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Our role is to applaud

Posted by Richard Thursday, March 06, 2008 ,

Gerald Howarth, Conservative MP for Aldershot, writes:

Last night witnessed a truly dreadful sell-out by the Government and most Liberal MPs who effectively denied the British people the right to cast their vote on whether today's Parliament should be authorised to transfer to the EU the powers we hold in trust for the British people.

However, how depressing to read Richard North's dismissal of the efforts of William Hague and the Tory frontbench (not to mention the heroic efforts of people like David Heathcoat Amory, James Clappison and Bill Cash, to name but three) to make the case over the past month or so which they all did extremely well and with determination. Contrary to what Richard North writes, Hague yesterday specifically rebutted the federalists' case that the "Treaty" is not the Constitution reincarnated. See Hansard col 1767 onwards. David Cameron, meanwhile, has led the demands for a referendum.

Why is it that some Eurosceptics seem wholly unwilling to acknowledge the work which is being done despite the almost complete lack of interest by the media, summed up by Nick Robinson yesterday who told the Today programme that all 3 parties had "conspired to make the debate dull"? So, serious issues warrant no coverage because, presumably, commentators see Parliamentary debate as merely part of the entertainment business. It would be encouraging to those (unnamed) MPs whom Richard North acknowledges are doing well if Eurosceptics were to applaud those who are trying to do the right thing.
Maybe if the Tories took the time out to listen, consult more widely and accommodate the arguments of the many others who have raised points far more valid than did Mr Hague, Gerald Howarth might be less disappointed (see below - click the pic to enlarge).

click the pic to enlarge
As it is, Hague developed his narrative last June, and has scarcely deviated from it, giving the govenment plenty of time to craft its own rebuttals. On the other hand, he has never got to grips with the government mantra of "the constitutional concept has been abandoned", and nor has he been able to offer any convincing points to counter Miliband's claim that there is no "fundamental shift in the balance of power" in this treaty, that would warrant a referendum.

If I were to single out the single most important part of the treaty, however, I would point to the European Council becoming an institution of the European Union, bound by the aims and objectives of the Union. Right from the start, the "colleagues" have been nervous about this and it was thus evident that it was an important point to make. However, it clearly did not fit the Hague narrative, and was never made by him.

However, despite a lamentable performance - long on style but short on substance - with no real engagement in the core issues of the treaty - it would seem that criticism of the Hague effort is not permitted. Our designated role is simply to applaud.

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