Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The Boy at large


David Cameron will promise that an incoming Conservative administration would set up a new constitutional court to protect British sovereignty from encroachment from Europe.

This is according to The Times, which is retailing details of the Boy's briefing to Tory MPs this morning.

He told them that an incoming Conservative administration would immediately seek to pass a Sovereignty Act which would set up a legal body, similar to the German constitutional court, which would rule on future EU proposals.

A senior member of the shadow cabinet told The Times: "Because we don't have a written constitution we have been particularly vulnerable to depredation from Brussels."

This is, of course, total bullshit. We have a written constitution now. It is called the Consolidated Treaties, as amended by the Lisbon Treaty, which takes precedence over UK law ... and what remains of our constitution.

As for a constitutional court, if this is a measure of what the Boy is going to offer, then he need not bother. What did the German and Czech constitutional courts do, other than roll over?

We also learn that the Boy repeated his promise to seek to repatriate some powers from the EU, but he did not "bow to demands" that he strengthen his negotiating hand by holding a referendum. Nevertheless, fears that the move would precipitate an internal revolt have proved largely groundless.

The Boy was "cheered by his MPs", we are told. But, apparently the Tory whips and key frontbenchers were coordinating the applause. Whether they will still be cheering when the general election results come through is another matter. The loudest cheers might be coming from UKIP.

Howsoever, the Boy geve his press conference at St Steven’s Club, accompanied by William Hague, Liam Fox, George Osborne and Mark Francois. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are to blame for the mess. "Nothing to do with us guv!" says the Boy, but he feels our pain. The betrayal of the promise to hold a referendum (Labour's betrayal) was one of the factors, alongside the expenses crisis, that has caused people to lose their faith in politics.

There is to be no referendum. It would be "a waste of time and money". Instead, the Tories are reverting to a previous promise to close the stable door after the horse has bolted amend the 1972 European Communities Act. This will create a "referendum lock" so that no further powers can be given away without public consent.

Usual Tory fudge, in other words.

And yes, in the door-closing department, we are to get a "UK Sovereignty Bill", to make sure that ultimate authority remains in Westminster. It won't be about striking down EU law. It will just put the UK on a par with Germany, where legislation says the ultimate authority lies with the German parliament. What is this man on?

The Boy also says he will legislate to stop the use of the "ratchet" clauses in the Lisbon treaty that would allow the further transfer of powers without another EU treaty. Again, this is moonshine. The "ratchet" clause already requires parliamentary approval. But, says the Boy, The effect of these changes would be to ensure that a Lisbon situation would happen "never again".

But what about the Lisbon treaty?

Nothing there, it seems, but the Boy is stuck like a cracked gramophone record on repatriating power over social and employment legislation - the so-called "Social Chapter", which no longer exists. He will demand a "proper opt-out" from the charter of fundamental rights. And then, he will seek to limit the ECJ's power over criminal law to pre-Libson levels.

With a quick doffing of the cap to reality, he then admits that these changes would need the agreement of all EU member states. These are "complicated issues", but little Willy is on the case. Success in these negotiations would ensure that EU negotiations do not have to be a "one-way street", he tells us - whatever that means.

These three guarantees are "essential, realistic and deliverable" and the Boy believes "we will be able to negotiate the return of these powers that I have set out." But there is to be no "massive euro bust-up". "We will take our time, negotiate firmly, patiently and respectfully, and aim to achieve the return of the powers I have set out over the lifetime of a parliament." The Boy's priority, if he becomes prime minister, will be the economy.

And if he does not get the opt-outs he requires? Ah! He could return to this at the time of the next election (ie, the one after the 2010). At that point he might discuss a referendum on Britain's relations with the EU.

There it goes ... parked ... he thinks. And thus does the Boy conclude that people are fed up with "endless lies and spin". HE is not going to "treat people like fools" and offer them a referendum that would not have any impact, he says.

Instead, it seems, he is going to treat people like fools in a different way, offering them competely meaningless changes and negotiations that will conclude some time never, with absolutely no indication of how he intends to bring the "colleagues" to the negotiating table.

Asked by Andrew Miller from the Economist asks what "threats" he will use to win back these powers, the Boy confirms his intention to park the issue. He is not trying to win back these powers immediately. But there are treaties coming up - like the Croatian accession treaty - that will provide an opportunity for these issues to be addressed. He thinks.

In any case, his proposals are "practical" - aka meaningless. Thus, he purrs, "there's every chance of achieving these guarantees throughout a parliament".

To the "colleagues", aka "European partners", the Boy says that we do not plan to sabotage the EU with these renegotiations. The idea is "to put Britain's place in Europe on a proper basis that can command the confidence of the British people."

People were told that they were joining a Common Market, but they joined a European Union. The new Conservative policy is a credible policy that voters who have been treated badly can believe in ... he says. And he is convincing who?

Clearly, Ken Clarke is one. He is "fully in support of this policy", says the Boy, which really tells you everything you need to know. However, Clarke is also on record as saying a Sovereignty Bill of the kind proposed by Cameron was "baloney". He is not wrong. "It's a sop, a gesture, worthless and pathetic," says a Tory Boy Blog commentator. He is not wrong either.

And for his closing admission, Cameron says "European leaders" did not like his commitment to a Lisbon referendum. Thus, he was "as frank and clear" with other European leaders as he has been with the people of the UK. Which means they must be as much in the dark as we are.

This is described as "a very clever speech: gradualist Euroscepticism." Lots of vague promises and meaningless fluff. Beef? Forget it. Not just usual Tory fudge - bucket loads. "If this is what he meant by 'will not let it rest, then he's a lying toad," says another Tory Boy Blog commentator. She is not wrong either.

Says Glen Oglaza for Sky News about the Boy's "proposal" to take back power from the EU, "The only problem is that ALL 26 other EU countries would have to agree."

"How likely is that?" he asks. "Well, David Cameron pre-empted the question by asking it himself and offering the answer that these opt-outs would be in the party's manifesto for the election after NEXT - with the promise of a referendum."

"So, basically, this is about buying time and hoping the European problem goes away. Isn't it?" the man concludes. Tim Montgomerie over at Tory Boy Blog agrees. "David Cameron gives every impression of wanting to kick the European issue into the long grass so that he can get on with other things," he says. We could not have put it better ourselves.

Unsurprisingly, Gerald Warner comes to the same conclusion. "Cast-Iron Cameron's latest transparent ploy to kick Europe into the long grass," his piece is headed. All this Tory Euroguff is no more than a device to persuade gullible voters to stay with Dave and his forsworn party. Whether you fall for it or not is a simple intelligence test.

And just to confirm that Boy Dave's "do-nothing" policy on Europe is a busted flush, we have the European Movement welcoming the statement. Peter Luff says, "It makes more sense to deal with the real issues facing Europe right now than to pick an unnecessary and distracting argument with our European partners." Mrs Dale has the answer though. "Those who start spitting about voting UKIP can bugger off and do just that if it makes them feel better," he says.

The full text of the speech is here. The Boy has blown it.