Friday, October 30, 2009

The Tories and Euro Referendums

The Czech government of Vaclav Klaus looks as if it is now ready to ratify the Lisbon Treaty that redefines the European constitution. It is the last government to do so, which means that the treaty is likely to be ratified by the time of the next British general election, and the widely expected change of government. David Cameron, whose otherwise modern new party* is racked by deep-seated euro-scepticism, has said that he wanted a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, but that it is pointless to hold one once the Treaty has been ratified. Really? There is in fact a precedent for post-decision referendums. Edward Heath took Britain into the then EEC in 1973 without a referendum. His Labour successor, Harold Wilson, whose party was hugely divided on the issue, held a referendum in 1975 to decide whether to stay in the EEC. Surely, if he is committed to a direct democratic vote on this issue, David Cameron could promise a post-ratification referendum on the 1975 model. Or perhaps he's not quite as keen for the Tories to take this issue to the country as he might suggest?

* Actually, perhaps not that modern, at least in social attitudes - the party in South West Norfolk is reconsidering its selection of a candidate, Lyn Truss, because it turns out she had an affair with an MP a few years ago. Without wishing to condone an affair between separately married adults, I wonder if the Tories are really suggesting that only the chaste and the faithful will make decent political leaders? And they might want to consider the famous response of Jesus when asked to condone the stoning of a woman taken in adultery, as sanctioned by the Jewish law - let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

1 comment:

Comrade Major said...

I will always refuse to view the Conservative Party as new. Its voting base and the vast majority of its MPs and its support is the same it has had ever, the older and the rural population of Britain. Mr Cameron has merely made it an old person with a new plastic face. The leadership may be new and sleek but its base of power, the tradition of power in the party will be very hard to change.

A new party is a party that has newly been founded, not one that just tries to appear new. Labour is an old party and come what may a certain socialist working-class tradition will remain (its activists, its voter base and a distinct left wing within the party). The Lib Dems are no good. And the Conservatives are not better. Most still perceive it as the party of the upper class, and for all of Cameron's posturing, he is distinctly upper-class.

Spin and a new face may mask the true tradition of the party but it can hardly fully change it.