Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Let's not get too excited

Whoops of joy all round. The excitement is overwhelming. Golly gosh! And words to that effect. As the Daily Torygraph puts it:
A vote by MPs on whether the UK should pull out of the EU could be held within weeks piling huge pressure on David Cameron, it emerged yesterday.
Actually, what emerged yesterday is that the Commons Backbench Business Committee will be meeting later today and will probably demand that the House of Commons have a debate on whether to have an in/out referendum or not. Even that is not certain. What the article says after the golly-gosh introduction is:
The Commons Backbench Business Committee, which can schedule at least 27 debates in the Commons in any parliamentary session, meets tomorrow and is expected to demand a debate on the EU.

One committee source said: “It is almost certain that there will be a debate on this issue and it will be a case of which date is available.”

It could force Mr Cameron to order MPs to vote against any call for a referendum.
Right. So they might have a debate on whether it is a good idea to have a referendum of some kind and Mr Cameron will demand that those who are looking to a career should vote against that idea. How many will defy that vote? Well, we know how many have defied the government in the past from postings on this blog, here, here and here. (Not to mention the strange case of Mr Henry Smith MP who voted on both sides.)

The problem with this vote and the jubilation around it, especially from those campaigning for a referendum is that it is not a very meaningful event (using that much abused word in its true sense).

Some time in the next few weeks there may be a debate in which MPs might vote for an instruction to the government to introduce legislation to have a referendum with an as yet unknown question on it. The "usual channels" who decide on such matter may agree to do so some time in the next few months. There will follow a good deal of discussion as to what that question should be and when the referendum should be held, accompanied by an enormous amount of jubilation.

In the meantime, we shall spend next to no time or energy and, certainly, no resources on lining up arguments, explanations or proposals as to how that exit is to be accomplished and what is to be done afterwards.

The other side will have a great deal of money and will produce a great many arguments because they know to what extent the EU has been controlling life in this country. They will line up most of the media, all the large charities that are really NGOs and a good many think-tanks as well as the usual suspects.

Organizations, such as Open Europe will, reluctantly as they will explain, campaign for a vote to stay in because that is the only way to "reform" the EU. Oxfam will tell us about all the good the EU is doing by way of aid to the Third World (carefully omitting such problems as protectionism, the Common Fisheries Policy and the Common Agricultural Policy).

People like Bob Crow will be endlessly interviewed by the BBC. Most newspapers will shy away from calling for outright withdrawal. And so on, and so on.

What have we to put up against that? A few pamphlets like the forthcoming one by Ian Milne from Civitas and the odd blog that gets hits that vary from a few hundred to a few thousand a day. The really big blogs in Britain are concerned with the EU only in so far as it affects internal party squabbling. The money, meanwhile, gets siphoned off into the campaign for a referendum for which we are not and not likely to be prepared.

In the meantime, how many votes will there be in the Commons that will agree to yet more integration, yet more EU control of the City, yet more tax money to be handed over to various bail-out funds?


  1. Miserable but apposite

  2. I work for one of the EU institutions. A colleague replied to my remark that we should fear a crash in the property market with "we are all paid too much."

    Some of us still have our eyes open. But this awareness will do nothing to lessen the pain.

    The amount of shit about to hit the fan will cover everyone.