Monday, July 21, 2008

David Cameron – Euro-sceptic or pragmatically nudging to No10?

There is something a little frustrating about Conservative Party policy. After a decade of Tony Blair’s covert ‘third way’ and a year of Gordon Brown’s overt Socialism, one might expect an incoming Conservative government to be more, well, Conservative. And one might also expect a decade of Labour abuse to necessitate some quite major surgery – something transformative, reformative, even seismic or revolutionary.

But the state of play at the moment is that the Party will match Labour’s funding on the NHS, it will exceed Labour’s spending on the ‘green’ agenda to limit ‘global warming’, it will sustain discrimination against England in the legislature, it will continue to permit uncontrolled immigration from Eastern Europe, and it is not even ruling out tax rises.

No doubt David Cameron considers all of this to be strategically and politically necessary. One mustn’t alarm the voters; one mustn’t frighten them; one must be populist; bending with every wind; agreeing with every poll; like the true salesman and sophist, telling the electorate what one thinks they want to hear.

Yet there is one policy which has the potential to be explosive on a nuclear scale.

When David Cameron was interviewed by Andrew Marr yesterday, he confirmed his policy to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. Of course there were conditions, but, with the impasse caused by Ireland, it is not impossible that the ratification process might not be complete at the time of the next general election. And, in such circumstances, it is Mr Cameron’s pledge to give the British people a say on the issue, and to recommend a ‘No’ vote. Some time ago he said:

"Today, I will give this cast-iron guarantee: If I become PM a Conservative government will hold a referendum on any EU treaty that emerges from these negotiations."

There was nothing equivocal about this pledge; indeed, it is a reiteration of a William Hague’s previous announcement that he would ‘not let matters rest’. And the refrain only serves to strengthen the perception that an incoming Conservative government would be more eurosceptic than any we have had since the UK’s accession to the EEC. Mr Hagues recently said:

"Gordon Brown has no democratic or moral authority to sign Britain up to the renamed EU Constitution. This move is a total breach of trust with the British people and a flagrant breach of his solemn election promise to the British people."

If that's true now, it will still be true in May 2010.

Mr Cameron is focusing not only on disaffected Labour voters and disappointed Liberal Democrat voters, but also upon those Conservatives who have not voted Conservative since Maastricht; those who either vote UKIP or, more likely, do not vote at all. And he does not need to use the language of withdrawal to do this, but instead to articulate what type of relationship the UK will have the EU under his premiership.

And that is clearly one in which ‘ever closer union’ or integration by stealth can have no part. And, indeed, the principles of subsidiarity will be invoked, and sovereignty will be gradually regained area by area, just as it was ceded.

'Ever closer freedom' sounds like a slogan by which the next general election may indeed be won.


Anonymous Gettin' Jiggy Wit' It said...

David Cameron is not going to allow his party to be isolated in Europe, which is exactly what would happen if he decided to put this treaty to a referendum. There is a constitutional obligation on the Irish Government to give a referendum to the people if the Irish Constitution is to be altered by a legislative act or European treaty (otherwise the Supreme Court would strike down the law, as what happened recently with Mc Dowell's criminal justice bill), while there is no such obligation incumbent upon the British Government. The average British person, has little to no proficiency in the legalese that permeates the Lisbon Treaty. The treaty is not even readily comprehensive to some of the most highly trained lawyers, but MPs can make a legitimate claim to understanding to the basics of the treaty. Why even have a parliament if referenda are now to be held as a matter of due course anytime anything is unpopular? Do we not trust our elected representatives to make decisions on our behalf? And why limit such referenda to European matters, why not make it a matter of obligation for any legal act that is not supported by public opinion? I have not heard the reason as to why referenda should be held on European mattes and not all other legislative decisions. The truth is that everyday we trust people, who we simply acknowledge to be more learned in certain matters, to carry out tasks on our behalf, even though we haven't slightest clue about the involved rubrics. When I go to the GP or the operating theatre, I simply put blind faith in the doctor to know that he has the required skills and competence to act on behalf. Going to the doctor does not require me to acquainted with human anatomy or biology, I trust others with the knowledge to make decisions for me, and so does everyone else.

21 July 2008 at 13:46  
Blogger mckenzie said...

"I trust others with the knowledge to make decisions for me, and so does everyone else."

Uh, NO!

This is the attitude that Cameron is fully aware of, and has to tread on egg shells so as not to upset people with such a dim outlook on things.

I don,t know how long you have carried this philosophy around with you, but you need to start reading the small print because you are going to come unstuck on this one in no time at all.

21 July 2008 at 14:02  
Anonymous Neo said...

gettin' jiggy wit' it,

There was - and indeed still is - a conventional obligation in Britain to hold a referendum. No one is suggesting that referenda supplant parliament, but manifesto pledges form the basis of a popular mandate to govern; all three parties committed to a referendum on the Constitution, and there is precious little difference between that and the Lisbon Treaty.

As for your doctor analogy, I have a far more apt one for you: let's say that you had a perfectly good doctor who had served you well for many years, only for him to be replaced arbitrarily by a doctor with far more patients and far less vested interest in you as an individual. You object to his appointment, claiming that you don't want him, only for his less qualified brother to be forced upon you in his place.

In your take on the situation, you seem to be oblivious to the differing wills of the people and the politicians respectively; politicians are elected to REPRESENT the will of the people, and doctors are not. Doctors are charged with doing what is right, politicians are not. They are charged with fulfulling the wishes of the electorate, whatever those wishes may be; the wish of this, the Irish, the French and the Dutch electorates (and probably most others) is that unchecked and inexorable integration is dangerous, illegitimate and ill thought-out.

21 July 2008 at 14:05  
Anonymous hear o israel said...

i think his grace is remebering a time when , the oath that the queen made was the most important one and very free man and woman had a base and point of reference from which to go about their lives .

what nu labour have done is make us forget all that , what was simple and workable , they have blurred and confused.

now a man or woman has to refer to various laws to see what their rights are , they have no heart or spirit, indeed the spirit is being subverted .

the EU is nothing more than a reverse whore with expensive and expansive tastes , the reverse being that she gives you money to sleep with her

time for a change you bet cha

21 July 2008 at 17:11  
Blogger Homophobic Horse said...

Cameron's take on the EU is a carefully crafted faux opposition.

21 July 2008 at 17:14  
OpenID curly15 said...

If some of us were vociferous in trying to hold Labour to it's 2005 manifesto commitments, we may need to be doubly so to hold a Conservative government to these statements of intent.

21 July 2008 at 18:03  
Anonymous Voyager said...

I don't think it matters what Cameron says at all. The situation for any new Government will be so dire that simply paying the bills will be hard enough.

Blair pledged another £2 billion a year to the EU Budget which Brown matches with a £1.5 billion "loss" on tax credits...a billion here and a billion there and soon we have real folding money.....

The future of the country is perilous with gas and oil imported and an educational infrastructure as weak as its transport counterpart.

David Cameron may wish to have a programme based on a souffle but he will find people want dumplings when substance is called for....and unlike 1980 there is no North Sea Oil to rescue an incoming British Government

21 July 2008 at 19:41  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Help Cameron. Vote YES at !

21 July 2008 at 21:02  
Anonymous edward tattysyrup said...

Oh dear....

The eurobogeyman may get you!!!

Scary old world on planet Cranmer.

On a completely different topic, here's some food for thought...

Any archiepiscopal pronouncements on this?

Thought not...

21 July 2008 at 23:19  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Edward Tattysyrup,

His Grace is rather long in the tooth to attempt to judge anything by appearance, least of all when dealing with visual media.

It appears to be barbaric.

Now, do you have anything grown-up to contribute?

21 July 2008 at 23:26  
Anonymous Lumiere said...

A bleak outlook upon matters still in the hands of the electorate.

What was given can also be regained, what was promised can be broken and there is always going to be another sunrise.

You should have more faith in the on major party which has the popular support, agenda and belief to actually do something about the foe that is the present state of the EU. Yes Cameron might continue Labours current stance but he might also discontinue them. It is certainly a belief held and expected by the electorate that the Conservatives will bring about "change" - this after all is their party slogan.

Fervent may be the winds of change, but they are slow and don't always reach the shore but most of the time they do.

22 July 2008 at 00:27  
Anonymous Serf said...

The treaty is not even readily comprehensive to some of the most highly trained lawyers

In that case, would it not be better to draft a treaty that is actually comprehensible?

If I as a simple layman were offered a contract that I could not understand, I would not sign it. Caveat Emptor

22 July 2008 at 06:52  
Anonymous Voyager said...

If I as a simple layman were offered a contract that I could not understand, I would not sign it. Caveat Emptor

That is because you personally would be liable for the consequences....but if you were indemnified and simply an agent who could move on to other things you might act differently

22 July 2008 at 08:08  
Blogger Tomrat said...


You should have more faith in the on major party which has the popular support, agenda and belief to actually do something about the foe that is the present state of the EU.

Would you have said the same thing had Brown decided to hold an election before the crunch? Methinks not.

Cameron doesn't do foreign politics - he is probably the first generation of politicians who are blissfully unaware that the EU has annexed foreign policy, along with trade, criminal justice and fiscal areas of policy; Cameron is happy to poke round the edges while his MEP's cream off massive salaries, pensions and expenses without any real scrutiny.

Your Grace,

I can understand your support for the Tory's really I do; for years I voted blue but no longer - it is just a switch from fiscal authoritarianism (Zanu NuLabour) to social authoritatianism (the Bory's) - both ways salve different consciences but neither address the real problems engendered by big government.

I'll say my party piece and shut up - the UK Libertarian Party does hope to address the effects of big-state politics in the best way possible: by making the state smaller. This is something we should support and promote.

22 July 2008 at 08:36  
Anonymous edward tattysyrup said...

Cranmer - grown-up to grown-up, I thought that given your (endlessly) stated position on the Israel/Palestine thing you ought to see this clip in the faint hope it might cause pause for thought.

You say 'His Grace is rather long in the tooth to attempt to judge anything by appearance, least of all when dealing with visual media'. Do you doubt the genuineness of this clip? Nobody else in the world does. Do you doubt that the clip shows a blindfolded, handcuffed man being shot in the foot at close range? Nobody else in the world does. What chance do you think there would be of this behaviour seeing the light of day were iit somply the word of Palestinians against the Israeli military without the film footage. Clue: not much. Any general conclusions?

I'd also be curious to know if your pal Irene Lancaster not forgetting the FRSA has a take on this.

Sorry to disturb the tranquility of this blog but these seem reasonable topics for adults.

22 July 2008 at 09:54  
Blogger Cranmer said...

And manifestly off topic, and therefore liable to summary deletion.

Please confine yourself to the topic of this thread.

22 July 2008 at 11:03  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Much as I admire your Grace's articles, I must take issue with you over Cameron. I have seen no signs whatsoever that he will stand up to the EU. The one "firm" promise he made to become leader was instant removal of his MEPs from the EPP, still not happening! He also tick all the EU boxes on windmills and like stupidity, and we should trust this man?

22 July 2008 at 12:01  
Blogger Dangerouslysubversivedad said...

Your Grace,

Cameron has made it quite clear, in writing to anyone who writes to Central Office in enquiry on this matter, that an incoming Conservative Government will *not* hold a referendum on the Treaty if it is ratified before it comes to what may laughably be termed power. And in case you missed it, Britain signed the Treaty just a few days ago.

But don't take my word for it. Write to him yourself...

24 July 2008 at 13:54  

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