Readers of this blog may be forgiven for believing that I am 'gunning' for David Cameron and the Conservative Party on the subject of our membership of the European Union. Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats make no secret of their 'love of the EU', which is probably the only topic on which they have been utterly truthful about with the electorate. David Cameron and the Conservative Party however have presented themselves as a Eurosceptic party and, realising there is a European election in just over a month have broken the practice, adopted since David Cameron's election to the leadership, of never discussing the subject.
Yesterday we had William Hague, in a speech, castigating the present government over their refusal to hold a referendum, contrary to their manifesto promise of 2005. Discussing the election he said "The message we will take to the doorsteps in the coming weeks is that if you vote Conservative it is not too late to have the referendum you were promised." and he also repeated the Tory promise to only hold a referendum on the Treaty if it remains unratified by any of the EU's 27 states if the party is elected to government. He continued "It is a matter of trust; it is a matter of faith in politics; and our commitment rests on the truth that, in a democracy, lasting political institutions cannot be built without the people's consent,......." He also accused the government of debasing the 'coinage of politics'.
Today, this was followed by a speech from David Cameron in which he said "We don’t believe in top-down central control: we believe in local control. We don't believe in taking power, we believe in giving it away." Discussing 'responsible politics' he said "Getting through those difficult decisions will mean sticking together as a country – government and people. That relationship, just like any other, is strengthened by honesty; undermined by dishonesty."
The statement by William Hague that by voting Conservative it is not too late to have the referendum you were promised and in the same breath reiterating the Conservative pledge to only hold such a referendum if the Treaty has not been ratified; is nothing but a contradiction as the first part of his statement is negated by the second. It could also be held to be asking for votes in a most disingenuous and deceitful manner. If "it is a matter of trust; it is a matter of faith in politics; and our commitment rests on the truth that, in a democracy, lasting political institutions cannot be built without the people's consent,......." then it is breaking that trust and faith by imposing conditions on when the people's consent will be sought. Is this not a case, Mr. Hague, of 'debasing the coinage of politics'?
David Cameron, for once, has spoken the truth with his words "We don't believe in taking power, we believe in giving it away", bearing in mind his stated wish to remain a member of the European Union, membership of which means giving away our power to govern ourselves. His statement that the relationship between people and government can only be strengthened by honesty rings a tad hollow, when considering exhortations that by voting Conservative means a better chance of having a referendum when events may well dictate it would not then happen.
If, by June 2010, the Treaty has been ratified and the Conservative Party wins the general election one has to ask: Well, Mr. Cameron, what you going to do now?
Methinks it is about time that the Conservative Party, prior to talking to us about trust, faith and honesty in politics, began to talk to us about our membership of the European Union, its costs, its future political aims and how they propose to justify membership of a political institution that has not been built with the people's consent.
Well, Mr. Cameron?
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