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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

European bogies under the bed aside, does Ken Clarke have a point?

UK Justice Secretary Ken Clarke has just been on the BBC's Today Programme, taking a major swipe at those calling for an in/out referendum. Asked if he accepted that voters were deeply eurosceptic, he said "The nation is a bit eurosceptic" (no kiddin'). But he went on to say,
"The idea that they are all demanding a referendum on the European Union would be regarded as ridiculous, it would be out of sight as a public priority. It is the demand of a few right-wing journalists and a few extreme nationalist politicians."  
He said a referendum would create "absolute confusion" and that he couldn't "think of anything sillier to do...it would settle nothing. Particularly it would settle nothing with the more frenzied eurosceptics who keep believing that European bogies are under the bed." 

Hmmm. Looks like Ken is continuing arguments from ten years ago - and he comes across as very patronising. But he does have a point though: an in / out referendum would actually settle very little - and probably raise more questions than answers. In the next two weeks, we'll publish a briefing looking at these very issues. In particular, we'll look at the tiny issue of what actually happens on Day 2 if Britain did choose to withdraw (i.e. the in / out debate beyond the 'don't bother me with the details' approach that too often comes with this question).

And it ain't easy. This is one you don't want to miss...


@opiniontime said...

Ken Clarke is clearly and probably deliberately missing the point saying:-

"The idea that they are all demanding a referendum on the European Union would be regarded as ridiculous, it would be out of sight as a public priority. It is the demand of a few right-wing journalists and a few extreme nationalist politicians."

If he thinks it is only journalists and a few nationalist politicians who are asking for it, he is clearly out of touch with the publics feelings. Saying "it would be out of sight as a public priority" is pretty much a case of the opposite is true. It is clearly a priority for a lot of the public.

Being out of touch with the public is pretty much a pre-requisite for senior politicians nowadays.

But even if he was right, then there would be nothing for them to fear as on that basis there would only be a few votes for getting out. If it isnt a priority for the public, they wont vote for it.

But the thing is, the public should have the right to choose and the government are denying us the right because they think they know best. They dont want us to come out of the EU, but they are here to serve the public and need to honour our wishes.

If the public as a majority want us to stay in the EU, fair enough. But if the majority want to get out, then it should happen. That is how it should work.

They know what the public want, and that is the exact reason they dont want to give us a chance to show that. They are denying us our democratic rights. We need to stand up and demand what we should be given - freedom to choose.


Neville Baxter said...

Clearly this is the wrong question at the wrong time, what we need is a MUCH looser relationship with the EU , we do not need to come out.

Rollo said...

There is no such thing as a looser relationship: we are either in it, like France, say; or out, like Norway or Switzerland, say. The concept of the acquis communautaire ensures this is so. There is no repatriation of powers, as Clarke knows. He with his treasonable Europhile views has been a buffoon for a long time.

Anonymous said...

When Britain finally leaves the EU, I want to see some of our politicians punished severely for all the falsehoods & dissembling they have used to prevent the British people voting on our membership of the odious EU, not just regularly, but at all since the 1975 referendum. I want to see them impeached for what I consider to be treason. Who would I impeach? Well plenty in the present coalition for a start, & plenty in the previous Labour government also!

christina Speight said...

I agree with those that say we do not need to come OUT , just change the terms of the relationship. But as Rollo above points out the only way TO a new relationship is, first of all, to come out.

The EU's structure prohibits someone being half-OUT, You can only approximate to being half-IN with a new treaty because you can only 'tak-or-leave' any EU changes - you can't amend them during a process. Ah well - suits me but it is clear what the process must be which also answers the fist move on the morrow!!

I'd love to make that call to Brussels ! "Good morning. This is just a quick call to say that the British voters have decided to leave the EU so our lawyers will start drafting a letter at once. We'll send it on as soon as we can and take it from there.. Have a nice day:

Anonymous said...

Clarke is a Eurofascist.

Increasingly, Open Europe is pushing its audience toward Eurofascism.

There is no down side at all to the UK regaining its national sovereignty by leaving the EUSSR, in the same way Poland, for instance, left the EUSSR.

christina Speight said...

Anonymous - you're just ranting and calling people names. Do argue if you wish but calling people Fascists is not helpful.

Certainly Open Europe is not as anti-Euro as I am and I repeatedly here urge for everyone's sake the break-up of the euro and the sooner the better - as well as infinite less damaging.

But , although somewhat muted, I have always known that the ultimate fall-back position of OE is in favour of a closer European partnership which would probably fall well short of a United States of Europe. The research is good and I've always found that no discussion nos closed off.

Average Englishman said...

I voted for the Common Market but not the EU that has now been set up as our unelected lord and master by arrogant politicians like Kenneth Clarke, who have had a very poor regard for democracy.

I like to think that I am a rational person who has no fixed agenda but after considering events carefully over many years I now see no other way forward but to get out of the EU altogether. I want my country back and the sooner the people are given the right to decide, the better. Nothing less will do now. No fudges will work on this one.

I get the feeling that the British people are finally realizing en masse just how much the unelected EU machine controls them and how little they can do about it. All of the main political political parties need to wake up to this fact fast if they wish to get elected.

As for Anonymous's jibes at Clarke being Eurofascist and his comments upon the EUSSR, I too would have once been tempted to consider them a rant not worthy of argument but sadly, the more I look at the Brussels machine and the people who run it the more I am inclined to agree with the passion of his rhetoric. Enough! I am thoroughly fed up with being lied to by such people (Edward Heath being the first of note) and it is time for the UK people to assert their authority and regain their full freedom.

Was that last paragraph a rant? Possibly, but it's the way I feel and it is surely better for me and Anonymous to express our feelings in this blog in such a way than get a Kalashnikov.

Anonymous said...

I agree so much with every word that ' The Average Englishman' stated. I must ask, as I do not remember, a vote being called that gave each Prime Minister, an absolute, unfettered power, to decide the right to be allowed to Give our country away, to a foreign power. I voted in 1975 to be in the Common Market. Governments of all Persuasions since this time have constantly told us lies, damn lies and even more damn lies with impunity. Ken may be the Lord Chancellor but that does not make him GOD. I want my referendum, and will carry on my demand until I get it. I also want to exit the EU, ASAP.

RSG said...

I share the dismay and frustration of Average Englishman, where and how it started.
There has been a proposal for a memorial plaque to Edward Heath to be set in the floor of Westminster Abbey. I wrote to the Dean of Westminster, the Right Reverend Dr. John Hall and expressed my concern as follows:
“How dare you even consider providing a memorial plaque in our sacred abbey to this shameful quisling? What has got into you? Deceitfully and with full knowledge of the consequences he conspired to sell our country to a bureaucratic dictatorship. It would be a sacrilege and you should be ashamed of yourself.
Such a memorial in such a place is for those who have worked diligently and vigorously to preserve democracy and freedom for our country – the likes of Churchill and Thatcher.
I sincerely hope you will carefully reconsider your proposal before this appalling stain is allowed to desecrate this holy place – for which you are currently responsible”
In acknowledging my letter on behalf of the Dean, Sir Stephen Lamport, the Receiver General wrote:
“It remains our firm view that it is fitting….that Prime Ministers who dedicated their lives to the service of Britain and the wider world should be honoured in this way”.
This is a travesty and I responded by email:
“…Just how can you attribute to Edward Heath that he dedicated his life to the service of Britain when, in fact, he knowingly initiated the disposal of his country’s sovereignty to the bureaucratic dictatorship of the European Union – a project in which more and more of its people are, at last, beginning to recognise the inherent deceits and dangers it encompasses.
May God forgive you for this perverse transgression!”

Rik said...

My 2 cents:
1. The Eurosceptics couldnot have hoped for a better PR agency. What this guy is doing is simply keeping it on the frontpage.
2. This isnot going to change anything or convince an EU-doubter that he/she is wrong.
3. The importance of issues is not only determined by its social economic etc importance. Partly it is also simply it being on the agenda and the perception of that moment that it is important. Governments have been sent home for basically non-issues.
4. This is
a) important (it is about the way the UK wants to organise its governance);
b) and highly important economically as well as basically has consequences for all the UK external trade. Either as direct trade (with the EZ/EU or because the rules are basically all EU rules and not UK national ones);
c) it is getting a lot of attention (also because of the EZ crisis.
Aka as important as it gets.
5. So his conclusion is rubbish anyway.
6. The voters agenda is sometimes neglected but not when an election is not that far off.
Like here the problem EU-sceptics have is basically that it is not (yet) decided by popular vote.
7. What we see here this will be the main issue (next to the economy) however Dave and Gideon themselves are knitting these 2 together. and in all fairness most voters would see it connected anyway.
8. With the Tories going from one scandal to the other and Labour so weak that it cannot really profit from it. A proper opposition-leader should/would have finished them off long ago. We likely see a race of 2 cripples (one with a left leg missing the other with the right one gone).
9. Likely making the EU-membership the possible silver bullit for Dave and Co. Looks to me the only option the Tories have.
10. At the same time the EU is messing things up in a way that there very likely is a pretty good moment to reneg.

Looks like it could be a perfect storm.