There’s nothing like a heated argument about the EU constitution to set you up for the afternoon.
On the Today programme yesterday morning, I heard Michael Howard say that the EU didn’t need a constitution because nations had constitutions and the EU was not a nation. He didn’t say this just once. He repeated it. His campaign seems to be based on the premise that no constitution is required for the running of an organisation like the EU.
Clearly stuff and nonsense. Corporations have constitutions. Charities have constitutions. All sorts of organisations have constitutions. A robust and transparent framework for the running and operation of an organisation is a fundamental requirement. The greatest shame about all this is that it shows how deficient the founders of the EU were in not creating a constitution at the outset.
If the Tories can not come up with a stronger and more believable argument for voting down the constitution (and I can’t believe that even if the British vote "no" and everyone else that has a referendum votes "yes" that the constitution will be torn up anyway), then I think they will lose the vote and lose heavily.
Unless they play the xenophobia card, of course. And they wouldn’t do that, would they?
Either way, I don’t believe that the proposed treaty needed a referendum anyway. I think that HMG, or, more precisely, the PM, has given into external pressure unnecessarily. The Maastricht Treaty didn’t need a referendum and nor did the Single European Treaty, both of which gave many more powers to the EU than the reforms in the current draft treaty. Even when we joined the EU/EEC, we didn’t have a referendum – it was only afterwards that Labour called a referendum, and that was convincing in its result.
But we know that Mr Murdoch doesn’t have that sort of influence really. After all, he hasn’t spoken to the PM on the subject "recently".