Hats off, this morning, Ladies and Gentlemen, to the first three entrants to my Pantheon of Favourite Labour MPs. This new structure will not be anywhere near as large as Hadrian’s second century Roman original since I do not envisage it ever having anywhere near enough candidates for inclusion to justify so large an edifice, which makes the places accorded to my first three much the more valuable. What it lacks in size, however, will be more than compensated for by its quality as befits those selected for admission.

I have prodded myself into action on this piece of virtual civil engineering prompted by a quite excellent article by Dr. Gisela Stuart, MP in the Labour interest for Birmingham Edgbaston, on the issue of a referendum on the Constitution Mark II in today’s Daily Telegraph (here).

How ironic that it should take a lady of German birth, education and upbringing to be the one to set out with a series of brutal hammer blows so concise a case for a referendum, in particular her excoriating rebuttal of the Government and the FCO’s case for denying the British people their right to give or to withhold their whole-hearted consent to this Treaty!

Wielding a veritable verbal Mjolnir1, she says:

The Government’s reasoning is wrong, constitutionally, technically, practically, textually and politically.

Ouch! Nothing left to say after that you might think, but she continues at the anvil which she makes to ring with blow after blow in as well an argued piece as any newspaper has produced throughout this long campaign.

I do not propose to rehearse here all her arguments which I strongly urge you to consider in full: her piece has the benefit of conciseness, clarity, accessibility and immediate digestibility.

Often we single out politicians who do or say something only for personal electoral advantage for a fairly cynical and much-merited shoeing. But on this occasion it is clear that, whilst Dr. Stuart does indeed have an eye to her standing with her electorate, her majority being a slender 2349, her electoral instincts are on this occasion perfectly proper since she can assert with considerable confidence that she is listening to the voices of her constituents and acting upon them instead of doing what Gordon Brown is doing, which is to say that he is listening to the electorate when he is plainly doing no such thing: hence her observation about the reaping of political dividends by yielding to the call for a referendum.

The importance of Dr. Stuart’s voice cannot be underestimated. She was Labour’s representative on The European Convention, sometimes known as the Convention on the Future of Europe, which had the task of drawing up the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe under the chairmanship of former French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing. It was clearly an eye-opener for her because, after it had been completed, she complained that it had been drawn up by a “self-selected group of the European political elite” determined to deepen European integration. Ouch again!

So this morning, in her best toga and a fresh crown of laurel, she ascends the steps to my Pantheon of Honourable Labour MPs.

Following her in this first induction are two other splendid Labourites. My first is Frank Field who is possibly the most interesting Parliamentarian since Enoch Powell. A man of considerable intellectual rigour who is unafraid to go where logic ineluctably takes him, he is sometimes the object of Tory interest as a possible defector (and what a contrast he would make to the ridiculous Quentin Davies or the oleaginous careerist Shaun Woodward). He would, I feel, add a considerable something to the Tory benches were he to be so persuaded and his talents, which have been overlooked by Labour, might be put to good use in firming up some of Cameron’s centrist social policies into something rather more structured than we have at present. We shall see.

My final candidate for the toga is the inestimable Kate Hoey. Any Labour MP who has the bottle not merely to buck the trend on the Hunting Bill but then to take on Chairmanship of the Countryside Alliance as well must get the nod without more. I am quite sure that in many a rural constituency she would have to weigh the Tory votes rather than go through the mundane business of counting them and would win such a seat at a gentle canter. Enough said!

1 Mjolnir was Thor’s Hammer in Norse mythology and religion

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