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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

EU Referendum - 111 MPs Who Show Some Honesty

For 111
Against 483
Total MPs 650
Abstained/didn't vote/2 tellers each side 56

  Apparently 81 of the 111 who voted for allowing us a referendum were Conservatives. Add in most of those not voting and we get to 110-120. There are 307 Conservative MPs.\Of these 80-100 will be on the government payroll - ministers, PPS's and a few others who could not defy the whip and remain in government (2 PPS's did resign over it). So probably more than half of their backbenchers defied the government whip to some extent.

    For anybody who looks at the overall vote and thinks Cameron won a comparison with the Norway debate in 1940, which directly caused the fall of Prime Minister Chamberlain and his replacement by Churchill is instructive.

   The government won it too, though by a much smaller majority because the Opposition parties opposed. However "39 Government supporters voted with the Opposition, and some others abstained" - a far smaller total than last night.

   They have saved any claim the Conservative party may have to some integrity. Cameron gave us a "cast iron pledge" of a referendum and can have no personal integrity.  no promise from him as leader can ever again be trusted (though to be fair he has already proven that).

   The Labour party and SNP were silent on the subject during the last election but made absolute Manifesto Promises (a pledge in the manifesto being the single most solemn promise any party can make) of an EU referendum in the 2007 election and immediately cynically broke it. Clearly no equal or lesser promise by any of them can ever be assumed truthful.

   The SNP made the same promise and could have put it through the Scottish Parliament had they wished, being the government, but decided to break their word instead. To be fair any such referendum would have been limited to Scotland. Last night they decided to reverse their previous promise and vote against an independence referendum. What twisty turny things they are.

  The Pseudoliberals made the referendum promise in their 2007 Manifesto and immediately cynically broke it along with Labour. They attempted to regain a shred of integrity at the time by promising a referendum on membership later.This promise was repeated in their Manifesto in 2010 and indeed remained on their website until a few days ago. Having made that absolute promise, so many times, yesterday they marched into the No lobby in Parliament. I do not think it can honestly be denied that this must represent the very highest standard of honesty to which any loyal "Lib Dem" ever aspires and that there are therefore no circumstances whatsoever under which any member of the party can ever be treated as in any way honest.

   I don't know of any case where Vladimir Putin lied to his electorate so thoroughly or indeed so often as all 3 parties in Britain have to their's. In which case it is impossible to honestly say Russia is not clearly more democratic than Britain. A electoral system in which in which you are disenfranchised if you note for any but the 2 or 3 officially approved parties  and there are no circumstances under which the electorate can expect any of them to do as they have promised or to be in any way honest barely counts as even a sham democracy. it is that blatant.

    Democracy needs leaders every bit as much as dictatorship. The difference is that in a democracy, though the leader has the right, indeed duty, to say what he believes is the best policy, he must always remember that in the end  the people's will is sovereign. Remember that and he will keep public trust even when the public disagree with him. The best argument against rule by referendum is that we get to choose our leaders and should trust them. When we know they will repeatedly break the promises they make to get elected we cannot choose knowledgeably or give them trust.

   Naturally our media did their duty, as duty is defined when fascists control the media.. The BBC's coverage has been all about rebroadcasting Cameron's speech (and saying he "feels no bitterness" and none of the others; calling what is clearly the Conservative majority "splitters"; calling it a massive victory purely on the votes; declining to mention the promises we were made; and refusing to actually mention the issues. C4 interviewed one of the Yes voters with the "have you stopped beating your wife" type question "Do you just want to leave Europe". The proper answer to that is "I know of nobody who wants to run a saw under Britain and ship it off into the middle of the Atlantic. Europe is a continent and culture of which we are inextricably part. The EU is not Europe as your question is so dishonestly intended to pretend. Now if you will ask an honest question I will tell you exactly why it is in our interests and those of European culture, that we not be consumed in bureuacractic, Luddite, incompetently run EU superstate" but I can see why he didn't and that such an answer wouldn't get broadcast.
  An idea for UKIP and indeed the SNP if they genuinely favour independence. Since we joined every Westminster government has continuously refused to do an accountancy assessment of the costs and benefits of membership. I believe it to be about £100 bn annually (combination of regulatory cost and the money we hand over), but would be interested in evidence that |I am wrong. It is well within the competence of Holyrood to decide to do such an assessment for Scotland, 8% of Britain by population.

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