Apparently, some Lib Dems are thinking about quitting the party over Ming’s stance on the EU treaty. Now, I have to say, if forced to take a stance, I probably agree with the people who argue that a referendum is not necessary. Or, to state it a little more accurately, that it’s a bit late now if one is necessary. If you want to know my view, here it is in small writing (because it’s not the point of this post, particularly):
We as a nation have passed any number of treaties similarly signing away some power in the past without referenda, and holding one now would simply allow Eurosceptics to stir up a kick in the shins for the government. I would also go further than Ming in arguing for a more fundamental referendum, if we must have one. After all, if the answer to “Do you want to be in the EU?” is yes, then the answer to “Do you like this treaty?” is to some extent immaterial. If we want to play the game, we have to follow the rules and put up with some compromises, or the whole thing will never get anywhere.
Frankly, once you’ve decided that you want to be in the EU (an institution inherantly of compromise) and participate in it fully, then short of sending the whole British public to negotiate in Brussells, we frankly have to accept that it is part of a representative democracy that we send people in to do this for us and accept the outcome. If we don’t like the fundamental decision, fine, lets have an “in or out” referendum. But what is the UK supposed to do with a “no” vote on this treaty? The EU needs to be reformed, on that I don’t think anyone is uncertain. If every time it makes an attempt to move forward, some country somewhere blows the whole thing out of the water, we’re fighting a losing battle.
Anyway, that stuff said, my main point is this: I just don’t actually care about this very much. I know I should, but I find this whole debate a bit tedious. I know there are arguments on both sides, and I know this is an important issue. But I also have to say, I find all calls for referenda slightly bizarre in the context of a representative democracy – the burden must be on the people who argue that this is a special case to demonstrate that it is. Constitutional change is all very well, but when you have an unwritten constitution, it’s pretty hard to say what changes it, and how fundamentally. I mean, technically, we are still under the ultimate rule of the crown, subjects of Her Majesty, not citizens of a republic, like I might like us to be. I find it hard, therefore, to get terribly worked up about signing away of our constitutional power; we never fought and won it conclusively in the first place, so why should I feel terribly concerned about it being transferred?
I guess that’s an attempt to rationalise what is fundamentally an irrational feeling towards this whole debate, so don’t read all that much into it.
Putting this treaty to a free vote of parliament, that’s something I could get behind. Bitching about the outcome of that vote because the makeup of parliament is a fucking joke which we should all be ashamed of, that’s something I could get behind. This? I don’t care all that much. Sorry.