Wednesday, September 05, 2007

I want to look like I want a referendum

The more I look at what the Tories and their allies are doing, the more I feel a lack of substance to their demands for a referendum. After all what is in it for them?
A referendum would create all sorts of problems for them. It would reopen all their old splits. It would create another layer of internal division. After all how would they campaign?

Would they put a three line whip on it and demand that their MPs supported a No vote? Today we have characters like Bob Walters in North Dorset, ´committed Europhile, but calling for a referendum. How would he line up in the campaign., Would Cameron want to discipline people like ken Clarke? I doubt it.

It would be a nightmare.

Instead if they do just enough to appear to be Eurosceptic, then that will shore up their base. It would squeeze UKIP and would convince their own supporters of their Eurosceptic credentials. Thus we have Tim Montgomery of ConHome talking on the Today program the other day saying, "Of course Cameron is a Eurosceptic he wants a referendum on the Treaty".

But, but. Has anybody heard a single member of the Tory front bench actually saying that they would vote no? They know that the yes side will paint the referendum as a choice between in or out. They know that the Commission will spend, spend and spend on getting that message across.
And we also know that they have said time and time again that they want to stay in the EU.

So that could explain why David Davis, shadow Home Secretary and darling of the Tory right undermining Labour Eurosceptics on Sunday. It would also explain why Open Europe's new little toy, I want a Referendum claims to be cross party, when it is selective in its cross partyness.

Open Europe seems to be acting as William Hague's private think tank, (led by someone who so desperately wants to be Tory A lister that he will do their beck and call rather than build true 'broad based coalitions) so we have as supports of this campaign some Tory sceps, Lib Dems and Labour, but no UKIP.

And they hardly mention the EU in their press releases, nor in their film. What they do mention is trust.

So the Tories can have their cake and eat it. They campaign enough to bring back Sceops to the foild and undermine UKIP, but not enough to force a Referendum. That way they can claim after the Parliamentary ratification that the fought it, but Labour's majority was too big. But how can anybody trust Gordon Brown.

Trust us: Vote for us,

(But don't expect us in any way to claw back our country's sovereignty, its too late for that)

If you want to see the 'I want a Referendum video', set to be launched in cinemas soon then if you have Quicktime you can view it here. (I cannot get quicktime so I haven't seen it)


Mike Wood said...

Gawain, I think the Brussels water is getting to you again.

Hague is certainly on record as saying that the Party would campaign for a no vote,,2140259,00.html

The Conservative front bench's position is clearly that it does not support the revised constitution.

Of course there will be some Conservatives who would campaign for a yes vote, just as there were some who campaigned for yes votes in the Scottish and Welsh referenda, and there would be some Labour and Lib Dem members who would campaign for no votes.

That really doesn't worry me - partly because I know that the no campaign could win, but even if the British people were as misguided as to vote yes, at least they would have been given the choice and would have to live with the consequences.

The only thing that worries me about Brown conceding a referendum is that he is likely to only do it on the same terms as Blair did in 2004 - we can have a referendum that will be scheduled after enough other countries have already rejected the constitution. This would be another fudge but I think that is what Brown is gearing up for as he starts to reserve his position whilst Ireland, Denmark and Poland look more likely to hold referenda.

Elaib said...

Denmark is constitutionally required to hold a referendum, but the PM is dragging his feet and has already told Frau Merkel that he is lookingf for ways to avoid it. What seems to be happening across the board is that there is a squabble between heads of government from sceptical counties vying to be the last. They are all desperate to benefit from a domino effect.

Hague has, it is true, said he would oppose so I take that point, but he is the only one. More than a few journalists have told me that they find it very hard to get a specific answer to the question "How will you campaign on the Treaty?"
Indeed I am told the Hague is the only one who has said so catergorically. Whilst I accept that he is the Shadow Foriegn Secretary and thus should be the one leading on this I find it strange that the others are not more vocal. Dave's "We shouldn't bang on about Europe" is all very well and understandable to a degree, but the provisions of the Treaty are so significant (as Michael Ancram has accepted of all people) that if they were serious I would have expected a far more vigeropus and broad based campaign.

Anonymous said...

Whatever your preferences about a UK referendum about a complicated document, wee Free Europe Constitution and its ten bullet points at Easy to read - and to vote Yes or No to, online!

Mike Wood said...

Maybe this from Cameron's piece in The Sun last week? Didn't it make your press cuttings?
"Because it would transfer power from our elected Parliament to the EU’s unelected bureaucrats, I would campaign for a resounding No vote.",,2-2007390910,00.html

Chris Palmer said...

There is a piece of National Conservative party literature, which is not supposed to be going out until next week, that says, 'Conservatives believe that the British people are entitled to a referendum on the European constitution. It should be for them to decide. And because we believe that handing over major powers to Brussels would not be in Britain's interests we would campaign for a resounding NO vote'.

This is on the back of an InTouch leaflet dated September 2007, under the header 'We deserve a referendum'.

However, I think you are completely correct in your analysis. The Conservative party would not want to reopen old wounds and rifts and therefore are only mouthing the calls for the referendum.

Elaib said...

Yes I did read the Sun piece, but it seems to lack conviction. Particularly when D'Ancona, and Davis are playing down the possibilities of success.

Chris, good news about the 'In touch'. I guess it will be up to those who do give a damn to ensure that the position is held to faster than it feels at the present.

Mike Wood said...

So when you wrote "Has anybody heard a single member of the Tory front bench actually saying that they would vote no?" you actually meant apart from the Leader of the Opposition and the Shadow Foreign Secretary?

You can't get much more unequivocal than "I will campaign for a resounding no vote"

Elaib said...

But Mike, those two comments notwithstanding, and I accept that they are the leader and the shadow Foriegn secretary there dosen't seem to be a head of steam building. The Papers have been keeping the story alive, not the opposition. Keep the Pound was a long time ago, but is appears to have put a chill on a systematic campiagn. You know as well as I do that the Constitutinal Treaty will have effects on all sorts of areas of public policy, thus giving legitimacy to almost all shadow ministers to lay into it, but I see froth, but no beer.