Sunday, 16 September 2007

A constituent writes ...

As I noted below, I recently decided to suspend my disdain for our political class and attempted to contact my local MP, to ascertain her position on the referendum. I have now received a reply. Sadly the green shoot of optimism has been stamped back into the mud by the boot of experience.

She tells me:

"This treaty makes the EU more effective but does not make it more powerful. I therefore do not feel a referendum on this issue is appropriate. The amended treaty improves decision making in the EU, especially important since enlargement, and safeguards democratic accountability through an enhanced role for both national parliaments and the European Parliament. Crucially the treaty preserves Britain's ability to take an independent course if we think it necessary for the UK's best interests. It is also important to note that the treaty does not change Britain's ability to act in 4 'red line' areas. This means there is nothing new in the treaty which requires us to change our labour and social legislation, our common law system and our police and judicial processes have been protected, our tax and social security system has been protected, our independent foreign and defence policy is maintained."

Unfortunately for her, I have read the Labour manifesto from 2005, which states:

"The EU now has 25 members and will continue to expand.The new Constitutional Treaty ensures the new Europe can work effectively, and that Britain keeps control of key national interests like foreign policy, taxation, social security and defence.The Treaty sets out what the EU can do and what it cannot. It strengthens the voice of national parliaments and governments in EU affairs. It is a good treaty for Britain and for the new Europe.We will put it to the British people in a referendum and campaign whole-heartedly for a ‘Yes’ vote to keep Britain a leading nation in Europe."

I have now reminded her of this particular section of her "contract with the people" and have asked her to reconsider, to "stand up for this manifesto commitment and the principle of democracy rather than bow to pressure from government whips." Who knows? Perhaps my powers of persuasion will tip the balance.

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