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News in early 2008

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Miliband rattled on TV In trying to head off a British referendum, Brown's Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, was even quoted (19.10.07) that demands for a popular vote are based on "scare stories and myths" and that referendums were the "refuge of dictators and demagogues".

(Funny how quiet he was over the thirty or so other referendums under New Labour - for instance the North East referendum on regional government, where the poll was all about voters having the "confidence to have their own voice" (Newcastle Journal, 26.10.04).

On 21.2.06, Miliband wrote in the Guardian, pledging to tackle a "power gap" by giving local people more control of their own lives.

In February 2008, he was slithering on the moral high ground over the need to support democracy other countries, such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Burma (Myanmar).

In the 'Aung San Suu Kyi Lecture' at St Hugh's College, Oxford University, UK, on 12.2.08, Miliband waffled:

"But today, although we should be celebrating Burma's 60th year as an independent nation, we are not. Instead, remind yourself that it is 18 years since Aung San Suu Kyi's party won 82% of the seats in Parliament, and almost 5 years since she began her latest stint of house arrest.

Thanks to the efforts of many people in this room, and many others around the world, Burma has not and will not be forgotten....

The regime has this week called a referendum for May on a new constitution and elections for 2010. For any process to have credibility two things must happen. First Aung San Suu Kyi must be released immediately and allowed to participate along with other political leaders and ethnic groups in drafting the constitution and in the subsequent referendum campaign. Second the UN Special Envoy Ibrahim Gambari should be allowed to return immediately to Burma to help facilitate the process.

I believe this is an important time to reflect on the situation in Burma and to think about what the international community can do there - and elsewhere - to help people fulfil their aspirations for democratic rule. There is a paradox here.

...This reality makes my argument today all the more important. I will argue that we should back demands among citizens for more freedom and power over their lives - whether that is reforming established democracies, or supporting transitions to democracy. We should be on the side of the civilian surge.

...The belief in the equal worth of each human being, and the desire for people to have sovereignty over their own lives is not only enshrined in the Universal Declaration of human rights, it is lived out in all corners of the world.

Tellingly, even where democracy is absent, dictators seek to describe their rule as 'democratic' to provide a veil of legitimacy for their regimes. [Spot the hypocrisy?]

...I believe democracy can take root in all societies. I hope and believe that, in time, it will. The equal worth of human beings, their equal right to independence and self-government, requires no less.

The previous day he gave a sanctimonious interview on the future of Afghanistan:
(FCO, 11/02/08)
...David Miliband: Well hang on, there's a bigger issue here, I'm making a speech tomorrow night in Oxford in honour of Aung San Suu Kyi, the jailed Burmese Opposition Leader, about democracy and about whether or not we're right despite all the difficulties in Iraq and Afghanistan to be putting ourselves on the side of democratic forces around the world. I believe we are right to put our side, ourselves on the side of democratic forces through a whole range of economic, social and military intervention. And you can't both say you want to be on the side of democracy and then say sorry Mr Karzai you've been elected by the people of Afghanistan but we don't think you should stay in office. It must be right that we say that the Afghan people should be determining their own future and that I think is the right answer to your question.

- You can also log comments on Government You-Tube and Flickr websites!

Brown contempt for voters - with acknowledgements to the Sun (c) Media interest of late seems to have gone on trivia such as whether the EU flag and anthem from the EU Constitution are part of the new 'Con' Treaty. (Whether they have been slipped in again in a declaration is irrelevant, as they will be used anyway).

Whether Gordon Brown publicly signs the Treaty, signs it quietly after the photo-op, or gets his Foreign Secretary, to sign it is also secondary. It is the betrayal that counts.

Many people who feel annoyed at the setting up of the EU superstate as a new legal entity, or simply being cheated out of their promised vote are simply lashing out on websites and letters columns.

Whereas their frustration is understandable, their energy is needed in early 2008, when Parliament will be asked to vote on the Treaty. Many Labour and LibDem MPs will have some conscience about whether they should keep their 2005 promises. Voters should be lobbying them - particularly in marginal seats - many Labour MPs rebelled over the Tuition Fees promise in their previous manifesto, including some not seen as natural rebels.

So - don't get mad, get even!

But watch out for a possible Constitutional Renewal Bill - which may change the way that treaties are ratified (and the way that the Royal Prerogative is used - see 'The Governance of Britain', PDF, particularly pages 15-16).

Why this is necessary is not convincingly explained - Parliament can already impose an express requirement for Parliamentary consent to ratification (See Constitutional and Administrative Law, A.W.Bradley and K.D.Ewing, publ: Pearson, 2007, p331)

Other links: Government Bills, 2007/8      Temporary notes on CRB.

To add to the confusion, Justice Minister Michael Wills remarked that any "fundamental alteration in the powers of Parliament" was likely to make a vote by the public necessary. (Read: on a written Constitution for the UK, (BBC, 25.10.07).

Brown betrays us PM Gordon Brown has agreed the 'EU Reform Treaty', a.k.a. the Treaty of Lisbon, but viewed by many with good reason as the failed EU Constitution (Mk 2).

There must be something very special about this treaty setting up the EU superstate, as he refuses to give the British people a say in a referendum - even though this effectively in breach of his election promise. So much for his hyped Parliamentary speech on constitutional reform in July, when he explicitly promised that we should have a say on all major decisions affecting us (BBC, 3.7.07).

Brown claimed to want to address two fundamental questions: to hold power more accountable and to uphold and enhance the rights and responsibilities of the citizen. "The right of all the British people to have their voice heard is fundamental to our democracy and to holding public institutions to account"

He even had the gall to claim that Parliament itself must become more accountable! So much for all the "listening", "never losing touch with the concerns of people" and "building trust in democracy" in his leadership Acceptance Speech (now-defunct leadership campaign website, 17.5.07)

* * * * * * *

Constitution students are recommended to Open Europe's site for information on the latest texts, including on the dangerous arrangements concerning Justice and Home Affairs, and the role of the Charter on Fundamental Rights.

Red herring, stinking fish! The site also debunks Brown's 'red herring' of 'preserving red lines' - a distraction from the great give-away of powers.

A link at the top of this page gives the EU's own texts.

* * * * * * *

Constitution ghost returns We can add a little-known shocker: control of our foreign policy (apart from in military matters) was effectively lost before Britain joined the EEC.

The Foreign Secretary, who showed himself up on Newsnight as 'Thoroughly Muddled Mili', obviously did not know of a longstanding ruling which holds that where an (EU) 'internal' (i.e. domestic) policy has been agreed, it should have a common 'external' (i.e. foreign) policy to support it.

New Labour has effectively let the EU make between 60-80% of our laws, and mostly by majority voting, so we have no veto. Few areas of everyday life don't have an 'internal policy' to be matched by a foreign policy, and they will be diminished still further by the new Constitutional Treaty. See European Court Case 22/70, decided on 31.3.71.

Remember that Europe Minister Jim Murphy told MPs the Government had secured all its 'red lines' on policy areas where it was not willing to give away power.

As long as Britain's "red lines" were maintained, Mr Brown added, "then there's no need for a referendum" (Daily Mail, 24.7.07).

As the 'red lines' quite clearly have been bypassed, Brown, by his own perverse logic should have to concede a referendum.

EU Constitutional hypocrisy over Venezuela The EU likes to portray itself as some kind of 'world power', with a moral authority entitling it to make lofty statements on other countries' affairs. An EU Presidency Declaration (5.12.07) noted:

"The EU welcomes the participation of the Venezuelan people in the December 2nd referendum on constitutional reform. The EU takes note that voting took place in a transparent manner and without relevant incidents.

Now that the Venezuelan people have expressed their will on the proposed constitutional reform, the EU calls upon all actors to work towards strengthening democracy and fostering social progress in Venezuela".

Given that EU heads of government have all (where there is a choice) conspired to deny their own electorates a vote on the Constitutional/Reform Treaty, it must be seen as a gem of hypocrisy to waffle on about "strengthening democracy".

One of the architects of the EU Constitution, former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing, openly admitted that the Treaty was restructured just to avoid a referendum. (Sun, 30.10.07). French President Sarkozy later told a closed meeting that referendums on the revised EU Constitution were "dangerous". (Telegraph, 14.11.07).

"France was just ahead of all the other countries in voting no. It would happen in all member states if they have a referendum. There is a cleavage between people and governments. A referendum now would bring Europe into danger. There will be no Treaty if we had a referendum in France, which would again be followed by a referendum in the UK."

Ironically, the Venezuelans also rejected their own government's proposals.

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This page updated: 6 April 2008
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