Tag Archives: Liberal Democrats

Why Cameron cannot have a Referendum in this Parliament

23 Jan
Twickenham United Kingdom

Twickenham United Kingdom (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

Unless you have been hiding under a rock, you can not of missed it. Today David Cameron promised an In or Out referendum on our membership of the EU. This is promised by the end of 2017 at the latest, 5 years, but there is one condition. The Conservatives must win the next general election. I assume this is a clear majority, not a coalition as we have now. For the situation now is why we have to wait so long for this promised referendum.

2017 does sound a way off but lets quick look at the context. The current parliament was elected in 2010, and with the introduction of the  Fixed-term Parliament Act 2011 mandate that the election will be held on 7 May 2015 (except in the event of a collapse of the coalition or a two-thirds majority of MPs voting for an early election). So now the end of 2017 from the next general election is only 2 and half years (longest wait situation).  If we look at last referendum in the UK, the Alternative Vote in 2011, the journey from presentation before the House of Commons and people voting roughly one year, with the legislative process taking 7 months. If we use this time frame as a guide, that gives Cameron upto one and half years space to work. One and half years to write, plan and consult.

Returning to the topic at hand, this can not happen in this parliament. The Conservative Party is generally eurosceptic, whilst the Liberal Democrats are europhile. In addition, Labour and the Liberal Democrats do not support or see the need to hold a referendum on the EU, as they believe it is a good thing. With both parties together holding a majority, the required legislation to carry out the referendum would never pass in the house. You need to pass a bill to hold a referendum and Nick Clegg would order his troops to vote against it, in spite of the manifesto promises made at the last election by the Liberal Democrats.

So unless there is a position reversal by Labour (unlikely) or the Liberal Democrats (and pigs may fly…), it would fail before it even started. Therefore we can not have a referendum vote on our EU membership in this parliament.


True Motives Missed…

6 Jan

Councillor Frank Whittle defects to UKIP after becoming ‘disillusioned’ with Tories

The article above is a minor political news article from East Anglican Daily Times about an ex-mayor and local Councillor for Stowmarket who has defected to UKIP for the Tories. Not exactly breaking news (anymore) as the surge from Tories to UKIP continues. Rather, what caught my interest was the response from the Chairman of Cllr Whittle’s ex Conservative Association.

The Chairman, Andrew Speed, felt the cause of this defection is Europe, “we expect that once the national policy on Europe has been defined he may well return at which point we would welcome him back with open arms.” Europe, a lack of policy on Europe? Maybe in the early days but I believe Mr Speed is reflecting a wrongly held belief in the power of UKIP – the issue of Europe. Whilst Europe and all the proclaimed ‘evil’ it personifies (or so claims by Daily Mail et al.), I think that is only the part of the story.

With UKIP developing and maturing as a full political party, representing the ‘alternative’ now that gap has opened up with the Lib-Dems joining government. There is a deeper reason for the growth in polls (highest at 16% here, average is 12% or so), it is serious disquiet mixed with a real alternative for the voters. Surveys by YouGov and Lord Ashcroft have separately established that the EU is not the top issue for Mr Farage’s voters (which is why he has astutely sought to abandon the party’s longer title and pound-symbol badge). Rather, their main concern is immigration, with crime coming second and the EU only third. Studies of UKIP’s supporters find pessimism about the country’s future and rage against the political class.

Take gay marriage (a contentious issue among Tory grass-root faithful), UKIP represent the only major party to stand for traditional marriage understanding. Plus one to UKIP versus Conservative. Or defense where UKIP promise to “to provide proper defence resources and bring an end to devastating cuts“. Defense is a Conservative stronghold that is now looking a little overrun. Or because UKIP’s values represent what some voters are looking for as  its primary attraction is that it will “say things that need to be said but others are scared to say” (to quote the Lord Ashcroft‘s  survey looking at the threat of UKIP. The list goes on, and it’s not just ex-Tories defecting, its Labour and Lib Dems too.

Sorry Mr Speed but you missed the true motives. It is  the expression of dissatisfaction, borrowing the capitalistic mantra: “the voters have voted with their feet“.