Saturday, May 18, 2013

Portillo and the EU referendum

Michael Portillo on BBC's This Week had an interesting take on the EU referendum. He is, of course, a Eurosceptic.He thinks that no Government is likely to take the UK into the Eurozone (or agree to any substantial transfer of powers to the EU) without a referendum; and in any case there is now a legislative "referendum lock". He also thinks a referendum on joining the eurozone would - not just now but in the future - produce a "No" vote. But he thinks that in an in/out referendum on the EU, it is likely that voters would vote to stay in, and then that a future Government (of whatever stripe) would use that as a "green light" for further integration, even joining the Eurozone, without another referendum. As a Eurosceptic he wonders whether the strategy being pursued by Conservative Eurosceptics is wise.

As a pro-European Politaholic thinks a referendum is probably now inevitable. It may not be a bad thing (if it produces a "Yes" vote). This festering xenophobic Eurosceptic boil needs to lanced. And once it is, as Portillo fears, the Eurosceptics won't have a leg to stand on. Risky, for sure; but it may be the way to go.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Personalities in Politics and the Pint Test

It is sometimes said there are no characters - no large personalities - in politics. But there are a few: Boris Johnson, Ken Livingstone, Alex Salmond. And even Nigel Farage seems affable on a personal level. Interesting that with the exception of Boris they are all outside the established parties. Within the main parties it is more or less a personality-free zone. Marina Hyde in The Guardian on Saturday discussed the "pint test". Who would you go for a pint with? Boris, certainly. Ken also. Alex Salmond, yes I think so. Even Farage. But Clegg, Cameron, Miliband? Dear God. Like Marina Hyde "... I would cross continents to avoid taking even a fluid ounce". It wasn't always like that. Politicians of the past (and recent past) who pass the pint test are  John Prescott, Denis Healey (not Tony Benn who, apart from not drinking, has always been a bit too unctuous for my liking). Not Roy Jenkins (too pompous and self-important) or David Owen (ditto). As for Tories that is tougher. Ken Clarke, perhaps. What about PMs who pass the pint test? Can't think of any since 1945 except perhaps MacMillan (not a pint man, I should think) and Wilson. Definitely not Heath. And absolutely not, in any circumstances, Thatcher. I'd rather have my fingernails extracted (her friend Pinochet could have arranged that).