Quibbling With Cameron

Sunday, 4 October 2009

It's just a small point but it's stuck in my head. This morning on the Andrew Marr programme:
Marr: ...once it's ratified, what then? And I put it to you that you're not answering because you don't know what to do.
Cameron: ...a very good reason... I don't want to say anything or do anything now that will undermine or prejudice what is happening in other countries where they're still debating whether to ratify this treaty...sensible thing to do... as I said, I don't want to undermine or prejudice those people elsewhere in Europe who are currently debating...
Marr: (interrupting) I don't understand this.
I don't understand it either. If Lisbon can be debated in Germany, Ireland, Czech Republic & Poland at the same time (as it was), where's the harm if Britain debates it as well?  It's a spurious and lame excuse if ever I heard one. DC needs to up his game.

What he said is a far cry from: "I will give this cast-iron guarantee: If I become PM a Conservative government will hold a referendum on any EU treaty that emerges from these negotiations."

Much more was said about 'Europe' so I'll post the video if it turns up on YouTube.
UPDATE:  Here is a short extract:

Cross-posted from Calling England
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14 Responses to “Quibbling With Cameron”
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GCooper said...

I saw Pickles spouting the same disingenuous nonsense on BBC News 24 yesterday - sweating profusely in the process, which suggests the man is a poor liar.

Cameron's position is ridiculous.

I can't escape thinking if he is willing to prevaricate this early, he will be no different than the procession of cheats, fools, swindlers, thieves, monsters and criminals who have been in power since 1997.

4 October 2009 at 12:52

It's a sad realisation GC, but not wholly unexpected. Sometimes there's no pleasure in being proved right.

4 October 2009 at 14:20
Shades Of Ansel said...

As soon as this Etonian fuckwit gets into power he'll be just like Brownfinger.He has no intention of giving us a referendum cuz he knows EXACTLY what we'd come back with...i.e. FUCK YOU EUROPE!!

4 October 2009 at 14:53
John M Ward said...

Unfortunately the real world is more complex than this. I have tried to explain (from my own viewpoint of considerable experience within different parts of local and national government) that it isn't as black-and-white as some would wish.

The problem is that that is the media agenda, and at this time there is no quick and easy answer. I'd also not want to tip our hand anyway, as there's a huge army of EU bureaucrats ready to undermine whatever is announced now.

My own blog post should help, provided one's brain is out of first gear and realises the consequences of mis-handling this issue…

4 October 2009 at 16:08
Catosays said...

@John M Ward.
Sorry John, you're blathering.

The problem is not complicated and is easily solved.

CMD has to say that no matter what, a referendum will be held. Now what could be simpler than that?

4 October 2009 at 16:12
Jess The Dog said...

They're treading a fine line, with good reason.

If Cameron ratchets up the pressure in public, this will encourage the same sort of pressure on the Czechs and Poles that was brought to bear on Ireland. This is probably happening anyway, but it would be worse if the ratification process of these two countries became a political football.

So he is lobbying in private. Same as Blair is doing for the El Presidente job.

I think that, if the treaty is ratified and if Blair is appointed President, the Euro battlefield will be very different. There will be widespread British hostility to President Tony and Cherie Antoinette. This will allow Cameron greater scope for manouvre, will avoid the standard label of "Euro-nutters" that has been applied in the past, and will cost Labour dearly in the runup to an election as well.

The trouble for Cameron is this - if he says that a referendum will be held, then the next question is this: what happens if the treaty is ratified by then? The most likely answer is "well, we'll have a referendum on EU membership" which is exactly what Tory-bashers want to hear - it'll split the party and open the Tories up to the "Euro-nutters" label. However....if Cameron says "we'll have a referendum on EU membership" in a few months with President Blair on the throne in Brussels, most of the UK will line up behind him. Also, a discreet approach may prevent our European friends from foisting Blair on us just out of pique, or in the hope he can rein in British Euro sentiment.

4 October 2009 at 19:22

There is a difference. Those debating in other countries were considering the ratification under the extent political regime. This is consideration of what might happen after ratification under a new government.

Not only is the exact legal and constitutional position probably rather uncertain, but Cameron can keep his counsel to a degree, to keep the EU panjandrums guessing. Cameron's position is entirely consistent, what else could he possibly say at this time, other than that he would capitulate? Anything else would be politically naïve.

Shades - I disagree. Cameron has no reason to want the EU to deepen, and every reason to stall it. Brown and Blair had every reason to ratify Lisbon, as it follows their political philosophy. It does not follow Cameron's, and he has worked hard to form an opposition in the European parliament, and then use that to at least now delay final ratification (it is no co-incidence that Vaclav Klaus's party is in Cameron's new grouping).

4 October 2009 at 19:38
John M Ward said...

No, I'm not blathering. I DO NOT wish to let the EU bureaucrats know how they can block any moves we make.

What would the referendum be on, post-ratification? That has to be made concrete so that it cannot be swept aside on a technicality by Brussels.

I have worked far too much in government to fall into the easy trap of jumping now.

We'll see if anything happens on this at Conference, but I'd prefer it to wait until the election is called (the writ issued) before making public just what would be done after the election if the Poles and Czechs have by then ratified.

That's strategic thinking, not gut-reaction thinking. The country is far more important than a political statement for increased popularity now.

4 October 2009 at 21:26
GCooper said...

Oh, dear. Once again, the subject is 'too complex', 'too subtle', 'too nuanced' for a straight answer.

That sort of obfuscatory nonsense is how we got led up the garden path in the first place.

You are asking us to take Cameron on trust. I can think of no reason at all why anyone should.

4 October 2009 at 22:14
13th Spitfire said...

Problem with letting the issue wait until after the treaty is in force is that it will be very much harder to withdraw - should such an action be considered by the government.

The treaty allows for a member nation to withdraw. However before Lisbon all a nation had to do was to consult its own parliament and of it went. The exit clause gives the eu somewhere between 1 and 2 years to "resolve" the issue of exit. During this time they will do exactly what they did to Ireland twice and Denmark once. This is to say that the EU does not allow a state to withdraw but that appearance is given in the treaty, as is democracy.

We would actually have to negotiate our own freedom. But that is the way the EU works why this question cannot wait until after the election. If the Tories do not want a vote on the Treaty, fair enough, but be honest and say so and let the rest of us vote form whom we believe will hold such an election.

4 October 2009 at 23:25
John M Ward said...

There still seems to be some confusion here. We can't avoid leaving it until after ratification if there is no change of government prior to that date, whenever it should turn out to be.

That's it! There is no magic wand that can be waved from Opposition.

I think Jess the Dog has a good point, and it would fit in with some of the hints (they aren't strong enough to be rumours!) that I have heard, but been unable to put together.

The pressures that were brought to bear upon Ireland would be best avoided in the two remaining countries, so treading carefully is the way.

Why do people here think we even have a Diplomatic Service and all the rest of it? It's how things can be achieved when it is necessary to avoid the "all guns blazing" heat-of-publicity way.

This can be done. Giving up on Cameron means certain defeat as there is no viable alternative, so are we going to shoot ourselves in the foot? No: we apply intelligence instead, and give ourselves the (only) possibility of a good outcome.

Unless, of course, someone here seriously thinks that Nigel Farage is going to be our next Prime Minister, keadinga majority UKIP government…

5 October 2009 at 00:06
GCooper said...

John M Ward seems to be confusing confusion with disagreement.

What can be done - and many think must be done - is for Cameron to stop fudging the issue. It is not only bad for the country, it is not even in his party's interest, because it reinforces the Labour view being pumped out of the obliging media: that he is weak, vacillating and incapable of formulating and sticking to a policy.

Not that I am quite sure they are wrong.

There is nothing to be lost if Cameron says 1/ he will call a referendum if the treaty has not been ratified and 2/ If it has been, that he will call one on our future within the EU.

Yes, the Left-liberal media will scream and shout. Let them. The polls suggest Britain would not follow Ireland into the abattoir. Indeed, it might even relish the rare spectacle of a party leader who had principles.

As for 'vote for Dave - he's the least worst option' haven't we had quite enough of that sort of stuff from big three?

5 October 2009 at 00:24
banned said...

GC Cooper, " disingenuous ": perfect word for what Cameron is doing, just short of lying.

Jess The Dog, how would Cameron promising a referendum put pressure on the Poles and Czechs ? It would ease pressure on them if Europe knew we were having our referendum despite what they did.

But I do agree that if Blair is bounced in as President that would add more votes to the NO lobby as everyone can agree on hating him.

6 October 2009 at 12:06
Fausty said...

I pretty much agree with Jess, although the political landscape is changing by the minute.

John, I doubt that anyone thinks that UKIP will form the next government, but to have some eurosceptics in the government will help the "better off out" groupings and will hamper the europhile "ever closer unity" brigade.

So those who can't quite bring themselves to vote Tory would be well-advised to vote UKIP, rather than not vote at all.

G Cooper, I disagree. Cameron is not the least worst option. One could always vote for the fringe parties or independents. Labour won't win this election, my waters tell me. So you have the unique oportunity to vote according to your conscience. Obviously, the mood at the time needs to be taken into account.

7 October 2009 at 00:33