Kenneth Clarke has held almost every senior Office of State. He has been Health Secretary, Education Secretary, Home Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer. He is presently Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice.
You’d think, with all this experience, that his political antennae would be finely attuned to the will of the demos. But decades of cigars and scotch in smoky jazz clubs seem to have dulled his judgment. Either that, or he never had any – at least where ‘Europe’ is concerned.
According to a ConservativeHome/Channel 4 poll, 83 per cent of Conservative Party members want in In/Out referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU. This doesn’t, of course, tell us anything about the likely replicability in the wider country: the validity and reliability of the ConHome/C4 data is questionable, not least because participants are not randomly selected and respondents tend to be those who favour change from the status quo. Continue reading →
It was exactly 20 years ago in 1992 that Europe’s élite were tortuously negotiating the Maastricht Treaty, which paved the way for Europe’s single currency. Germany’s Chancellor Kohl was telling us about the importance of building the House of Europe, explaining that if there was no monetary union there would be no political union (and vice versa). President François Mitterrand of France was more than happy to sacrifice le franc for his plus grand projet. Belgian Prime Minister Jean-Luc Dehaene assured us that monetary union was the motor of European integration. And President of the European Commission Jacques Delors was busy turning the ERM into EMU and founding the ECB to impose binding budgetary rules upon all Member States. When the currency was named the ‘euro’, it was Spain’s finance minister Pedro Solbes who proclaimed: “Thou art Euro, and on this Euro I will build Europe,” as though the gates of Anglo-Saxon Hades could not prevail against it. Continue reading →
It’s a longstanding tradition in Parliament that the process of legislating on contentious ethical issues and troubling moral dilemmas must respect the conscience of each individual MP. And so members are usually granted a free vote on the matter at hand, especially if it touches the transcendent, metaphysical and religious. This has long been the case with such emotively-charged concerns as capital punishment, abortion and embryology – matters upon which, in a liberal democracy, the conscience ought not to be coerced.
Or at least that was the case until Tony Blair began his moral crusade to impose ethical uniformity upon us all, in the exalted name of human rights and under the sinister guise of liberty and equality. Continue reading →