Sunday, December 16, 2007

Rees-Mogg on the Warpath

I don't think I've ever read such a strident piece by one of my favourite political writers, William Rees-Mogg as in today's Mail on Sunday. He begins by writing that 'On Thursday, December 13, a day that may well live in infamy, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom signed away British independence. He had no intention of consulting the British people'.
He went on to describe it as a betrayal, that became a farce. Well, we all saw the farce - when our Prime Minister turned up 4 hours late to sign the new Lisbon Treaty, when everyone else had gone home - hoping that this act of crass rudeness would convey the impression that he, Gordon Brown, was in some way distancing himself from the Treaty which he knows is unpopular with the British people. Blair would never have pulled such a cowardly stunt. He really is a very poor Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, I just can't find the story on the Mail on Sunday online page to provide the link.

The reason that William Rees-Mogg is so angry is that Gordon Brown is breaking a promise made to the British people that they would be offered a referendum on this treaty before its ratification. 'a Government that breaks a promise to the people is even worse than a Government that lies to Parliament', thunders the great man.
Almost no-one now, except the rather ridiculous Minister for Europe, Jim Murphy (who is a superb footballer, clearly with all of his ability in his feet) pretends that the Lisbon Treaty is different from the original Constitutional Treaty, except in a minuscule way. The article quotes Labour's promise to the British people - "It is a good Treaty for Britain and for the New Europe. We will put it to the British people in a referendum, and campaign wholeheartedly for a Yes vote, to keep Britain a leading nation in Europe". He describes the decision not to hold a referendum as shameful. It is difficult to disagree with this assessment.
The question we all have to ask ourselves is whether December 13th was the day that the British people realised that Gordon Brown showed him to be unfit to be Prime Minister. Personally, I think it was.


Alex said...

All of the usual anti-European drivel from the British press aside, I welcome the fact that we've signed this treaty. It'll make the EU more accountable, relevant and workable.

I agree that it is very similar to the old Constitution (but a slight improvement, in my view) and I would've preferred a referendum on it, as at least then the Government would've been true to the spirit of its 2005 manifesto pledge.

But I think it's a little rich that the Tories are preaching about the merits of European referenda- I don't recall them holding them for the Single European Act or the Maastricht Treaty!

Glyn Davies said...

Alex - You miss the main point about the referendum. It is entirely reasonable to argue that there ought not to be a referendum (many would say that they are rarely useful) - but the Government catagorically promised one. And have tried to wriggle out of this commitment by saying that the Lisbon Treaty is different from the original Treaty, on which the promise was made - but almost no-one now accepts this. The changes (which probably do improve the Treaty) are so minimal that we all believe it to be the same treaty. Gordon Brown's reputation diminishes every time he says something that the British people do not believe to be true - and which we believe he knows not to be true. He would command more respect if he just said that the Government had changed its position since he became leader - at least that would be true.

alanindyfed said...

Perfidious Albion represented by the parliamentary Labour Party and the Labour government and personified by the Prime Minister.

They helped to create the kind of society that we have with all its woes. Let them be sent packing and let Wales go it alone so that sanity in society may be restored.

Aberavon & Neath Liberal Democrats said...

There is much cynical politicising about the "freedoms" which Brown has signed away. What the fulminators fail to acknowledge is that Thatcher made the key, philosophical, concessions in Maastricht.

A referendum on the current constitutional treaty makes little difference on the issues which Trevor Kavanagh, David Owen and their ilk are so exercised about. These would only be settled by a referendum to return to a pre-Maastricht European Community.

This, however, is the least likely possibility. In the circumstances, the Liberal Democrat proposal for a referendum on the principle of being in the European Union at all is sensible.

- Frank Little

rayatcov said...

Alex says we didn't have a referendum on the Maastricht Treaty. This is true only because we were not asked and also because we were lied to about the reason for this treaty, as I show here:-

Being interviewed on BBC-
Question "Did you have in mind a United States of Europe in 1972?"
"Of course, yes"...Edward Heath 1990.

Also although Mrs Thatcher did at the time agree with the EU, she has now changed her mind (I have the transcript) by telling Gordon Brown not to believe Brussels politicians and to give the people a referendum

Glyn Davies said...

Alan - lot less trouble to elect the Conservatives and David Cameron instead!

Sorry Frank, but I don't agree with you at all. What on earth is the point of having a referendum on something which all main parties and a large majority of the British population agrees - the very worst sort of gesture politics. The point at issue in my post is whether the Government and Gordon Brown are breaking a cast iron promise - and having done so, what the reaction of the British people will be to such a breach of faith.

rayatcov - Edward Heath said what he said and Mrs Thatcher did what she did. They are seperate debates. We are discussing today's political reality. Labour promised a referendum to the British people on the Constitutional Treaty (which has re-emerged as the Lisbon Treaty) - and the Prime Minister has reneged, shamefully. Neither Ted Heath or Mrs T did that, or would have been allowed to do that by their party.