Monday, July 30, 2007

Stinging criticism of Brown from Labour MP

Gisela Stuart MP is an unlikely "rebel". She's your archetypal "Blair babe". On election night in 1997, her successful result at Edgbaston came early on, and gave a clear signal that we were in for a Labour landslide.

Ms Stuart has been criticising Gordon Brown for not holding a referendum on the European Constitution/Treaty. She should know what she is talking about. She helped write the original "constitution".

Her article in the Sunday Telegraph is couched in extremely strong terms and entitled: "If Brown won't listen, how can we trust him?" She accuses Labour ministers of talking "rubbish" when they say the treaty is just a "tidying up" exercise. And she accuses them of being "disingenuous" or of not having read the treaty:

Trust the people" has been a clarion call down the ages. The results are sometimes unpredictable and sometimes even uncomfortable for politicians, but it is the ultimate bulwark of democracy.

"We the people agree to leave it to you the people who know more than the people" doesn't have quite the same ring; but that's what seems to be on offer with the new European Union treaty. The politicians claim that they know best, because it's all too difficult for voters to understand.

It's true, a majority of voters do not know the minutiae of the treaty - but then neither do most MPs and ministers. In the same way, not many voters read party manifestos at general elections, but by and large they have a pretty good idea of what's at stake.

...So the real issue has become one of trust. The Government undermined trust by its original handling of the EU constitution. It should never have pretended that it was just a "tidying up" exercise, and it has continued on a similar line with the new treaty. Well, it was rubbish then and it is rubbish now.

The only way to regain this trust is to return to the original promise: trust the people and let them decide.

The Foreign Secretary and the Minister for Europe have said there is no case for a referendum. Either they are being disingenuous or they have not read the treaty (perhaps because the only official version available so far is in French). I hope that both will use the opportunity for a bit of serious summer reading so that at least one of these alternative explanations for their current assessment can be eliminated by the time Parliament returns to the issue in the autumn.

Such sharp criticism from such an authoritative source is very powerful.

1 comment:

  1. Avoid brownmailing yourself. Vote already now about the future of Europe at Vote YES to Free Europe Constitution.