Saturday, September 01, 2007

Turning the Screw

Blunkett and Vaz
Blunkett and Vaz
Further good news for the cause of securing the promised referendum on changes to constitutional arrangements with respect to the European Union emerged this week, with former ministers David Blunkett and Keith Vaz also joining the calls for the people to have their say.

The pressure on Gordon Brown must now be substantial with an estimated 120 plus Labour MPs not happy with the decision to renege on the manifesto commitment, as well as the pressure coming from the union movement. With Brown probably considering a snap election at around the time the final new treaty would be coming into its final shape before ratification, the need to relieve the pressure from within his own parties ranks, and from the elecorate at large could easily become overwhelming.

I'm not sure the intervention by Blunkett will add much to the debate, as he seems to have become somewhat semi-detached from the mainstream of Labour thought since his most recent resignation. More to the point, the less I have to think about the odious little control freak the better.

I wouldn't exactly call myself a fan of Keith Vaz either. As someone who has his concerns about the European project, former Labour Europe ministers are never going to be my favourite people, but at least he is better in this regard than serial failure Geoff Hoon.

For all of that, I welcome Mr Vaz's contribution to the debate. This time around there has been a small but still, heartening number of EU supporters who are beginning to realise that the organisation will never be fully accepted, let alone loved, until the public are given the chance to have their say. Without this the EU will continue to be something that is 'done to' the people of this country, not something they feel 'part of'. My preference is for there to be much less EU, but that said I would be happier with a country where there was more EU by popular consent, than the current unacceptable position.

The only fly in the ointment was a slight weakening in the tone of Liberal Democrat support for the concept of a referendum, with Ming opting to use his now very limited weight for a fairly unlimited amnesty for all illegal migrants. I tend not to use my pop-up information box for party leaders, however I think in Ming's case his profile is now so low people may need a reminder of who he is, and I wouldn't have to go back and add pop-ups in the case of sudden return to the back benches.

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