11 Mar 2008 Column 173 Mr Hague I honestly cannot remember who called for one

11 mar 2008 column 173 mr hague i honestly cannot

This preview shows page 22 - 24 out of 102 pages.

11 Mar 2008 : Column 173
Image of page 22

Subscribe to view the full document.

Mr. Hague: I honestly cannot remember who called for one first, but I shall happily bracket the hon. Gentleman with parties that have stood by the commitment they made to the voters during the last general election campaign. I said that I would have a friendly word of advice for the Liberal Democrats. On the subject of the proceedings to come in the upper House, I put it to them that it is not too late to learn lessons from the resignation of three senior members of their Front-Bench team and to honour the commitment to vote for a referendum that they and the rest of us made. The votes last Wednesday demonstrated that with their support the move for a referendum on the treaty could have been carried in the House. At the next general election, everything they say about a referendum will be against the backdrop of the fact that they could have brought about a referendum on this treaty had they so wished. As I have quoted the Liberal Democrat leader, the right hon. Member for Sheffield, Hallam (Mr. Clegg), in almost all my speeches on the Bill I do not want him to feel left out today. In his speech in Liverpool on Sunday, he said: “No wonder people are tired of politics...let’s give people the say they deserve.” The contortions of two party leaderships about a referendum are exactly why people are tired of politics; the people should indeed be given the say they deserve. In his leadership acceptance speech on 18 December, the right hon. Gentleman said: “We want to change politics.” I congratulate him on doing so, because he has invented a new concept of collective responsibility, in which some people who vote against the party leadership have to resign while others can merrily stay put. Although three members of the Liberal Democrat Front-Bench team voted with us on a referendum and resigned, there are eight others who voted with us on a referendum whom the leader of the Liberal Democrats did not have the courage to sack. I can tell him that that is no way to run a Government, if that is something that has ever entered his head. We may be seeing not only a new version of collective responsibility, but a new form of extended abstention, in which a party abstains from voting on something to which it was committed, and its leader abstains from doing anything about colleagues whom he told to abstain but who did not do so. It is abstention as a way of life, but it is not exactly the change in politics that people had in mind. The result is that the Bill still lacks the requirement for a referendum that should so obviously be included in it. The withholding of a referendum is obviously opposed by those of us who oppose the treaty, but given that it was promised in a document so overwhelmingly similar, its absence damages our politics as a whole. We call for a referendum not just so that people can say no to the treaty, but so that they can have their say—yes or no—on the many profound changes in it. Our debates have proved that the changes are fundamental to our relationship with the EU. To name but four of the changes, there is: the
Image of page 23
Image of page 24
  • Fall '08
  • Finklerberg

What students are saying

  • Left Quote Icon

    As a current student on this bumpy collegiate pathway, I stumbled upon Course Hero, where I can find study resources for nearly all my courses, get online help from tutors 24/7, and even share my old projects, papers, and lecture notes with other students.

    Student Picture

    Kiran Temple University Fox School of Business ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    I cannot even describe how much Course Hero helped me this summer. It’s truly become something I can always rely on and help me. In the end, I was not only able to survive summer classes, but I was able to thrive thanks to Course Hero.

    Student Picture

    Dana University of Pennsylvania ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    The ability to access any university’s resources through Course Hero proved invaluable in my case. I was behind on Tulane coursework and actually used UCLA’s materials to help me move forward and get everything together on time.

    Student Picture

    Jill Tulane University ‘16, Course Hero Intern

Ask Expert Tutors You can ask You can ask ( soon) You can ask (will expire )
Answers in as fast as 15 minutes