Friday, 19 October 2007

Time to move on

You can imagine the high-fives, the whopping and the crowing in Downing Street when first the Dutch and then, more senstationally still, the French voted against the EU Constitution in the summer of 2005. Blair's gamble of promising to hold a referendum on whether Britain should sign up to the Treaty, a vote he was certain to lose, had been spectacularly vindicated.

The Constitution was dead. Ergo, no referendum was needed. You can hardly hold on vote on a measure that no longer exists, after all. But Blair could still look us all in the eye and assert his democratic credentials without, happily, the inconvenience of having to put them to the test.

You can also imagine that a further default position was being prepared.

In the certain knowledge that the Constitution would be reinvented, renamed and reintroduced – exactly as it has been – and that demands for a referendum would then be aired all over again ('But prime minister, you promised us. You said so in your manifesto ...'), Blair (or his successor) would be able to say, 'But this isn't the Constitution. This is the Treaty. We never promised a referendum on that.'

And of course technically this is exactly right. It would only be necessary to change a single comma in the original document to be able to claim that it was different.

Hence, the Bottler in Lisbon solemnly intones that, 'It is now time for Europe to move on and devote all our attentions to the issues that matter to the people of Europe — economic growth, jobs, climate change and security.'

But not, please note, referenda. These, clearly, are not issues that matter to the people of Europe.

In my fonder fantasies, I like to think that politicians who lie so blatantly may one day be exposed and punished for their mendacity. Actually, not so much punished as humiliated before being held up to ridicule, reduced to quivering heaps and left blubbing for mercy, crying out piteously.

But only in my fonder fantasies.

Thus are we all fucked by our masters.

Time to move on indeed.

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