Speech delivered to the full Council meeting on 22nd November 2007
This Council notes that Valery Giscard D‘Estaing, the former French President and author of the European Constitution, has said of the European Reform Treaty agreed in Lisbon that, "In terms of content, the proposals remain largely unchanged, they are simply presented in a different way", a position confirmed by almost every European leader including Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, who stated that, "The substance of the Constitution is preserved. That is a fact.‘
Given the potential impact this would have on the social, economic and environmental wellbeing of Medway, this Council urges the government to do as it promised in its manifesto and "put it to the British people in a referendum".
This Council notes that Valery Giscard D’Estang, the former French President and author of the European Constitution, has not said anything about Medway. This Council further notes that:
Given the potential impact this would have on the social, economic and environmental wellbeing of Medway, this Council urges the Cabinet to put the proposed cuts and alterations to services to the people of Medway in a referendum.
- The Conservative Administration of Medway was elected on a manifesto which made no reference to cuts in services.
- The Conservative Administration of Medway now is advancing considerable cuts to services which have resulted in public disquiet generally.
- The Conservative Administration of Medway is also proposing wide-ranging changes to important local facilities such as the bus station in Chatham, secondary schools in Strood and the Black Lion sports centre in Gillingham.
- The Conservatives, both nationally and locally, have a sudden and unexpected new-found belief in the benefits of referenda.
I reject Labour's amendment, Madam Mayor, as I have been following this business of the EU and its Constitution for a long time, and yes, it does affect this Council a great deal. Just because not many people on the street would, if asked, know what was in the so-called Reform Treaty—that means very little: how many would know the contents of this Council's Perfomance Plan, Community Plan or any other such document for that matter, Madam Mayor?
I have indeed been watching this issue with great interest, and can confirm what has been said on this side, that near-enough all EU members' leaders have agreed that the Treaty is almost identical to the Constitution, on which we were indeed promised a referendum by Blair and Brown.
It is the Prime Minister who says he will not hold the referendum after all, and this is because he is too scared of the outcome. It is like the General Election that wasn't, where Gordon Brown flunked an election he thought he would win—the first Prime Minister ever to do so! The "clunking fist" thus became the "flunking fist". He chickened-out, Madam Mayor!
Brown is just as much a chicken on the referendum issue, Madam Mayor: indeed, he is always chicken, so has now been renamed "the clucking fist"!
Thank you very much, Madam Mayor.
John M Ward (Councillor, Rochester South and Horsted)