Wednesday, June 11, 2008
The (not so) great debate
The Lords debate on whether there should be a referendum is happening now.
We're watching the debate, listening to the dreary, tendentious balls being spouted by the all the ancient europhiles.
Our favourite europhile argument is that a referendum is not needed, because other governments are no longer planning to hold referendums. So that proves that the Treaty can't be significant enough to have a referendum on.
Nice one. No circularity there.
No argument is too pompous or too anti-democratic for the europhiles. God, how they would hate it if we, as well as Ireland, were having a referendum.
It's shocking how empty the Labour benches are. No doubt they will all turn up for the vote, having listened to none of the debate.
During the course of the debate, the Lib Dems have managed the stunning feat of taking three different positions on a yes or no issue. They were for a referendum at the election, abstained in the Commons, and will now vote no in the Lords.
Inded, when Shirley Williams was asked about it as an aside on the World at One today she admitted that MPs had broken their promise. But she didn't feel like that was a problem for the Lords. She said "almost every single" one of her colleagues would vote against a referendum:
Asked if that was not awkward for Mr Clegg, she told BBC Radio 4's The World at One: "
"We've discussed this at length with him. "The position in the House of Lords has been democratically reached: the Parliamentary party in the House of Lords has been consulted and they are of one mind. "Don't forget they include some of the most prominent champions of entering the European Community that ever existed and therefore they are not suddenly about to abstain on something they feel so strongly about as a matter of principle.
"In the Commons it was frankly different because there were some Members of Parliament who had precisely given their constituents a promise they would vote in favour of a referendum and felt bound by that; that is not true of any of the peers."
We think that's pretty shocking.
But will any of the broadcasters seriously cover this evening's vote? We think not.
** Update: David Owen made a very good speech - in which he quoted both Pericles and Swift. That's more like it.
Posted by Open Europe blog team at 3:50 p.m.