Well surprise, surprise. The two Liberal Democrat leadership contenders have both opposed proposals in favour of a referendum on the EU Treaty – in direct contradiction of commitments at the previous General Election.
Chris Huhne and Nick Clegg (both former MEPs) claimed that the Treaty – which has been described as being near-identical to the proposed European Constitution which French and Danish voters voted down in referendums last year – was “one of the least radical” and accused Conservatives of avoiding the “big issue” of a vote on Britain’s ongoing EU membership.
Quite amazing for two reasons really: firstly, the majority of people in the UK support a referendum on the issue (over 70% according to the Daily Telegraph). Usually, the Limp Dums are the first to jump on such a bandwagon – have the most watered-down party in UK politics decided that they actually stand for something beyond dog taxes? Secondly, given that the Lib Dems have just dumped their previous leader Ming Campbell primarily due to his inability to oppose the Government effectively, their refusal to do the job they were voted 62 seats at the last election to do (i.e. oppose) shows the Yellow Streak in their most renowned light, i.e. ineffectual, and out of touch with the majority of the country.
So what marks either contender – or, in the absence of a leadership contender made of sterner stuff, the Liberal Democrat party – as any different from the same arrogant “Gordon Knows Best” approach of Labour? With the Yellow Streak still going cap in hand to Brown in the hope of one more meaningless “advisory” position to Gordon’s “Big Tent”, the most likely outcome is that the Treaty (of which only ten out of 250 proposals differ from the original proposed EU Constitution – i.e. 96% of the rejected Constitution remains in the Treaty) will be forced upon us, with the minimum of debate.
Still, things seem to be looking rosier for Gordon than last week. After all, with ‘opponents’ of the consistency of the Lib Dem leadership candidates, he hardly needs to worry about the Treaty vote when it reaches the Commons, even if Labour MPs such as Gisela Stuart do vote to hold the Government to their election promise to hold a referendum on the issue.
Let’s just hope that in addition to the hospital infection cover-ups, the disgraceful standard of combat equipment UK forces were forced to use in Iraq, stolen pensions, and a myriad of other broken promises, the electorate is reminded of this latest breach of an election commitment come 2009 – plus the level of duplicity on the part of the Lib Dems in forcing through a Treaty which transfers even more powers from Westminster to Brussels.