Sunday, December 31, 2017

Derwentwater Road, Mirehouse, and Meadow Road.

My last duty of 2017: went down to have a look at Derwentwater Road on the Mirehouse estate, which is in my county division, and where a number of residents were concerned about the state of the road.

I was horrified.

The state of the road, and of Meadow Road in a number of places, particularly near the junction of the two roads, by McColls, is dangerous and quite unacceptable.

I would like to thank the residents who flagged up the issue and spoke to me today for doing so and for their patience and courtesy.

If there is anyone elsewhere in my division reading this who is thinking "OK, what about my road," please contact me and I will come to see you too.

Will be taking the matter up with the relevant officers of the County Council as soon as they are back at their desks on Tuesday for the New Year.

Prime Minister Theresa May's New Year Message for 2018

Action to fund the police

Music spot for New Year's Eve: Ring Out Wild Bells

The lyrics are of course, the poem "In Memoriam" by Alfred Lord Tennyson, (1809 - 1892)

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true. R

ing out the grief that saps the mind
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

Quote of the day for New Year's Eve 31 December 2017

Saturday, December 30, 2017

In memory of those who died in 2017

The BBC has been running reviews of 2017 which include a poignant sequence on the people who died during the year.

They included the  creators of Morse and Paddington, the Commander of Moon Base in Space 1999 to James Bond/the Saint and Batman.

The Alien's first victim is finally dead for real after playing "The War Doctor,"

the man whose stage and TV career seemed to go on forever but finally finished in 2017.

An iconic trailblazer for women's cricket, the longest serving Blue Peter presenter, and a campaigner for the victims of sexual assault,

the political gadfly whose name will ever be associated with what became known as the "West Lothian question" after his constituency, and independent minded and bloody minded MP who was a hero when you agreed with him and a madman when you didn't but without whom parliament would have been much poorer.

Several legends of the music world also died, along with the giant of science fiction who created the "Future History" sequence.

PC Keith Palmer who died doing his duty defending the "mother of parliaments" and all those who died in terrorist attacks in London, at the Manchester Arena, and around the world.

The victims of the Grenfell Tower fire.

People we lost in Cumbria who will be missed included,

* Councillor and former policeman and last chairman of Cumbria Police Authority Ray Cole,
* Richard Bannister,
* The Reverend Canon David Dixon from Millom,
* Glen Gray

And too many others to mention.

If this blog has any readers from St Albans I imagine most of them will remember Ken Haywood, who was twice Mayor of the City and District, the second time during my first year on the council, leader of the council 1990-91 and my immediate predecessor as leader of the Conservative group on the council, and County Councillor for Sandridge 1989-93. Ken also died this year.

Rest in Peace.

Here is a recording of Voces 8 singing "Lux Aeternam" in memory of Colin Dexter, Michael Bond, Martin Landau, Sir Roger Moore, Adam West, Sir John Hurt, Mary Tyler Moore, Sir Bruce Forsythe, Baroness Rachel Hayhoe Flint, John Noakes, Jill Saward, Tam Dalyell MP; Chuck Berry, Fats Domino and David Cassidy; Jerry Pournelle. and all others named or referred to in this post and everyone else who died during 2017.

Usual Obit rules apply to comments on this post.

Saturday music spot: Zion Hears the Watchmen's Voices (Bach)

And not a black horse in sight ...

Quote of the day 30th December 2017

"When a poll comes out that appears to show public support for Brexit it is excitely retweeted and shared by lots of pro-Brexit voices.

When a poll comes out that appears to show public opposition to Brexit it is excited retweeted and shared by lots of anti-Brexit voices.

Both of these create a deeply misleading picture."

(Anthony Wells of UK Polling Report points out to both sides the disadvantages of putting far too much credence in an opinion poll which tells you what to hear in an excellent article,

On measuring public support for Brexit")

Friday, December 29, 2017

New Years Honours List

I am humbled and appreciative to have been awarded the MBE in this year's New Year Honours list.

And very impressed that so many of my friends picked up the fact so quickly!

Thank you to all those who have sent such kind messages of congratulations.

There were twelve awards in this year's New Year's Honours list for Cumbria, counting the award of Companion of Honour status to Lord (Melvin) Bragg of Wigton. Seven residents of Cumbria were awarded the MBE and four the British Empire Medal (BEM).

Here is a link to a piece in Cumbria Crack with a statement from the Lord Lieutenant of Cumbria about the awards made in the County which also explains the honours nomination process.

Christmas mustc spot: Rutter's "Shepherd's Pipe Carol"

Quote of the day 29th December 2017

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Christmas music spot: Silent Night, Kings College, Cambridge

Reflections on the EU Referendum

In 2013 I posted on this blog  supporting the call for a referendum on EU membership. There is a link to that post with updates in 2016 and 2017, at the top of the "Where I stand" box on the right hand sidebar of this blog.

Here are some further reflections on the referendum as the turbulent political year 2017 comes to a close.

David Cameron persuaded me when he first announced his intention to call for a referendum if he was re-elected in 2015 that this was the right thing to do, and I still think that it was.

It was an extremely important issue on which the British people had not been properly consulted for forty years, during which the nature of what was originally called the "European Economic Community" and had been sold to them as a "Common Market" had changed. Worse, a promise to give the British people a say on the most recent set of major changes - the EU constitutional treaty of which more than 90% was eventually enacted as the "Lisbon Treaty" - had been broken by the New Labour government, creating a significant amount of anger in a part of the British population which was poisoning British politics.

I thought at the time that the majority Britain's metropolitan elite, including most journalists, most senior business leaders, and most politicians in all the major parties other than the Conservative party were not taking the concerns of that section of the British people seriously enough and badly underestimating the degree of resentment, the strength of the conviction of many people that their views were being ignored, and the number of people who felt it.

Subsequent events suggest that I was right that the elite was making that mistake, and continued to make it until they found out the hard way in July 2016. However, I also found out in July 2016 that I too was underestimating that resentment and the extent to which Britain is a divided society and indeed, so was almost everyone else. The EU referendum and indeed the 2017 general election reveal a country separated by vast gulfs of mutual incomprehension in several directions.

Like almost every other organisation built by fallible but well-meaning mortal human beings, the European Union has strengths and weaknesses, does some things well and others badly, some good and some harm. It's biggest weakness was and is a democratic deficit which, although not nearly as bad as the kind of people who call it the "EUSSR" make out, really does exist. This is not just the result of a power grab by institutions in Brussels but because it is convenient for the elites running the member states.

In my professional career I have heard national officials more or less admit, in places where the media were unlikely to pick it up, that they were going to get the EU to impose things they wanted to happen but knew to be unpopular, rather than take action themselves which they would have to justify to their own electorates. 

I would have liked to see the EU go down the path of reform and democracy, and hope that it will still do so without Britain, but we could not have gone down the road of seeking reform and democracy within the EU without a democratic mandate from the voters in Britain. In the event, voters chose a different path.

I wrote in July 2016 that whichever way the vote went in Britain's referendum, it must be respected. I still hold by that.

* It was in the manifesto of the party which won the 2015 general election to call a referendum on EU membership and abide by the result.
* The legislation setting up that referendum was passed by parliament with an overwhelming majority of the House of Commons.
* During the referendum campaign the government wrote, at taxpayers' expense, to the home of every elector in Britain promising to implement the result of the vote.
* The referendum was won by the "Leave" side by a margin which, although not huge - 52% to 48% - was quite clear.
* When the Supreme Court ruled that parliamentary approval would be required to trigger "article 50" of the Lisbon treaty and start the process of leaving the EU, the necessary legislation to do this was overwhelmingly passed by parliament.
* The vast majority of MPs elected in the 2017 general election had stood on a platform of respecting the referendum result by leaving the EU.

On any reasonable criteria the democratic mandate from the British people to leave the EU is indisputable. To fail to do so now would have very serious consequences for confidence in British democracy which in my opinion would do far more damage than Brexit will.

Now, not one of the points above provides any over-riding democratic mandate for a particular FORM of Brexit.

The Referendum ballot paper did not specify whether or not Britain would still be in the single market or the customs union, or what immigration policy Britain should follow - it simply asked whether Britain should leave the EU or not.

Both those who want a "soft Brexit" and those who want a "hard Brexit" should all be free to argue their case without being called traitors, mutineers or enemies of democracy on the one side or racists and xenophobes on the other.

And because the vote was so close, anyone on either side with any sense should listen to the arguments of the other side.

Britain is a great county and we can make Brexit work. But to do so we need to work together.

Quote of the day 27th December 2017

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas Eve music spot: VOCES8 sing "Es ist ein Ros entsprungen"

A Merry Christmas to everyone reading this.

Warmest good wishes and seasonal greetings to everyone reading this

To everyone reading this who is a Christian, may the spirit of the Christ child, the love of Mary, the faithfulness of Joseph, the joy of the Angels, the wonder of the Shepherds, the wisdom of the Magi, and the Peace of God be with you this Christmastide.

To anyone reading this who follows a faith other than Christianity, may your God be with you at this time.

To everyone reading this including anyone who does not have a religious faith, I wish you peace, health and happiness and hope you are refreshed by a wonderful holiday with the people you love.

And to all of you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year 2018.

Quote of the day for Christmas Eve 2017

"A visit from St Nicholas" by Clement Clarke Moore

Friday, December 22, 2017

Christmas Carol slot:The Three Kings (Cornelius) from King's

December meeting of Copeland Health & Wellbeing Forum

Yesterday's meeting of the Copeland Health & Wellbeing Forum was held at Westlakes and consisted of a series of presentations about positive things which are happening to develop the Health Service in West Cumbria followed by a short tour of the School of Medical Education facilities at Westlakes.

Discussions about the development of Health services in the area have not always been uniformly positive in the past but this meeting was brimming with details of ideas to improve learning and development opportunities for staff and services for patients.

I have written a short report on the meeting including a couple of useful links on my hospitals blog which concludes as follows:

I don't want to sound like I'm having an attack of unrealistic optimism here, because I recognise that putting forward good ideas is the easy bit, now we have to make sure they are properly funded and implemented to make them work and this is going to be an enormous challenge.

But at least yesterday we were hearing positive ideas and positive news.

Comparing the discussion I heard yesterday with the ones we were having at the time of the "success regime" consultation in 2016 represents a massive transformation for the better in just 12 months.

Link to that hospitals blog post here.

Impress gets one right ...

I am not a fan of the "Impress" press regulator established under the Leveson rules.

However, credit where credit is due.

The left-wing website "The Canary" has been publishing articles attacking BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg which were sufficiently nasty that the New Statesman - which is hardly part of the "Tory Press" - wrote it up in the words,

"The Canary is running a sexist hate campaign against Laura Kuenssberg."

(Diane Abbott, who I do not often agree with, and the Guardian, have made similar comments.)

"The Canary" is one of the very few media organisations which has chosen to be regulated by Impress, unlike all the major mainstream newspapers and news websites which, instead of signing up to Impress, have opted instead to be regulated by the Independent Press Standards Organisation, or IPSO.

This autumn there was a particularly egregious Canary article, which stated that the BBC's political editor was "listed as a speaker" at the 2017 Conservative Party conference. The Canary went on to claim that this raised questions about her impartiality and that of the BBC.

This story was rubbish. She was not a speaker at the conference, she had been invited to speak at a fringe meeting, something it is not unusual for journalists to do, but had declined the invitation. The BBC made it clear she would not be speaking and was at the conference "to report impartially for BBC News".

The Canary article was the subject of "dozens" of complaints to Impress.

Credit where credit is due. First, Impress recused two members of its board whose social media activities and retweets gave grounds for concern that they might not be impartial about the BBC  from taking any part in the investigation into the complaint.

I don't know what on earth those individuals are doing on the board of Impress in the first place, but at least it is a good thing to know that the body has and actually uses due procedures to ensure that people who may have preconceived ideas about a party involved in a complaint do not rule on that complaint.

Impress duly found that The Canary had breached its code by "misrepresenting facts" and "failing to take all reasonable steps to ensure accuracy prior to publication". It also found that the website "did not correct this significant inaccuracy with due prominence" in an updated version of its article. Details of the ruling as reported by the BBC can be found here.

A short history of the post of Deputy Prime Minister

For political anoraks, there is a short history of the posts of Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State - two roughly congruent and relatively recent titles which were first used in 1942 and 1951 respectively - by  Stephen Thornton and Jonathan Kirkup on the LSE website,  here.

Cumbria Police and Crime Commissioner's office - Christmas 2017 opening hours

Quote of the day 22nd February 2017

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Christmas carol slot: "Past Three O'Clock"

It's the cover-up that gets you ...

A long time ago, but in this galaxy, a friend said to me that

"It's not often the original mistake that does for you, what usually gets you is the cover-up."

He may have been talking about Watergate but it applies to a lot of other scandals.

And now, by the looks of things, to Damian Green.

While I now think, with great regret, that in the light of the revelations which came out in the past 48 hours the Prime Minister was right to sack Mr Green, I stand by what I wrote here expressing concern about the role of two rogue ex-police officers - and not, it is important to emphasise, "the police" - in disclosing confidential police information about something which was neither a crime nor relevant to the original investigation to make a complaint against Damian Green.

It remains deeply alarming that one of those officers has admitted keeping a copy of information which his superior officers at the Metropolitan police told him to delete.

It should worry anyone who wishes to live in a country governed by the rule of law that confidential police information about something which, even if the allegations made by either of the former police officers was accurate, was both within the law and irrelevant to the original police search, should be used nearly a decade later to wreck the career of someone who two former policemen believed to have done something legal that they disapproved of.

This time it was a Conservative minister. Next time it could be you.

However, it would be wrong to suggest that "the police" in general do not understand and share these concerns, given that criticism of the actions of the two rogue former officers concerned have been expressed by a whole raft of very senior police officers including the former head of the Met who was their boss at the time, the chief inspector of constabulary, and the present head of the Met who  has unequivocally condemned them, telling  BBC Radio London,

"All police officers know very well that they have a duty of confidentiality, a duty to protect personal information.

"That duty in my view clearly endures after you leave the service.

"And so it is my view that what they have done based on my understanding of what they're saying... what they have done is wrong, and I condemn it."

Postscript - further information added 26/12/2017

The actions of the retired officers concerned have also been disowned by the Metropolitan Police branch of their own union, the Police Federation. Ken Marsh, head of the Metropolitan Police Federation, was quoted in the press as saying that

We are all privy to confidential information but we respect the rules.”

He added,

All this has done is pit the Tories against the police again,” and

most of my colleagues think that what these retired officers did is abhorrent.”

I understand that the Met Police are now investigating whether either of the officers concerned have themselves broken any laws such as the data protection act, so I'm not going to pre-judge that investigation.

I'm adding this to make the point that the overwhelming majority of police officers just want to do their job in a non political way. Nobody should want this to become a fight between the Conservatives and the police, a fight which would not be in the interests of either side, or more importantly that of the country.

The pornography allegations were not of course the reasons for the original investigation into Damian Green, which related to a complaint of inappropriate behaviour against him by the journalist Kate Maltby. The Prime Minister's letter accepting his resignation said the following about this:

"You have expressed your regret for the distress caused to Ms Maltby following her article about you and the reaction to it. I appreciate that you do not recognise the events Ms Maltby described in the article, but you do recognise that you made her feel uncomfortable and it is right that you have apologised."

What appears to have been the killer is that Mr Green had made statements suggesting that the police had never raised with him any issues about what had been found on his computers. It is now clear that this was, in the PM's words which he accepts, "inaccurate and misleading."  

That was a breach of the code and left the PM little choice but to sack him.

As my friend said all those years ago, it's usually the cover-up that gets you ...

Quotes of the day 21st December 2017

A chauvinist thinks that 'Whither thou goest, I will go' was said by a woman to a man."

(Marcella Markham, from the book "A Chauvinist Is ...")

"A male chauvinist, or someone who knows Roman history better than he knows the bible, thinks that 'Whither thou goest, I will go' was said by a woman to a man.

A female chauvinist, or someone who knows the bible better than she knows Roman history, thinks that 'Whither thou goest, I will go' was said by a woman to another woman.

A well informed person knows that both are correct."

(Chris Whiteside)

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Christmas music spot: The King's Singers sing "The Little Drummer Boy"

Quote of the day 20th December 2017

"If you despise those who hold different and opposing opinions, you are harming yourself as much as them. You're robbing your life of the company of others and denying yourself the test of considering things you do not like to hear."

(Mark Wallace, Executive Editor of Conservative Home, column in "i"which you can read here.)

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Where does Labour stand on Brexit?

I have lost count of the number of Labour U-Turns since the referendum about whether, when and how Britain should leave the European Union.

Jeremy Corbyn has been a lifelong Eurosceptic and often gives the impression of wanted a "hard Brexit." Earlier this year he issued a "whip" ordering Labour MPs to vote against membership of the EU single market and sacked Labour front-benchers who voted for it.

However, most of the parliamentary Labour party including some on the left are pro-Remain or at least supporters of a "softer" Brexit and Labour's shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer gives the impression that Labour policy is to stay in the single market and customs union.

The result has been utter confusion - on week Labour is ruling out a second referendum, another week they are not ruling it out, one week they want to Britain to stay in the sinvle market and customs union, then they don't.

Of course, most parties are divided about Britain's relations with Europe, I am merely making the point that it's far from obvious that the Labour opposition is any less divided than the Conservative government.

There is a good piece by Dan Hodges who is a former Labour and Trade Union official (though not a supporter of the party at the moment under Corbyn) which you can read here.

Dan reckons that Jeremy Corbyn is about to betray Labour Remain supporters.

It is of course also possible that Labour may betray Labour Leave supporters.

Or they may continue to court both right up to the next election and not make up their mind what to do until and unless they find themselves in power.

The one thing you can be certain about is that it would be very difficult for a Labour government to keep faith with both groups.

The latest HMS Queen Elizabeth story

HMS Queen Elizabeth, the navy's new carrier, has been undergoing her sea trials.

The purpose of sea trials is to deliberately put the hull and sailing systems of a new ship under extreme pressure to try to find faults so you can fix them before putting the ship into normal service.  It is most unusual not to find any minor faults at this stage. Sure enough, there have been one or two comparatively minor issues. According to a Royal Navy spokesman,

“An issue with a shaft seal has been identified during HMS Queen Elizabeth’s sea trials; this is scheduled for repair while she is alongside at Portsmouth. It does not prevent her from sailing again and her sea trials programme will not be affected.”
Needless to say the assorted hacks of various British newspapers have had a field day with this.

According to The Sun newspaper,

“A faulty seal around one of the vast warship’s propeller shafts means 200 litres of sea water pour in every hour.”

Let's put that into context, shall we? As the UK Defence journal points out in a good article here, 200 litres is a couple of bathtubs' worth of water.

I don't know how much water the taps in the bathrooms of Sun, Mail or Express journalists deliver, but the taps in the bath in my house could fill it a lot more than twice in an hour.  So if the Sun figures are accurate, this leak is rather less powerful than the flow from the taps of a typical bath. By my calculations that flow of water would take of the order of magnitude of perhaps three months to deliver water equivalent to one percent of HMS Queen Elizabeth's 60,000 tonne displacement - that's if all her pumps had stopped working.

The pumps on a typical narrow boat on Britain's canals such as you might hire to take your family for a week's holiday, by the way, can handle a thousand litres an hour. The navy says that the carrier's pumps are clearing this relatively trivial flow of water with no difficulty and despite what one or two egregiously ill-informed hacks have written, she certainly isn't sinking.

There is a good comparison between the issues found to date on the Queen Elizabeth's sea trials and those of previous RN ships and of other navies on the "Thin pinstriped line" blog here.

Admiral Chris Parry told Sky News the leak was a non-issue:
“Every ship, to tell you the truth, takes on water that’s why you have pumps. What people have to realise is the whole reason for sea trials is that you race and rally the ship, you stress it right to its extremes, and you’re really looking for faults like this to see what happens.

You get this all the time, you’ve got very complicated engineering under the water, it’s operating obviously at sea and every yachtsman will tell you they take in water somewhere, that’s what you’ve got pumps for, that’s why you have dedicated engineers, it really is no big deal I have to tell you.”

Don't get me started on all the rubbish written about whether these carriers will have jet aircraft when they are fully operational. Of course they will.

It does rather make me wonder why Vladimir Putin bothers to waste millions of roubles extracted from Russian taxpayers on running the RT and Sputnik "news channels" to denigrate the United Kingdom. Some of our own journalists are doing a far more effective job and he doesn't have to pay them.

Christmas carol slot: "While Shepherds Watch" to Lyngham

The Christmas carol "While shepherds watched their flocks by night" is sung to an amazing variety of tunes. It is most often sung in the UK to a tune known as "Winchester" or "Winchester Old" which is based on a tune by Christopher Tye.

In the USA "While shepherds watched" is most often sung to an arrangement by Lowell Mason of a tune from Handel's opera Siroe.

Another of the many other tunes to which this carol is sung in Britain are Lyngham, also known as "Nativity" and which is also used to sing "O For a thousand tongues to sing" and a third is "The Yorkshire Tune" a.k.a. Cranbrook, which is also the tune of "On Ilka Moor baht 'at!"

Here the Port Isaac Fisherman's Friends sing "While Shepherds Watch" in Wells Cathedral to

The CBI on Britain's Job Creation record

This is what the  Managing Director for People and Infrastructure at the Confederation of British Industry had to say about the results of a survey into what their members expect in 2018:

M6 Closure Today

Cumbria Police made the following announcement a short time ago today (19 December 2017):

"Today (19th December), at 11am, there will be a planned closure to the M6 southbound, junctions 36-35.

The closure is for a police survey, following a collision that occurred in the early hours of this morning.

The incident occurred at 00:30am, and involved a pedestrian and a HGV.

The female pedestrian was taken to hospital, but later died. The HGV driver is helping police with their enquiries.

There will be diversions in place via the A590 and A6, the junction will be closed until investigations are completed, this could be a number of hours" POSTSCRIPT The M6 duly re-opened after this tragic incident. Police have confirmed the identity of the victim, a 51-year-old woman from Millom, who died after being hit by a heavy goods vehicle on the M6. She has been named by police as Tatiana Grieve. She died at the scene after getting out of her Toyota Rav 4.

Sir Ivan Rogers on the inside story of how Britain came to leave the EU.

Both Leavers and Remainers will find things of interest in a lecture given by Sir Ivan Rogers, former senior British diplomatic representative to the EU, at Hartford college on 24th November and now available as an article on the Prospect magazine website here.

More to the point, perhaps, so will anyone with an open mind and an interest in learning what happened: Sir Ivan does not claim to be describing the whole story or dispute that there are other important perspectives beside the "insider" one, but he does describe how events in the EU pushed David Cameron from the "time to stop banging on about Europe" position he held when he became Conservative leader to promising the referendum which will take Britain out of the EU. In his words

"I want, in this lecture, to attempt a serious examination of David Cameron’s approach to the question which has bedevilled British politics for two generations.
And, in so doing, to attempt to gain some distance from the political soap opera accounts and from the post referendum hysteria on all sides, and to offer an account of the issues and the politics with which Cameron was grappling, and some insights as to why he took the positions and decisions he did."
Sir Ivan thinks that the measures that the EU was taking to address the Eurozone crisis, and the consequent impact on opinion in the House of Commons of the measures that the EU kept asking Britain to agree to and pass into law left David Cameron very little choice but to adopt the policy positions which he did adopt.

I agree with that, and although a large part of the commentariat have convinced themselves that Cameron's actions were an attempt to manage the internal politics of the Conservative party, there was a lot more to it than that. The contortions that the Labour party is currently going through about whether to appeal to pro-Remain voters or pro-Leave ones demonstrate that they are every bit as badly split at the Conservatives, if not worse, and do not deserve the trust of either group of voters (see forthcoming post later today.)

I believe that from the point when Gordon Brown signed and ratified the Lisbon treaty despite the promise in Labour's 2005 election manifesto to hold a referendum on what had then been called the EU constitution and was more than 90% the same as the eventual Lisbon treaty, it was almost inevitable that at some stage the advocates in most parties of a referendum on British membership of the EU would succeed in getting one. If it had not come about by the route described in Sir Ivan's lecture, it would have happened another way.

David Cameron's attempt to use a referendum both to settle the domestic debate about British membership and to leverage a solution to some of the problems which were bedevilling British relations with the rest of the EU was a highly risky one - and reading Sir Ivan's lecture makes me realise that it was even more risky than I thought at the time - but ignoring the issue would have been worse. Whatever your view about his motives he deserves credit for giving the British people the opportunity to decide the issue.