Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Nick Clegg Support(ed) an EU Constitution Referendum

Nick Clegg is against a referendum on the EU Reform Treaty. How does he square that stance with this unequivocal backing for a referendum on the Constitution, written for Guardian Online in October 2003. He knows the Reform Treaty and the Constitution are more or less the same thing, as Giscard D'Estaing has reaffirmed in a French newspaper today. This is what Clegg wrote four years ago...

The real reason, of course, why the government does not want to hold a referendum is the fear that it may lose. It is the same fear that has paralysed Blair on the euro for six long years. It is the same fear that led Peter Hain to camouflage the constitution with comic inaccuracy as nothing more than a "tidying up exercise". It is the same fear which has long restrained New Labour from expressing the courage of its meagre convictions on Europe. And it won't do.

The alternative, now unfolding before us, is infinitely worse: a false assumption that anti-Europeans are democrats, and pro-Europeans are not. By shilly shallying with semantic half-truths about the content of the constitution, and now haughtily dismissing all calls for a referendum, it is New Labour which is, to cite my friend, "playing straight into the hands of the Eurosceptics". By providing the hapless Iain Duncan Smith with a pretext to champion people's democracy, Blair is unwittingly doing more to reinvigorate Euroscepticism than John Redwood could manage in his wildest fantasies. Nothing will do more damage to the pro-European movement than giving room to the suspicion that we have something to hide, that we do not have the "cojones" to carry our argument to the people.

And our argument is strong. The constitution, assuming it emerges roughly in its present draft form, provides ideal ammunition to call the Europhobes' bluff. While it is no mere "tidying up exercise", it is galaxies away from the "blueprint for tyranny" laughably paraded by the Daily Mail...

...The measured modesty of the constitution is precisely what is being obscured by the government's refusal to hold a referendum. In doing so, it has allowed the phobes to shift the argument away from the constitution itself and onto shriller claims about the democratic legitimacy of the whole EU. By forcing the phobes to argue on the substance of the text, a referendum would expose the hollow hysteria of their polemic.

Naive? Perhaps, a little. Inevitably, any referendum campaign is unlikely to be a scholarly examination of the legal content of a complex constitutional tome. It is possible that it will soon escalate into an unconstrained debate about the very place of Britain in the EU - in or out. So be it.


Read the full article HERE. Hattip to LibDem Voice. They know not what they do.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

"'Hat Tip to Lib Dem Voice' They know not what they do"

You can't have it both ways. Criticise them for being patsies and then mock them for opening up debate...

strapworld said...

Iain, why give oxygen to this small group?

The Lib Dems have been doing this up and down the country..in Local,Euro and General
Elections. Promising one thing in one street and the complete opposite in the next.

Please ignore them.

Anonymous said...

I think we should have a referendum on the Reform Treaty, but the “they’re both the same” argument is spurious, one is a constitution the other reforms the earlier treaties, that the Conservatives never gave us referenda on.

Why do Conservatives propose scrapping the Human Rights Act, but not pulling out of the Churchillian European Convention of Human Rights, aren’t they 100% the same? Could it be because one is Constitutional the other is a treaty.

When will the Conservatives be calling for Labour to honour its manifesto promise to hold a referendum on electoral reform?

Atlas shrugged said...

anon 11;27

This comes from a Conservative voter.

Give up on the EU it is a done deal. Its bad its sad, but there are many other bigger issues we are going to face over the next few years. That will make this EU stuff seen like small potatoes.

The deal was done years ago. David Cameron would never have been allowed to become party leader if he seriously intended to rock the EU boat. He may bale it out a bit but here and there but thats just about all he can do, even if he really wanted to do anything anyway.

If he does do a Kennedy and try to seriously go against the plan......well we all know what happened to Kennedy don't we?

beachhutman said...

Simple. Many new labour politicians, are essentially dishonest and easily corrupted. They all regard us as stupid, all feel "we let them down", and all feel that election adds intelligence. Nick sees no need for honesty or integrity, he is confident in his own divine right.

Jeremy Jacobs said...

"It is possible that it will soon escalate into an unconstrained debate about the very place of Britain in the EU - in or out. So be it".

Out, hopefully!

tapestry said...

Clegg's just another lying toad like Gordon Brown. Who needs them?

Gary Elsby stoke-on-trent said...

The place of Britain in Europe?

Nope. Britain in the world and Europe in the world's Global Economy.

Tories (like Thatcher and Major before them) need to understand that 14% of our trade is with the USA and 58% is with Europe.

Almost everything that is traded within Europe ends up in the USA via whichever means.

Anti Europeanism by the Tories will see them as unpatriotic and economically delinquent.

Heed these words well dear Tories, you will get slaughtered if you enter the Labour, pro European slaughterhouse.

You are Turkeys who want a referendum on whether Turkey is on the menu at Chritstmas.

You are already a Generation out of power and to be anti European calling for a referendum that you cannot deliver EVEN IF YOU WIN A GENERAL ELECTION!

Gary

Come on down.

Anonymous said...

"It is possible that it will soon escalate into an unconstrained debate about the very place of Britain in the EU - in or out. So be it."

The Economist hinted at something similar in one of its leaders this week:

"The real danger is of Britain sleepwalking towards the exit—either by rejecting the treaty after every other country has accepted it; or not having a vote and watching the resentment feed into a movement to get out of the EU."

To which I say: bring that movement on! We can't get out fast enough.

Anonymous said...

Fine work, Mr Dale !!!!!!

Does this mean, since the reform treaty is variously described as being 90/92/94/96% the same as the EU Constitution, that Clegg can now be persuaded to be 90/92/94/96 % in favour of a referendum ??