Thursday, May 06, 2010

Anyone But Cameron

Although the main Westminster parties – as always – have been at pains during this election campaign to avoid references to the European Union, this is the one issue that stands above all others. There is not and cannot be anything more important to us as a nation than the questions of who governs us and who makes our laws.

Increasingly, that body is not the Westminster parliament or the British government, and over the term of the next parliament, their powers will diminish further as the Lisbon Treaty begins to bite.

Thus, in many respects, we are not electing MPs who will go on to form our government. We are electing an electoral college which will then appoint members to serve on the councils of our supreme government in Brussels. That government, untouched by the inconveniences and uncertainties of elections, will simply acquire some new faces, but the agenda will not change, and nor will it be accountable to us. For this reason, we have referred to this election as the electorally mandated reshuffle.

It could, of course, have been different, had David Cameron intended to honour his promise and give us a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. That promise was made, most clearly in The Sun on 26 September 2007 (pictured above).

Ironically, in this piece, Cameron writes prophetically of the "final reason" for giving us a referendum as one of "trust". Gordon Brown talks about "new" politics, Cameron added, "But there's nothing 'new' about breaking your promises to the British public. It's classic Labour." Thus declared our putative prime minister: "And it is the cancer that is eating away at trust in politics. Small wonder that so many people don't believe a word politicians ever say if they break their promises so casually."

In November 2009, Cameron then went on to break his own promise, a breach of trust that he justifies by saying that his promise was conditional on the treaty not having been ratified by the time he became prime minister. And it was in that November that the treaty was finally ratified.

But if Mr Cameron chooses to rely on the "small print" of his September 2006 article, there were no caveats in his speech of 26 May 2009. Then, unequivocally – with no caveats or reservations, he said: " ... a progressive reform agenda demands that we redistribute power from the EU to Britain and from judges to the people. We will therefore hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty ... ".

It is that promise to which I intend to hold Mr Cameron. Breaking your promises to the British public "is the cancer that is eating away at trust in politics," the man said. "Small wonder that so many people don't believe a word politicians ever say if they break their promises so casually."

In November 2009, Mr Cameron crossed the line. Having dickered increasingly unconvincingly about what he would do if the treaty was ratified, telling us that he would "not leave it there", he finally broke his many promises and decided to do just that, to "leave it there".

At that time, I made a promise – that I would not vote for a Conservative Party that did not include in its manifesto a commitment to a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. It did not and, since I am not a politician, I intend to keep my promise. I cannot in all faith and honesty vote for Mr Cameron's Conservatives. Further, I cannot recommend that anyone else does either – that would be to forgive the unforgivable.

So, the choice later today becomes ABC – Anyone But Cameron, in practical terms expanded to include Brown and Clegg. Irrespective of the consequences, there is no other principled choice.