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Cameron was pretty underwhelming. He brought no passion to his arguments. Blair was right. He did look like he was going through the motions.

Well are you surprised? Who are Cameron's chief foreign policy advisers? Heseltine, Ken Clarke and Chris Patten.

Ken Clarke is a motion DC should go through pretty quickly, preferably with something sharp.

Well?

Are you satisfied now?

Those who said he would bring up at PMQs in the morning's thread were 100% right.

"Addressing The Prime Minister, Mr Cameron said the failure to agree to a referendum would "be remembered as one of the most flagrant breaches of any of the promises you have ever made.""

That is as strong a statement as you could possibly ask for. Michael McGowan in not recognising it paints himself as the ukipper I believe him to be.

If the traditionalists are not satisfied with this, then clearly their beef against Cameron is personal and has nothing to do with policy.

Fantastically robust performance by Cameron and as a Eurosceptic Tory I am delighted. I expect non-trollish sceptics like Sean Fear for example will be too.

What struck me was that to the last Tony Blair with the support of Gordon Brown showed his utter contempt for Parliament, The Monarchy and the people of this country.

He lied, he prevaricated and once again arrogantly showed he thinks the people of this country are too stupid to understand this betrayal. He knows best and we know nothing.

David Cameron cannot defeat that. Margaret Thatcher would not have defeated that. Only when the people of this country start to band together to express their views en masse.

There is a petition on the PM's 10 Downing Street site.

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to guarantee that the British people will be permitted a binding referendum on any and all attempts to resurrect the EU "constitution" (and any or all of its content) regardless of nomenclature

http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/EU-treaty-NON/

Sign it. It is a start.

As for smug disloyalty of Clarke, if Cameron wants to keep any respect then he must deal with him severely!

Surely one can object to someone on both personal and policy grounds?


This particular battle has only just begun.

I'd have to watch this before deciding whether Cameron's performance was as stated by Tory T, or whether he was merely going through the motions, however...

To cheers from Labour MPs Ken Clarke spoke from the Tory backbenches in favour of Tony Blair.

So what is to be done about this renegade?

We could get our killer-stroke in early: a clear and unambiguous commitment to hold a referendum on the EU constitution when we get elected, and if the outcome is a no, retrospectively revoking any constitution-enabled legislation which may have been passed by Labour in the meantime.

In the meantime, can't we find a nice secure retirement-home for Ken Clarke? (and no I don't mean the HoL).

Do you have any evidence Tory T that I support UKIP or is that just another desperate smear....to add to your long list of pathetic contributions? It is a matter of fact that Cameron's foreign policy advisers are the Euro-integrationist wing of the Conservative Party.

I repeat that Kenneth Clarke is in the wrong party. He is of course entitled to his views, but to stand up in the Commons and stab his party leader in the back as he did today shows that he has no loyalty to his party and its duly elected leader, just as he has no loyalty to his country. If he relishes making himself into a hero for those sitting on the opposite benches he should cross the floor and join them.

Ken Clarke will never be reined in David Cameron. In 2005, Cameron depended on the Clarke camp for much of his support and will do anything to avoid the situation in 1997-2001 when Clarke, Patten and Heseltine took every opportunity to help Alastair Cambell attack Hague.

Trad T

He spoke from the backbenches. As in not the frontbenches. Labour Eurosceptics, equally out of step with their party, spoke from the backbenches too.

We all know Ken's views on Europe and we all know Cameron and his team don't agree with them. His democracy ideas, particularly on English votes for English laws, have great merit and were broadly welcomed on ConHome just recently.

David Cameron makes policy in the Tory party and I don't see a single thing in the Editor's report above that a genuine Eurosceptic would be unhappy with.

Ken Clarke was probably disgusted and Michael Portillo will be too, but I think I can probably live with that!

For Ken Clarke deliberately to go out of his way to contradict the leader on a matter of clear party policy, not only in comments outside the House (as he had already done) but in the House to the predictable delight of Labour MPs, shows utter comtempt for his own party.

Can't the usual channels organise a hostage exchange - Frank Field for Ken Clarke?

Incidentally Kate Huoy MP was attending a constituency event in London at just the moment Brown was being crowned in Manchester yesterday. As Ken's a former Cabinet Minister, perhaps Labour could throw her in as part of the deal?

Tory T

Please take off those rose-tinted glasses.

Don't you get it. Clarke has just severely undermined your hero. Clarke is the democracy task force leader who has just denounced the need for a promised democratic referendum that his leader demanded.

If Cameron does not deal with him, the media and Labour Party will savage Cameron for weakness and then we know what happens.

Thge irony is the europhiles think they are so clever and that they deterministically have history on their side (just like the Commies did) as they arrogantly sign away the freedoms and independence which our nation took almost a thousand years to achieve. Will some people never learn?

If it comes to it, there will very probably have to be a referendum. 80%/83%/86% support for a referendum are not numbers any politician can ignore. The only realistic alternatives seem to me to be (a) wait it out and hope someone else (e.g. the Poles) kills the Treaty first (this actually isn't such a bad strategy - would "in Europe but not run by Europe" Eurosceptics on this site support that?); (b) veto it at the full Treaty conference in the Autumn - I wouldn't put this past Brown; (c) say that there will be a referendum, but say that the government is neutral on the matter (probably banning Cabinet members from campaigning on either side) - again, I wouldn't put this past Brown; (d) cut up rough at the full Treaty conference, and re-negotiate something involving a transfer of powers back to the UK that could then be sold to the British public in a referendum to secure a "Yes" - I think that this would be very difficult indeed, and matters would have to move a long way, very fast, in other Member States before this kind of thought even entered the equation.

Given that (d) is out, at the moment Brown is probably depending on (a). He has quite a while before he's obliged to hold a referendum (2009, if I recall correctly?). My guess is that he will try to out-stare those demanding a referendum for long enough for someone else to kill the Treaty, but that if it really comes to it we will have our referendum, perhaps even with the government being officially neutral. This may even mean that, if it comes to a referendum, a 2009 General Election is less likely.

The one other possibility might be that if he is too far ahead in the opinion polls next year, he may try to have a General Election campaign in which he argues for the Treaty, and if he wins he would proclaim that he had a mandate and didn't need a referendum. We must therefore make sure that he isn't that far ahead in the polls.

My guess is that his chances of outwaiting events, and being saved by some other Member State's rejection of the Treaty must be pretty high. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't, ourselves, be criticizing the Treaty in the meantime...


Irritating (and disloyal) as Clarke's behaviour is, he can't really be disciplined for it as (a) he's not a frontbencher and (b) he's always made his views on the EU plain.

If he were a frontbencher, then he would of course have to resign.

I think the moment of truth will soon come.I like Ken Clarke, he is a skilled debater and is better than just about every member of the shadow cabinet in picking holes in Labour party arguments, he is also it seems quite popular with the public. But on the EU he is an absolute total liability. DC will I hope be publically brutal with him and make it clear that on this matter he speaks for noone but himself.

Bill:

I agree in fact I suspect if any of the previous three governments had bitten the bullet and given the people a referendum some years ago they might well have won.

However, now because of Blair and Labour's general reputation for deceit, spin and obfuscation nobody believes a word they say on things like this.

Cameron did not perform well and got roasted for not attending a key meeting. Blair thereafter completely wiped the floor with Cameron.

I have some sympathy for Cameron as clearly he felt he had to follow the euro-sceptics which, of course, left him totally exposed to labour ridicule.

Clarke's stance, however unpalatable it may be for some, is logical. It is time for some of our members to realise we are already in Europe and that unless we wish to be completely stuffed, we had better get in there and start protecting our interests as clearly Labour would sell their grandmother down the river.

It's OK to be a rebel, provided you're a rebel with personality. That's why Ken Clarke (and Boris Johnson) get away with it. Were they not known and liked by the public, and were they not net assets, they'd be out.

Cameron's playing it just right. He can't stop the Constitution and force a referendum without Labour MPs in support. If he makes a tub-thumbing party political row out of this, he will alienate potential support from labour MPs.

He knows he must play it cool for that reason - let alone that his own main policy advisers are hopelessly confused about the EU - Ken Clarke saying he could lead the Party two years ago becasue the COnstitution is longer an issue, and now trying to brush the whole thing under the carpet. What a plonker!!!

Cameron needs to be the voice of sweet reason so he can talk with labour MPs like Austin Mtchell, Frank Field, Gisella Stuart and form a cross party alliance in favour of a referendum.

The jeers that could be heard over Blair's reply to Cameron were most encouraging.

John,

Sean Fear is exactly right. You can't sack a backbencher from being a backbencher. It has already been made absolutely clear that Ken speaks only for himself on Europe. Those with good medium term memories will remember Ken similarly denouncing Cameron's stance on the EPP as announced not so long ago - namely that MEPs who don't accept withdrawal will lose the whip.

It was said by cchq then with a shrug that 'Ken is Ken' and speaks only for himself on Europe.

Watervole, forgive me, but I think the grassroots will cheer Cameron "skipping a key meeting" if you're talking about the Federalist EPP which we are leaving.

He was right to snub them and 99% of party members will be behind his doing so.

I've always maintained Cameron was a Eurosceptic and his every move proves it. This PMQs was robust, strong, and absolutely shows he won't let Gordo get away with no referendum.

Watervole thinks re Europe "we had better get in there and start protecting our interests".
What a laugh. The idea that being in we can influence from the inside is utter rubbish. It is being in the EU which has emasculated us.

I don't see how Ken Clarke has ever protected our democratic interests in Europe. To give the French their due, they ruthlessly promote their own interests in Europe. Clarke and the UK left have one goal: transferring more and more power away from electorates to unelected supranational institutions and oligarchies. Ken Clarke has pursued this goal unflinchingly since the seventies.

Tory T:

Thank you, I have sufficient understanding of our democratic process to understand our election process. presumably he could be deselected by the constituency?

Anyway they won't so it is not going to happen.

However, how can David Cameron keep Clarke as his champion of democracy when Clarke clearly only believes in it when it suits his own personal views.

Am I wrong in thinking that Cameron could sack him from that role?

He could try .....but even if he had the inclination (which I doubt), Clarke once on the outside of the tent would take every opportunity to p*** in, to quote Lyndon Johnson.

Again, Ken's Democracy Taskforce is set the job specifically of looking at UK only policies, and he isn't going to be sacked from that as he has already reported.

Furthermore, what proposals he and his force came up with were widely praised on ConHome only a week or so back. How quickly we forget!

This was, of course, after Ken had criticised Cameron mercilessly for saying he'd withdraw the whip from Europhile MEPs who didn't endorse leaving the EPP.

Ken Clark - rubbish on Europe but strong on many other things. That's what most Tories see and what Cameron sees. He was well suited for the job given to him, the grassroots (and ConHome) liked the results, and he's kept far away from anything European and/or the front bench.

Labour has its Mitchells, Fields and Hoeys, and we have Ken. And Heseltine. The direction of the party and the leadership, though, is clear in both cases. Labour are Europhile, we are Eurosceptic.

Clarke and the UK left have one goal: transferring more and more power away from electorates to unelected supranational institutions and oligarchies.

Michael, please, that's not their "one goal"! You can make an argument that the EU does more harm than good, but it’s absurd to suggest that their motivation is to give away powers to an unelected oligarchy.

EU membership gives a fair exchange of some over your own nation in return for some power over the other members. In that sense it’s not dissimilar to a marriage – an agreement you enter voluntarily, that requires you to compromise on your choices, but that generally enhances your life.

That said, I, a self-confessed Europhile, am very disappointed that the EU hasn't done more to sort out its faults and wonder whether it's the best mechanism to achieve Europe's shared goals.

correction: a fair exchange of some *power* over ...

We are all like Europe, it's the EU many of us don't like. If Mark Fulford tginks the relationship is like a marriage then it was one arranged by in an untransparent manner and
we need may well need a divorce or at the very least a separation agreement.

As pointed out by other learned posters, we should pledge to hold a referendum on the final reform treaty resulting from this process and in the event of a no, remove our signature from the document.

Clarke as an MP is completely pointless.

He has tried and failed three times to get the support of the Party for his brand of Heathite managerial socialism embedded in a socialist euro-superstate. Every time he has failed.

The sooner we select a new candidate for Clarke's seat the better.

The eminently sensible Tory T seems to be virtually the only person on this thread who understands the rules of political strategy, as opposed to the emotionally satisfying but tactically calamitous postures demanded by Mr McGowan and his chorus of UKIP sound-a-likes.

The battle over the referendum on the new EU Treaty will be a long and complex one. Brown has to bring a bill before the House of Commons and - crucially - the House of Lords. I expect bulldozer timetabling in the Commons but the Lords simply won't be pushed around. There's a very, very good chance the Upper Chamber will insert a referendum clause into the Bill. This will focus attention on the unanswerable case for Labour keeping its promise to hold one.

What is this mad rubbish about discplining Ken Clarke? Clarke is a demented Federalist whose loyalty to the European 'ideal' is ten times stonger than his loyalty to the Conservative Party. He can easily be patronised and discounted as a relic from an ageing generation, as can Hezza and the other members of the tiny and diminishing band of Tory Europhiles. 'Making an example' of Ken would elevate him from a predictable nuisance into a martyr. A really daft idea.

I understand (and share) Michael McGowan's moral disgust and sense of impotent rage at what Blair and Brown are doing in signing away more power - and lying about it. However, I want to beat the bastards, not howl at them so that the majority of voters (who are basically Eurosceptic but see themselves as 'moderate' and 'reasonable') turn away from us, shaking their heads.

Cries of 'traitor!', 'Munich!', etc play right into the hands of the sleazy conmen of New Labour who wish to divert attention from their crimes and misdemeanours by pointing at the Tories and saying "Look at these one-track loonies - they're obsessed with Europe and see plots and conspiracies under every stone."

Open Europe is the smartest and most effective Eurosceptic pressure group - and the one Labour fears. We should follow their example rather than ranting and raving like UKIP losers thereby playing the pantomime Litttle Englander role allocated to us by Brown.

Tory T:

Your description of the terms of reference for the Democracy Taskforce is wrong.

Here is one of the areas of the scope.

"making and ratifying international treaties, including EU agreements"

However, whether this applies to quasi-constitutions is another question?

Obviously, David Cameron has decided that this goes beyond the scope, and for good reason, by calling for the referendum promised by Labour.

However, Kenneth Clarke's unqualified support of Labour's stance that this is an amending treaty suggests that he believes that this should be passed using the Royal Prerogative.

This seems to contradicts a key recommendation of his own report.

"Treaties with financial, legal or territorial implications for the United Kingdom or its citizens should require Parliamentary approval before ratification and should no longer involve the use of the Royal Prerogative"

As far as keeping out of European matters.

In the last two days he has denounced his leaders call for a referendum on the BBC and in the House of Commons. If that is keeping out of it then what would he do if he did become involved?

Finally, I actually thought that the democracy taskforce was required to provide 3 reports of which this was one. Can anyone confirm?

If there was only one report then true he cannot be sacked. However, it raises serious questions about Clarke's commitment to the report he has produced and therefore its validity.

I appreciate your attempts to maintain unity but Labour and the media don't need another opportunity to undermine David Cameron and from my perspective I'm afraid that Clarke is handing them one on a plate.

The referendum is the device of despots and dictators and British politicians should have no truck with them. Clement Attlee said something to that effect, and Margaret Thatcher was fond of quoting him approvingly.

I can't believe this current campaign for a referendum on the new treaty. You cannot give the public a vote on something so complex, there is no way all the issues and implications can be debated and understood by ordinary people.

Whatever the specific question, any referendum would boil down to a debate on whether we should be in the EU or not - which is of course the real agenda of most people calling for a referendum now.

We elect MPs to Parliament in order to debate and decide on this kind of thing. We carp on about Parliament being undermined (at least I do, quite often) so calling for a referendum is just undermining our own principles.

Tories who want to stay in Europe shouldn't be courting cheap applause by calling for a referendum, we should be out there selling the massive benefits of being in the EU - most people have absolutely no idea how far and how fast this country would go downhill if we came out.

Interestingly as a result of the boundary changes coming up, Ken Clarke loses part of his constituency to Pat Mercer at the next election. This should make Pat's position much more secure as far as electoral support goes as the bits he gains (Bingham and the villages) are far more Conservative minded than the bits he loses (Retford).

Not sure what this does to Ken Clarke's overall electoral chances - it may be he gains some coal mining areas which may be less Conservative minded.

Liberal Tory:

That includes David Cameron I take it?

Yes of course it includes Dave, he's an MP and as such should be giving his views in Parliament and voting accordingly. Whether he's on the winning side or not is the question.

Look, I think we should be in Europe, and at the heart of Europe. But - if the House of Commons were to take a vote to take us out, I'd accept the validity of that.

What I don't accept is asking the ignorant masses to vote on an issue with ramifications they can't possibly understand, with only blind prejudice and tabloid newspaper propoganda to guide them.

Liberal Tory:

So let me get this right?

You're view is that David Cameron is a 'Despot or Dictator' and the ignorant masses are incapable of making a considered decision in voting and therefore should be denied the ability to vote?

Well there's democracy at work!

Cameron has to tread carefully on this. Whilst there might be a big majority in the polls in favour of a referendum the vast majority of the British people do not list Europe as their chief concern. They might class themselves as euro-realist, wary of Europe and its democratic deficit, but I do not believe they are overtly suro-sceptic in the UKIP or grassroots Conservative sense as hostile to integration and wanting out altogether.

You cannot give the public a vote on something so complex, there is no way all the issues and implications can be debated and understood by ordinary people.

Liberal Tory at 1927

You're not much of a liberal if your understanding of Hayekian market theory is so poor as to believe in the neccesity of elite planners and decision makers to lord it over the crowd with its many and varied levels of knowledge, but its collective ability to support what is good and reject what is poor.

We can make the Ealing Southall by-election a single issue campaign and give the people of that constituency the chance to send Brown a clear message.

"We want our say!"

Please don't misrepresent my views. The Attlee/Thatcher quote was pointing out that Hitler and Mussolini used referendums to bypass their parliaments and get their own way - and it's wholly alien to British traditions.

Of course Cameron isn't a despot or dictator. What he is is an elected representative. In other words he's put into Parliament, along with 600+ other people, to debate and make decisions on a wide range of government policies.

No-one is "denied the ability to vote" - we vote for our MP - that's what he/she is there for!

If you want out of Europe, vote for a Eurosceptic party or candidate, but don't hijack one of the great historic political parties with a single-issue obsession.

Liberal Tory is wrong to suggest we should not have a referendum. If parliament wishes to cede sovereignty then it is our sovereignty it is ceding and following the principle of "Delegatus non potest delegare": the electorate should have the ultimate say. To argue that the electorate are not entitled to a referendum on the basis that they don't understand the issues and the procedure in event is flawed intrinsically flawed because dictators use them is insulting, ignorant or both.

Thankfully Liberal Tory you are part of a tiny psychotic minority.

The job of MPs is to represent the people. Individually in their election commitments and collectively through the manifestos those MPs promised that on this particlar issue they would agree to a referendum on the constitution. The Parliamentary system allows for such promises and in fact if the system were being adhered to as it should be then the parties and the MPs would be forced to follow up on their electoral promises. This in no way undermiens Parliament as many of those MPs would not have been elected had they not agreed to this point on a referendum.

It is for this reason that the Lords will insist on the referendum being part of any treaty ratification since it was a manifesto pledge by all the parties.

You Europhiles are showing your true colours by your desperate attempts to avoid allowing the electorate their say on this matter of historic importance.

Not that I am at all surprised since no one who supports the EU can claim to have the first idea of what democracy really means.

We can make the Ealing Southall by-election a single issue campaign

This demonstrates my point exactly! I don't live in Ealing, but I'm sure the people there have many, many issues occupying their attention, they shouldn't be choosing and MP on just one.

The logical extension of this argument is that in the event that the Labour candidate in Ealing is a Eurosceptic who backs a referendum and the Conservative candidate is a European centrist, you'd vote Labour. This is nonsense!

It seems that the vast majority of people on this site, obsessed about Europe and grammar schools and tax cuts secretly want Brown to win and for the Conservative Party to become a right-wing debating society consigned to never being elected again. They support Margaret Thatcher who did more than all other prime minister in by signing the Single European Act. They just don't get it that the public is not obsessed about Europe.

Since many of us consider it more important to retain Parliament's power to rule rather than having one particular constituency won by a Tory then the answer to your question is an emphatic YES.

We owe nothing to the Tory party simply because of its name. If a Tory candidate ceases to represnet the views of the people then he or she does not deserve to be supported.

One less vote in Parliament for the treaty is more important than one more clone for the Tory party - or any other party.

We can make the Ealing Southall by-election a single issue campaign and give the people of that constituency the chance to send Brown a clear message.

Presumably to the same effect as campaigning in Ealing North using "Keep the Pound". They all thought we meant Stephen, and so they did...

Cleo

If a party does not espouse our views then it does not deserve our support. It is very simple. The name means nothing. The principles mean everything.

I can't believe that quoting Margaret Thatcher on ConservativeHome has seen me branded insulting, ignorant and psychotic! What happened to the broad church?

To argue that the electorate are not entitled to a referendum on the basis that they don't understand the issues
That's not the central issue. My point is that you cannot have a referendum on such a massive, complex issue, because referendums ALWAYS boil down to the most basic question - which in this case is, "should we be in the EU, yes or no?"

A referendum is a blunt instrument and reduces complicated issues to yes or no answers. That's why Hitler and Mussolini liked and used them.

Cameron has called for a referendum but he still gets a hard time on this site. He cannot actually force a referendum. Brown may well call one to expose the obsessions in the Conservative Party. If he does not then this site can keep having a pop at the leadership and still Brown can show that this party cares more about Europe than health, education, crime, environment. Either way Brown wins as the Conservatives are shown to still be living in the 1990s.

No, they used them because they knew they could fix them - just as the pro EEC crowd did in 1975. It was easier then than now although there is always the chance they might try and do it again through the selection of the question etc. Although the electoral commission are around now to try and stop that.

But the basci principle is that over 90% of the current MPs were elected on a commitment to hold a referendum. Plus it was in the manifestos of all the main parties. You may not like that but it is a fact and as such Parliament should be bound to adhere to it.

Oh and anyone who believes that the people are too thick to understand the principles underlying an issue like the EU constitution is most certainly insulting and your blind adherence to the EU certainly has a feel of psychosis about it.

So I am inclined to think the cap fits pretty well.

Liberal Tory

Godwin's law.

Pathetic.

Cleo,

what is the point caring about "health, education, crime, environment" when our ability to do anything about them is being eroded by an extra national body which dictates much of what our Parliament is allowed to do.

I suggest you get your priorities right before lecturing others

Well it's a Topsy Turvey world. I'm a liberal, Clarke-ite Tory quoting Maggie's views on referendums, being attacked by fellow Tories using Harold Wilson as their inspiration! Wilson held the referendum in 75 to paper over Labour cracks. He was pretty canny in allowing the cabinet free views for and against, but to say it was fixed is rubbish.

Of course the question is important, but the plain fact is that the ordinary voter looking at the question "Do you want the UK to sign up to such and such an EU Treaty" is going to think "Do I like the EU? Yes or no?" and vote accordingly.

That's the Eurosceptics' real agenda, and it infuriates me that they're hijacking the Tory party as a vehicle for it.

In answer to Richard Tyndall - I could equally say that your blind anti-EU views also have a feel of psychosis. The difference is that I'm interested in the whole range of Party policies, not obsessed with just this one.

Bill - Godwin's law nothing. I simply quoted Maggie quoting Attlee. Was she pathetic?

I too am interested and actively involevd in a whole range of policies. I simply don't see the point in pursuing them when they can be swept away by unelected, corrupt and unaccountable officials in Brussels.

As someone who has spent the last 20 years working in and around Europe I can safely say I have had plenty of time to study and come to understand the differences between the European and British political and legal systems and to take a measured and informed view on what is wrong with the EU.

And as I said before there is a basci matter of principles involved. Something you appear to lack.

Liberal Tory refers to the "ignorant masses" in the context of the electorate. Why bother giving them a vote at all? I am of course being ironic but am amazed at brazen contempt for his fellow voters. It is of course the same oligarchic arrogant attitude which wants to get rid of the jury system.

And of course I should add that when it comes to hijacking parties against the will of the common membership the Europhiles are past masters.

Of course Maggie was not pathetic; she saved this country despite all including the awful wets and we will need someone like her again to save us from the EU and today's generation of wets.

Liberal Tory:

You did not quote either Attlee or Thatcher you paraphrased them and in doing so
you inferred that people who support referendums are despots and dictators.

That is not a way to win friends and influence people.

You also suggest that the public are not capable of voting in an informed way on this matter because of media influence.

These are the same people and the same media who will make a decision on who governs this country.

Would you then say for the same reason we cannot have the vote to elect Parliament?

The alternative is dictatorship.

Imperfect as the judgement of the British People is, the right to vote is the very essence of democracy.

Labour promised a vote on this matter and a vote we must have.

A referendum will open the debate fully and allow people to discuss the benefits and disadvantages properly.

The fact is if Europhile Tony Blair and his Labour cohorts had not deceived and manipulated, the Europhile position may have been much stronger. By denying us our democratic voice they have damaged their cause severely and the creditibility of the pro-EU cause to a point where it may be impossible to win.

After all if the European vision is so good why do we not hear all the reasons why it is?

No, it seems that this is just another set of vacuous sound bytes from a Government who has remained in power by the very media manipulation that you are so critical of.

It is Labour who are denying us democracy so as a pro-european perhaps you should persuade fellow supporters of the Union that it is Blair and Brown who have damaged your cause.

I am sceptical but support David Cameron's positions that we should continue to participate in the EU and where it does work or we need joint initiatives then we should continue our relationship.

However, our Parliament is perfectly capable of running this country. It does not need an unelected, overbearing, pedantic bureaucracy in Europe to do so.

I suggest you get your priorities right before lecturing others.

Who exactly are the likes of you to dictate what is right? I mean, rather than "Right"? At the last GE, EU issues were only counted as significant in determining VI among about 15% of voters, while 7% of Conservative voters considered them the most significant. That's a contrast to the almost 60% that considered health highly significant. While you're considering the views of the people, obviously, which would you rather we spend limited campaigning bandwidth talking about?

what is the point caring about "health, education, crime, environment" when our ability to do anything about them is being eroded by an extra national body which dictates much of what our Parliament is allowed to do.

Ah, that explains the UKIP administration that was elected in 2005, then...

Cleo is absolutely right that we should not be seen as obsessing about the EU, of course not - aside from anything else it risks the perception of undoing the change agenda that we've worked hard on for the Party. All we need is "bloody Tories, banging on about Europe again..." But there's hopefully a way of doing it that isn't that.

If the Government has promised a referendum and is now reneging on it due to semantics, we have a duty as an opposition to hold them to account on their earlier promise. We should, though, be careful to do it on the basis of the kind of Europe we want, not the withdrawalist agenda that tends to bring out the bunch of swivel-eyed nutters...

I most certainly do not support getting rid of the Jury system.

A jury is a dedicated group of 12 people who spend a long time listening to the full details of often complex evidence, making an informed decision accordingly.

The electorate is made up of millions of people, most of whom know nothing about politics and aren't interested in finding out; those who do are mostly swayed one way or the other by the newspaper they read or similar propoganda.

Most people vote because they are generally sympathetic with the candidate of one party or another. They therefore do not need detailed knowledge of every policy in order to make an informed choice.

This treaty is a detailed document. Most people aren't interested in reading it. They will support or reject it depending on whether they like or dislike the EU. That's why it's too important to be left to a referendum.

"I most certainly do not support getting rid of the Jury system."

And yet you support our further integration into a political and judicial system that would see just that very thing happen.

I see now why you are so confused.

Liberal Tory:

You are arguing the point to suit your own position.

Democracy must never be selective it must always be all-inclusive. You might as well throw away 200 years of electoral reform otherwise.

And that perhaps is the real point!

I for one will never accept your viewpoint which seems extraodinarily close to the Labour leadership.

And with that I must depart.....

And yet you support our further integration into a political and judicial system that would see just that very thing happen

It might happen if we waste time arguing amongst ourselves about in or out, while the Labour government goes to the summits and signs up to the agreements.

However, if we accept we're in to stay, and get on with fighting Britain's corner in the negotiations, we might actually find we can defeat this kind of thing.

Imagine that - getting what we want in European negotiations! It aint gonna happen unless we engage properly though.

Richard Carey,

unless you are psychic you have no idea what motivations drove people to vote in a particular way at the last election. The only reason the EU was nullified as an issue was exactly because all the parties signed up to the principle of a referendum.

The 'swivel eyed nutters' are those who would sign us up to ever closer union in spite of the wishes of the people, not those of us who, in spite of the fact we know the odds would be stacked against us by the political system, are still willing to put our faith in the people to make an educated decision.

Or perhaps the 40% who now favour complete withdrawal are all 'swivel eyed nutters'? Along with the 86% who want a say in who rules this country?

Liberal Tory

I am glad you support the jury system although having qualified as a lawyer I don't need you to tell me what being on the jury entails. My point remains that it is the same patronising and controlling attitude which in the field of the administration of justice wishes to reduce the role of the jury which in the area of politics and democracy seeks to deny the electorate a say in the loss of their sovereignty.


PS

On a separate subject,didn't a Tory MP once famously claim to have never read the Maastricht Treaty?

The important point is to surely have a balance. I feel that this site discourages a balance and easily becomes a leadership and Europe bashing forum. Cameron gave an excellent interview this morning on social mobility and the need for excellence in all schools but this site complained that he had not used the opportunity to bang on about a referendum. The public is far more concerned about social mobility than Europe in my view but this site thinks not.

You cannot engage with a system that is fundamentally opposed to what you stand for.

And unless you had forgotten, this is not a debate about leaving the EU (in spite of my own preferences). It is about the right of the people to make a decision. Contrary to what you have claimed we do not live in an elected dictatorship - not quite anyway. The government is supposed to follow the manifesto it was elected on. As such it is our right to hold them to account on that.

That is parliamentary democracy. It is not something you can choose to ignore simply because it does not suit your own obsession.

Cleo,

I doubt one person in ten could tell you right now what 'social mobility' actually means. Sure, they could find out and would probably be in favour of it (as should any good conservative big or small "C").

But right now they are concerned that the government is not abiding by its pledge. That IS the big news story at the moment and it is what is being discussed around the country.

Actually cameron is doing fine on this issue. My comments earlier to you were regarding basic principles, not his actions today. If he commits fully to a referendum and continues to press Brown on this issue (and others) then he is doing all he reasonably can.

The main thrust of my argument here this evening is with those who like democracy as long as it doesn't mean doing what the people want.

Cleo

Important as social mobility is (and I won't divert here on the important role of grammar schools in aiding it and of private schools in entrenching it), I am not sure I agree with you that "The public is far more concerned about social mobility than Europe". I've heard hundreds of people bemoan the EU but scratch my head to think of anyone "banging on" (to use one of the Bullingdon boy's favourite expressions) about social mobility per se.

" I can't believe that quoting Margaret Thatcher on ConservativeHome has seen me branded insulting, ignorant and psychotic! What happened to the broad church?"

Because you're being hypocritical. It is a typical debating tactic of very left wing Conservatives to cite Margaret Thatcher in support of some cherished objective of theirs (usually European integration, or involving the Irish government in the government of Northern Ireland) while carefully ignoring the fact that you detest almost everything she did.

However, your broader point about the "ignorant masses" being unfit to decide how they should be governed would certainly have been a reasonable point of view around the time of the Congress of Vienna, but won't really wash these days.

If my MPs propose to hand over the powers which I, and other voters, delegate to them, then I demand some say in the matter.

It is that point that MPs and the Europhiles choose to forget. We do not elect MPs to 'rule'. We elect them to represent. We 'lend' them our vote for as long as they make good use of them.

We do not give them any power to hand away that representation to other supra national bodies.

I can't believe this current campaign for a referendum on the new treaty. You cannot give the public a vote on something so complex, there is no way all the issues and implications can be debated and understood by ordinary people. Says "liberal" Tory.

Listening to the exchanges in Parliament today, I heard no indications that the majority of MPs had any idea of the "issues and implications".

For instance, it was only Austin Mitchell who attempted to point out that the "Emperor" had no clothes, and that this was a "mandate" not a treaty.

Frankly, the only way the issues and implications are going to be debated properly is outside Parliament, and the only thing that will drive that debate is a referendum campaign. Not least of the beneficiaries of that wider debate would be the MPs themselves.



Richard Tyndall: unless you are psychic you have no idea what motivations drove people to vote in a particular way at the last election.

YouGov poll of 4,592 people in 130 Lab-Con marginals conducted between 10-14 May 2005.

My psychic powers know no bounds...

My "swivel-eyed nutters" comment was a little severe, perhaps, but reflects my frustration that so many posters here think that we might win an election purely on the basis of an issue that factored (it is a past poll, I admit) so low in determining people's VI. We need to be moderate and measured in our objections to this, and to continue campaigning on other more "important" issues alongside it.


Richard Tyndall I don't object to the fact that europhiles are fundamentally hostile to democracy. From Plato onwards, people have been making effective arguments against democracy. People like Liberal Tory, or Jean Claude Junker, or Valerie Giscard D'Estaing are in good company, intellectually.

In fact, most intellectuals have been hostile to democracy.

But what does irk me is their pretence that they govern in the name of the people, and that they are democrats, when they are anything but.

RE: whether we should have a referendum. I'm opposed to referendums, too, as a general principle. I'd much rather we just said "No." But we are where we are, with the vast majority of people demanding a referendum. And my feeling is that if, as seems to be the case, some 80-86% of the population want a referendum on this Treaty, then it seems to me highly implausible that anyone is going to try to ratify the Treaty without a referendum - it would seem certain to lose whomever it was the subsequent election.

Or doesn't Liberal Tory et al agree?


Well, the World has moved on since Attlee's time.

Personally, I find the regular use of referendums in the USA and Switzerland is admirable.

On a point of clarification RE: Me@21:45

When I said "No.", I meant "No." to the Treaty, not "No." to a referendum...

Richard Carey,

meaningless.

Such polls rarely relect what people are really thinking nor the thought processes that go into deciding who to vote for. For many people today voting is still a matter of principle. 'Never vote Tory/labour' etc.

At the other end of the equation there are those who will balance a hundred different ideas, principles and priorities when deciding who to vote for. To ask them to say simply the overriding reason they voted the way they did is simply an exercise in futility.

The health service is a classic example of this. Most people when asked of their own experiences will say that they found their experience good and will claim they were satisfied with the treatment. This is something Andrew Lansly admitted recently. So why then would they respond citing health as the main area of concern when it comes to voting?

On the subject of the EU there is, at present, an overwhelming demand amongst all voters of all parties for a referendum. I can't think of the last topic that had almost 90% of the electorate in agreement - even the Iraq war!.

I have no doubt that Cameron could, if he chose to, handle this ina way that would avoid the labels of eurosceptic head bangers by concentrating on the lack of trust issue. But the response of people like Liberal Tory is frankly bizarre for anyone who might ever claim to be an adherent of basic democratic principles.

Sean@21:48

Referendums are not, in my view particularly good devices for determining specific policies. I know that they are used in some places - I consider that a weakness of those systems.

Representative democracy (i.e. no referendums, but representatives) has the great advantage over direct democracy (e.g. by referendum) that we hire some people (our representatives) to study lots of detail and master lots of issues that we have better things to do than to study or master. I don't want to have to understand all the implications of subsection 2(a) of Section (4) of the local government finance (amenity provisions) Bill. I have a life. So instead I hire some people that, sadly, lack lives, so that they can study those things for me and vote on my behalf.

Andrew,

in principle I agree with you. One of the reasons I have been opposing the ideas of direct democracy advocated by some.

But this is a specific issue where the parties made it a manifesto issue in order to get elected. It is an occasion where individual MPs made a point of pledging support for a referendum specifically to win their seats.

It is also an unusual situation in that we are talking about MPs removing our right to vote via Parliament on a whole range of issues. MPs should have the right to make decisions on our behalf. They should not have the right to surrender that decision making process to others whom we do not wish to control our lives.

If I borrow a book from the library it is on the understanding that I will not sell it to someone else. On the same principle if an MP borrows my decision making rights it should be on the understanding that he does not give them away to a third party without my consent.

Andrew Lilico@21.57 - yes, exactly! Thank you.

I don't know whether we agree about Europe or not, but thank you for understanding my point - and expressing it probably better than I did - instead of doing what everyone else seems to have done, leaping in with headbanging kneejerk Euro-hostility.

I'm hugely depressed about the state of the party generally though, and this debate makes me fear for the future...

Apart from having my argument called "meaningless" by you, I think we're actually broadly in agreement on this, despite us coming to that understanding by a rather combative route!

Of course we should stand by our commitment to referenda on transfer of powers in future, and illustrate that in opposition. I just don't think it's politically anything like the most important issue that most people will use in determining their voting intention. Not to say that we shouldn't talk about it - reasonably, moderately, putting an argument that it does nothing to advance an open, modern, flexible Europe - but that all politics is a blend. The Editor's "and-theory" if you will. My objection is to those who think they have another chance to push their personal obsession as a solitary magic bullet, not to the idea of a referendum on a demonstrable transfer of powers in the final treaty.

Richard@22:03

I think that you are assuming that "the people" are the ultimate sovereign authority and that MPs "borrow our decision-making rights". But I don't really think that's the right way to frame what representative democracy is about. Instead, in a representative democracy it is more like we have a process of voting to elect some ruler, who then make decisions on our behalf. They don't lack the "right" to make Treaties with foreign powers - even, ultimately, to fuse us with another state into a greater state, if that's the way it goes. My objection to the UK being incorporated into a Single European State isn't that I think our rulers are not entitled to do that. Rather, I think it is a Bad Idea. I want to say "Don't do it! There's something better to do!" not "Don't do it! You have no right!" So, for my position, I need arguments to persuade my rulers that something else is better, or I need to choose different rulers. (Let's go for the latter!)

I find the arguments deployed by Andrew Lillico in opposition to referenda uncharacteristically unconvincing. He suggests we benefit from the specialisation of professional scrutineers; but are they any better than the rest of us. Do they scrutinise or even bother to read what they are supposed to scrutinise? Of course in the case of delegated legislation there is nothing to scrutinise and EU legislation isn't any better. And I agree with Sean Fear, Switzerland and the USA aren't exactly suffering. Indeed they are in many ways preferable to our system.

There is nothing at all liberal about 'liberal' 'tory'.

Nor Richard Carey.

These people are more careful about their use of language nowadays, but they are in fact the same old pro-EU totalitarian element that has always crept around the Conservative Party.

Ironically there have been keen supporters of Cameron (those associated with the Democracy Movement for example)who see him as a Trojan Horse that can be used to get the Tories back into power before ratcheting up the ante and pulling out of the EU.

They're misguided, but their hearts are in the right place.

It's the Eurofanatics who still skulk in the ranks of the Conservative Party that we have to watch carefully.

And contrary to the statement by Eurofanatic Cleo, there are plenty of these enemies of democracy on CH.

Richard Carey,

not I did say earlier that I believed there was every chance the Eurosceptics would lose the referendum. Actually I would think that is the most likely outcome given the way the last one went and the turn around there. But that does not stop me advocating this as the right thing to do in principle.

My 'meaningless' comment was poorly phrased and referred to the principle of using polls to identify peoples voting reasons (rather than their intentions). It was not a reflection on your particular use of the argument rather on the principle you invoked being, quite literally in my eyes, meaningless.

Oh, another point. The issue isn't just about our loss of democracy, it's about the loss freedom which we are suffering as a result of our closer union with the EU. It is inimicable under both heads. Add to that its mercantilist/socialist/anti-competitive drift etc.

Liberal Tory

I've read the Constitution (haven't seen the text of the new so called Treaty). It's a hell of a lot simpler than much of the stuff I deal with on a daily basis. There are some particularly detailed bits then the fluffy stuff which because its ambiguous is open to considerable judicial intervention. Overall there is a lot in it I like but the few bits I don't turn me against because they are too intrusive.

It doesn't matter why people to choose vote one way or another. Its the inalienable right of a citizen to vote on the basis of whatever he/she wants to. The wisdom of crowds is that they all vote, the combined eccentricities notwithstanding, and we get a result broadly acceptable to the folk that voted and in a democracy thats the best choice whatever.

It has a downside to Eurosceptics as well as Europhiles. IMHO had Major put Maastricht to the electorate he would most likely have won despite the ERM. There would have been a greater chance we would have joined the Euro. I would have opposed it but I would have accepted that the nation had decided.

Andrew,

in that case we disagree fundamentally. We do not elect a 'leader'. Nor do we elect a Parliament. We elect individual constituency representatives who are there to serve our best interests as they see fit. It is they who decide upon an 'First minister' and they have the ultimate power to remove him through a vote in Parliament. It is also a basic principle that Parliament is 'sovereign' and cannot surrender the rights it has been lent by the people to a higher authority.

So I believe you are absolutely and completely wrong about the position of Parliament and the people. Parliament only operates by the will of the people and it cannot give up its powers to an external authority.

Where does the party get these people from? Your defence of the decision not to grant a referendum is truly lamentable 'Liberal Tory'. You have taken a lot of flak on this thread but by God you deserve it, under the circumstances I would if I were you stay anonymous too.
Perhaps the EU it is not the most important issue for most people at election time but you've got to admit Richard, it is bloody important for the future of the country and therefore should be up there with education, health and the future of the public services at the top of the agenda in Conservative circles.
I do agree with you however, the way we debate this is important and some of the virulent Eurosceptics do their cause absolutely no good at all by calling all who do not share their views on Europe traitors etc.

Ted,

exactly my position regarding the next referendum if we have one. We may well lose it but it is fundamentally the right thing to do.

Oh dear... just as it seems we're arriving at some kind of consensus (albeit agreeing to differ on the actual issue of EU membership) in jump the swivel eyed headbangers again.

You people were responsible for poisoning the Major government, and you've kept us out of power for 10 years - probably 20 if this keeps up - by refusing THREE TIMES to elect the only decent candidate for leader
capable of taking on Blair.

Ken Clarke could tackle Brown as a heavyweight equal. Instead we have an overgrown public schoolboy, and a pathetic primary school kid for shadow chancellor. It's embarrassing. Is this what the party of Disraeli and Churchill has come to? I despair.

This article from the BBC is a disgrace.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/6235152.stm

His attempt to be balanced involves criticising the sceptics for saying the treaty threatens our independence and the Government for encouraging them in that view with their talk before the negotiations!

This article from the BBC is a disgrace.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/6235152.stm

His attempt to be balanced involves criticising the sceptics for saying the treaty threatens our independence and the Government for encouraging them in that view with their talk before the negotiations!

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