Coffee House

Labour #won’tletbritaindecide: but are they bothered?

12 June 2014

Westminster has felt pretty dull recently, what with very little legislation and that. But now that, thanks to the bravery of Tory MP Bob Neill, could change. #LetBritainDecide fever could be back after Neill was the top Tory (not the top MP) in the Private Member’s Bill ballot. And funnily enough, Neill chose to take up the baton from James Wharton and introduce an EU referendum bill, which could lead to the Prime Minister invoking the Parliament Act to get it into law – if it passes the Commons in the same way as the previous bill.

This appears to be useful for the Conservatives on many levels. If Labour and the Lib Dems cause trouble in the Commons, they can argue that these two parties don’t want to give people a choice: they #won’tletbritaindecide. If it gets blocked by the Lords, the spectacle of the Parliament Act forcing it through will show voters that the Conservatives really are serious about their referendum pledge.

But it’s worth remembering that Labour thinks it can win next year (or at least secure the position of largest party, if you’re one of the party’s pessimists) without a referendum pledge. So voting against it or simply causing problems in the Commons might not be as terrifying as it seems. It will certainly be a bit easier for Douglas Alexander to respond in the Bill debate than it was last time round

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  • Nick R

    Banging on about Europe is still predominantly a game of choice for Tories and Ukippers. Why does Labour have to play? What benefit is there for them in supporting a referendum>

  • Denis_Cooper

    “if it passes the Commons in the same way as the previous bill.”

    The Labour and LibDem leaders will have to decide on their best tactics. Last time Wharton had come top of the ballot and had priority for whatever time was available for Private Members’ Bills, and they allowed his Bill through the Commons knowing that they’d be able to kill it more quietly in the Lords.

    This time Neill is only third placed in the ballot and the top two places have gone to LibDems, so he may not even get the time to progress it through the Commons. If it looks likely that he will then Labour and the LibDems will have to take a decision on whether to kill it in the Commons.

    They may not be too bothered because they know that it is basically a Tory PR exercise, and even if passed into law in this Parliament the next government could have it repealed in the next Parliament.

    A Bill to repeal it, either entirely or in part, for example deferring the referendum for a few years, would have a much easier passage through the Lords which is packed with EU pensioners and supporters and fellow travellers.

  • Denis_Cooper

    “thanks to the bravery of Tory MP Bob Neill”

    What “bravery” is required for an MP to do what his party leaders want and introduce a Bill into Parliament? Ridiculous statement.

  • whs1954

    It is time my party (aye, I am a Conservative) woke up to the fact no one puts Europe top of their priorities except the tiny minority of people who frequent internet comment threads. Labour and the Lib Dems abstained on James Wharton’s referendum bill in the Commons, too afraid to be seen voting it down in one house, but then massacred it in the Lords.
    And not a dog barked from Lands End to John O’Groats. The British people did not rise as one and say “How dare these unpatriotic Lib/Lab swine vote down the Wharton Bill?”. They did not say “No one under the age of 58 (or is it 62? I can never remember) has had their say on whether we’re in the Common Market. Burn the bastards who defy us our referendum!”. Instead they routinely show 3% poll leads for Miliband.

    If Neill thinks this is what he should be doing – he’s wasting his time.

    • Apoplexy

      That’s because people dont understand that most of the things they think they really care about are happening because of European law. For example most of the NHS privatisation you are so worried about is being forced by TTIP and the harmonisation of EU and US trade laws.

  • Ivan White

    Why do we need a referendum on our EU membership at this point in time? Why not one on the creeping privatisation of the NHS, for which nobody has a mandate? Why not one on the Tory policy of persecuting the disabled and throwing them out of their homes if they can’t afford the bedroom tax? Why? Because we are a representative democracy. Because we elect MPs to make decisions on our behalf, and if we don’t like what they do we get the chance to replace them every five years. (Incidentally, nobody asked us if we wanted five-year fixed parliaments; perhaps we should have a referendum on that?)

    Cameron shows a complete lack of leadership over the EU. He believes that we should stay in it, but he runs scared of UKIP and his rabid backbenchers. He should stand up and say that EU membership is in Britain’s best interests and we’re staying in. Despite the UKIP protest vote, the EU is not high on the list of most voters’ concerns, and in recent polls a majority have favoured our continued membership. A referendum wouldn’t settle the issue once and for all – what if the turnout was low and/or the result close?

    Chris Patten, a former Tory minister and recent chair of the BBC Trust, said in 2003: “I think referendums are fundamentally anti-democratic in our system and I wouldn’t have anything to do with them. On the whole, governments only concede them when governments are weak.” Weak certainly sums up Cameron.

    • whs1954

      “Why not one on the creeping privatisation of the NHS, for which nobody has a mandate? Why not one on the Tory policy of persecuting the disabled and throwing them out of their homes if they can’t afford the bedroom tax? Why? Because we are a representative democracy.”
      Ugh. The sheer level of cognitive dissonance required to put such tripe forward is amazing to me. There is no creeping privatisation of the NHS. There is no persecution of the disabled, and there is no “bedroom tax” – there’s an end to a subsidy for social housing tenants with unoccupied spare rooms, but the solution of course (as any private tenant or home occupier knows) GET A HOUSE YOU CAN AFFORD RATHER THAN EXPECTING TO CREAM OFF BENEFITS TO PAY FOR YOUR SPARE ROOMS. (apologies for the block capitals, but I don’t know how to use italics here, and the post above was so utterly angering as to merit shouting)

      • Apoplexy

        It doesn’t matter if there is a mandate, its European Law, that is why people who understand are concerned about Europe, because it means things happen without mandates. Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. EU law.

      • global city

        How many people understand the ‘social housing sector’? Not a lot it seems. It is not a fluid, customer-led system.

        How many bedrooms you end up with at any particular time and how you can move to a more ‘appropriate’ property are determined by the Local Authority/Housing Association.

        This is the main reason why the bedroom tax is a stupid policy.

  • global city

    As I’ve warned before…. the better off out groups must be ready to discuss the points of leaving. At the very least this will not allow labour to meddle and get away with it. They say we are better in… the outers should have the points ready to demolish each and every piece of propaganda.

    The mid term aim should be to have demolished all the rubbish the europhiles generally use and so force them to make their case from the honest principles that they believe… like ever closer union, rule from Brussels, joining the euro, political union, common defence, foreign policy made in Brussels….you know?

  • telemachus

    But it’s worth remembering that Labour thinks it can win next year *
    The second verb here is wrong

    • Inverted Meniscus

      Why has it fiddled enough postal votes already?

    • Colonel Mustard

      A bleak prospect for the people who call themselves English. To be governed by a grisly gang of self-hating propagandists and liars who love the enemies of England more.

      Do not boast about Labour party tyranny, telemachus, but remember that the more you oppress us the more we will hate.

      “Sic semper evello mortem tyrannis”

  • Max Tanner

    (1) Unemployment benefit map shows party political divide (The Guardian, Thursday 26 January 2012).

    “Twelve of the 15 seats with highest percentage of claimants are held by Labour, while lowest claimant areas are mostly Tory or Lib Dem seats”

    (2) Coalition v shadow cabinet: whose constituencies are worse hit by unemployment? (The Guardian, Wednesday 16 March 2011).
    “New research shows Labour MPs harder hit than Coalition members when it comes to unemployment in their constituencies.”

    AGAINST THE ODDS – Labour’s Party Political Broadcast

    • global city

      Proof if ever there was…. voting Labour perpetuates your misery.

  • Hello

    I thought Tory messaging in 2015 was competency? Why are they ceding ground, first in education by escalating a serious issue into a silly row, and now by trying to push through an EU bill a second time, that they know won’t succeed. For a second time.

    You can get away with political gimmicks like this every now and then, as a statement of intent, but if it’s too frequent then you’re just providing your opposition with too many angles to exploit.

    The EU is going to come up again and again and again, it’s not really necessary for the Tories to be creating traps for Labour to walk into, the traps will create themselves when Labour are unprepared.

    • telemachus

      The forces of reason will not be trapped
      The population craves a return to an egalitarian society
      They are sick to death of the elitism that we will hear trumpeted from the Mansion House
      Osborne has got the electorate to the end of their tether

      • Colonel Mustard

        You don’t speak for the population.

        • telemachus

          I am your conscience Colonel Mustard

          Folks are increasingly uncomfortable with the Osborne policies which award a greater proportion of the nation’s resources to those who already have


          Still I suppose the Biblical influence at St Pauls is in his blood

          Matthew 25:29
          For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.

          Matthew 13:12
          Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.

          Matthew 25:28
          “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags.

          Mark 4:25
          Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.”

          Luke 8:18
          Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them.”

          John 15:2
          He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.

          • Colonel Mustard

            You are mad, certainly. But you are neither my conscience nor anyone else’s. You should refrain from being so presumptive and arrogant as to think you have a monopoly on goodness.

            Proverbs 27:2
            “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.”

            Psalm 94:4
            “They pour out their arrogant words; all the evildoers boast.”

            1 Samuel 2:3
            “Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.”

            Romans 12:3
            “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”

            Proverbs 8:13
            “The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.”

            Isaiah 13:11
            “I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant, and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless.”

      • Inverted Meniscus

        You speak for nobody but Labour the party of lies, lying and liars.

        • Ivan White

          LOL. Remind me again who promised “no top-down reorganisation of the NHS”, “no cuts to front line services”, “no plans to increase VAT” and “no cuts to Sure Start”, and who had previously broken his “cast-iron guarantee” of a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. Remind me who lied in Parliament yesterday that “inequality is at its lowest since 1986” and that “child poverty has been reduced”.

          • Inverted Meniscus

            Remind me who left Britsin with a £168 billion structural deficit.

          • Colonel Mustard

            You can LOL as much you want to. The idiocy of the Coalition does not excuse the evil malevolence of the Labour party or its iniquitous crimes against the people who call themselves the English.

      • global city

        garbage in – Garbage out.

  • MirthaTidville

    So not terrifying for Labour , they can just spout `cost of living` and all will fall at their feet…you serious? you think Nigel Farage, to name but one, would let that pass unchallenged…If they don`t fear addressing such a question, after the recent poll results, then they bloody well should!!

    • Hello

      Nigel Farage is like Miliband, he thinks that the cost of living crisis is a “cost of living crisis” and will no doubt devise equally stupid policies to address it.

      The Tories know that the cost of living crisis is a productivity crisis, that the increase in employment is creating an increase in demand that is not met by an increase in output. Miliband thinks that freezing prices will increase output, because he’s silly. The Tories know otherwise.

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