Thursday, February 22, 2007

The government on an EU referendum

I have received an email warning me that "the Prime Minister" has replied to the petition for a referendum on Britain's membership of the EU. Like the rest of these petitions, the reply is a carefully worded "fuck off, you dirty little proles."
Under UK's constitutional arrangements, while the Government may make a recommendation, it is ultimately for Parliament to decide whether to hold a referendum on a particular issue.

And since all three parties are pro-EU (despite constant polls showing that the British people generally are not), that is never going to happen.
Fuck Off #1
Referendums in the UK are rare.

Just the way we like it.
Fuck Off #2
Parliament - the elected representatives of the British people -has the right to take important decisions on their behalf.

This is a representative democracy, despite the fact that the current majority party was elected by only 21.6% of the electorate.
Fuck Off #3

Despite the fact that not one of the three main parties are EUsceptic and that not one of them stood on a platform of withhdrawal, or even a referendum, and the British people had no choice but to vote for a pro-EU party (if they voted at all), this is definitely still a representative democracy, isn't it?
Fuck Off #4
This was the case when the UK joined the (then) European Economic Community (EEC) in 1973.

Heath—a fat, futile fool whose majority was considerably slimmer than his waistline and who gave away any advantage this country ever had, sold our Commonwealth partners down the river and made a move so unpopular that one of those "rare" referendums was forced shortly afterwards—was, never the less, a popular representative of the people's wishes.
Fuck Off #5
There was, of course, a referendum on UK membership of the EEC in 1975 because the Labour Government was committed to seeking the approval of the British people for the renegotiated terms of membership which it had obtained.

Since the Tories took us in and a good number of Labour MPs were opposed (including Tony Benn: on the right side, for once, but for entirely the wrong reasons), we were happy to hold a referendum which was voted in by anyone who is currently over the age of 50.

However, since we didn't want to actually lose the referendum, we smeared the antis- as loons and little Englanders. We also lied—as Heath did when he took this country into the EEC—as to the purpose of the organisation. We kept telling people that it was only a free market and not a project whose eventual aim was a European superstate.
Fuck Off #6
Thereafter, each Treaty change - notably the Single European Act and the Treaties of Maastricht, Amsterdam and Nice - has been ratified following the passing of an Act of Parliament.

We haven't held referendums on any of these Treaties as we weren't in power, but we were happy to let the Tories go ahead and ratify them. Although this was especially egregious in the case of Maastricht, when Major treated it as a vote of confidence, we are actually pretty pro- the whole idea, so get stuffed.
Fuck Off #7
Subject to Parliament's agreement, the Government has committed itself to a referendum on the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe before its ratification by the UK.

Indeed you did, Tony. In fact, at 3.30pm on Monday 21st June 2004, you committed to a referendum regardless of the results from any other countries. I quote:
Regardless of how other members vote, we will have a referendum on the subject.

So where is it?
Fuck Off #8
Following the 'no' votes in referendums in France and the Netherlands, however, the future of the Constitutional Treaty is now unclear.

No, it's not and you know it. You know precisely what is happening to the Treaty. Indeed, two people are in a position to know, Elaib spelt it out, as did Dan Hannan MEP.
The 27 heads of government will be asked to approve this plan at a dinner in Berlin next month. Shorn of its otiose paragraphs, the constitution will be less than half its present length. It will still specify the changes in national voting weights, the creation of an EU presidency and foreign minister, and a slight extension in majority voting. But the French and Dutch governments will claim that the new version is too trivial to warrant new referendums, as will the other governments that fear their Euro-sceptic publics: Sweden, Poland and Britain.

Are you seriously expecting us to believe that you, the Prime Minister, don't know all of this?
Fuck Off #9

And what of your promise of a referendum—and I'll say it again—"regardless of how other members vote"?
Geoff Hoon, the Europe minister, has confirmed that the Government's promise of a referendum on the constitution would not apply to a "mini-treaty".

Ah, it's not going to happen, despite the fact that this is still essentially a European Constitution, you are weaselling out of it by saying that it is not the Constitution.
Fuck Off #10

Well, Prime Minister; in those two paragraphs you have told us to fuck off not once, but ten times. So here's your humble Devil's message to you and all politicos: FUCK OFF, FUCK OFF, FUCK OFF, FUCK OFF, FUCK OFF, FUCK OFF, FUCK OFF, FUCK OFF, FUCK OFF, FUCK OFF.

And one for luck: FUCK OFF AND DIE.


Anonymous said...

Isn't it time HMTQ stepped into the continuing scandal of our EU membership. Yes, I know no bill has been vetoed by a monarch since the early 18th century - so what! One of the glories of the British constitution was that there were lots of potential legal obstacles lying around which could be used against the crooks in (and out of) office. Perhaps the last one left (after the Lords are emasculated by the crooks) will be HM's veto. A petition to HM rather than a quasi-petition to the prime crook (who, as you write, surprisingly mildly, has told the electorate to f*ck off) could actually be effective. After all, the Queen is hardly going to tell her subjects to F Off (although the Duke of E might). If the monarchy is devoted to its own survival, an insistence by the Queen that this government does what it said it would( ie hold a referendum) or else (eg veto on all legislation including the Finance Bill) could work wonders.

Mr Eugenides said...

since all three parties are pro-EU (despite constant polls showing that the British people generally are not)

Where do you get your evidence for this, DK? I've seen you make this claim before, but that doesn't chime with my understanding of the state of public opinion.

This page on the MORI website tends to suggest the opposite - that the public are firmly Eurosceptic and opposed to further integration or the Euro, yes, but that a small but consistent majority are in favour of EU membership in almost every poll they conduct.

Which in turn would suggest that whatever else you may think of the Tory policy on this, their stance is not wildly out of step with the general public at all. Quite the contrary.

Perhaps the more interesting question is this; if 40-50% of people are indeed in favour of leaving the EU, why is UKIP polling at 1.5%?


Trixy said...

Try looking at Eurobarometer. British support was at its highest at 41%....

And that's a survey done by the Commission...

Anonymous said...

I was under the impression that UKIP and the BNP both polled over 5% in a recent poll? Then one commissioned by the Guardian claims neither party has higher than 2%. I find it hard to believe, judging by what I'm reading and seeing that both parties (although I'm well aware that they don't like being associated with each other!)aren't going to have an effect. Look how well the BNP are doing in the North of England and London, and the UKIP in the South. I suspect this poll was commissioned amongst purely Guardian readers..

Toque said...

As they demonstrated with the aborted 'Great North Vote' they only allow referendums when they think they can win them.

Direct democracy is only good when it works in favbour of the government, all other times an elective dictatorship is best.

Mr Eugenides said...

Weeelll, kinda.

When you add in the "don't know"s, figures for support of EU membership inevitably fall below 50%, but if there is a consistent majority in favour of pulling out of the EU I would like to see the evidence. MORI has a tracking poll on its website of attitudes to EU membership since 1975 (here) and only four of the 25-odd polls listed show more people anti- than pro- EU membership.

I've just wandered around MORI, YouGov and Eurobarometer (yes, I am bored, since you ask; waiting for a 6:30 train to Glasgow - and no, I will not be shagging Raylene Kelly when I get there) and the findings are pretty consistent; when you give people the option of greater integration, status quo, repatriation of some EU powers to Britain [yes, I know], and withdrawal, most people fall into the middle two categories.

I should stress that I'm not taking issue with DK's post; the government are cunts, they are honour bound [sic] to offer a referendum on the constitution, they'll do anything to get out of holding one, and I would strain every sinew to see that they lost it. Which they would. I agree with 99% of what he's written.

Nor am I actually defending the substance of Tory policy on Europe, which seems to be to make promises that can't be kept (returning EU powers to the UK, pulling out of the CFP, reforming the CAP etc.). I'd prefer to see a much harder line; I want to see EU withdrawal on the mainstream agenda.

I'm just taking issue with the contention that by advocating scepticism, rather than withdrawal, the Tories don't reflect public opinion. I'd say they reflect public opinion pretty well.

Yes, there's a very hefty chunk of people (around 40%) who want to withdraw from the EU. Your problem is that they only, so far, turn out to vote for UKIP at Euro elections and the odd by-election. The Tories know this, and articles like Peter Riddell's in today's Times embolden them to think that they can get away with ignoring UKIP as a lunatic fringe.

From a purely psephological standpoint, I think they're right.

At the moment.

Anonymous said...

I suspect that public conciousness on the EU is severely affected by the refusal of (1) europhiles to engage in any form of mature argument about it (and/or to drown eurosceptics in an avalanche of abuse) and (2) the MSM (particularly the BBC) to provide any consistent forum to discuss the matter. For instance, the admission by Millipede that, because of our EU obligations, we couldn't have prevented imports of diseased turkey from Hungary even if we'd known about it should have had the MSM up in arms. Not a chance.

That the polls demonstrate, even in this climate, that a substantial portion of the population is eurosceptic to the point of wishing to leave makes it all the more likely that a referendum is being refused in order to prevent the EU (as formerly was the case with immigration) being the subject of genuine and widespread enquiry rather than accepted as an uncontentious part of the political scenery. A referendum would bring a far wider and deeper consideration of the EU effect on the UK which could be expected to result in a major increase in euroscepticism. Since the hitherto main eurosceptic party - the Conservatives - avoid the whole subject then any discussion in a political sense is (and actually has been) silenced. This isn't the Conservatives reflecting the public mood, it's the Conservatives helping to create a public mood of resignation to the inevitable triumph of the europhiles.

Devil's Kitchen said...

Mr E,

Apologies, I have been unable to find the poll that I wanted to cite (if anyone can help, that'd be great), but it came out a few weeks ago and demonstrated that the more that people knew about the EU, the more anti- they were.

Debate about the EU and this country has been comprehensively shut down -- by the press because they think that it is boring (and, as Nosemonkey has often pointed out, it often is in the details) and by the politicians for reasons that occasionally defeat me (but is probably because they do not want the electorate to realise precisely how little power we now have in our own country. This is certainly true of the Tories who are desperately trying to win over the EUsceptic vote whilst desperately trying to deflect attention from the fact that it was they who got us into this mess -- and have continued to lead us ever-deeper into the mire -- in the first place).

Educate the masses, properly, on precisely what the EU does, and I suspect that you will see an enormous mass of people wanting to get out.

For instance:-

- don't want road-charging? Tough, we are committed to paying for Galileo somehow and it's the EU who will govern the system.

- don't want a national database, or your DNA shared across the EU? Tough, we have no control over that.

- think that the hysteria over climate change is crap and we shouldn't be taxed in this way? Tough, the environment is a wholly EU competancy.

- don't want to let convicted criminals into the UK? Tough, we have no control of our borders in terms of EU citizens.

- scared that we might get bird flu from Hungarian turkeys and think that maybe we ought to at least suspend imports -- to avoid another Foot and Mouth style slaughtering programme -- until the whole things checked out? Tough, we can't.

- want to do a free trade deal with China, India or, indeed, anyone outwith the EU? Tough, we don't control trade.

- think that this whole "charging for the amount of rubbish we throw out" is a pile of horseshit? Tough, it's to comply with EU rules.

- think that making Holocaust denial or "trivialisation" a crime is a scandalous attack on the freedom of speech? Tough, it's being implemented on 30 June whether you like it or not.

That's just off the top of my head and from recent stories. Almost every single illiberal, economically illiterate and stupid law has a root in EU legislation. Sure, our civil service add their very own sugar-shit coating, but that doesn't alter the fact that, were people told the truth by the media and the politicians, a considerable number would be opposed to remaining in the EU.

And I haven't even started on the economic arguments yet.


Devil's Kitchen said...


"For instance, the admission by Millipede that, because of our EU obligations, we couldn't have prevented imports of diseased turkey from Hungary even if we'd known about it should have had the MSM up in arms."

Has Batshit admitted it? Last time I checked, he was attempting to conceal the fact.


Anonymous said...


"Has Batshit admitted it?"


"Environment Secretary David Miliband told BBC television on Sunday that the blocking of Hungarian imports would have breached European Union trade regulations.

"That would be in contravention to the EU free trade rules," he said when quizzed about the measure."



nsfl said...

Excellent fisking, ut semper. However, Blair was in power for the Amsterdam and Nice treaties.

Anonymous said...

We have no control over our borders not just regarding EU states, we have no control either in ralation to muslim countries this is covered in the never mentioned eu/med axis for this we have the French to thank. the Rabat agreement is stiching this country up!
Our three main parties are full of traitors and cowards too afraid to speak out.

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