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.