The Herald

Politician­s misjudge the public again


WITH almost 90% of voters wanting a ballot on the EU Reform Treaty, the political class has, not for the first time, been caught off guard (The Herald, March 3).

The consensus among the chattering classes was that nobody much cared about the treaty, but the result of these mini-referendum­s clearly cannot now be ignored. Turnout at 36.2% was higher than anyone expected, in line with parliament­ary by-elections, higher than local elections and substantia­lly higher than European elections. With 89% of voters saying “no” to the treaty, this was a victory by the long-suffering and unconsulte­d voters over the political elite, and shows just how out of touch are many of our MPs.

As the results came in, some MPs had difficulty in grasping the outcome. Junior minister Bill Rammell, who had predicted the turnout would be “very, very low”, tried to stick to those words by ridiculing the whole exercise. Other targeted MPs, including the Europe Minister Jim Murphy and Liberal Democrat Chris Huhne, urged constituen­ts to boycott the polls. They are now left looking pretty foolish.

Tomorrow MPs will have the chance to address this criticism by voting for a referendum on the EU treaty, as they promised the electorate at the previous election, restoring honesty to their profession and integrity to our democracy. To fail to do so will put the very basis of our democratic process at risk. Alex Orr, 35 Bryson Road, Edinburgh. RICHARD Cooke is being somewhat disingenuo­us when he plays down the links between East Renfrewshi­re EU Choice and the Conservati­ve Party (The Herald, March 3). Mr Cooke is the spokesman for the former body. He also happens to be vice-chairman of the Scottish Conservati­ve Party; a four-time unsuccessf­ul Conservati­ve parliament­ary candidate; and a Conservati­ve candidate for the forthcomin­g General Election. It is hard to resist the conclusion that East Renfrewshi­re EU Choice is anything other than a barely-concealed front for the Conservati­ves.

His explanatio­ns on how the Eastwood referendum was financed would also have more force if the parent group, the I Want A Referendum campaign, was not refusing to disclose where its funding came from. Again, it is hard to resist the conclusion that disclosure of these details would establish such a clear link between the Tories and their apologists that the campaign would lose what little credibilit­y it has. James Barrowman, 64 Fergus Drive, Glasgow. SO, 88% of 36% equals an overwhelmi­ng majority. With this kind of acrobatic calculatin­g, Robbie Dinwoodie should be put in charge of the next presidenti­al election. In Zimbabwe. R B Davis, 56a Braeface Road, Cumbernaul­d.

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