Coffee House

Cameron encourages his party to bang on about Europe

30 January 2013

Something quite curious is going to happen in the Commons this afternoon. David Cameron is encouraging his party to bang on about Europe. He has called a general debate, with the motion ‘that this House has considered the matter of Europe’, and it promises to be rather strange.

The strangest thing is that a month ago, David Cameron would never have dreamed of tabling this sort of debate: his camp were busy in October trying to quell an uprising of backbenchers over the EU Budget. But after the speech that delighted even Mrs Bone last week, Cameron finally doesn’t have to wait for a backbencher to pounce on him with entreaties on referenda and renegotiations: he’s got nothing to hide now.

In the press gallery, we’ve grown used to the slightly mournful look on the face of a Tory backbencher who has, once again, pressed the Prime Minister on the matter of Europe, only to get an answer that gives them no more detail than that Cameron does believe in the EU. So this debate will bring with it the profoundly odd sensation of backbenchers praising their party leadership for trusting the people and being bold on Europe.


For them, the sport is now to be found in poking the Opposition, telling Labour MPs that their party leadership doesn’t trust the voters who put them in Parliament and trying to tease out the party’s position after Ed Miliband’s messy PMQs (the Sun has more details on the wranglings at the top of Labour on its Europe policy). They could even be smiling as they do it.

MPs to watch on the Labour benches include those named on these two lists of pro-referendum opposition MPs. Kate Hoey made a particularly forceful speech on politicians losing touch with the electorate on Europe in the EU Budget debate which is worth re-reading.

But the Prime Minister might find the debate doesn’t go wholly in his favour. Without wanting to rain on his Europe parade, it’s also worth remembering that some MPs were not signing in the shower quite so enthusiastically as Peter Bone’s wife. Coffee House was first to report last week that John Baron, leader of a group of more than 100 MPs calling for legislation in this Parliament on a referendum, was worried voters would struggle to trust the Prime Minister. Some specific concerns such as these might still be raised.

Mind you, other MPs who normally take Europe very seriously are starting to focus on other fish. One Tory – definitely not a fan of the Prime Minister – tells me that ‘Dave is so last Parliament’, and that they’re now only interested in the same-sex marriage vote next week. The Times reports growing pressure from Cabinet ministers to placate the party with that all-important married couples’ tax break. This rapid move from one issue to another sounds a little ungrateful, but the sweet mood in the party has been soured by last night’s boundaries vote, with some delightful names for the Libs being bandied about since they emerged victorious from the lobbies. Cameron will be hoping that those MPs rediscovering their mournful faces after a brief period of uncontrollable eurosceptic grinning will at least stay away from the Chamber this afternoon.

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  • joseph watkins

    He does have a point the EU is the most important issue we face

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  • andagain

    This rapid move from one issue to another sounds a little ungrateful

    A little? If he walked across the Thames, they would complain that he couldn’t swim.

  • Daniel Maris

    Monarchy was appropriate to the medieval period. Representative democracy was appropriate to the industrial age. But direct democracy anchored in a referendum system is what we need in the current era.

    • HooksLaw

      Who do you blame when it all goes wrong? How do you get a government tom do something it does not believe in?

    • telemachus

      See above
      Direct democracy is the democracy of the lynch mob and hanging

  • Gold Bug

    “struggle to trust the Prime Minister”? I wouldn’t trust any politician further than I could kick them. There are Colombian drug lords more deserving of trust, at least they’re honest criminals.

    • telemachus

      I think I could live with the more correct
      “I wouldn’t trust a Tory politician…..
      Prior to 2010 we were used to politicians with a moral compass

      • Noa

        You were resident in Ecuador then?

      • Barbara Stevens

        What moral compass? They’ve been corrupt for years but got away with it. Now they can’t hide, and it’s hurting. I wouldn’t trust none of them, all have been complicit in destroying this country.

      • blingmun

        New Labour seemed more concerned with spin than with following a moral compass. Tony Blair didn’t even care about traditional Labour Party principles let alone non-Labour ones.

        Perhaps the rest of us didn’t notice the moral compass for all the dodgy dossiers, cash for honours and donations from the likes of Bernie Ecclestone.

  • toco10

    What interests me most about the EU debate is Red Ed and the Labour Party and the weak Nick Clegg and his Liberal Democrats support forging ever closer links with the least culturally and ethnically diverse nations in Europe.Has anyone ever spotted a senior black or Asian representative from the EU or indeed an ethnic minority minister from Italy,Spain,Germany,Austria,Poland,Greece,the Balkans etc?The answer is a clear ‘no’ whereas, as opposed to members of the EU and the EU bureaucracy, we in the UK embrace ethnic and cultural diversity and are proud to have senior politicians,businessmen and doctors from these communities.So there you have it Labour and the Liberal Democrats advocating ever closer links with an organisation and countries that merely pay lip service to diversity and non racist behaviours.

    • telemaque

      You may be right that we as a nation celebrate ethnic and cultural diversity
      But this welcome does not extend to the majority coalition partner which is getting closer and closer to the ethnically suspect UKIP.
      Ed on the other hand leads a party in the forefront of promoting multicultural Britain while having a shadow chancellor/leader in waiting who is sotto voce anti European

      • telemachus

        Yes my brother
        Watch carefully Baron and Davis this afternoon
        Cameron may well regret today

        • Colonel Mustard

          Shapeshifting again I see.

      • ButcombeMan

        “Ethnically suspect”. Oh Dear.

        A slipped in little smear,

        Your sort never learn.

        • telemachus

          The lie of your disclaimer is just a click away

          “As a member of the EU, Britain has lost control of her borders. Some 2.5 million immigrants have arrived since 1997 and up to one million economic migrants live here illegally. Former New Labour staff maintain that this policy has been a deliberate attempt to water down the British identity and buy votes. EU and human rights legislation means we cannot even expel foreign criminals if they come from another EU country. This is why immigration control is so essential and overdue. UKIP will:……….

          • ButcombeMan

            It is not about ethnicity, it is about numbers.

            The UK cannot continue to sustain the level of immigration we have and that is coming.and is hitting and will continue to hit, our welfare system.

            The latest wheeze is allegedly Eastern Europeans bringing over their retired parents to live off our social benefits, if they can, of course many will.

      • Barbara Stevens

        The problem is no political party as ever had a mandate from the indigenous people of these islands to involve, instruct, inpose, multicultrism onto to them. It as been forced upon them. I resent that, and will not accept it. They continue to tell us what we can have, what we can do, but don’t ask. Brown signed the Lisbon treaty without asking the British people if they agreed with it; now we see the results, disatisfaction on a large scale. You cannot force and insular island like the UK to accept political ideology, it is used to making its own choices, its leaders of parties who can’t see this fact.

    • George_Arseborne

      Weak Nick Clegg? Oh!!!!Because he joined force with Labour to defeat a Weak Tory legislature that would have aid them gain power, since it is their divine right to rule. What a nonsense

    • HooksLaw

      The following list is interesting (if correct).
      Greece has a low number of immigrants – I mean why would anyone bother. (likewise the balkans) Italy relatively few until recently.
      The European country with the biggest proportion of immigrants is Switzerland.
      Germany and France have more than us and proportionately Ireland have more immigrants than us.

      • Barbara Stevens

        I don’t know where you’ve got your numbers from but they don’t add up. I suppose wikipedia. Ireland as limited immigrants. Italy is over flowing, as is Greece, who have financial help to curb them. France is over run, and problems are arising, Germany refused many, its all mess, and we’re in the middle. I’m afraid these people are not welcome, and they should return to their own countries and stop making themselves dependant on others.

    • Rebecca Taylor

      Germany’s finance minister is of Vietnamese origin & is leader of the German Liberal party, arguably the best known stand up comic in France (Jamal Debbouze) is of North African origin, the Belgian PM is the son of Italian immigrants, the most famous Swedish footballer (Ibahamovic) has Bosnian parents, there is a Bulgarian MEP from the Turkish minority and a Hungarian Roma MEP, Denmark’s no 1 female tennis player has Polish parents etc etc, look and you will find (but not all this information is available in English….)

  • 2trueblue

    Democracy is what it is all about. There is none right now. We have a government made up of factions that few of us recognise, we have no idea what present politicians actually do to ensure democracy in the UK. The LibDums and Liebore do not believe in it, and are not keen to give us any freedom either in the UK or on EU issues. The whole house is fragmented and it will do no harm for the voices of others. Maybe the BBC could do its job and give us a broader view.

    • Reconstruct

      It is irresponsible to claim there is no democracy right now. There is – we the British people vote these people into Parliament, and have only ourselves to blame if they turn out to be inadequate for the task and times. Personally I believe that the same surveillance mechanisms which have proliferated thanks to the internet could and should be used to take much of the ‘representative’ out of ‘representative democracy’ we have. Large extensions in direct democracy are, for the first time, possible and desirable.

      • Colonel Mustard

        That might just about be true if:-

        1) Every MP was able to vote with conscience and/or in accordance with the wishes of his or her constituents each time, e.g. no whipping
        2) Manifestos were followed, without the introduction of “new” policies and bills during Parliament
        3) Parties represented their grass roots rather than the strategies of their leaders

        Turnout in 2010 was 65% but an example of how unrepresentative the results were may be gauged from the fact that the BNP (a UK-wide party) received 1.9% of the total votes but did not return an MP whereas Plaid Cymru (a Welsh only party) received 0.6% of the votes and returned 3 MPs. Therefore 1.9% of those who voted are not represented at all in the British parliament whilst 0.6% of those who voted are represented by 3 MPs.

        Democratic? Don’t think so.

        • HooksLaw

          This argument has been done to death.
          Political parties are compromises.
          They agree their compromises before an election and probably adjust them afterwards.
          Members of parliament support their party and vote on the policies which were in their manifesto.
          With more supposedly ‘representative voting’ (like the one which gave Hitler his foothold on power) you get compromises after the election and thus policies which no one voted for.

          • blingmun

            Colonel Mustard didn’t advocate the system of the Weimar Republic. He was just pointing some of the respects in which we do not currently have a democratic system.

            What percentage of those eligible to vote in 1960 wanted an additional 2 million Muslims in the country? Whether or not it is a good thing being alive in 2012, and regardless of how inclusive and accepting non-Muslims are today, it is reasonable to believe that the complexion of the country has been determined not by appealing to popular consent but by the eccentric views of a tiny minority. Whatever else it is, it ain’t democracy.

        • Barbara Stevens

          I agree, if we had been given the chance to have Proportional Representation we might instead of silly AV, we might have more demcoracy in this country. That would of course mean the smaller parties were represented, which in my humble opinion would not be a bad thing. The three main parties have corrupted our democracy with their elitetism, we need change before its to late. We are denied a referendum but the Falklands are encouraged to hold one.

      • telemachus

        The last thing any of us want is power in the hands of the unthinking electorate
        That way lies a return to capital punishment and flogging

        • Colonel Mustard

          Here we have the true face of the troll. Note the way he presumes to speak on behalf of the whole population.

          • telemachus

            I guess I reflect the reasonable population
            Here we hear the words of the been and gone
            This afternoon at Westminster we will enjoy more from the been and gone

            • Nicholas K

              Are you therefore saying with your last two posts that the “reasonable population” (amongst which you doubtless count yourself) accept they are “unthinking”? or do you suggest that the reasonable population wish to deny democratic representaiton for the “unthinking” part of the electorate? What form will your proposal for a new Reform Bill take; remival of the franchise to those who do not have an Ed n’ Yvette wedding comemorative mug on prominent display in their homes?

              • telemachus

                I mean that knee jerk politics is what the current system protects us from

            • Colonel Mustard

              No, very much still here with voting rights too.

        • Baron

          If only, if only the unthinking electorate could have a say we wouldn’t have over 150 murderers who got released having served their ‘tariff’ only to murder again.

          But then, there has never been anything more important for the tossers of your ilk than an abstract principle that warms one’s heart even if, upholding it, many die.

    • Macky Dee

      The BBC, Ha. I like your joke.

      • 2trueblue

        The joke is we are paying for them.. What a treasure our biased BBC is.

    • Tom Tom

      Democracy is a curse – like a public toilet every can enter but it is not cared for or looked after. Most people want an easy life and approach political parties like football teams and the oligarchs behind the teams play them for suckers selling them shirts and paraphenalia but keeping them away from team selection and transfer fees

    • Barbara Stevens

      You’ve got to be joking. The BBC don’t know the meaning of democracy. We supposed to hear all legitimate political parties but we don’t get to hear from the smaller ones at all. Look at their treatment of Mr Griffin of the BNP on QT, like or hate him, he’s a British citizen and should have had the same respect as all others on the programme. Just one example of their bigotry. They tell onsided news, mostly in favour to the left; yet they are funded by all.

      • 2trueblue

        ‘Maybe the BBC could do its job….’ Does perhaps indicate that I was suggesting that the BBC do not do their job?

  • George_Arseborne

    What else does he have in his agenda apart of Europe? The economy is in free fall, people face uncertainty in their job, heavy fall in living standard, hike in petrol prices, high government borrowing figure,. All he can offer is a debate on Europe. What a vacuum is this PM? Anyway he is a one term Prime Minister.

    • 2trueblue

      Cheer up, you will have one of your own at some point again. You had 2 over 13yrs that parked all this mess in our lives, and the architects are still sitting on the opposition benches waiting to return and kill the UK off. Go out and talk to people who ran up debts during those 13yrs. when it was all so good. There are pensioners who remortgaged and remortgaged, because they could, to buy cars, put in new kitchens, go tell them now that Blair/Brrown/Balls/Millipede/Burnham were so helpful pushing debt like it was ice cream, and now they face the problems. Paying down debt is a real slog.

      • George_Arseborne

        They are borrowing higher yet the nation is hurting. What a waste. Bling ! Blame game again. Cameron borrowing is to create recession, what a genius eh!? Blaming Labour Labour all the time is laughable

    • Fergus Pickering

      Ah, Arseborne, you are younger than I thought. Your illiterate ‘apart of’ gives you away. Be silent, child, among your betters.

  • Rhoda Klapp2

    Games. Silly games.

    • telemachus

      Games which Farage and Miliband not Cameron are winning

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