Originally published at Grey/Matter. Please leave any comments there.
The British Conservative party seem to be the only people in Europe who don’t like the Lisbon Treaty.
For those not in the know, the Libson Treaty (or more technically the “Treaty of Lisbon amending the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty establishing the European Community”) is a document that aims to streamline the way the European Union is run, give greater powers to the European Parliament and use fairer methods of voting.
Perhaps most crucially to the common man, it would make the Charter of Fundamental Rights mandatory in all nations within the Union – effectively founding an equivalent to the US Constitution that secures basic freedoms of the people.
Every nation has to ratify the Lisbon Treaty in order to make it law; and – sans the Czech Republic; which is expected to do it any day soon – every nation in the EU has.
So what’s the problem?
Well, Mr David Cameron – leader of the opposition Conservative party in the UK, which is generally a bit iffy about the EU (even though it was they who made Britain join it in the first place) – has recently decided to fire off a letter to the Czech president Václav Klaus telling him to not ratify the treaty for another year, when Cameron is (overwhelmingly expected) to have become prime minister, so he can hold a public referendum on the idea… just like the referenda that have delayed the passing of this treaty for the previous eight years.
French president Nicolas Sarkozy, German councillor Angela Merkel and Spanish president José Luiz Rodríguez Zapatero have all blasted Cameron for being uncooperative and untrustworthy.
Personally, I think this is stupid. There’s nothing remotely objectionable in the Treaty unless you’re not big on proportional voting or human rights, and a referendum in the UK will probably see it fail, as years of right-wing conditioning has put a fairly anti-EU mindset into people – especially in the south of England – and these people will, in all likeliness, not even know what the Lisbon Treaty is, they just won’t like it because it involves Europe.
To take an example of the Salisbury Convention, an old staple of British politics that – for those not in the know – essentially says that people voted in the prime minister based on their manifesto, thus they have a mandate to carry it out. For an opposition party to block a manifesto promise becoming law is to deny the will of the people, and is thus undemocratic. (If you had a convention like that in the US, you’d have had free healthcare for a while by now.)
In relation to Europe, 26 of the 27 member nations have now ratified the Lisbon Treaty. To try and undermine that (as David Cameron wishes to do) is therefore undemocratic and denying the will of 500 million people, each represented by their elected officials, who have ratified the document.
Basically, Mr Cameron is undermining democracy.
And that’s my extremely long 2 pennies.