So why start the row, Ken?

Ken Clarke appears on the front page of Saturday’s Daily Telegraph, pointing out what a huge disaster it would be if next week’s Party Conference were to be over-shadowed by a row about Europe.  Of course he’s right.  I think most Conservatives would agree.  So if you don’t want a row about Europe, Ken, why start one?  Or do you think that you can raise the issue, drop coy hints of your private (and not so private) reservations about Party policy, and assume that everyone else will shut up?
The very headline sets up the dilemma: “Clarke: Don’t let Europe wreck Tories’ chances”.  So what exactly does he mean by that?  Let me paraphrase.  He means “Keep Quiet!”.  No one should mention the EU (except, of course, himself — the licensed elder statesman).  We should simply accept the Lisbon Treaty, which may well be 100% ratified before we form a government.  We must accept the transfer of major new powers from Westminster to the unaccountable and anti-democratic Brussels institutions.  We must accept our destiny as a remote off-shore province in a country called Europe.
Sorry, Ken, but no, No and NO.  Most Conservatives that I know believe that European integration has gone too far; that we want a relationship based only on trade and voluntary cooperation; that the Lisbon Treaty is wrong for Britain, and cannot be accepted.  Most Conservatives I talk to believe we should have a referendum come what may, whether Lisbon is ratified or not.  And they believe that for two reasons.  Firstly, because the Lisbon Treaty represents an unacceptable transfer of power and loss of democratic accountability.  But also, secondly, because the conditional referendum is simply no a longer credible policy.
While we awaited the Irish referendum, cherishing the vain hope that they might vote NO, it was just about credible (although not very satisfactory) to say “It’s a hypothetical question: wait and see”.  Now that Ireland has sadly voted Yes, it is neither credible nor satisfactory.  None of our opponents is convinced by it, and frankly precious few of our members and activists either.  We have said that we will set out our policy in our general election manifesto, so why not now?  It looks merely like capricious procrastination to delay.
Ken’s advice to avoid a row is good advice.  The best way to avoid a row is (A) to set out a clear and unequivocal policy in line with the deeply-held convictions of the great majority of the Party; and (B) for the tiny minority of Europhiles in our midst to take a self-denying ordinance, and keep quiet.

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11 Responses to So why start the row, Ken?

  1. Norman Dee says:

    As I have asked on another web site, are these people, (and by that I mean Ken Clarke, John Maples et al) really democrats ? How can they say they are and then try to tie us into what is rapidly becoming a fascist state, in which we will be a middle level player only, thanks to the nu liebour years, with the French and the Germans and probably the Spanish treating us like s==t !

  2. Pingback: Hague responds to Irish vote | Tory Radio

  3. Fausty says:

    Well opined. I agree entirely.

    The Tories need to realise that this is not akin to the Major years’ Maastrict debacle. This is a different beast entirely.

    Most of us want a referendum or to be out of the EU altogether. So if Cameron or Clarke think this matter will go away, when the loss of our ability to rule ourselves rests entirely on this treaty, he will face mass defection of conservative voters to the likes of UKIP. I shall be one of them.

    This is THE most important issue, and he will not deal with it.

    As Witterings from Witney suspects, Manchester is likely to be a bloodbath for Cameron, unless he wakes up and listens to the majority of the country.

    Hell, even diehard Labour supporters who are against the Lisbon treaty will vote Tory, should Cameron give an iron-clad guarantee that we will have a referendum on Lisbon, regardless of its ratification status. And then repeal the blasted thing, if the vote is No.

    No government shall bind its successor. Is that still true, or has Labour eradicated it in some obscure clause of the plethora of bills it has enacted during its tenure?

  4. Malcolm Edward says:

    The Irish result now means that the conservative party has to show a strong sense of purpose to retain and restore sovereignty and democracy to our country. It is vital for ourselves, but also vital for our like-minded friends throughout the Europe and the World to know there will be a strong and independent UK that they can depend on.

  5. Ross Warren says:

    Ken’s advice to avoid a row is good advice. The “best way to avoid a row is (A) to set out a clear and unequivocal policy in line with the deeply-held convictions of the great majority of the Party; and (B) for the tiny minority of Europhiles in our midst to take a self-denying ordinance, and keep quiet”

    Even better why don’t you shut up as well at least until after the conference and preferable until we have secured our victory. Honestly man you talking like a brit and acting like a trot, be careful not to step in the dog poo.

  6. Thanks Ross. I’d be happy to shut up “as well”, but that implies that Ken had also shut up. Clearly he has not.

  7. Thomas Byrne says:

    Do you even know what the Lisbon Treaty entails Roger?

  8. C Ingoldby says:

    I remember attending a Conservative Party meeting at which Ken Clarke said that he ‘looked forward to the day that Parliament had the same powers and responsibilities as a local council’.

    The man wants Britain to be reduced to the level of a province of the United States of Europe. That is not an exaggeration, it is what he actually believes, and now he wants to shut up everyone who doesn’t hold with his opinions.

    Someone remind me why we have to listen to him on this matter?

  9. Tapestry says:

    The Irish Referendum turnout was nothing like the 60% claimed. The detailed figures suggest under 50%. The vote was rigged with ballot box stuffing.

    That aside, the strategy for eurosceptics in Britain must now be.

    1. Back Cameron through to the election.

    2. Vote for Proportional Representation in Brown’s election day referendum.

    3. Eurosceptic Party share of vote outnumbers europhiles 2:1 as demonstrated in the European Elections.

    4. If Cameron fails to renegotiate successfully, he should be replaced as leader with Boris.

    5. A PR election should be called immediately.

    6. The government being a coalition of Conservative/UKIP/ Other minors. They would have the mandate to withdraw.

  10. Tapestry says:

    2. Brown’s referendum is not PR but AV.

    So the best thing for the Conservatives would be to propose a referendum on PR in their manifesto.

    Otherwise UKIP could spring a surprise PR referendum on the electorate a few weeks before the election and wrong-foot the Conservatives.

    The fact that Labour/Lib Dem no longer talk of PR means that they realise the growth in minor parties has changed the balance, and they would be the minority now.

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