>I think we do best as a Party when we decide what we believe and stick to it.
I agree entirely with Nick Clegg’s analysis of the Lisbon Treaty – it’s not the same as the EU constitution, it’s less radical than Maastricht and we don’t need a referendum. I would have felt a lot more comfortable had we either allowed a free vote, as we did on Maastrict, or gone with our professed policy, against the referendum. We would still have lost three good people from our front bench, but it would have all looked more coherent and consistent.
Way back in ’93, we had the chance to bring down the Major Government over Maastricht. We didn’t, because we believed that the right thing to do was to back that treaty. We took some flack for it at the time, but it was the right thing to do.
Tonight was not our finest hour. Every party has moments they would like people to forget about and this rare tactical error is put into shade by Labour’s relentless attacks on civil liberties, personal data losses and illegal wars. The opposition will remind people of tonight at every oppportunity, but we must move on with a radical and positive agenda.