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.