He confirmed once more that Brown-Milliband lie when they assert this is a different treaty in substance from that rejected by the peoples of France and the Netherlands in 2005 and upon which the Labour Party has promised a referendum in its manifesto. Referring to the nine or ten main proposals of substance in the Constitutional Treaty whose drafting he supervised he said:
“…..if you take the nine or ten proposals that were in our text [the Constitutional Treaty Mark I] they are in exactly the same wording as the new presentation [The Treaty of Lisbon].”
Nothing new there, of course, but it is always helpful to have it confirmed on the BBC.
Stourton put it to him that logic therefore demanded that both France and the UK should therefore have referenda. Giscard d’Estaing batted that one away:
Gd’E: “Since the Lisbon Treaty is legally a new one even if the substance is absolutely similar, the Government [of France] can take the process, the Parliamentary process without legal problems.”
ES: “That may be the technical position but it is politically dishonest, isn’t it?”
Gd’E: “They voted against the political power interest, the people in charge at that moment. So you cannot tell, say, strictly speaking, that they approved, disapproved certain parts of the text. They did not in fact because they did not vote on the text.” [My emphasis].
So there you have it: the French people, indeed everyone else in the world, thought they were voting on the Constitution. When they voted ‘No’, the political elite decided that they had, in fact, been voting on something else altogether, namely against the Government because they did not like those in power at that particular moment. This notwithstanding the clear impression most of us had that the quality of debate on the Constitution in France had been rather better than normal. Had they voted ‘yes’, of course, it would have been hailed as evidence of the maturity and sophistication of the French electorate in coming to grips so well with so complex a document.
Faced with this unashamed piece of mendacity, Stourton switched tack to the British experience:
Gd’E: “You have a choice and, of course, it is a political choice and this political choice belongs to the British authorities and people.”
Sadly Stourton did not pick up on the last two words which on the face of it seem to be a call for the matter to be put to the British people. Instead he weighed in:
ES: “Well, I suspect, you will forgive me if I say this, but I suspect a lot of people listening to what you have just said will regard it as typical of the kind of dishonesty they see in the way Europe’s political leaders operate. Because you have conceded that, in political terms, in terms of substance, what we have before us is what you originally designed but you have taken refuge in the technicalities of it to escape the possibility that the British people or the French people should be able to pass judgement on it.”
Gd’E: “Well (chuckle, chuckle) obviously you cannot argue with me about it, because it is not my proposal. My proposal was the earlier text. The Lisbon text is the product of governments, it is not the product of [my] Convention……..It is their choice and so they have to answer themselves to the question you express. It is not for me to answer that.”
In other words, “Not me, Guv!”.
At which point the good Stourton retreated, knowing he was never going to keep hold of this wily and very slippery old eel.
I suppose we should be grateful, then for slender mercies: the admission by the BBC, which normally takes an unrepentant Europhiliac line, that the EuroNabobery operates by and large, dishonestly.
So for the time being our independence lies in the hands of Labour backbenchers. If they have courage, then they will give us the referendum we seek.
I am reminded of the time when, on 2nd. September 1939, Neville Chamberlain spoke in a Commons debate and said he would not declare war on Germany immediately for having invaded Poland. This greatly angered Leo Amery, a leading anti-appeasement Tory MP and, indeed, was felt by many present to be utterly out of touch with the temper of the House and of the British people. As Labour Party leader Clement Attlee was absent, Arthur Greenwood stood up in his place and announced that he was speaking for Labour. Amery called out to him across the floor, ‘Speak for England, Arthur!’, which carried the undeniable and wounding implication that Chamberlain would not. So today, we can say once more to Labour’s backbenchers: “Speak for England!”, for assuredly Gordon Brown will not.