Archive for juin, 2013

Referendums

Jeudi, juin 27th, 2013

British Conservatives in Paris members and friends debated the following motion on 25th June, 2013. A brief summary is given of the main points made by the speakers for and against the motion.

Motion:
The referendum as an instrument of government is incompatible with parliamentary democracy.

For: Robin Baker (Proposer)
The debate in the UK for a referendum on EU membership ignores the associated impact on British democracy. Sovereignty of Parliament is the key constitutional issue here. A referendum should not be an instrument for key decisions on major issues as this is the role of Parliament for which such a mechanism already exists. Referendums are no way of measuring public opinion and indeed have been referred to as the device of dictators, whereas legislation passed by Parliament can be more easily reversed.

Against: Alex Carroll (Proposer)
Parliament represents the opinion of the people voting for MPs only on the day (last time they did not vote for a Coalition). People deserve a direct say from time to time and particularly on EU membership with many MPs for and against in all the major parties (even Europhile Labour). Sometimes trust the people to decide, most of these having some education. A referendum can, therefore, be a rarely used, instrument to demonstrate the will of the people (including the silent majority). Remember, there are no rules binding MPs to accept a referendum decision taken.

For: Michael Webster (Seconder)
The referendum is the tyranny of democracy. An EU referendum with its potential negative impact on Britain’s EU trade and seat on the UN Security Council (with France/UK representing the EU) is difficult for the average voter to understand. The public can be fickle and quickly influenced by events, with referendum decisions sometimes difficult to undo e.g. as California finds with its tax laws.

Against: Dominique de Biasi (Seconder)
France’s presidential democracy refused a referendum on « mariage pour tous » even though the people were demonstrating in the streets. The people should be allowed their democratic say through a referendum on such an emotional and divisive issue which also impacts personal religious convictions.

Result
Following some lively interventions from the floor both for and against, the motion was defeated with 8 votes for and 12 votes against.

Join the debate
How would you (or did you) vote and why? Join the debate by clicking on the ( ) comments link below and sharing your thoughts.

The Younger Generation of Voters - by Michael Webster

Samedi, juin 8th, 2013

An interesting addendum to the article in The Economist, from which I quoted in a recent submission on the need to rejuvenate our Party (PM Cameron’s relations with the old Tories), appears in this week’s (June 1st/7th) Economist: The strange rebirth of liberal England. It discusses the rising liberal attitudes of the 19-to-34 year old generation in Britain.

They hold more tolerant views on gay marriage and immigration than their elders and are more opposed to governmental interference in their lives. They do not share the same degree of pride in the creation of the welfare state as the “baby boomer” generation and are much more inclined to believe that it leads to a demotivation to work.

The young tend to be ahead in adopting the trends of the future and are, of course, the voters of the future. But they tend not to be heard in a political world where the average age of an MP is 50 and in the House of Lords the average member is 69.

Michael Webster

France - The Topical Lesson of Mrs Thatcher

Samedi, juin 8th, 2013

http://www.lesechos.fr/economie-politique/france/debat/0202787110622-la-lecon-d-actualite-de-margaret-thatcher-570165.php

New BCiP Chairman Jeremy Stubbs drew our attention to the above rather surprising article in the French Les Echos business newspaper. This places Margaret Thatcher together with Charles de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer, in that very rare class of important Europeans who, since the end of the Second World War, have left their mark on history.

Despite the economics of Thatcherism still serving as a benchmark internationally for her supporters and opponents alike, France stands out as a remarkable exception for both the political left and the right. The author sees this as due to the intellectual and moral rigidity of the French political and administrative elites.

Therefore, the first lesson from Margaret Thatcher for France, as much today as 30 years ago, is that economic success depends upon the capacity of the elites to accept a renewal of the economic strengths of the nation.

The second lesson for the elites in facing up to the new economic and social challenges, is to adapt their economic vision to reduce control by the state and its social partners and encourage more freedom of initiative and responsibility in the other parts of the economy.

Tony Blair, Mikhail Gorbatchev, Gerhard Schroeder, Angela Merkel and Lech Walesa have recognized and taken on board this message.