Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Lib Dems guilty of major breach of trust

For Nick Clegg to attempt today to don the mantle of trust and honesty in British politics is the most laughable idea that has yet been put forward during this election campaign.

This man seems to think he can say one thing and be believed, despite having so recently and so conspicuously behaved in a completely different way.

The dangerous game he is playing with such a strategy is that anyone with a memory will see that he is trying to treat voters like fools and, in doing so, only discrediting himself.


At the last general election, the Liberal Democrats promised to support a referendum on the EU Constitution. "Ratification", they said in their 2005 manifesto, "must be subject to a referendum of the British people."

But when, in March 2008, the opportunity came to vote in the House of Commons in support such a referendum - the EU Constitution having been revived and re-named as the Lisbon Treaty - Nick Clegg instructed his party to abstain.

Despite the influential House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee - whose job it is to scrutinise EU legislation on behalf of MPs - confirming that the Lisbon Treaty was "substantially equivalent" to the EU Constitution, Nick Clegg and other leading Lib Dems conducted a charade claiming that the two documents were completely different.

The chairman of that committee, Labour MP Michael Connarty,
said during a debate in the House of Commons: "Every provision of the Constitutional Treaty, apart from the flags, mottos and anthems, is to be found in the Reform Treaty. We think that they are fundamentally the same, and the Government have not produced a table to contradict our position."

This view was backed up by a second cross-party group of MPs - the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee -
which concluded that "there is no material difference between the provisions on foreign affairs in the Constitutional Treaty which the Government made subject to approval in a referendum and those in the Lisbon Treaty on which a referendum is being denied."

And at the time there was a cacophony of other European leaders claiming that the EU Constitution had been preserved in all but name.

They said it

Valery Giscard d'Estaing, chief architect of the original EU Constitution,
writing in Le Monde, said of the Lisbon Treaty: "Looking at the content, the result is that the institutional proposals of the constitutional treaty … are found complete in the Lisbon Treaty, only in a different order and inserted in former treaties ... Above all, it is to avoid having referendum thanks to the fact that the articles are spread out and constitutional vocabulary has been removed."

Hans-Gert Poettering, then president of the European 'parliament', said in a letter to M. Giscard d'Estaing:
"I had the feeling that the voice of the European Parliament had been heard and that the essentials had been saved, even if we had to give up calling it 'a European Constitution' ... "

German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, said: "
The fundamentals of the Constitution have been maintained in large part… We have renounced everything that makes people think of a state, like the flag and the national anthem."

Jose Zapatero, the Spanish Prime Minister, said: "A great part of the content of the European Constitution is captured in the new treaties"

Bertie Ahern, then Irish PM, said: "They haven't changed the substance - 90 per cent of it is still there."

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Danish Prime Minister, confirmed: "The good thing is...that all the symbolic elements are gone, and that which really matters – the core – is left."


Either the Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems thought they knew better than all these European leaders and, somehow, believed that the Lisbon Treaty was in fact 'completely different'.

Or, blinkered by their evident long-term fanaticism for passing ever more powers from our elected parliament to the European Union, they knew the truth but set out to deceive the public and deny us the say we had been promised.

Worse, having abstained in the House of Commons to ensure the treaty passed, the Lib Dems then voted against a referendum in the House of Lords - flip-flopping to vote whichever way it took to ensure the anti-democratic treaty became law without people being given the say we were promised at the last election.


The whole process of how the EU Constitution was revived after the French and Dutch 'no' votes and re-presented in order to avoid further public votes was a blatant deceit, endorsed by Gordon Brown and in which the Liberal Democrats - led by Nick Clegg, Chris Huhne and Ed Davey - actively participated.

Clegg and many in his party behaved in a deeply hypocritical and dishonest way, saying one thing and doing another.

They betrayed promises given at the last election and such behaviour should not be rewarded with votes at this election if we are to have a chance of achieving in the future the quality of democracy that we deserve.

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