep and be taken in. Once they did, the people became compliant vegetables with little or no way out. Pro-Europeans might look and sound like the real thing, but alas, no. Only those who saw the dangers and refused to fall asleep can ever hope to extract the UK from it.


  11. James Reade
    Posted November 10, 2014 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    Two things:

    1) You criticise the EU for not allowing a state to splinter into smaller, more controllable nations, yet at other times you’ve criticised the EU for supposedly wanting precisely this by encouraging more local decision making. Which is it?

    2) As I’ve mentioned before, your comparison of Scotland to Ukraine is really bad. Let’s think about the hypothetical situation where Russia is funding the Scottish Nationalists, and rather than calling for a vote, they are attacking UK institutions north of the border with tanks and artillery. Would your suggestion still simply be to have a vote? A vote like, say, the Crimeans had?

    Reply I do not think Scotland and Ukraine are the same! I do think Ukraine, like Scotland, is best handled by politics and talking rather than be shelling and bombing. The issue of whether a country should stay united or split is one for the people who live there to decide. The EU should keep out of it whichever way the majority is inclined to go.

    • Edward2
      Posted November 10, 2014 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

      When has the EU ever encouraged local decision making?

      Apart from a general policy of undermining the concept of the nation State by promoting regionalisation.
      Which in the UK has been rejected by the electorate

  12. The PrangWizard
    Posted November 10, 2014 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    We have no mention of England in your words of the need to allow people self-determination. In the source code of your website the words ‘speaking for England’ are included to show only when your name is ‘googled’. They do not appear on your visible web pages. Why should this be?

    You will speak here therefore for some of the people of Spain and Ukraine but not for a majority of the people of England, who like others are entitled to protect their identity and rights via a true parliament. There should be no distinction. We don’t as easily take to the streets or to arms. England is however denied and barely recognised by a British political and cultural establishment. Why is this, other than to preserve its own privileged position? Recent statements about England by the UK Prime Minister seem to be just so much more hot air and deceit.

    Whilst you campaign against the EU, you defend the UK, throwing a cheap and shoddy compromise before the English in the form of ‘English Votes…’ in order to delay real change and preserve it.

    England must have a true parliament with directly elected members; if it good enough for one it is good enough for another, so why not England? I think we know the answer, it is British Establishment’s attempt at self-preservation, because with an English parliament individuals see the writing on the wall.

    In England we have moves by stealth to break our nation, supported by government, through regionalisation, an EU policy. We have had an attempt at destroying our identity by deliberate mass-immigration.

    Why do you not join us and campaign, instead of pursuing an idea which will do nothing to bring justice but which instead by default and weakness will bring about the destruction of the unity of England?

    It is the only true position to take.

    Reply No plot! I will see why the important words Speak for England do not always appear as intended.

    • margaret brandreth-j
      Posted November 10, 2014 at 11:10 am | Permalink

      Imust admit I have pondered over this one , not solely from the omissions mentioned but rather from the logical point of view of further fragmentation leads to further fragmentation.

    • The PrangWizard
      Posted November 11, 2014 at 8:36 am | Permalink

      Let me call it collective opposition, and resistance, some active, some passive, and of course denial. But are there any British political or cultural establishment figures who you could name as supporters or campaigners for a true English parliament? I would hope there are some but I know of no-one.

  13. Bert Young
    Posted November 10, 2014 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    If the EU and the USA had not intervened over the Ukraine issue Russia would not have felt intimidated . Dialogue is required between the two sides to bring about a solution , above all , the ethnicity of Eastern Ukraine has to be recognised as one of the determining features in the negotiations . The UN do have a role to play now that things have escalated . The people in the Ukraine are the only ones to decide what their future(s) should be with the UN acting as mediator .

    • Mitchel
      Posted November 10, 2014 at 10:43 am | Permalink

      Indeed,with Cameron happy to re-state the EU line that the EU’s borders should extend to the Urals,no wonder that Russia sees the West as its enemy.Like it or not the Ukrainian situation is being settled through violence and,much as I feel sympathy for the various peoples of Ukraine who are suffering,Vladimir Putin is absolutely right to confront this existential threat using the means available to him…..and Vince Cable still maintains the EU prevents war in Europe!

    • Tad Davison
      Posted November 10, 2014 at 11:34 am | Permalink


      I am often reminded of something Dwight D. Eisenhower said.

      ‘Because one side wants peace, doesn’t make peace.’

      If the EU and the USA truly wanted peace, they would have recognised the true geo-political position and not have exacerbated a potentially dangerous situation. This was an ill-conceived expansionist adventure that didn’t quite work they way they wanted, but it did at least give us positive incontrovertible evidence that the terrible duo are a problem, and not the solution.

      As for the UN, I wish it to have teeth, but I feel it presently falls well short of its intended objectives to have any real and lasting effect upon world events. It could work so much better than it does at the moment.


    • Tom William
      Posted November 10, 2014 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

      Also if there had not been talk of extending NATO to Georgia., and a general failure to understand that, although Russia has never been a democratic country, it is still possible to accept/respect it as a powerful and important one.

      We can sympathise with the people of the former USSR but should understand the risks of evangelising for our way of life in other countries. Also of welcoming the Russian kleptocracy in the UK.

      Gorbachev may (one hopes) have exaggerated, but he should be listened to.

  14. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted November 10, 2014 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    JR: “It is an indictment of the EU that it apparently sees nothing wrong with what the Spanish and Ukrainian governments are doing.”
    Is it not also an indictment of our UK government that it apparently takes the same attitude as its masters in Brussels or, if not, is so subservient to them as not to dare to speak against?

  15. Atlas
    Posted November 10, 2014 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    John, Agreed.

  16. stred
    Posted November 10, 2014 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    At the ceremony at the Cenotaph yesterday, the three party leaders laid wreaths with as much gravitas as they could manage. These three will either refuse or delay a vote on independence from the EU and wish the EU to expand beyond Europe. This is the EU that wishes to prevent regions of Spain and Ukraine from voting on regional independence. Yet at the same time it promotes regionalisation of England and it’s stooges in the BBC and the party leaders are making promises to create another layer of regional government. The expert interviewed on the Parliamentary channel argued that regionalisation had not been a success so far because it had not been handled properly. The previous votes against regionalisation count for nothing. In the usual EU fashion, if the answer is ‘no’, then another way has to be found.

    The following day, the three stooges will be voting to abandon Magna Carta and allow easier extradition to the jails of European counties that out fathers and grandfathers fought and died to keep free.

  17. Kenneth
    Posted November 10, 2014 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    I don’t think it is any of our business what the Spanish or Catalans do.

  18. Denis Cooper
    Posted November 10, 2014 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    I come back to my comment yesterday about what Abraham Lincoln wrote in his message to Congress of July 4th 1861, with wording which was subtly but crucially different from the more famous wording in his later Gettysburg Address:

    “And this issue embraces more than the fate of the United States. It presents to the whole family of man the question whether a constitutional republic, or a democracy – a government of the people by the same people – can or cannot maintain its territorial integrity against its own domestic foes.”

    Then it was specifically:

    “a government of the people by the same people”,

    and clearly there are a substantial proportion of the people in Catalonia who do not consider themselves to be “the same people” as the people in the rest of Spain to the extent that they are willing to share the same pan-Spanish government, and so often find themselves outvoted and their wishes overruled; similarly with a substantial proportion of the people in the Crimea and eastern Ukraine, apparently they do not see themselves as being “the same people” as those in the rest of Ukraine to the extent they are content with a constitutional arrangement which leads to what they see as domination; and so too with Scotland, where about half the people no longer see themselves as being to a sufficient degree “the same people” as those in the rest of the UK.

    In fact it seems that the degree of disaffection in Scotland with the pan-UK system of government exceeds the degree of disaffection in Catalonia with the pan-Spanish system of government.

    This was an unofficial vote, an official vote having been declared unconstitutional by the Spanish constitutional court but the Spanish government having said that it would not use the police to prevent it taking place provided that no public resources were used and it was entirely run by volunteers, but the turnout has been estimated at around 33% of which 80% voted for Catalonia to become an independent state, so just on that basis about 27% of Catalans support separation from Spain:


    On the face of it the UK is much closer to disintegration than Spain, and the separatist cause will be greatly advanced if the SNP holds the balance of power at Westminster after the next general election:


    “Sturgeon won’t rule out SNP and Labour coalition”

    It should be noted that on current projections there will only be somewhere between 16 and 23 LibDem MPs available to prop up a Labour government or form a coalition with Labour, should the latter be the largest party but without an overall majority, which seems the likeliest outcome at present.

    Reply You cannot assume that all non voters favour the union with Spain.

  19. DaveM
    Posted November 10, 2014 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    There are points being brought out here in various posts which just don’t seem to get through.

    The rebels in Ukraine have had to resort to violence because they know that any voting system will be rigged by the Kiev govt, as it has been already – that’s the pro-EU govt who have seemingly already adopted the voting policies of the EU.

    The Catalans have been, and will continue to be ignored until a civil war breaks out, because the Madrid govt is so arrogant and continues to try and hold together a country which has never truly been a country, with ethnic, cultural, and vastly different political views. The EU will just ignore that because they don’t know what to do when people behave like humans instead of robots.

    The Scottish referendum was NOT a resounding NO, despite what the BBC might say. It was almost 50-50. What would have happened if it had been that close but the other way John? Would the UK govt have ordered a re-vote because it was too close to call? Ask the Irish what they think about EU votes – they just gave in to the inevitable in the end because their EU-controlled govt wanted them to have the Euro. What a lot of good that did them.

    Does DC think the English public are stupid? Or indeed the UK public? Can no-one explain to him how people in this country are feeling at the minute? People who are working themselves stupid then getting home to see that our PM, our sovereign’s representative and our elected leader, has given in to a suit in Brussels or a German leader again, because that’s what his corporate paymasters have told him to do. Much as Mark Easton may be pro-BBC think, his survey on English devolution produced an almost overwhelming verdict that English people want a return to traditional county systems with regional or local government, BUT with a centralised English focal point, whether it be a fully fledged English Parliament or an assembly led by a First Minister. Every time he posted something anti-devolution or pro-EU regions his social media sites crashed.

    Whereas I commend your comments and sentiments John, we are living in a dictatorship run by people who appear to despise the very people who put them in power, and although there is no war between the people and the govt, the UK govt is treating the people of this country with the same contempt as the Kiev or Madrid govts, so we should hold off lecturing them until we can safely say we have a true democracy.

    The current govt and opposition can spout as much as they like about why they think people are voting the way they are at the minute. Going back as far as Brown, voters weren’t “punishing them over the 10p tax rate” – most didn’t even know what it was!!! -, voters haven’t been “voting as a protest to register disillusion with politics in general”.

    Voters have been voting Ukip and SNP because they have had enough of politicians telling bare-faced lies on TV, they’ve had enough of being told what to do by the EU, and they’ve had enough of a govt which is so arrogant it tells us that we know nothing and that “England doesn’t exist as such”.

    In short, they’re p****d off. Really, really, p****d off. And no matter what the situation may look like in Westminster, the general consensus is that it can’t get much worse so we might as well give the fruitcakes, nutters and closet racists a go. The only saving grace for the govt at the minute, and the only thing that makes people turn out in crowds and look happy is the Royal Family. Without them things would be a lot different.

  20. Rods
    Posted November 10, 2014 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    Hi John,

    Why do you always take the Russian / Kremlin / Putin side over Ukraine?

    What happens over East / West Ukraine is not in the Ukraine’s governments hands! They have created multiple ceasefires to try to end the conflict, to stop the loss of further territory, all of which have been ignored by the mainly Russian mercenaries, largely under Kremlin control, who control the Russian annexed areas of East Ukraine. Russia is currently pouring in more special forces, heavy armour, artillery and equipment as we have seen and have been witnessed in many geo-located videos on the web over the last few days.

    Russia will not stop its expansion into Ukraine, until they are stopped or Ukraine surrenders or accepts peace on their terms which will mean Ukraine moving fully back like under the Kremlin’s nominal control like Belarus. As you can see with the recent united Pro-European elections results, this is not acceptable and will NEVER be accepted by the vast majority of the Ukrainian people. If Ukraine does lose, then you will have another Afghanistan in the centre of Europe, while Russia continues its march west. Ukraine is the beginning not the end of Putin / Russian empire building ambitions. There will be NO PEACE in Ukraine until Russia gets what it wants, which it has not achieved yet and the ONLY alternative is that the costs become too high in terms of substantially higher costs in funding the war, unacceptable losses and economic costs through sanctions, for Putin to politically sustain them, but we are far from reaching point yet, because of the major (and probably fatal) domestic political costs this would have for Putin.

    The best recent article that explains this is by Professor Edward W. Walker, who is Associate Adjunct Professor in the Department of Political Science and Executive Director of the Berkeley Program in Eurasian and East European Studies at the University of California, Berkeley: http://eurasiangeopolitics.com/2014/11/09/why-a-frozen-conflict-in-eastern-ukraine-is-unlikely/

    The Polish government have now come to the conclusion (probably rightly so) that the US will not come to their aid is any meaningful way if they invoke Article 5 in the event of a Russian attack and are increasing and building up their defences accordingly. If you bother to read Article 5, all NATO countries will take “such action as it deems necessary”, which can mean anything; from nothing, to supplying blankets, to direct military support and they also agree to talking about the problem at the UN.

    NATO is only a credible defence umbrella while the members believe in it and due to US foreign policy weaknesses this credibility is beginning to evaporate, not that I totally blame the US when you see the poor state of many European countries defences. The Netherlands have struggled to support the US alliance against ISIS with 10 F16’s where most of their front-line airforce is grounded or mothballed due to ever decreasing ‘real term’ defence budgets, this applies to other European nations, notably Germany, who now spend just 1.3% of GDP on defence, far below their NATO commitment of at least 2%.

    The North Atlantic Treaty is available from NATO here: http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/official_texts_17120.htm

    I can personally see how this is going to end up where Putin’s vision is to create an empire from Lisbon to Vladivostok, much like Churchill could with Hitler in the 1930’s and he to the country’s and Europe’s detriment was famously ignored by MPs.

    Reply I do not take Putin’s side. I am against Russian military intervention as you are. You should grasp that Ukraine was destabilised by the overthrow of the previous elected government and by the misconduct of the Kiev government towards its Russian speakers, as well as by armed and militant separatists with or without Russian help. IT will need high statesmanship from Kiev to woo and win back the lost areas.

    • zorro
      Posted November 12, 2014 at 5:09 am | Permalink

      LOL…. Oh yes, not a day goes by without Putin threatening sanctions against the West or threatening to stretch Russia up to the Irish borders unlike Cameron who would never suggest stretching the EU borders beyond the Urals….. It’s like a parallel universe with comments at variance with Russia’s historic role amongst European nations. There have been and never will be such threats unlike the relentless EU sponsored eastwards expansion of the last 20 years. Your comments are fantasy….. I am not siding with anyone but you must look at geo-political realities and strategy even handedly…..


  21. Margaret Brandreth-J
    Posted November 10, 2014 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Ed Balls is correct on the 1.7 billion surcharge issue , however what would labour have done.

  22. Eddie Hill
    Posted November 10, 2014 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    Mr Redwood,

    I read Vernon Bogdanor, one of Mr Cameron’s old schoolmasters, writing in today’s Times that: “The government’s (and your) answer (to the West Lothian question) is incoherent. Its proposal, English votes for English laws, where only English MPs vote on English legislation, is incompatible with cabinet government.”


    His arguments seem reasonable, albeit unpalatable – he’s saying that England can grant devolution to others but not to itself, regardless of what the electorate thinks or wants.

    Any thoughts?

    Perhaps we should ask the EU to intervene on our behalf?

    • zorro
      Posted November 12, 2014 at 5:10 am | Permalink

      It’s OK for Bogdanor to say that as he probably doesn’t recognise England!


  23. Margaret Brandreth-J
    Posted November 10, 2014 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    Why is it so difficult to understand the flow of the houses opposition to a vote for the package. Why can there not be a vote for a EAW alone?

  24. Jeffery
    Posted November 10, 2014 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    Some commenters here really are a joke. They rant against the supranational, undemocratic EU. While cheering for that great democrat Putin (a UKIP idol apparently) and wanting a more powerful UN! Please.

    • Mitchel
      Posted November 11, 2014 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      Not at all.The EU seems unstoppable from within so we must hope it can be stopped from outside and if President Putin is the man to do it…fine!

      I certainly do not want to see greater powers-or funds- handed to the UN.

  25. Eddie Hill
    Posted November 10, 2014 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    Could your plea “Let Them Vote” also now be applied to our own MPs, denied a vote on the European Arrest Warrant, something various of your colleagues are calling: “sleight of hand,” an “outrageous abuse,” a “sorry saga, leaving the public contemptuous of ministers, “ “playing fast and loose with the British justice system,” “…. an outrageous abuse of parliamentary proceedings,” “fundamentally underhand,” “a disgraceful way of going about a very, very important matter. It is tainted with chicanery, it is not the way this Parliament should be treated,” “The reason that it is being done in this fashion is to avoid having a real decision taken today as was promised to us by the Prime Minister only a few weeks ago.”

    Democracy eh? Don’t’cha luv it?

    And you wonder why your government isn’t trusted?

    And I don’t suppose this post will make it past moderation either.

  26. William Gruff
    Posted November 10, 2014 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

    There is one country in Europe where 85% of the population is denied national self-determination and their affairs are decided by the 15% minority.

    Only an English Parliament can properly represent the interests of the people of England.

  27. Elliot Kane
    Posted November 11, 2014 at 3:04 am | Permalink

    Completely agree with every word, John. Well said.

  28. Mike Stallard
    Posted November 11, 2014 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    Why the rest of the world be as good as us?
    Oh – I nearly forgot, yesterday we surrendered our habeas corpus and our right not to be arrested without discussion because of a statutory instrument.
    You know it makes sense.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted November 11, 2014 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

      Indeed, a total disgrace.

    • zorro
      Posted November 12, 2014 at 5:12 am | Permalink

      The beginnings of a police state and end of individual rights/presumption of innocence.


  • 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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