Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Whilst I might share Jackart's view that...
... [w]hilst individual lib-dems are nice, they are en-mass a bunch of stinking treasonous mendacious wankers, capable of the most transparent doublethink on issues around democracy and the EU.

... I thought I'd go and have a little play over at LibDem Voice, where there seems to be a certain dissent in the ranks. In fact, there seems to be a clash or two between the rabid Europhiles and those who think that—whatever one's personal opinion on the EU, that the LibDem MPs should, at the very least have kept their promise.

In fact, a few seem to feel—in the face of their MPs' brazen betrayal of their unequivocable promise—a bit like a traditional Conservative who arrives home to find the love of his life very obviously enjoying being made airtight by a trio of massively-hung and deeply-unwashed black tramps. With leprosy.

These people did not concern me, although I permitted myself a quick snigger at the poor chap who wrote,
I have never been ashamed to be a member of the Liberal Democrats until now.

So, it was in answer to this comment that I left my first politely-worded turd.
@David Morton, (and others).

“I can’t see anything in this new treaty which requires a refferendum. From a constitutional point of view i’d have though ID cards and 42 day detention were bigger changes to the way we are governed.”

Yes, but the issue here is slightly different. If ID Cards or 42 days detention are introduced by one government, then the next government can repeal the law and abolish them.

This cannot happen with EU legislation: once it is introduced, it cannot be repealed. In short, EU legislation binds future governments which is fundamentally against our constitution (such as it is).

Leaving aside what I think of the EU, anyone who truly supports democracy should be worried by this state of affairs.

On the Lisbon Treaty itself, you have all missed an extremely crucial point — especially when taken in tandem with the above. That point is that the Lisbon Treaty is self-amending: whilst it may not be “constitutional” now (whatever that means), there is nothing to stop it being so in the future. In fact, there is nothing stopping it becoming whatever the EU leaders want it to be.

Therefore, one can argue that even though this Treaty is not a Constitution as such, it can become so potentially.

All that is required is a majority vote in the Council of Ministers[*]: since the majority of EU countries’ leaders were prepared to ratify the old Constitution, it would seem to me that this majority vote would not be difficult to obtain.


Mind you, it was only after posting that piece that this comment caught my eye: it, too, required a response.
@John Smith,

“Thanks to the short sighted, xenophobic reactionaries who are still stuck in 1946, we are left in the reform treaty with a Union that, whilst improved, remains unable to function efficiently or decisively.”

Perhaps it is because I am well-versed in history that I do not have the same unerring faith in the state as you appear to have, but why on earth should the fact that a load of politicians can act “efficiently or decisively” be a good thing?

One could always rephrase it as “hastily and without consultation”, after all.

Further, where is the democratic accountability? Even were the EU Parliament not a pale farce, do you know which way your MEP votes on anything?

I’ll answer that for you: you don’t. And how do I know this? Because the votes are not recorded unless a special request is made at least one day before, and it rarely is.

In fact, the IndDem group and some others have recently been censured for demanding these roll call votes before every session.

So, how on earth are you to hold your democratically elected representative to account if you do not know how he has voted on issues that matter to you?


Still, it's always fun to go abroad, eh?

* This was an inaccuracy on my part: it is, in fact, the European Council who can amend the Treaty. And the European Council is to become an institution of the EU and it is compelled that it...
"... shall aim to promote its (the Union's) values, advance its objectives, serve its interests, those of its citizens and those of the Member States…".

It is no coincidence that that, in the pecking order, the Union comes first, the "citizens" second and the member states third and last.

Which comes to much the same thing: a treaty organisation being able to amend its own treaties.


chris said...

One day there will be Lib-Dems that realise that localism does not mean abstracting power as far as possible away from those it is exercised over, but probably not soon.

Martin Keegan said...

Use of the treaty self-amendment powers by UK ministers needs to be criminalised.

Lee Griffin said...

Good post, it's enlightening to actually see some real information about the impact of the treaty after it's implemented (if it is), Funnily details have been sparse in mainstream avenues.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Top stuff. Is LibDemVoice the place to go to wind up LibDems when the mood takes you?

Peter Risdon said...

This is a bit of an abstract point, but arguably our constitution is based on binding future generations. That's what Thomas Paine argued, and he argued it was wrong, in his book Rights of Man:

"The vanity and presumption of governing beyond the grave is the most ridiculous and insolent of all tyrannies. Man has no property in man; neither has any generation a property in the generations which are to follow... It is the living, and not the dead, that are to be accommodated. When man ceases to be, his power and his wants cease with him; and having no longer any participation in the concerns of this world, he has no longer any authority..."

I wrote about this recently here. The point he was making was that the Glorious Revolution and the constitutional settlement it ushered in was based on just this idea that future generations could be bound. So Paine at least would not have agreed with you that this idea is unconstitutional for us. He thought it should be, and that we should institute a republic. I'm with Paine, as I've written before.

Budgie said...

Miliband claims Lisbon is an 'amending' treaty in support of Labour's cheat.

Amending what?

Amending the previous treaties which are the rules by which the EU is run. Or according to the dictionary, a constitution.