Saturday, May 30, 2009

Vote for Dave?

"A vote for the Conservatives is also a vote for a referendum on the EU constitution. We're the only party that has stuck by the promise to give people their say".

That is in a letter signed personally by William Hague, dated 26 May - as unequivocal as you can get. There are no caveats whatsoever. The message is clear, simple and direct: vote Conservative and you will get a referendum.

And if that is not a direct lie, it is a half-truth. If the German constitutional court rules against it, if the Irish vote – for the second time – against it, and/or if Klaus manages to hold out long enough, so that the treaty is not ratified by the time the Conservative administration takes over, then we will get a referendum. Otherwise, as "call me Dave" tells us in The Daily Telegraph today, we will "not let matters rest".

Had Mr Hague's letter contained all the caveats, as indeed if had Elastoplast's speech, either or both would have come over as flat and equivocal. So they dress it up and keep the small-print for another day.

The title we gave our piece commenting on Dave's speech was Are we being taken for fools?. All the indications suggest that the answer must be in the affirmative. And, all else aside, that is the one thing that is intolerable from the mouths of any politician. We will not have it.

But there is something deeper here. Even if little Dave doesn't know it, his advisors have told him that, to sweep the board at the euro-elections, all he has to do is one thing: give us an absolute, unequivocal, bankable promise that he will give us a referendum.

In fact, Dave does know it, and the very fact that he does not make that promise, but goes out of his way to pretend that he has given it, speaks volumes.

In that sense, the Conservatives are worse than Labour. At least with Labour, what you see is what you get – repulsive, venal, low grade and all the rest. But little Dave would have you believe that somehow he is above it all. "Trust me," he says … or implies. My co-editor had it in one.

Despite this, The Daily Telegraph leader goes to great pains today to tell us "Why a vote for Ukip is a wasted vote" – with a vote for the BNP "something much worse". However, when it comes to UKIP, here in Yorkshire, the lead candidate is Godfrey Bloom. My response to voting for that low-life scum is, "not even if Hell froze over".

Nevertheless, the Telegraph, as do the Tories, want us to use the euros as a surrogate for a general election – to give Gordon Brown a message. That in turn conveys its own message. A vote for any MEP is a wasted vote. As we remarked earlier, all we are allowed is to pick the pigs who feed at the gold-plated euro-trough.

The temptation, therefore, is to walk away from the elections – quite deliberately to stay at home and refuse to vote. Another attractive alternative is to spoil the ballot paper, marking it "None of the Above" or "leave the EU" – or some such other futile gesture.

One other option - which many people are determined to take - is to vote BNP - for precisely the reason Michael Nazir-Ali, Bishop of Rochester, tells us we should not. It is because they are so repulsive.

Although Nazir-Ali cautions that "the apparent moral failure of MPs shouldn't tempt us into extremism," many people want to send this message to the incumbents: "However foul the BNP is, or might be in your estimation, you are worse. You, the politicians, have feathered your nests at our expense, you have lied to us, you have cheated us and you have betrayed us. We are sick to the hind teeth of the lot of you."

It it a sad and sorry pass we have come to. There is just time to recover the situation, but the politicians are going to have to work very hard to avoid what would be a travesty of the democratic process if these loathesome people got in.