Whilst in no whit would I wish to prophesy that come Wednesday we shall have seen an historic defeat for this singularly dishonest and dishonourable Government with the Commons voting for a Referendum on the EU Constitution (aka The Treaty of Lisbon), the topography of the battlefield has just been changed.
Instinct suggested considerable caution be taken before making any claims or predictions concerning the ten referenda conducted by the ‘I want a Referendum’ campaign in Labour and Liberal marginal constituencies. These things have a habit of falling flat and, whilst one always believed that the British people, by an overwhelming majority, desired to have their say on the matter, such is the anti-politics of the moment that one feared the British voter might shrug his shoulders and say: “What’s the point, they never listen?”.
Instead they have produced a result that, at the very least, ought to make those Labour and Liberal ‘Democrat’ MPs who inhabit the nether world of a marginal constituency sit up and pay attention for once. Notwithstanding that the distribution of ballot papers was restricted to the public register of electors (as opposed to the full register), IWAR managed to get 152,520 people to vote across just ten parliamentary constituencies. This represented just over 36% of the total of ballot papers distributed, an astounding achievement for this sort of private poll and more than comparable to local election turnout.
With the latter factor in mind, Chump of the Week prize must thus go to dunderhead Minister Bill Rammel in whose Harlow constituency one of the referenda was held. On the racist BBC’s ‘The Politics Show’ he was seen confidently predicting that the turnout in Harlow would be ‘very very low’. Whoops!
In the event the good citizens of Harlow did us proud by returning 38.6% of the 35,302 distributed ballots papers and voting 88.7% for a referendum to be held and 90% to reject the Treaty itself. Of this Mr. Rammel repeated his assertion that this was indeed a very low turnout. But he did not at any time advance any realistic basis for saying that these figures would not have been replicated had there been a ballot of the entire electorate. And the fact of the matter is that these referenda were the best and fairest indication of the wishes of the people of the United Kingdom you could have, short of an official poll: real votes by real voters with a crushing majority in favour of both the holding of a referendum and rejection of the Treaty.
Mind you, Rammel hardly covered himself with glory by asserting, when under fire from the racist BBC’s resident Sunday lefty, Jon Sopel, that the Treaty of Lisbon is no more than “a minor, technical, amending Treaty”. Amending it may be, but the British people well understand that to describe it as ‘minor’ and ‘technical’ is a whopping great bare-faced lie of Goebbels-like proportions.
So, a victory of sorts is registered. The danger remains that we shall win a whole series of battles only to lose the war.
That latter scenario might be avoided if the party of Palmerston and Gladstone were to behave with some sort of honour, dignity and decorum over this issue. Several years of internecine back-stabbing over the leadership has led them successively to advance as a potential Prime Minister a drunkocrat, a gerontocrat and now an infantocrat.
The latter, one Nick Clegg, who doubtless has to say a daily quota of ‘Viva Europas!’ before breakfast lest he be deprived of his toast soldiers for his boiled eggs, faces the possibility of having to sack one-third (and rising, in the light of the IWAR effort) of his Parliamentary party from their positions as bar-room barrackers at which point he and what is left will have to run the show. Such an extraordinary state of affairs, if it was the Tories, would normally be described by the racist BBC as a sign that they were irrevocably split over Europe, and comes in the wake of his party engaging in a serious hissy fit when their fig-leaf amendment to have a poll on being in or out of Europe was not deemed relevant (again).
This ruling from the Speaker (which one is bound to say, whatever Mr. Speaker Martin’s other enormous defects, is quite logical) prompted Clegg and his silly little party to throw its toys out of the pram and walk out of the Chamber of the House of Commons. All this from a party which plans to turn up on Wednesday in order deliberately to abstain from the vote on the referendum issue.
Scarcely can any political party ever have so demeaned itself in this way, let alone one heir to the history and philosophy of the Whig and Liberal parties of the nineteenth century. No wonder that they have not held power for nearly ninety years and are, on this showing, unlikely to do so for another ninety.