Friday, July 20, 2007

Give us this day our referendum

Compare and contrast:

Speaking of the imminent EU ‘Reform Treaty’, the Foreign Secretary, the Rt Hon David Miliband, has said: ‘The constitutional concept, which consisted in repealing all existing treaties and replacing them by a single text called “Constitution”, is abandoned’. There is, therefore, no need for a referendum.

But Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, the god-father, architect, and creator of the Constitution for Europe, has declared: ‘This text is, in fact, a rerun of a great part of the substance of the constitutional treaty… the public is being led to adopt, without knowing it, the proposals that we dare not present to them directly’. He said that differences between the new treaty and the constitution ‘are few and far between and more cosmetic than real’. In comparing his role in drawing up the blueprint to that of America's founding fathers, he said the term 'constitution' had been dropped simply to ‘make a few people happy’.

Jean-Luc Dehaene MEP, the former prime minister of Belgium, noted that ‘95 per cent of the constitution was back’. He said it was no surprise that voters were confused: ‘We drafted a treaty with a constitutional content and form. Now we have a treaty with a constitutional content without the form. But both are a treaty and neither is a constitution. The ambiguous use of words has led to misunderstandings’.

Giuliano Amato, the former Prime Minister of Italy, has said that the revived EU constitution has deliberately been made ‘unreadable’ to help fend off demands for a referendum: ‘EU leaders had decided that the document to be drawn up by an intergovernmental conference should be unreadable… If this is the kind of document that the IGC will produce, any prime minister - imagine the UK prime minister - can go to the Commons and say “Look, you see, it's absolutely unreadable, it's the typical Brussels treaty, nothing new, no need for a referendum”... Should you succeed in understanding it there might be some reason for a referendum, because it would mean that there is something new.''

The three 'founding fathers' of the Constitution for Europe are in complete accord that the 'Reform Treaty' is nothing other than their creation. In its 2001 manifesto, Labour agreed that there would be a referendum on the EU constitution. The façade may have morphed into a ‘treaty’, but it is the assertion of its authors that the underlying character is completely unchanged. For Gordon Brown to insist with the pretence that it is just another ‘unreadable’ treaty is a lie.

At Westminster, there is emerging a cross-party campaign for a referendum. It is said to include as many as 40 Labour MPs, and two huge unions (The Transport & General and Unison) are joining the demands. As the Prime Minister glows in his two by-election victories, it is time to prepare for an autumn battle which even BBC bias could not supress. There will not be a general election, because the timetable for ratification of the ‘Reform Treaty’ would be imperilled. No, the battle must strategically orchestrated, and intensely focused on demands for a referendum, day after day, week after week. This is the time to be Churchillian.


Anonymous oiznop said...

Bit behind with this one, Cranmer. As interesting as the comparisons are, it's yesterday's news. Yes, it's concerning, but you're supposed to be setting the agenda, not repeating old hat. Come on! I don't pay for re-hashed old news.

20 July 2007 at 17:43  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Miliband is a first generation Briton and probably unfamiliar with the oncept of "consent of the governed".

It seems absurd that Bantustans like Scotland and Wales and Northern Ireland get plebiscites on whether they should have a devolved government; but England gets little more than proposed referenda to suffer the imposition of a) elected mayors or b) continuation of exiting appointed Regional Assemblies controlled by Whitehall as effectively as Hitler's Gauleiters.

Noone it seems gets to vote on whether a) England should have a national assembly b) whether Westminister should NOT become a devolved assembly within the European Union

The Irish Republic with a parliamentary system has a constitutional right to a referendum on matters affecting that constitution - the British public does not it would appear.

That the political class has chosen to deliver the public kicking and screaming into a new constitutional arrangement strains the legitimacy of the Westminister Parliament itself and the strains of 17th Century England seem to be revisiting us.

20 July 2007 at 18:44  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Oiznop,

His Grace is most appreciative of your (very) intermittent contributions. However, he has never professed (nor desired) to be an original news source, and neither is he remotely concerned with 'scoops' nor agenda setting. And as for your feeling of being short-changed, His Grace is pleased to remind you that his wisdon is dispensed gratis. If this is extortionate, you are free to seek out intelligent and erudite comment upon matters religio-political elsewhere.

20 July 2007 at 21:30  
Blogger Snuffleupagus said...

Well said Your Grace! Yes, Oiznop, we don't pay. And His Grace's blog is not here to inform us of news in the way that the media does. It is meant to show his opinions about events and then give others the opportunity to debate what he has said.

20 July 2007 at 21:39  
Blogger Jeremy Jacobs said...

If so many of the British people are supposedly against the EU, then how come UKIP faled so badly in the polls on Thursday. Losing out to the B*P neo-Nazis in Sedgefield was awful.

21 July 2007 at 00:38  
Blogger Wrinkled Weasel said...

Jeremy Jacobs. I don't think the great British Public understand the issues.

Labour is hiding the truth and has pulled out of a referendum on the sort of technicality you would expect from a second hand car dealer, and Cameron is affecting disinterest in order to distance himself from "Old Tories".

If you ask most people if they want their everyday lives run by unaccountable bureaucrats in Brussels I think we know what the answer would be.

21 July 2007 at 01:21  
Anonymous Observer said...

Jeremy Jacobs - what should the voters of Sedgfield have done in your view ?

What should the 58% who voted for The Abstention Party have done ?

Perhaps they think elections are simply BBC phone contests where participation is irrelevant to result ?

21 July 2007 at 06:16  

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