Saturday, October 22, 2011

The EU Referendum Debate

We are not a Star on
somebody else's flag
As you may know Parliament is to debate whether or not to let us have a Referendum on membership of the European Union on Monday (24th October 2011). The signs are that the motion will be defeated and even if it isn’t the government are not going to let us have one anyway. Just like they didn't last time. Nanny knows best! So just be good children and eat your vegetables otherwise there will be no pudding and an early night. No sneeking off to the pub or for a crafty cigarette in the shed for you and definitely no gaming on the Wii or internet poker.

Governments just don’t trust the people who elect them, but they are quite happy to give away powers to what is effectively an unelected and unaccountable quango made up of ... their mates. And even when they do have a referendum, like on changing the voting system, they deliberately ask the wrong question to get the answer they want.

The bridesmaids are no better. “The Lib Dem leader was in favour of an in/out referendum before he was against one”, says George Eaton. And what a wonder webcache is. Here we see the Lib Dem call to action before they were Tories.

Here’s Mike Gapes MP [Ilford South] on why he is against a referendum.

Here’s Her Majesties Opposition on on why she is for a referendum.

Her amendment adds a d) option to:

"The House calls upon the Government to introduce a Bill in the next session of Parliament to provide for the holding of a national referendum on whether the United Kingdom
(a) should remain a member of the European Union on the current terms;
(b) leave the European Union; or
(c) re-negotiate the terms of its membership in order to create a new relationship based on trade and co-operation."

(d) seek to build support for radical reform of the EU, increasing its transparency and accountability, refocusing its objectives on co-operation and environmental sustainability rather than competition and free trade, and enabling member states to exercise greater control over their own economies.
Or, if it’s broke, don’t bin it – Fix it!

And while we are on the subject let’s have a look closer to home. There is a precedent for the EU. It’s called the UK. The composite of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. We have a Union Flag also known as the Union Jack and dating back to 1800. But there is a feeling that the Scots want out, but then we also have the West Lothian question where the English want out.

People who live in Glass Houses …



  1. I think with respect you are getting your Lothians mixed up!! It is the West Lothian question named after Tam Dalyell the then Labour MP for that constituency who asked a question in one of the Devolution debates the House of Commons in 1977.

    Laurence Davies

  2. Quite right Laurence - corrected. Thanks.

  3. Steady on, Ed. You'll be camping in Finsbury Square with the anti-Capitalism protesters next.

    I've always thought the EU was all about the frogs and jerries trying to recapture by devious, peaceful means the empires that Napolean and Hitler won and lost for them.

    Alex Salmon is a lot closer to what people really want. There are separatist movements all over the world

  4. The "West Lothian Question" actually goes back to Gladstone and Irish Home Rule.

    If you really want to know the history, read on, otherwise .... next please!

    Though recent history identified Tam Dalyell as the midwife of the West Lothian question, the issue has actually been around in British politics since the debates over Irish Home Rule in the 1880s. What was significant about the West Lothian question then was that it not only played a key role in the defeat of the 1886 Government of Ireland Bill, but was also taken seriously as a problem by Gladstone and his Liberal Government. Unlike Labour in the 1990s, the response to the West Lothian question was not to ignore it or condemn it as a red herring, but to seek mechanisms to resolve the problem of devolution and the level of Scottish representation at Westminster. At different times this century supporters of Home Rule have produced a variety of mechanisms to answer the West Lothian question. In the period from 1912-22 Scottish Home Rule was supposed to be accompanied by devolution to other parts of the UK, which would undermine the impact of the West Lothian question: cutting the number of Scottish MPs at Westminster, establishing in-out arrangements to prevent Scottish MPs voting on English legislation and completely redrawing the British constitution to establish a federal state and would represent Scotland proportionate to its population. The Scotland and Wales Bills of the 1970s and the current package of proposals advanced by the Constitutional Convention ignored the West Lothian question, but an examination of the large number of Home Rule Bills proposed since 1886 suggests that Labour's most recent legislation and proposals are typical. In 1886, Gladstone's response to the West Lothian question was to create a strong devolved parliament in Dublin and remove Irish MPs from the House of Commons entirely. As the Bill made progress in the House of Commons, Gladstone altered the Bill to enable Irish representatives to attend Westminster when Parliament debated imperial measures that affected Ireland and also looked to establish a joint commission of the British and Irish parliaments to maintain political unity and dialogue between the two institutions. However, such efforts fell by the wayside after the split in the Liberal Party over Irish Home Rule led to the defeat of the Bill and the Government. Gladstone's second Irish Home Rule Bill in 1893 sought to resolve the problem of Irish representation in the House of Commons by two mechanisms - the in-out arrangement and a reduction in the number of Irish MPs at Westminster. The in-out arrangement was constructed to prevent Irish members being able to decide upon domestic matters in Dublin and then vote on similar matters at Westminster that would affect England, Scotland, and Wales - the classic West Lothian conundrum. Gladstone's Bill basically banned Irish MPs from debating or voting on legislation that affected Britain alone, though it allowed them to function normally on UK and imperial issues. However, the complexities of this bold arrangement were to lead to its undoing and it was withdrawn from the Bill. However, of equal significance at this time was Gladstone's decision to reduce the number of Irish MPs at Westminster regardless of the in-out arrangement. In 1884 Ireland had received 103 seats at Westminster, Gladstone proposed to reduce this level of representation to 80.

  5. Thank you Jawal1 for that first hand account ...

  6. The answer is simple. Grant Scotland full independence, and send all the whinging Jocks in England back north of the Wall. Similarly, have an independent Wales and put all the Taffies west of the Dyke.

  7. As I've said before Morris, if the Scots want Independence then ballot the English!

  8. Our country isn’t a star on a flag. The 1955 flag of Europe ( a blue flag with a circle of 12 yellow stars on it) is the emblem of Sir Winston Churchill’s Council of Europe (CoE) and has since 1985 been used by the EU. The stars do not vary according to the members of either organisation as they are inspired by the twelve-star halo of the Virgin Mary. A flag with a Cross of St George on it was rejected as being overtly Christian.

  9. The irony of politics.

    Week ending 21 October: After many months of fighting Lybian Freedom Fighters, backed by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, finally overthrow and kill Lybian dictator Gaddafi.

    Week beginning 22 October: Cameron denies voters in the UK the democratic right to determine their own future within the dictatorship of the EU.

    Strange old world isn't it?

  10. Morris, we had a General Election in 2010. If you want out of the EU, vote UKIP in 2015 (not sure if the EU or UKIP will still be around then).

  11. I don't take advice from unnamed people.

  12. Nothing is so freely given, nor readily refused, than Advice!