Constitutional Crisis

Watching the special ‘EU Constitution Question Time‘ last night left me saddened. The vote in France is going to be worryingly close – and France has had a very open and public debate, with a serious attempt to bring awareness of the issues to a wide audience.Despite the information overload, French voters seem willing to destroy the treaty for one of three reasons:

  1. They see the constitution as ‘Thatcherite’ in it’s economic outlook
  2. They are sceptical about the accession of Turkey
  3. They don’t like Chirac and want to give him a bloody nose

The constitution does underpin a free market – but that’s hardly ‘Thatcherism’ – if it were I’d be against it too! If they don’t like Chirac, they must remember that the fallout from their decision on Sunday will be around long after Jacques has been forgotten about. I could write a whole piece about why we should try to get Turkey into the EU – but it’s completely unconnected with getting this constitution ratified.

I really hope the French forget these issues on Sunday and vote on what really matters, they have a habit of proving opinion polls wrong.

But what about us? If France votes ‘non’, then whatever anyone says, the treaty is scuppered. We will all have to go back to the drawing board – there is absolutely no point in us holding a referendum on a treaty France has rejected. However, if the French vote ‘oui’ – where does that leave us? We have had no real unbiased coverage of the constitution, we have a largely eurosceptic press full of nonsense stories about straight bananas – and we have a deeply unpopular Prime Minister. The battle for hearts and minds on this side of the channel is going to be a tough one.

10 thoughts on “Constitutional Crisis”

  1. For me Thatcherism was interest rates hitting 15%, wholesale destruction of the mining industry, poll tax, riots, 4 million unemployed – and the thankfully outdated assertion that there was ‘no such thing as society’. If I were French, I wouldn’t want that either!

  2. Hold on, the constitution is seen as being “Thatcherite in its economic outlook.”

    You’re not telling me that this means the French see it as bringing about 15% interest rates are you? Surely not. You surely meant (correctly) that the French fear a market economy. But the LDs are apparently unashamed free market thinkers are they not?

  3. The Lib Dems are ‘free market thinkers’ but they are not ‘Thatcherite in their economic outlook’ – the distinction lies in the social context (which is my point)

  4. So, to hark back to the miners’ strike, would a LibDem government (with its free-market thinking hat on) have stopped subsidies to the mines or not?

  5. It’s never as simple as that. Some of the pits we closed were profitable – and after we closed them we ended up having to import coal because we were no longer meeting the demands of our power stations. Good political decision making is rarely possible just by looking at a balance sheet.

  6. And another question:

    These profitable pits – how do you know they were profitable? At what level were they profitable (operating profit, profit before tax, and including or excluding subsidy)?

    Obviously I don’t expect you to know the answer to this, but your assumption that wicked Thatcher closed them out of spite is only an assumption without knowing this.

  7. Thatcherism is/was about taking the free market to areas which are/were considered the area of the state ie defence, law and order. One example is the running of prisons by private companies.
    Of course it means the end of the NHS.
    It’s a model that clearly the French reject.

  8. O’Brien

    What is the problem with private companies running prisons? Could they do any worse than the prison service?

    End of the NHS? Isn’t that a good thing? It produces truly terrible healthcare outcomes at high cost.

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