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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Referendum and dumber

David Cameron is already showing what a slippery sod he is. All the PR spin about straight talking is so much horse crap.

Asked repeatedly on BBC One's Andrew Marr show if he would stick to his pledge to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty in the wake of Ireland's 'yes' vote in the country's second plebiscite, he wriggled and wriggled. I won't rehearse Cameron's complex answer, which Andrew Marr (no dunce he) said he didn't understand. A clearly peeved Cameron told Marr he couldn't have described his position "more clearly". He could have.

It would have been along the following lines: "We won't be holding a referendum. It was all talk anyway. I hoped the Irish would kill off Lisbon but they bottled it. My party is still split on Europe - and it wouldn't go down well in the popular press - so I can't admit the truth."

Don't think the deceit will end with Europe. As soon as the Tories get back into power they will abandon any promise if political expediency deems it necessary. And herein lies the fundamental problem with British politics. Dishonesty is built into the system. It's institutional. Politicians will promise the Earth before elections but, once elected, it's a different story.

In 1997 Labour made many promises. One of them was a referendum on the UK's voting system. Twelve years on and we're still waiting. Gordon Brown recently made a similar promise again. Funny that, given there's an election campaign in the offing.

Many people will be glad a referendum on the Lisbon referendum will never happen in the UK. Their view is that Britain should be at the heart of Europe and the democratic compromises that membership of the club entails are worth it for the benefits. But that's beside the point. The point is that Cameron, our next Prime Minister in all likelihood, can't give a straight answer to a straight question.

Cameron condemned Gordon Brown's refusal to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty as "one of the most flagrant breaches of trust" in British politics. The Old Etonian will soon be able to level that charge at himself.

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