Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Has David Cameron got it wrong on Lisbon and UKIP?

I've just been listening to Iain Dale on Simon Mayo's show discussing the Tory slip in the polls with Peter Riddell. Iain stated that he thinks the main reason why the Tory lead is now averaging in the low double digits rather than the high teens as per a couple of months ago is largely attributed to David Cameron's decision not to have a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

Now we have already established that I am no Mike Smithson, but I did decide a few weeks ago to have a small flutter at 10-1 that there would be some sort of referendum on Lisbon by the end of 2010. Of course now that is looking very, very unlikely but when I put the bet on, I tried to think if there was an upside if the bet did not come in. I thought there was and that it would be an entertaining spectator sport to watch the Tories tear themselves apart over this issue if Cameron dared not to have a referendum.

The thing is that although there were (and are) plenty of Tories who were deeply unhappy about Cameron's Lisbon decision, the media side of this was handled very well. Expectations were managed and although people like Daniel Hannan and Roger Helmer were mightily miffed, as a story it was all over within a few days and the narrative moved on. So you might think job done.

I don't think it's that simple though. For a start, Cameron's supposed way of making sure "matters do not rest there" are widely recognised as very insubstantial and some think they are almost meaningless. A law to ensure any further cessation of powers to Brussels is deemed by many to be too little too late and all the indications are that this and the other measures will be kicked into the long grass anyway.

So if I was a Eurosceptic Tory (and the term nowadays is almost a tautology) then the only party truly representing my views on Europe would be UKIP. I am sure there will be plenty of Tories who for the sake of putting in the most Eurosceptic of the main parties will still vote Conservative but I am sure there will be some who feel so strongly that they cannot stomach doing so and will vote UKIP, whatever the consequences. The question is how many.

I wonder if Cameron will eventually rue his decision on Lisbon. I know that he wants to be able to focus on more important and substantive issues if he becomes PM and in a way I admire him for facing the Eurosceptics down but in order to be in any position to focus on anything he actually has to be in power.

The risk is that by going against what many in his party feel so strongly about, he jeapordises his chances of ever actually being in that position.


Dingdongalistic said...

If I were a Eurosceptic Tory, but one that didn't want all-out of the EU, I'd recognise that UKIP's stance over a Lisbon referendum was merely a front for wanting an all-out decision. A referendum over Lisbon from a mildly Eurosceptic position is ludicrous -- it's in effect attempting to retrospectively change the sovereign decisions of other member States and would seriously annoy them, far more so than any attempt at repatriation of powers on our part (which wouldn't be a walk in the part either, which is why I partially disagree with you over the ease of the line Cameron has taken).

A Lisbon referendum only makes sense if you want all-out by stealth. If you want to persuade the population to get out of the EU, it's also stupid.

Costello said...

"I admire him for facing the Eurosceptics down"

Why? All he has done is accord greater importance to his personal, Europhile, inclinations than to the will of the general populace. Something i've never truly understood is the easy contempt for democracy inherent to the stance taken by most federalist Europhiles. Were Cameron a man truly committed to democracy it wouldn't be left to the likes of Douglas Carswell to try and bring about an In/Out referendum on the European Union.

Robert said...

what does it say about all the main parties when they promise a referendum on the Constitutional Treaty which became the Lisbon Treay and then renege on the promise?

I am a Eurosceptic Tory and I will not be voting for him. I was never going to vote for the other traitors. Now it's either UKIP or BNP.

We will get our freedom back eventually.

Anonymous said...

Just what would a referendum achieve given that the treaty has been passed and its also enacted in the EU?

What would a no vote do? Nothing. If I were labour Libdems in that position I would ignore the referendum thus invalidating any result anyway.

The harsh fact is that the bill passed Ireland voted yes as did everyone else one way or another. Brown refused us the referendum when it could have stopped the treaty. How many different ways do you want me to say it. Its different ... the bill has passed and no referendum on the treaty can change that.

People may well be screaming blue murder about that but BUT nothing NOTHING an incoming Tory govt could or can do now can change that. Argue about what a tory govt should do, but first we have to have tory govt.

Go ahead vote UKIP - for what? A bunch of bozos? Go ahead vote UKIP - for what? To ensure Brown gets re-elected and pills us ever closer to Europe?

And you think that is clever do you??

Cameron has always said they would have a referendum if the treaty was still a live issue. Its Brown and Clegg who have broken promises - are going to wilfully vote to keep brown in office???

Tapestry said...

Carswell is bringing a Private Members Bill for an IN/OUT referendum. Cameron would have blocked this three years ago by saying that anyone supporting it would be denied front bench position.

So far he has not done this.

The market always finds a way.

Cameron is said to be insincere. I wonder. A lot of people believe he is not, especially Ken Clarke and Michael Heseltine who started the Hung Parliament narrative, when Cameron announced his repatriation of powers. The europhiles take him seriously even f the eurosceptics don't.

Only media compliant pollsters (most of them) show a decline in Conservative support. Angus Reid which operates outside the system, is still showing a 17% lead.

I think you are being confused by the propaganda are most people.

Alan Douglas said...

Leadership consists of getting ahead of the right parade.

That banner "We will not let it rest there" is no flag to inspire following.

Mr Cameron, give us leadership !

Alan Douglas

Anonymous said...

.....I know that he wants to be able to focus on more important and substantive issues...

Doesn't this dismissive statement display a bit of arrogance by assuming our loss of sovereignty and submission to Europe is of no importance or substance?

Surely a referendum and the resulting national debate would have established just how important this issue was to the electorate. Now we will never know for sure unless an upsurge in BNP and UKIP support emerges.

Cameron has been very foolish and deserves to be rewarded with a hung parliament with a handfull of UKIP and BNP MP's thrown in as well just to rub his nose in it.

Twig said...

To have a bit of dissent in a political party is all fine and dandy, but to have it split into two diametrically opposed factions is not workable. The Tories have proved themselves completely ineffective and a useless opposition. Remember them riding on Clegg's coat tails over the Gurkha issue?

The infiltration of the Tories by the libleft has been successfully completed, so in the absence of any means to purge the likes of Bercow, Clarke, May and Cameron from it's ranks I think a split would be the best way to resolve the problem.

Currently the choice between Labour, Tory and Libdem is no choice at all.

So UKIP represents the best option for anyone who believes that the UK should try to regain it's independence.

Lauchlan McLean said...

Yes,very wrong,as I go round leafletting for UKIP in a marginal Tory held seat I am very heartened that many of the voters that Cameron takes for granted are expressing a deep interest in Ukip policies and could easily be persuaded to cast a vote in our favour. I may even take a bet that UKIP will hold the balance of power after the next GE.

Dingdongalistic said...

"what does it say about all the main parties when they promise a referendum on the Constitutional Treaty which became the Lisbon Treay and then renege on the promise?"

The. Treaty. Has. Been. Ratified.

A referendum on the Lisbon would be as useless as the proverbial shutting of doors after horses have bolted.