Saturday, October 03, 2009

ConHome Poll Proves Its Independence

Today's Independent front page illustrates the dilemmas sites like ConservativeHome (and this one) are going to have to wrestle with between now and the next election. The headline is
CAMERON FACES REVOLT OVER EUROPE

The story is based on a poll of 2,200 Conservative activists by ConservativeHome on the issue of Europe. It reveals 8 out of 10 want a Lisbon referendum come what may and four out on ten would like to withdraw from the EU. I'm not sure why those results are especially surprising, but by releasing the poll on the eve of the Tory conference, it does little to help the party. Indeed, one could reasonably assert that it causes quite a bit of damage, in that it allows the media to focus on a subject which has caused bitter divisions in the past.

The counter argument is that ConservativeHome can do what it likes. It is not an official party organ. It styles itself as the voice of the grassroots, and in part exists to put pressure on the party leadership to head in a certain direction. Fine. I am not suggesting the ConHome - or indeed this blog - should become uncritical lapdogs of the party, but there is a time and a place for everything. I would submit that now is neither the time nor the place for releasing a poll question like this.

This is a very important party conference for David Cameron and the Conservative Party. Unity is everything. We know what happens when parties appear disunited. Support seeps away. To highlight an issue which has in the past been extremely divisive on the eve of a party conference could be seen at best as ill judged, and at worst divisive.

There are of course, very helpful aspects to the poll. 92% express their full support for David Cameron and 99% expect him to form the next government, for example. But it was clear that the media would only pick on that part of the poll which could be controversial.

Still, it rather pokes in the eye those who thought that Lord Ashcroft's purchase of ConservativeHome would castrate it, doesn't it?

UPDATE 10.30am: Tim Montgomerie has left a comment...

Fair comment Iain but I think on the day Lisbon takes a giant step towards ratification it was a legitimate decision to publish. Lisbon represents a massive transfer of power and grassroots Tories are right to be worried.

Party members have little power in modern politics and the ConHome poll gives them a little more. I'm proud to do that.

I agree that it's an important Party Conference but it's not an eve-of-poll election. We'd behave differently (and will) if it was.

84 comments:

Anonymous said...

Divided? From the sounds of the poll we're all united on Europe. No. No. No.

Witterings From Witney said...

Iain,

Really I thought you were a sensible, fair-minded man.

So it is acceptable when the Sun 'scuppers' Gordon Brown, but not acceptable when the Independent and ConHome 'scuppers' Cameron?

To coin a phrase - Cam on Iain!

Elliot Kane said...

I have to say, I agree with ConHome. To me, Cameron's refusal to promise a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty come what may is very bad and diminishes the chance I'll vote for him.

This is the PERFECT time to remind him and the rest of the Conservative Party that the people of Britain were promised a voice and will settle for nothing less.

Right now, Europe is not just AN issue, it's THE issue. If Britain is no longer a sovereign nation, anything else our political leaders promise is so much wind and water.

Anonymous said...

On the day when the Irish seem to be declaing a 'yes' vote in their re-run referendum this is welcome news.

It may not be welcome for Cameron, but that is his problem which he should have resolved a long time ago. There are a lot of people who are waiting for Cameron to come of the fence and it could ammount to 2 million votes lost to the Conservative Party unless a referendum is promised.

It was always the case that Cameron would have to address this problem. The Labour Party and Libdims will also suffer by going back on their commitment, so there is little wonder the Conservatives are now feeling the heat.

Our sovereignity is in danger, so damn the Conservative Party. If they want my vote and many others they know what to do.

Madasafish said...

I don't care what Conservative activists think. Most voters are more interested in rather more pressing things.

If the Conservative Party wishes to re-fight the battles of the 1990s , go right ahead.

I'll not vote for them. Nor I suspect will many other voters.

(I believe it's called snatching defeat from the jaws of victory)

Tim Montgomerie said...

Fair comment Iain but I think on the day Lisbon takes a giant step towards ratification it was a legitimate decision to publish. Lisbon represents a massive transfer of power and grassroots Tories are right to be worried.

Party members have little power in modern politics and the ConHome poll gives them a little more. I'm proud to do that.

I agree that it's an important Party Conference but it's not an eve-of-poll election. We'd behave differently (and will) if it was.

In 2007, for example, before Brown bottled his honeymoon election we did suppress data:

http://conservativehome.blogs.com/torydiary/2007/10/more-members-we.html

John Linford said...

Wot Elliot says.

Cameron has to confront this issue and a good time to do it would be during next week's brouhaha.

Get this crucial decision right and Labour could be confined to the scrapheap of history. Get it wrong and risk a hung parliament.

Heath was a disaster said...

The prospect of an EU run by President Blair (The "Conmens' Conman")is dismay enough.

What exactly are you trying to say Iain? - That the Lisbon Treaty non-referendum is not an active issue?

As others have said here, extending the undemocratic nature of the EU will mean that any Conservative Manifesto Pledges will be just hot wind if the UK Government is not sovereign in the UK.

Anonymous said...

We know what happens when parties appear disunited. Support seeps away.

I have often wondered if this statement, so often heard in comments and blogs, is strictly true as meant.
In my opinion, it is just as likely to indicate that a significant proportion of the party's (any party) grassroots disagrees passionately with the line set down by the party leaders on a specific topic. They resent being told what to think, and this is why they leave the party.
In other words, it is not the disunity as such that drives people away, it is the reason behind the disunity.

Anonymous said...

"by releasing the poll on the eve of the Tory conference, it does little to help the party"

But only if it demonstrates that the tory bit of the liblabcons will behave just like the other bits by betraying the Britich people. Otherwise, you're onto a winner.

adamcollyer said...

Of course, it could be headlined "Two thirds of Tories support the EU", since 61% evidently don't want Britain to withdraw.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that what happens if the LT is ratified has not been thought through.

Ratified and we have a LT ref and vote NO, what then? Does to LT have clauses that stop it being unratified? Will the EU use the LT to allow self amending changes to stop the LT being unratified? Can we use the EU courts that our HR rights were abused by Lab illegally not allowing a ref that they had promised?

You need a plan of what are you trying to achieve! Leave the EU, change the EU, show what a undemocratic bunch of sh*ts that are?

Pete-s

Anonymous said...

I don't quite see it this way. The result of the poll is perfectly compatible with the official policy of 'not letting matters rest there' and things the Conservative leadership has said in the past.

But by reporting it as a split like this you are buying into the narrative of the UKIP nutters and death-wish wing of the party that the leadership is somehow itching supinely to accept Lisbon, for which I see no evidence.

George Hinton said...

Oh Iain, shame.

The Conservative party is NOT like NuLab, manipulated and managed by a bunch of control freaks, for whom the party line is a mantra and the be all, that anyone not kowtowing to, gets their maritals shredded.

Dissent is good, allowing all a voice is surely our tradition. Didn't we, back in those cold war days actively encourage dissidents, don't we support Aung Sun Suy Key?, those that seek wider freedoms in China, Tibet?, do we not excoriate the Burmese junta?, poke fun and disdain at Chavez?.

The party is a wide church, with many varied and disparate views/opinions. I see no problem with ComHome releasing the findings, they are acting like any other lobby group or Union for that matter.
Indeed I'm pleased to see my opinions expressed publicly, a requirement for a referenda, and a re-negotiation of our position within the EU. I am not happy to be ruled by anaccountable and uncontrolled Brussels based beaurocrats, and a parliamentary system that doesn't allow for dissent/dissentients, fails to follow democratic process or allow full debate ~~ vide comments by Hans Gert Poettering. Indeed fails to accept referenda results from other nations

So its good that David knows what the grass roots is saying and thinking.

You listening David?

Grumpy Old Man said...

@ Masdafish. just back from your blog page which indicates you've had 750 visitors since 1977. Obviously a future opinion former.

Let's face it, you wouldn't vote Tory if your next breath depended on it. The EU is a Socialist construct - a contempt for democracy and institutionalised financial corruption give it away - and no doubt as a fervent Socialist you are all for it. You are indeed fortunate that there is nothing but your own trepidation from living the Socialist Dream tomorrow if you so wish - cross channel travel is at a discount at the moment.

Plato said...

I can't believe that some are insisting that Cameron holds a referendum about joining even after it's been ratified.

It's too late. Posturing about it is just silly.

I sincerely hope that the Czechs hold out and we have a chance to vote on it.

Gordon and the Labour Party lied to us about a referendum, and now it looks like Tony will be in charge of us again.

What sort of democracy is that? And for those who cry that the UK has to roll over, why?

We are a net contributor - the EU *needs* our money.

And I think the real danger from a ConHome poll is that it looks like an official site when it's not and represents a very specific type of party member/UKIP mischief maker.

Colin said...

Today's Times carries an interview with William Hague in which he says that he has asked the Foreign office to prepare a Referendum Bill for his red box on the Saturday after the election. He also says that the date of a referendum will be announced in the campaign.

Left hand, right hand ...?

It doesn't add up... said...

I believe that national polls show some 70% of ALL voters have a similar opinion on the EU - which implies nearly two thirds of non Tories agree. Surely the point here is that voters generally have understood the issues and reached conclusions, while Brown denied us the promised referendum (perhaps as a favour to his former "mate" Tony).

Wight Tory said...

I think Cam should put into the manifesto that he will seek to have Brown tried for treason. We know it and the EU know it, the UK was promised the vote on Europe, shame on Liarbour and all who push this through.

No I will not be silenced Ian said...

"now is neither the time nor the place for releasing a poll question like this." ???

Now is EXACTLY the time and the place. The Conservative party is going into Conference and Europe has to be discussed and debated. Or do you want a one sided conference where the leaders do all the speaking and the party workers say Hip Hip Hoorah ?

Europe needs to be sorted out before the election. I want to know if I'm going to vote Dave or will have to vote UKIP.

I am really fed up with those who say keep quiet, don't rock the boat until after Dave is elected. What is the point of selling your soul just to have a government called Conservative when it is effectiuvely just a clone of Blair's new Labour project?

Gillibrand said...

Seems to have disappeared but there was a poll yesterday at Times Online indicating massive support for a referendum. Tory grass roots are only speaking for the country, as one would expect.

Anonymous said...

The EUSSR Lisbon Constitreaty will have NO legitimacy and would be a SHAM.

Who cares what happens in that pathetic subsidy drunk little EU Region formerly known as Ireland, we want a referendum HERE! Regardless!.

Ferret said...

Well, prove their independence from HQ perhaps - not necessarily from Ashcroft!

Incidentally, it's rather amusing seeing the Tory High Command try to pretend they're against Blair becoming EU President. It's about as unconvincing as a policy can get.

Though it is leading to the rather hilarious stance of a supposedly anti-EU, pro-national government party demanding that a post which will put national governments above the Commission in the EU pecking order is made as weak as possible, and is occupied by a ultra-federalist Luxembourgian, rather than the UK politician they worship as a political God...

hatfield girl said...

What can be found wrong with the stated Conservative policy on the Lisbon Treaty?

If it has not been accepted by 27 member states the Conservatives, if in government, will hold a referendum on Lisbon and campaign for Lisbon's rejection by the citizens of the UK.

If it has been accepted by all member states matters will not rest there.

Until it has been accepted by all 27 member states nothing more can be proposed. We cannot read the future, and until all 27 member states accept the Lisbon Treaty what is to be done in those circumstances is a fruitless speculation. In the meantime what is to be done about clearing up Brown and Blair's New Labour debacle in the United Kingdom is of far greater importance.

Let's hear about the United Kingdom, not Europe, for a change.

Gavin said...

Iain, there is difference between grassroots voicing their views on Europe (which you openly admit are not surprising) and activist and key figures in the Party openly arguing about Europe at Conference (which isn't going to happen). ConHome polls give activists a terrific opportunity to say what they think and it is right they do so on the eve of Conference. I am an avid reader of your blog, which is excellent, but could I be forgiven in saying that since you are on the short list for Bracknell there is a touch of the CCHQ apparatchik about you...

iain, ni said...

Bollocks to a referendum on the Lisbon treaty.
I want a referendum on remaining in the EU.

golden_balls said...

So unity is everything at this party conference Iain !

So we shouldn't expect the same critical analysis that you gave for the Labour conference.

I'm actually suprised that i'm suprised by this statement lol

I see you haven't commented on the vomit inducing interview with DC in the Sun today.

I await your interview with DC where he proclaims he luvs the gays and has always belived in personal freedom.

I think this week we shall see if Iain dale has a backbone and won't be just another DC sycophant.

Will the people of bracknell want this type of person as the MP.

I look forward to your posts this week.

Old Fashioned Tory said...

@Plato
"And I think the real danger from a ConHome poll is that it looks like an official site when it's not and represents a very specific type of party member/UKIP mischief maker."

Yeah. I noticed this ages ago. I no longer bother reading the site for that very reason. Opinions expressed there don't accord with most of the Conservatives / Conservative voters that I know.

Mike Law said...

I agree with Tim Montgomerie.

Furthermore, the "time and place for everything" mentality is the first step towards diluting debate.

Avoiding possible minor embarrassments for the party leadership like releasing the results of this poll is something that would be done within in Labour ranks - trust me, they are all drones.

Anonymous said...

You seem another prospective MP not too keen on democracy, Iain. Should make the grade then, eh?

Wouldn't it make a fantastic change to see a democratic party stand up for it's citizen's democratic rights rather than kow-tow to the Eurocrats and dictators in Brussels.

Truth is going to be the new spin, Iain. Get used to it.

Norton Folgate said...

The Conservatives simply CANNOT afford to blow it on the EU issue.

There is little faith left in british politics and if the tories let us down on this they will quickly find themselves as discreditted as labour are now.

Gone are they days of the bullshit election promises, the game has changed, you will be held to account, people will remember that you had the chance to stand up to the EU machine and bottled it.

Weasel words and feeble cop out lies will not be tolerated, if you can't get this right why the hell should we believe anything else you have to say, and YOU NEED TO SAY SOMETHING.

It's make or break time Tories.

Mark said...

Iain, I am sorry to say this, but your reasoning that a poll on ConservatimeHome Proves its independence is about as deluded as reasoning can get.

If a newspaper, television or any other media publishes a poll that doesn't toady to its normal bias (real or perceived), are you honestly telling us that that also proves the independence of that particular media?

If so, then you are directly contradicting what you yourself have said on other occasions.

Even worse - from your point of view - given that the BBC frequently publicises pools which go against the bias which it to have, it would prove the totally independent and unbiased nature of the BBC.

IAIN DALE FAIL!

Anonymous said...

This is alarming stuff.

The extremists are tearing themselves apart already. Once upon a time the Conservatives were there to quietly block off ideologues and lunatics. Now the party seems to be riddled with them.

Of course two thirds of Conservatives don't want to leave the EU. You'd have to be bonkers to want to leave the EU.

It would break up the UK and send us spiralling into the dark ages. If we were the Swiss it would be ok but we're not an economy based on slave labour, nazi and mafia money and international tax avoidance and we're never going to become that.

Lisbon is over people. You can dream on, but most voters just don't care. They know our sovereignty isn't really in danger.

If Nice had worked out, that would have been time to have the referendum. Lisbon is quantatively different so why wound Cameron before he's begun, by trying to force his hand?

Anonymous said...

Well said iain. Thes polls are a joke anyone can take part in them including not doubt numerous UKIP nutters. I'm sick of Tim M talking on behalf of the membership. He is a self appointed ego maniac

Anonymous said...

"by releasing the poll on the eve of the Tory conference, it does little to help the party"

WHO are the party?

Road_Hog said...

The Conservative Party won't have a problem this week if call me Dave stands up and says that there will be a referendum come what may, and if the treaty has already been ratified, he will unratify it/not be bound by it and refuse to obey it.

It does need to be discussed, because if we aren't going to have the referendum, I need to be able to tell my local UKIP candidate that he can rely on my vote.

Roger said...

Iain, as one who is not in the pocket of any party, I'm afraid that you don't seem to appreciate the simmering anger and frustration of people who increasingly feel that they have no say in the way that the governing elite run the country and seem blithely indifferent to any contrary view. This has been building ever since Gordon Brown backed away from legitimising his premiership with a democratic election.

Now, as a prospective candidate, you appear to be endorsing that elitist view. Don't let the voices of the people be heard because it will cause problems for the leadership. So out of fear of having an open debate you want to leave the ground open for the extremist elements like the BNP and UKIP to establish themselves?

strapworld said...

Just in!

From David Cameron.

Dear a,

Our Conference starts in Manchester this weekend. It's going to be the most vibrant and exciting for years.
Next week, we won't be playing it safe - instead we will be offering bold plans to deal with the big problems the country faces.
Labour spent their conference talking only to themselves - not the country.
In contrast you will see a Conservative Party united, determined and ready to deliver the bold, tough and radical change Britain needs.
Labour are now the party of unemployment - at this conference we will show that we are the party of new jobs and new opportunities.
To deal with Labour's Debt Crisis we will be setting out some of the tough decisions that need to be taken and unlike Gordon Brown we won't duck them.
To give people hope for the future the country needs to change direction, and our Conference will show how we're ready to make that change.
But there is absolutely no complacency.
Every member of the Conservative Party needs to remember the following: the Conservatives have never won a General Election from a starting point as difficult as we face now.
To win a majority, we must hold every seat we won in 2005 plus an additional 117 constituencies. This would be the biggest number of Conservative gains at a General Election since 1931.
We can do it: but we are going to have to work incredibly hard for every vote, every day between now and polling day. In this election, every vote will count.
This weekend we will hear the results of the referendum in Ireland on the re-named EU Constitution.
I want to make one thing clear: there will be no change in our policy on Europe and no new announcements at the Conference. There will be no change in Conservative policy as long as the Lisbon Treaty is still not in force. The Treaty has still not been ratified by the Czechs and the Poles. The Czech Prime Minister has said that the constitutional challenge before the Czech Constitutional Court could take 3-6 months to resolve.
I have said repeatedly that I want us to have a referendum. If the Treaty is not ratified in all Member States and not in force when the election is held, and if we are elected, then we will hold a referendum on it, we will name the date of the referendum in the election campaign, we will lead the campaign for a 'No' vote.
If the Treaty is ratified and in force in all Member States, we have repeatedly said we would not let matters rest there. But we have one policy at a time, and we will set out how we would proceed in those circumstances if, and only if, they happen.
This is going to be a great Conference. I look forward to seeing many of you in Manchester.

Jabba the Cat said...

I don't give a monkeys if articulation of the European problem upsets the Tories or anyone else.

It is such an important issue, on par with sorting out the ZaNuLab economic mess, that it must be addressed clearly and directly if the confidence of the English nation is retained in our system of government and our ability to rule ourselves through our democratically elected representatives and not have a unelected socialist dictatorship impose it's will on us.

If you or any other prospective Tory candidate have a problem with that then you should consider standing for one or other of the appeasing parties.

Gary Elsby stoke said...

Hang on a minute!

What's all this about 'a massive transferring of power'?

It was YOU the Tories that transferred all of the power to the EU.

What is really happenening (you won't accept it)is that the Conservative party hangs by a thread in a General Election and the cornerstone is the EU and the economy.

The economy will come right as the election draws near.
Our savings will fair better than your 10% SAVAGE cuts and talk of Europe will unite young people around Labour and Liberals.

That is Great Britain, we rule by it and you keep losing because of it.

If I have this wrong(no chance), then people want cuts, the majority want out of the EU and Labour is finished.

SUN readers agree with me.

Anonymous said...

In theory it would be great to have a giant UK referendum on the same day. The Scots can leave the UK while the English leave the EU.

Except neither set would actually vote to leave.

And neither set of campaiging separatists would ever just shut up and accept the result, they'll continue with these pointless divisive navel gazing campaigns that distract from real issues in modern politics (which transcend borders anyway.)

neil craig said...

The point is that they must be SEEN not to be lapdogs. If they obviously censor on behalf of the leader or various leaders now then any future disagreement is seen as being within the party leadership. Nor do I think that too much diversity of view is one of the sins of British party politics. The problems Labour have faced over the last decade with divisions at the top, & they have obviously not been severely damaging ones, was simply that Brown & Blair personally hated each other & wanted the top job. There was barely a paper between them on most actual policy issues.

I think discussion, when it does not involve ad hominum attacks, provides considerably more nenefit than cost.

Perhaps if a referendum on the Constitreaty is too radical the Conservatives could decide they agree with those nice moderate pro-EU LibDems & have a referendum on membership. That would sicken them & I suspect that if there was a genuine debate, which actually mentioned the EU Enterprise Commissioner's statement some years ago that EU regulation cost the continent £405 billion most people would be against it.

Is this a sign of things to come? said...

If Cameron will not be straight with us when he is in opposition, what chance is there of him being straight when he is in power?


His statement about a referendum can be best described as woolly. The only certain thing is that he will NOT hold a referendum if the treaty is ratified before he comes to power and he will do something else but he won't say what that something else is.

His latest message is that he won't discuss it at conference either. What is the point of a holding a conference then Dave?

http://blog.conservatives.com/index.php/2009/10/03/there-will-be-no-change-in-our-policy-on-europe/

DespairingLiberal said...

Tories to close BBC News website?

Did anyone else notice this story today? The Tory Shadow Culture Secretary has warned that the Conservative Party will close BBC websites down once the Party is in office. He also denies this is anything to do with the relationship between the Conservatives and Murdoch, which rather stretches credulity. Amazingly, he claims that this is because the BBC is "hostile" to freedom of the press. No mention of Murdoch's constant war against multi-ownership of the media.

So RIP the marvellous BBC News website, which changed lives for many of us when it was introduced onto the internet and was and remains streets ahead of it's depressingly trivial competitors.

Instead expect a big-brother style compulsory Sky-isation of all media and corporate-approved only news.

John Bennett said...

Frankly Iain, I'm disappointed. The sooner the nettle is grasped the better for the future of the Conservative Party.
Gavin (11.35am) has the sense of it. It is to be hoped that this drift towards the party establishment is but a mere aberration.

Anonymous said...

I would be very concerned if I was David Cameron. I think he has made an error this week letting William Hague loose on Europe. Oh I forgot - was he not the man - the leader who campaigned for saving the £. Remind me - was his campaign successful? How anti British can you get if a treaty is ratified and an EU President appointed that you do not want a fellow country man in the post? What was that - stand up for Britain by being anti British?

Many of us are disaffected with the Labour Party leadership. Many of us want to punish them by voting for another party. Many of us are concerned about Europe but not anti Europe. Surely the Conservative Party should know by now that they do not win elections by appealing to their core voters only. What on earth are they about on the day that they announced an exciting and innovative policy on Residential Care? Can you not shut William Hague up?

Cynic said...

Scuppers what??

I just got my weekly email from Dave today and the policy is absolutely clear:

there will be no change in our policy on Europe

there will be no change in Conservative policy as long as the Lisbon Treaty is still not in force.

the Treaty has still not been ratified by the Czechs and the Poles. The Czech Prime Minister has said that the constitutional challenge before the Czech Constitutional Court could take 3-6 months to resolve.

I have said repeatedly that I want us to have a referendum.

If the Treaty is not ratified in all Member States and not in force when the election is held, and if we are elected, then we will hold a referendum on it,

We will name the date of the referendum in the election campaign, we will lead the campaign for a 'No' vote.

If the Treaty is ratified and in force in all Member States, we have repeatedly said we would not let matters rest there. But we have one policy at a time, and we will set out how we would proceed in those circumstances if, and only if, they happen.

Cynic said...

The problem is that if it has been ratified its very difficult legally to de ratify it....but it can be done. The policy to commit to a referendum is the right one.

This serves clear notice on the Commission and President Blair that the UK will not in effect ratify

In any case, lets see what the Irish do - they might surprise us

Anonymous said...

UKIP looks a good alternative .What is there to lose?

Disco Biscuit said...

(Unusually) I'm with Tim on this - as are, I suspect, most of the population.

And anyway, the Party's not said what it will do if the Treaty is ratified, so there is no policy for the poll to go against.

Simon Gardner said...

Hooray for the Irish. (Though I still abhor referendums.)

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on demonstrating exactly what kind of MP you'd be if elected. Worrying about the Party first and democracy second.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear me, the Europhobes will be banging the drum in Manchester. Dave will be asked to explain what he means by, 'We won't let matters rest.'

Cameron's new best friend, The Sun, along with Hannan/Redwood will be calling for withdrawal, its gonna be messy.

trevorsden said...

Wittering - independent or not 'conhome' is conservative. It has to ask itself what it wants. Does it want to influence an opposition or a government. Assuming the latter then it first needs to get it elected first.

But as iain points out - this poll tells us nothing new.

I am not a tory member but a tory voter - and I do not want Lisbon nor do I particularly want us in the EU as it stands.

But 'referendites' need to consider.
1 - If the treaty is in force on us being (hopefully) elected then shouting abour referendums is all pointless. A referendum on what and (despite EU precedent) we cannot be having referendums left right and centre. If the treaty starts to be misused then a situation would need to be reached and be agreed with the EU and maybe then a referendum put to Britain.

For instance IF we are to leave the EU - an agreement relating to any new status and links (like Norway's?) would need to be agreed and then a referendum. Otherwise the electorate would be voting for a pig in a poke.

So referendum comes AFTER a new policy and an agreement with the EU. Nothing can be really decided until in government.

Stronghold Barricades said...

Erm

if 4 out of 10 want to pull out of the eu

does that mean that 6 out of 10 want to stay in?

Is that a majority?

trevorsden said...

Mr Gary -
"The economy will come right as the election draws near.
Our savings will fair better than your 10% SAVAGE cuts and talk of Europe will unite young people around Labour and Liberals."

Sorry to see you peddling lies.
Clegg talked of 'savage' cuts.
Browns claims of 10% cuts in total govt expenditure by tories has been exposed as lies. (see Fraser Nelson's forensic analysis)
The govts own proposals talk about 9% cuts in departmental budgets after non-discretionary spending is accounted for.

Brown is claiming that the deficit can be cut without pain. But under his regime he did not cut the deficit even when we had growth.
He added 200 billion to the deficit between 2001 and 2008 even when we had growth.
The notion that a return to growth will cut the deficit is risible.

The economy coming right is therefore a mirage - and indeed the BoE governor has pointed out that the economy has shrunk and will not be able to support the expenditure of old.
The 'stuctural' deficit now is about 10% as opposed to about 3% in 1997. So the economy is a long way from 'coming right' - not without drastic surgery by whoever is the PM.

The entire nation needs to wake up to the mess Brown has us in - and poncing around over the hated EU is not the immediate worry.

Polly Toynbee's Hairdresser said...

The odd little gaggle of Christian's, American puppets, and Euro loonies who run ConHome of course much prefer the idealogy of opposition to the compromises of power.

I feel very uncomfortable giving financial support to a party which still includes individuals who seem to think Britain is an outpost of Americaland, and that Europe is worth remaining in opposition over, but hold me nose and do it.

It will be interesting to witnesse just how strongly the people who have walked the thankless treadmill of opposition for twelve years feel about the Lisbon issue next week.
If it does become a major issue, me cheque-book is offski

Nigel said...

Despairing Liberal, you seem not to have read the article you cite:

"... Hunt is careful about dictating where it must cut. He rejects the call from the Sunday Times for the BBC news website to be scaled back because it is undermining newspaper websites..."

Maybe you thought 'BBC to get a little less money' wasn't exciting enough ?

Iain, I agree with most of those posting here: you're wrong on the poll issue.

Daniel Earwicker said...

That poll was of visitors to Conservative Home - how different would it have been if it was of the population as a whole? Probably not that different. I think most people would appreciate some say over the Lisbon treaty, and a referendum would therefore be a broadly popular policy. And the poll finds a clear majority don't want to withdraw from the EU.

It is odd that a referendum pledge is supposed to be a controversial policy. It's just democracy, after all. An incoming government could simply say "This is a controversial issue, and it's right that the British people should make their views known on this specific issue, separate from the other issues that vie for attention in a general election, so there will be a referendum."

The only reason you'd suppress it is because you don't want ordinary people to have any say.

Cameron's whole programme (such as it is) consists of greater devolving of power out from the centre to local communities and individuals. It is rendered absurd if the EU continues to grow in importance, stature and most of all power - a slow, gradual concentration of power in a distant centre, and a corresponding slow dripping away of democracy and liberty.

DiscoveredJoys said...

Iain,

your blog appears to put the importance of Conservative Party unity above that of honestly held opinion about an important political issue.

I already detest New Labour for their political machine that allows no dissent and disregards the opinions of 'the little people'.

Don't let the Conservatives fall into the same trap.

Peter said...

Iain,

Can you tell me which site I should visit which will tell me all the facts you and ConHome will be surpressing in the interest of the party?

Anonymous said...

@ DespairingLiberal

Which part of

"Stressing that the BBC's independence is sacrosanct, Hunt is careful about dictating where it must cut. He rejects the call from the Sunday Times for the BBC news website to be scaled back because it is undermining newspaper websites."

didn't you understand?

Tim Carpenter LPUK said...

Elsby: "It was YOU the Tories that transferred all of the power to the EU."

All is a strong word, but what did Labour do about it? Gold plate it (with someone else's gold, natch).

All three main parties are as bad as each other. It is a Fabian frog-boiling exercise. Lisbon is lip-lickingly close to being ratified.

HOWEVER, and it is a big H. Last time I looked, no MPs or Government administrations were authorised or vested in the power to cede sovereignty to a foreign power, nor were they ever lent the authority to change the rules thus.

An election is about the lending of sovereignty from and by the people to Government. Lent, mind, not "given" or "handed over".

My sovereignty has been handed over like some lawnmower to a neighbour. It has been lent too long. I shall have it back, Sir.

Anyone who knows the scenario will appreciate that an almighty stink, hue and cry will rise up when we want our property back. We will be accused of being the troublemakers, the thieves, the cheats. All the louder because the perpetrators have been found out and are about to lose something they covet yet had no legal right to.

Cameron is basically playing for time so that no decision has to be made. He thinks that ratification is "ok" but forgets that the House has NO AUTHORITY to sign away my or any other British Citizen's sovereignty.

Talk of not ratifying or reversing it is usually tagged with words like "secede" by misc EU Shills. THe fact that they think it is such shows how far their believe our sovereignty has been enclosed.

If people here want to become European citizens, then that is their grizzly look-out. I do not. I have no obligation to become one.

Andew Efiong said...

If everyone starts yakking about Europe then it shows the Tories as inward looking and not concerned with bigger issues like the recession, the NHS, crap schools and Afghanistan.

Anonymous said...

This "shush don't do or say anything" nonesense has been used for years to keep the issue on the back burner.Any longer and it will be too late!Time for the men to stand up and the boys to keep quacking.Enough really is enough when you have to keep voting until you produce the vote they want.
Was the EPP pledge during the Leadership battle just a cheap Bullingdon trick?

Anonymous said...

"Madasafish"-says it all!

DespairingLiberal said...

Anon 2:48 and others. It's incredibly naive to think that talking about "closing down some BBC websites" does not eventually include the one that Murdoch and Rothermere hate above all others - the brilliant, extensive and independent BBC News website, which is one of the leading websites of the world.

The Tories will service their alliance with Murdoch and Rothermere by gradually starving it of funds, closing down key areas and eventually emasculating and destroying it piecemeal.

This is a calculated and pre-planned assualt on the leading independent news website in the UK worthy of China in it's totalitarian zeal.

Their final aim is to ensure that (as in much of the US) only right-wing extremist news, such as that pumped out by Fox, reaches a compliant and docilised audience.

Profits will be shared between Murdoch and the Conservatives, many of whom he will place in high posts, such as Iain Dale, who already supports this agenda via his heavily financed regular appearances on Sky.

Alan Douglas said...

"The extremists are tearing themselves apart already."

WHatexactly, sir, is "extreme" in believing that we the people should as readily dispose of our rulers as we elect them ?

Typical EU-lovers accusation. THEY are the true extremists, willing to give Great Britain's freedoms away to foreign pen-pushers.

Thus proving finally that the pen is mightier than the sword ?

Alan Douglas

Anonymous said...

We know what happens when parties appear disunited.

Yes, to an extent you're correct that the appearance of disunity is an impediment to a party's electoral chances.

However, what we have here is not an appearance of disunity but actual disunity. I contend, Dale, that the Conservative Party will have to make up its mind over Europe generally and over the referendum specifically and it is far, far better that this be done now than when the party is in government.

We all remember the Tories under John Major. We all remember the disunity that practically destroyed the party. We all remember how the grassroots were disenfranchised by the parliamentary party, how the tiny band of rebels (who actually represented a majority of British voters) were mistreated by a party that simply did not know where it stood on Europe.

To avoid this, we need:
1. a firm statement of Conservative policy.
2. firm leadership from Cameron in pushing that policy.
3. a willingness to accept and deal with face party divisions now rather than putting them off 'til another day when they will grow to be much bigger and much more damaging (and not only to the party but to the country).

This is an issue that must be hammered out immediately.

golden_balls said...

I'm awaiting your post about the overwhelming yes vote for the lisbon treaty !

I'm quite suprised by the size of the defeat i'm sure the Tories will answer detailed questions on the subject this week.

Lady Virginia Droit de Seigneur said...

I have to say the last few years have changed my mind on the EU.

Generally I have been in favour of it and even better integration although I have always loathed the bureaucracy corruption and lack of accountability.

I suppose really I liked the idea but wanted the practice to change dramatcially - after all freedom of movement of people and capital and free trade generally make us all better off.

Ever since the "constitution"came on to the scene though the whole project has been exposed as totally corrupt and undemocratic.

One of the first signs was when Gisela Stuart (one of a very small number of Labour MPs I have any time for - Frank Field, Kate Hoey and Ann Cryer are others) withdrew from the drafting process claiming that Valery Gicard d'Estaing ( a latter day Louis XIV if there ever was one) had steamrolled the rest of the committee.

The way the French and Dutch "nos" were brushed aside followed by the Irish "no" should be warnings to us all.

I've arrived at the stage where I want the UK to withdraw - look at the troughers who represent the EU in the UK in the last few years - Peter Mandelson, Neil and Glenys Kinnock, Chris Patten - useless politicians who've grotesquely enriched themselves from the public purse.

Fuck the lot of them.

Anonymous said...

The EUSSR and its newly aquired Irish EU Region have released the new, updated map of EUIRE.

http://img17.imageshack.us/img17/1320/ir7.jpg

Anonymous said...

One thing that almost no one covering this story seems to have grasped yet is that if Lisbon is been ratified by every member state then it ceases to be "The Lisbon Treaty" and becomes part of EU-law along with everything else. There is no option to just withdraw your ratification from the Lisbon Treaty and then it stops working: you either have to persuade all 27 Member States to negotiate a new treaty changing everything back (not going to happen if the other 26 wanted the Lisbon provisions in the first place) or you have to leave the EU altogether. Cameron and Hague must know this, hence why they're having to hedge their bets for the time being.

Danny said...

Who said
"No treaty should be ratified without consulting the British people in a referendum."

Hint http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/eu_referendum/article273758.ece

And this as well ...

"Today, I will give this cast-iron guarantee: If I become PM a Conservative government will hold a referendum on any EU treaty that emerges from these negotiations."

If we cannot trust a cast iron guarantee from Mr Cameron, he, and his party, cannot be trusted.

Jimmy said...

"We'd behave differently (and will) if it was.

In 2007, for example, before Brown bottled his honeymoon election we did suppress data:"

Good show! Can't imagine what Andrew Rawnsley was worried about.

Victor, NW Kent said...

Despairing Liberal

Is is that you cannot read? Or is it that you have no compunction about spreading deliberate lies?

Here is the exact quote - it is the absolute opposite of what you claim:

"Stressing that the BBC's independence is sacrosanct, Hunt is careful about dictating where it must cut. He rejects the call from the Sunday Times for the BBC news website to be scaled back because it is undermining newspaper websites".

ukipwebmaster said...

Dave's message:

http://www.ukip.tv/?p=737

Gareth said...

Tim Montgomerie claims "Lisbon represents a massive transfer of power and grassroots Tories are right to be worried."

Lisbon represents the setting in stone of a massive transfer of power our politicians have been helping with for 30+ years. Grassroots Tories are right to be worried not because Lisbon is something vastly new and different (it is in some areas but is just a continuation of the 'ever greater union' we are already signed up for), grassroots Tories should be worried because Cameron does not represent a new direction.

The British problem with the EU has never been in Brussels but in Westminster. The pretence that Parliament is not sovereign is beginning to grate. No past parliament can tie the hands of the current one and the current one cannot tie the hands of a future Parliament. We could exit the EU tomorrow without a problem.(No, really. Parliament allows the European interference in our lives. It doesn't have to.) We could stand up for our national interest far more. Is it working for us? As the world has changed since we started down that road is it still what we wanted? Fully in and spending Euros or fully out is the place to be. It is the faffing about being neither that gets us painted into a corner.

France and Germany are fully signed up yet retain a sense of nation that their politicians are prepared to protect. Our hokey-cokey effort means we toe the EU line lest we be seen as not quite as committed as the other major players. Enough. No more. It is time for Britain to shit or get off the pot and that choice should be put to the British people ASAP.

Elliot Kane said...

Boris knows. He's got it right:

http://tinyurl.com/y8br4r2

tapestry said...

One voice which speaks for British freedom is not yet silenced..

HERE

DespairingLiberal said...

Anon 8:01 - you are right and it's patent nonsense to call for a referendum after the EU has approved it, since by then it is British as well as EU law.

It's just vote-mongering by UKIP and the Tories will just forget about it once elected, although they will continue to go on about it before the election a bit to keep the nuttier end of their base on board.

This is all really to do with the Tory Party and other parties no longer being broadly-based parties of mass membership. The reasoned voices of people like Rifkind are drowned out by the remnant nutters from the rank and file - Cameron has to pay attention to them to stay in office, even though he doesn't give a fig for their views in reality. Hence the bizarre tie-in with anti-EU Euro-fascists.

The biggest shame of all is that this all got started when Margaret Thatcher (previously quite pro-EU) suddenly decided to go all negative to Europe because at that time lefish governments were in charge. Now that things have completely gone the other way, with right-of-centre administrations in all the main countries apart from the UK, the Tory Party is helplessly stuck in this Thatcherite rhetoric at a time when they could be part of a powerful cross-Europe right of centre alliance!

Which is why I think that once elected, Cameron will try hard to rebuild bridges, particularly with Sarkozy and Merkel and will eventually bring the Tories back into the mainstream, once he is politically secure enough.

SHB said...

Poland and the Czech Republic will now come under even more pressure to ratify before the UK GE as the EU knows a referendum in the UK will produce a resounding no result.

The EU knows that it will be very difficult for the UK to unwind the Lisbon Treaty once it has been ratified so a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty post ratification is somewhat pointless.

The current Conservative position will work providing the Czech's judicial review can be stretched out to past next July(ish). The Poles are expected to sign up within weeks so it will come down to the Czech Republic and/or the UK to stop the Treaty.

Question - has Cameron had assurances from Klaus that their judicial review will take longer than that or that it looks like the verdict will be that the Treaty is incompatible with the Czech Constitution?

If there is a reasonable chance of either then the current position works as the UK will have a referendum before ratification, a no vote, Treaty off.

If there isn't then Cameron has a huge problem on his hands as the current policy will probably become void before the GE.

As mentioned a referendum post ratification is somewhat meaningless as the Treaty will already have been ratified and the action that a soverign state can take is very limited.

I, therefore think that the Conservative stated position today should be:

Referendum if Treaty not ratified by the time a referendum can be held.

If Treaty ratified then Referendum on staying in the EU (in its Lisbon form) or leaving the EU.

Anything else, in my opinion, will end up being a fudge and I, personally, am sick of this issue being fudged.

constant gina said...

You're right, it's intolerable. This will push some people to declare UDI.

Quietzapple said...

Actually the poll was not of conservative activists, ir was of Cons Home readers I recall the invitation said . . .

While the average online blogging "readership" and "activist" tends to be more right wing than in real life because those who object most to HMg tend to be more given to object & etc this does highlight a problem.

The right had a massive dead weight who want out of the EU come what may. They are not going to shut up and they are a massive problem for Chameleon, who has to try and tickle their tummies until the election is over (and, most likely, it is the turn of someone else to find their swet spots . . .)