Monday, May 25, 2009

Is that a yes or a no?

Well, it is both, if you are David Cameron. He was on the Andrew Marr Show this week-end but I did not watch it for two reasons: the sun being out I went for a long walk along the New River, London's first aqueduct that brought fresh water to the City (well, Islington, just north of it) in 1613; plus I do not have a TV set. (Yes, that's right, the BBC gets no tax from me.)

However, helpful friends have sent me various links and excerpts from the interview, all concentrating not on the "expenses scandal" but on that slippery promise to have a referendum on the Constitutional Lisbon Treaty. Will the Conservative have a referendum? Well, it depends. Here is the video of the exchange:

And here is the text of David Cameron's promise:
DAVID CAMERON:Well what we've said is that we support a referendum, we want a referendum. We want that referendum to happen now. It can happen now because the Treaty is still being discussed and debated elsewhere in Europe. It hasn't been signed and ratified by everybody. And the more people who vote Conservative on June 4th, the greater the pressure there will be on Gordon Brown to hold that referendum that he promised. And if we get the early election …

ANDREW MARR:(over) It sounds like UKIP are right.

DAVID CAMERON: Well no, if we get the early election that I'm asking for - either in July or in September, the Treaty's still there - we could have a referendum before Christmas. So that is what we should have.

ANDREW MARR:But you know it's likely that Gordon Brown will hang on and won't call an early election. And if the Irish then vote for the Treaty and it's ratified, we will be in the position that UKIP talk about, which is that if you get a Conservative government afterwards, it will have been ratified. What I'm asking is in those conditions, will you hold a referendum?

DAVID CAMERON:Well there are awful lot of ifs.


DAVID CAMERON:That's if we don't have an early election; if the Irish vote yes when last time they voted no; if the …

ANDREW MARR:(over) They're quite likely ifs.

DAVID CAMERON: … if the Czechs and others all actually put the Constitution through. If all of these things happen, then what happens?


DAVID CAMERON:What I've said there is we will not let matters rest. We think that too much power will have been passed from Westminster to Brussels and we'll want some of those powers back. Now at that moment, I will come on your programme and explain exactly what we'll do. Right now, I don't want to let Gordon Brown off the hook. He made a promise to hold that referendum and I'm going to try and hold him to that promise. And if I'm elected as Prime Minister while this Treaty is still alive, I will have a referendum very, very quickly. I will recommend to people that we vote no because I don't support the European Constitution. I think we've already passed too many powers from Westminster to Brussels and we should be trying to build a different sort of European Union. And if people, you know if people are angry with the major parties and they want to vote UKIP as a result, what they'll be doing is actually letting Gordon Brown off the hook. He will be able to sit back in Downing Street and think you know
I've got away with it again. I've got away with breaking my promise on holding this referendum, which was in their manifesto. And do you know this is why

ANDREW MARR:(over) It does sound … I think it'll sound to a lot of people watching as if you do not intend to hold a referendum in the circumstances, the not unlikely circumstances that I've outlined to you.

DAVID CAMERON:But this is exactly what Gordon Brown and those wanting to get away with it want, which is for the Conservatives to answer a whole string of hypothetical questions about what might happen in the future. I want to maximise the pressure for a referendum right now.
Just for the record, since the Boy-King of the Conservative Party sounds a little confused: the Czech Parliament has voted the treaty through and all that is left is the president's signature; the same applies to Poland; in Germany, however, the Constitutional Court still has to make a decision on whether this treaty is constitutionally acceptable.

It is highly unlikely that Gordon Brown will call an early election. From the day he became Prime Minister it was clear that he would go to the wire. Voting Conservative on June 4 will not achieve that. Therefore, the oft-heard argument that voting UKIP will merely be letting Brown or Labour off the hook is rubbish. Voting UKIP (or, for that matter BNP, much as I dislike that party) will show that there are people out there who do not like the Labour Party but are not exactly overwhelmed by the non-promises made by the Conservatives.


  1. I'm taking the simple approach that this election is about the EU, despite all attempts to make it about domestic politics. On that ground, UKIP has my vote especially after I received this policy statement from Con HQ.

    " It is the Conservative Party’s view that Britain benefits from our membership of the European Union. The EU does much that is worthwhile. The Single Market allows services, workers and goods to move freely across Europe. The tangible benefits such as cheaper telephone calls, air travel and internet access are enjoyed by tens of millions of Britons.

    The EU also provides a unique means for us to work together with our European partners on shared challenges which Europe’s nation states by themselves cannot deal with; and with enlargement, the goal of EU membership has persuaded not just governments but whole societies to raise their standards across the board. Britain has an enormous amount to gain through co-operation and free trade in Europe. That is why we want Britain to be a positive participant in the EU, championing liberal values."

  2. They tabled a motion to remove the speaker. Why not table a motion to have a referendum on Lisbon? If it is seen as a Conservative motion it would be a litmus test for Labour MPs - dare vote it down in these testing times? The answer obvious to me is none of them want one until it would make no difference.