Tuesday 25 October 2011


The Conservative manifesto included a pledge to allow the subject of any petitions signed by a large number of the public to be discussed by parliament. A pledge perhaps that with hindsight they would have been wiser not to make, and given their record of breaking pledges, one they were ill-advised to keep, while discarding so many others.

It was inevitable that the vexed question of Europe would arise at some point, given that there are vast swathes of the UK where the EU and all its doings are as popular as stomach cramps. Why no one foresaw yesterday's situation, and why no one had thought out plans on how to deal with it leaves me with a sinking feeling of incredulity and, frankly, fear. For if the government cannot act to protect itself, how on earth will it ever protect us.

We all know what happened. Cameron invested his own reputation in the debate, his ability to spin and sell, his authority and backed it up with a series of punishments to be meted  out to miscreants who failed to vote with his three line whip. And still they ignored him. In vast numbers. 81 Tories voted against the government; it's thought that a further 15 abstained.

Why did they do it? Cameron demands loyalty and respect from his backbenchers. He comes from the kind of privilege that tends to get its way, and he doesn't care to be made to look weak. So there will be retribution. But as the BBC's Nick Robinson explained, these MPs were acting either on deeply held convictions, or from fear that if they defied their constituents (or at least their constituency members) they would not be selected next time round. As for the threats of promotion blocking? Most of them are middle aged men, and they know that any promotions will go to either Liberal Democrats or to Tory women (because Cameron needs to mend fences with female electors and he is under some sort of misapprehension that they way to do this is to promote female MPs). So they are risking little.

Cameron has promised EU reform and the repatriation of powers from Brussels (mostly in the form of employment law), achieved by holding a veto over the head of the €uro block which will almost inevitably move towards closer fiscal union (so that countries like Greece can be held accountable for their finances, and elsewhere even elderly gigolos will have to make an attempt at running their country between buying chasing young skirt.  But like most of what Cameron says, it was froth and bubbles: this year, next year, sometime, never. And clearly his backbenchers, or around 90 of them, thought that too.

Is he wounded? Yes. Fatally? Doubtful, at least in the immediately future. I expect a lot of anti-Europe rhetoric now. Already responsibility for the mess that we call the British economy has transferred from the last government to the €uro-zone, seamlessly, without touching the Tories. But backbench MPs are politicians too. They can spot flannel at a mile away. Perhaps from today the coalition of two, is now a coalition of three. The Tories, the Liberals and the Other Tories.

One piece of advice for Cameron from Munguin's Republic. If you are looking for an attack dog to take John Humphries to pieces the morning after the night before, don't ever, ever again send wee Govey. He was catastrophic this morning as he stuttered and stammered about being €urosceptic, and the prime minister being erm, €urosceptic and colleagues and ...erm friends in the party, and erm...respect and erm bringing back power, erm, what? ...erm some powers, erm sometime, erm.....

If Cameron was listening he must have been hiding his head in his hands as disaster unfolded on the radio. Tony Blair was scared of Humphries. That should tell you all you need to know.


  1. I see Old Holborn has started a new referendum petition. Fight fire with fire.
    Just do what the EU does. If you get the wrong answer first time then keep asking until you get the right answer.

  2. Tris

    Just in case you missed it. Labour MP proves once again he is not fit for office.


    How much longer do we need to put up with people like him?

  3. I agree with Poly Toynebee, the coalition had to three-line whip this, to face down these hard-rightist Tory eurosceptics fops.

    Our progressive place is in Europe.

    As Poly said "Cameron was in no peril from the euro-fanatics once Labour pledged to vote for the truth -being in Europe is our destiny"

    My admiration for her, the Guardian and the Liberals goes on.

  4. You admire Tuscan Polly the adulterer so much you can't even spell her name properly Dean ( Polly Toynbee).
    But I thought you would have been appalled when she accused Cast Iron of going for the 'final solution' with his new benefits scheme. Purging the hordes out of London with all those 'cuts' . Oh hang I see why you like her now ;) She has similar views to you about people she doesn't like.

  5. LOL @ Dean and Monty. You two should meet up and have a few pints!

    Ha ha @ Old Holburn. Quite right though. That is what they do.

  6. Monty,

    In the case of her views on Europe, and the referendum distraction; she is totally correct.

    As she said, "swivelled eyed" far rightist nutters dominate the opt out of our future argument.

    But I do apologise for not spelling her name properly, that of course invalidates my entire political viewpoint.

    ... no one would dare call that an arrogant side-step from the facts at hand ...

  7. In all honesty, I cannot for any reason see why Dr Whiteford would make that up. She'd need to be pretty thick to have done so, Dubs.

    As for Davidson and his "doings" and "neo-fascists"? In a position where the Scottish people voted for an SNP government it ill befits the chairman of the Scottish Affairs Committee at Westminster to call our government that.

    Clearly the man is a thug. That's the kind of thing that thugs say. he's a loud mouthed yob and should be excused his duties. He's in a really safe seat though the troughing git.

    And just imagine; the Tory has no recollection of the incident. Isn't that a surprise? Might it be because he doesn't much between his ears?

  8. "But I do apologise for not spelling her name properly, that of course invalidates my entire political viewpoint."

    I think your political viewpoint is as flaky as cast iron's Dean. From Tory boy Vice President to non Tory boy and lover of the champagne socialist and queen of the lefties and No1 hypocrite Tuscan Polly . You need help mate.
    Or stop smoking that stuff you're on.

  9. Ah, so you knew I was VP in Stirling. Then what you don't realise is the whole time I was, I was always peo-EU, Keynesian and an avid believer in the MacMillanite 'Middle Way'.

    So becoming more vocally a Liberal conservative rather than a Conservative liberal wasn't all that hard a transition to make.

    My family here in Glasgow call it 'growing up', and frankly I agree with them.

    But putting that aside, let us talk issues (and not personalities, that is incredibly dull).

    What do you make of the ICM poll showing 49% for leaving the EU, 40% against leaving and a CRITICAL 10% 'don't knows'?

    I'd be interested in your viewpoint (I am assuming that your a rightwinger)

  10. Well I'm glad you're growing up Dean. Most kids start off as socialists until they find out how the world works and who pays for it. You you seem to have done the opposite which isn't so joyous. Wanting a totalitarian state to have control over our lives with no way to sack the organ grinders. The answer to any problem being more regulations and more 'integration' until nothing happens unless it's authorised by the poliburo in Brussels or Strasbourg.

    I had a look at Harold Macmillan's bio and it's weird that you supported him. War hero who stood up to the French and set up a free trade agreement in Europe when France blocked our entry into the EEC (because he wouldn't reveal our nuclear secrets to them))
    He's more my kind of bloke (
    apart from him being an old Etonian. oh and a Tory).

    I'm glad the opinion polls show a majority in favour of leaving the EU but doubt if they are accurate. I know people who don't even know we're in the EU and they will get the vote as well. Easy fodder for the newspapers and the BBC to fill their heads with doom and gloom stories of us 'going it alone' in a dangerous world. Mirroring the rubbish we have to listen to from the same sources as they try to influence the vote on independence for Scotland.