Sunday, 23 January 2011

European Union Bill - Committee of the whole House (Day 2)

On the agenda for business tomorrow in the House of Commons is the above debate, to which a number of amendments have been tabled and upon which MPs will vote during the course of the debate.

It is well known that all three main parties have, at one time or another and in various forms, promised the people of our nation a referendum on continued membership of the European Union. Knowing that our politicians have a tendency for failure to adhere to their word as 'honourable' people - which probably has something to do with their lack of provable parentage - and coupled with Cameron's stated intention that we must remain a member of this odious body; it is highly unlikely that any referendum on our nation's membership would be willingly granted by those who are reliant on the people for their income.

Consequently it could be held that of all the amendments, number 48 - linked to above - and proposed by Peter Bone, is probably one of the most important. This would ensure that if his amendment 48 to the European Union Bill is passed tomorrow, there would have to be a binding ‘in’ or ‘out’ referendum on our membership of the European Union, if two hurdles are first cleared: (i) a referendum is triggered under the European Union Bill due to a proposed transfer of competency; and (ii) the British people vote against such a transfer of power. Bone's amendment will give people the chance of what we have been deprived of since joining the European Union. That chance is to vote for whether or not the British people in fact want to be in the European Union. This would be a momentous occasion and finally put an end to the debate once and for all. Whether the people vote to stay in or to withdraw from the European Union, at least they would have a choice. This would also allow Euro-enthusiasts and Eurosceptics to unite in allowing the British people the final say.

To digress for one moment: I have posted on previously on what I consider to be an "effrontery" to democracy that where a hung parliament is an outcome following a general election, the "horse-trading" then commences between the "chosen-few" in order that a "government" can be formed. This leads to a manifesto for which no-one actually voted, resulting in various core promises being dropped by each party in order that they may get their hands on the "levers of power". Digressing even further, this must be one hell of an argument against any form of proportional representation, but as I say: I digress. However, to illustrate this point, consider the Liberal Democrat manifesto which stated:
"The European Union has evolved significantly since the last public vote on membership over thirty years ago. Liberal Democrats therefore remain committed to an in/out referendum."
Now if that is not an admission that a referendum should be held, I don't know what is. Also, before any reader suggests I should provide an example of Conservative pledges "ditched", there are so many that I was spoiled for choice!

For those readers of "tender years" - ie, a damn sight younger than me - it is worth remembering that it has been nearly 36 years since the last referendum on Europe. This means that no one under the age of 54 has had their say on the European Union. This referendum however, was not on whether we should stay in or come out of the European Union; this was to see whether or not we stayed in the Common Market. The exact question was:
"Do you think the United Kingdom should stay in the European Community (the Common Market)?
 In other words, the question was wholly about trade - as it was presented at the time - not in any way about the European Union. The British people have never been consulted on the European Union. Politicians counter that last statement by stating that such "consultation" has been included in every general election; but I would refute that statement, making two important points: (i) at general elections the one topic politicians have not wanted to discuss, aided and abetted by a supine press,  has been that of membership of the European Union; and (b) it is only in recent times that the public has become aware of membership of the European Union, coupled with the ramifications of said membership.

A further point is required to be made and that is if a referendum on our nation's continued membership of the European Union is to be held, then it should be on the basis that both the "Yes" and "No" camps have the same financial limits placed on their campaigns. On this topic, it is perhaps appropriate to note Wikipedia on this, which states:
"The "Yes" campaign enjoyed much more funding, thanks to the support of many British businesses and the Confederation of British Industry. According to the treasurer of the "Yes" campaign, Alastair McAlpine, and Harold Wilson met several prominent industrialists to elicit support. It was common for pro-Europeans to convene across party and ideological lines with businessmen. John Mills, the national agent of the "No" campaign recalled "We were operating on a shoe-string compared to the Rolls Royce operation on the other side, "The banks and big industrial companies put in very large sums of money".  At the time, business was "overwhelmingly pro-European"..."
There are a number of further points that need to be made.

(1) Peter Bone's amendment, or any of the others, has about as much chance of success as an ice-cream surviving in Hell, as the Coalition's Whips will be out in force:
(2) Were a referendum to be held, the chances of the politicians "playing fair" thereby publishing a cost/benefit analysis and in so doing actually educating the people in order that they may make an informed decision have as much chance as the aforementioned ice-cream.
(3) The chances of Cameron, or any other politician, admitting they were wrong to deny the people their rightful say on membership of the European Union are, yet again, on a par with aforesaid ice-cream.

In conclusion, I feel it only reasonable to suggest that the sooner we find out whether our lamp posts will take the weight of a politician, whilst being suspended by his neck - the sooner we, the people, may begin to live happily ever after!


13th Spitfire said...

All the main parties want an in/out referendum on the EU as much as they want a hole in the head.

Tarka the Rotter said...

Be careful WfW, the chap who used Twitter to post his frustrations that there was a delay in his flight serves as a warning to us all - talking about politicans and lamp posts could land you in front of the Beak...

Good post though...

WitteringsfromWitney said...

13th: Accepted and therein lies the problem.

Tarka: Thanks. If politicians are unaware that the rulers of most countries eventually face the Ceaucescu moment, then I must continue to point that out. I believe our ruler back in the 17th century had such a moment? What has happened once can always happen again Anyway, it would be an interesting day or two in court, no?