The Daily Mail is reporting that David Cameron will not go to the country for a referendum on the changes that are being designed to underpin the latest bailout deal. Of course it isn't official news at the moment as most of this is coming from "insiders" and as such does leave me asking some questions about whether this story is a pre-cursor for the faux Tories to some polling.
When I first read the story, the neighbours probably started asking themselves if I was an unfortunate Tourette's sufferer, given the profanity that spewed forth. Eventually it died down to a conclusion that if true he has finally declared his hand by showing what he really thinks of the British people and of democracy. So its okay, we now know where we stand.
Whilst the mainstream press trotted out the "good news" of the reached agreement and underscored that narrative by carrying news of the markets rallying, there were other aspects that were only whispered about or were avoided altogether.
One of those items was the fact that such a bailout is only kicking the can further down the road. You know it must be bad when even the BBC are letting out little chinks of insight into this being a shortish term fix during their news reporting. On yesterday's BBC news channel I picked up a frequent use of the phrase "for the time being" when talking about avoiding a default and some financial talking head from the city slipping in the observation of a problem with the fundamentals of this approach despite his attempt at an upbeat narrative. In other words all we're doing is staving off the inevitable.
The other point and one that is more closely linked to our Dave are some of the viewpoints of what needs to happen in Europe around this financial and economic issue. Archbishop Cranmer picked up on this with a very telling phrase from the new head of the IMF. Was it one off error on her part? Well probably not if we look at some quotes that Calling England picked up from Sarkozy and Merkel. What we appear to have here is some kind of plan to increase consolidation of the financial and economic practices of EU nations, possibly with the development of an EU Treasury.
In other words this will be an increase in what the EU call (without a sense of irony) Competency. This should trigger our right to a referendum under that Referendum Lock bill that the faux Conservatives promised after denying us our originally promised referendum of Europe. The bill became law on July 19th as pointed out by Boiling Frog.
For those not who may not recall, this act comes with great promise according to grand words by William Hague in a Sunday Telegraph article at the start of this year, when he wrote:
The EU Bill we are bringing forward will put into the British people's hands a referendum lock on any further changes to the EU's Treaties that hand over powers from Britain to the EU, a lock to which only they will hold the key"
In the great detail necessary to cover the complexity of those Treaties and the various kinds of treaty change the Bill sets out in clear terms when Ministers must put a treaty change to a referendum.
Not only will Parliament now be given a full say over all kinds of treaty change but any treaty change that hands over powers to the EU or extends its control over any area of policy will also be subject to a referendum.
Not only would the removal of the veto over any of 44 separate treaty articles require a referendum, or the substantive use of any of 12 treaty articles, the Bill also lays down strict and comprehensive tests which will capture transfers of power on any change to the Treaties – whether an attempt to increase the EU's powers over an existing area of policy or any reach into a new area of policy.
If any one of these tests are met – it is worth noting that the Lisbon Treaty would have been caught in numerous separate ways – then the law will require a referendum, and if any minister decides to ignore them then, like any other ministerial decision, they will be subject to judicial review in the courts.
So any British citizen will be able to go to court to enforce the electorate's rights and ensure that ministers cannot wriggle out of a referendum.
Some people have argued that the Bill does not go far enough or has loopholes. But the truth is that only in a few minor areas does it give the ministers of the day any discretion at all about the calling of a referendum - and then only if they can persuade parliament and the courts that they are right. When it becomes an Act this will be the strongest defence of national democracy put in place anywhere in Europe. It is a massive advance for national democracy."
At the time I wrote about my suspiscions of such a convoluted process with a summary of my observation at the time as follows:
This is quite a convoluted process and the question for me is why? There appears to be lots of processes involved to describe how a referendum gets "protected". I have learned however that if you want to perform a magic trick you dress it up with a lot of distracting side shows and for me this is the old "did you spot the gorilla trick.
According to the Mail article senior Tory sources are suggesting two things. The first is that Cameron does not believe the proposals require a referendum because they only affect countries in the single currency. Quite how he draws this conclusion is beyond me, having been drawn into the crisis repeatedly through our current payouts to help Ireland and Greece and with the latest deal seeing the interest rates on Ireland's repayments to us lowered. Britain will get caught up in any changes and Cameron knows it or if he doesn't maybe he should seek better advice on this one.
The real giveaways on this story are slightly further down in the mail story and are worth examining a little further. Here are two fascinating paragraphs:
Mr Cameron’s senior allies have revealed that he will use Britain’s right to veto eurozone plans to demand major concessions from Brussels.
He will insist on a smaller EU budget and demand that Britain be allowed to ditch damaging plans to tax the City of London and set aside some health and safety legislation and the working time directive, which dictates office hours.
No 10 sources say Mr Cameron will even threaten to hold a referendum on the eurozone plans in order to get his way, since European leaders will not want to give British voters the chance to express their views.
But, in a highly controversial stance, one aide has admitted the Government will not hold a referendum.
Senior aides have seen polling which shows they have no chance of winning a Yes vote – even if the Prime Minister says he has got a good deal for Britain.
A senior Government source said: ‘Any referendum with the word Europe in it will lead to a No vote. It’s that simple. You can’t dress it up. We’ll go to Brussels and tell them to give us what we want.
So there we have it laid clear. Despite this grandiose and elaborate sounding process for locking in the democratic right of the British people, it would seem its worthless. Pure and simple - you're not getting asked your view on the future of Britain in Europe. If you're not sure why, read those paragraphs again and then read below for what I see in them.
This last paragraph is the most telling. They know that any Referendum will lead to a No vote. Any referendum? Any referendum at all? Now, why would what some like to refer to as the most Eurosceptic PM, David Cameron worry about the British people voting no? To me the fact that they won't give you a referendum because it will lead to a No vote tells me something:
The faux Conservatives don't have a single question on Europe that they want you to say No to.
That can only mean, the current leadership want us to go down the Europe road.
Then we have the first paragraph. It would seem what they want is nothing more than a bargaining chip at the table to prevent the EU taxing banks out of the City of London. It would seem the Referendum option is the ace up his sleeve for the negotiations.
Several things here:
- This would suggest that Dave views the referendum as his play thing, to give to the people and take away at his choosing. Doesn't say much for an act of law apparently locking in our right to a referendum does it?
- Dave doesn't have a great track record of coming out of any political scrap a winner. The list of times this man has given way in anything even vaguely approaching tough are too numerous too mention.
- He's already called his own bluff on this one. As is already acknowledged through this article, he doesn't want any referendum on Europe. There's no suggestion here that there's a condition on which he would go to the country. He won't do it and they probably know that.
I wonder that when this becomes fully clear to the British people we will see Richard North's Million Angry People idea take off.