Twinkle twinkle

Jake Goodman here again. I know you’re used to my usual stuff on sex, life and why I don’t have a toolshed (and if you are not, buy tickets for my shows!) but I’ve been watching the news and spending time babysitting my kids over half term.
I keep hearing that the EU stuff is all too complicated.  Really? Ok. So let’s have a sing song instead…

Twinkle, twinkle European stars,
We Brits don’t get just what you are.
We’ve been told that you’re a superstate,
Now we might make a big mistake.
Twinkle, twinkle little stars,
let’s talk about just what you are.

In the 1970s we were told,
About this project, big and bold.
Both YES and NO told us a Common Market,
Was not the end but just a start to it.
Heads of State and Prime Mini-stars
Working together as partners.

The laws that come from “Brussels” are
Made by lots of British stars.
Not laws made by “faceless bureaucrats”:
The people that say that are – not very well informed…
Council, Parliament, Commission,
The people there are from each member nation.

We elect 73 UK MEPs,
That is direct democracy.
We ask them to speak for us there.
Some will be wise and some won’t care.
They make the laws and are elected by you,
They sit with other parties of a similar view.

The Council’s filled with Ministers,
The brightest, shiniest little stars.
Ministers come from our government,
That you’ve elected so they can represent.
For each subject the expert one attends,
Debates, argues, drafts and then amends.

What about the European Commission?
Surely a democratic perversion?
It’s a civil service: makes it all work;
Collects evidence; runs programmes; gets people to talk.
Proposes drafts laws for the elected ones
To change and shape until they’re done.

If you don’t like it, you have a choice,
You’ve got a vote, you’ve got a voice.
But you should know what you have got
Before you throw away the lot.
You can live, work, set up in any Member State;
Criminals can’t hide when we cooperate.

You think there is too much “red tape”?
Health and safety, working hours? (Did we “gold-plate”?)
Foreign policy; some share a currency;
Agriculture; fair competition; fish in the sea.
Clean environment; a single market:
If you trade, holiday or buy: you’re a part of it!

We take for granted the benefit
That we get from our membership.
It’s easy to say it’d be ok,
They need us, it won’t get taken away.
But there is no guarantee
And that’s not good enough for me.

In these days of globalisation
It’s tough to be an isolated nation.
The EU exists, it won’t go away,
So it’s with these structures that you’d have to play,
To work out an alternative
Less say on rules, but more “sovereign”.

People say that what you are
Is an EU-USSR.
Or a capitalist conspiracy,
Or always voting against me.
But facts do not support that view
The question is what WILL you do?

You can’t be a superstate:
Refugees came, countries closed their gates.
The euro’s not a great success,
Southern Member States are in a mess.
But you are by far our biggest market,
We’d be mad to up and scarper.

There’s no other countries calling: “Leave them be!
We’ll offer better trade!” It’s a fantasy.
And there is no one clear view
Of what exactly we would do.
Those that promise Utopia
Seem to think its based in Westminster.

And being In matters to me.
Don’t diminish my identity.
Don’t blame problems within my nation
Just on EU immigration.
Twinkle, twinkle, little stars
Reach for them, hold on, they are ours.

Under Starter’s Orders

At the end of the day, having a single document setting out Britain’s special position with the EU is a massive achievement.
Very shortly, we in the UK will be involved in a referendum on whether to remain in or leave the EU.
It is not a waste of time. It’s not insignificant, not worth bothering about, a load of old rubbish.
It’s about Britain’s future standing in the world and whether we stand in isolation, looking across far oceans, or stand with our neighbours as well as doing the looking across oceans thing.
While the changes negotiated tonight might be the defining aspect of a REMAIN/ LEAVE thing for some, others are basing their views on other things.

Were facts the major driver, then the result should be an absolute trouncing of LEAVE, because REMAIN has the evidence of over 40 years of life in the EC/EEC/EU and the establishment on its side, and LEAVE has speculation and anti-establishment figures.
The “debate” between then-Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Leader of UKIP Nigel Farage a couple of years ago showed that facts alone don’t win – Clegg explained with facts but Farage “won” in the eyes of the media and the public because his version of reality had been given so much airtime by the media and he spoke about it with passion.
So at present everything is 50/50 because REMAIN don’t have the media or the public’s hearts won at the moment.

REMAIN have to explain why all the rights and benefits we have now as EU citizens are not guaranteed if we vote to be no longer part of the EU club. They have to sell the good things about membership, which have been ours since before I was born, to a public that has been told little about these things as coming from our membership and only really told about the EU as a faceless bureaucracy to fight against.
They have to sell membership of an outer rim of the EU (not Eurozone, not Schengen) for the privileged position it really is (after all, keeping currency and border controls have been two of the main issues under debate so far in the media during this renegotiation).
They do need to talk about business and prosperity, and the fact that if trade with non-EU countries is going up while we ARE a part of the EU, then the idea that it is somehow being held back is nonsense (trade not being a zero sum game). It is also true that the EU helps us guarantee that our working hours and wages are not something that we should be giving away to give businesses an edge against each other – it is therefore in the interests of those that work as well as those that employ for us to remain in the EU and ensure that competitiveness is not at the expense of the workforce.
They need to talk about democracy – there’s a false belief that laws are foisted on us by foreign faceless bureaucrats and “quisling” Brits. In fact, the EU has the Member States’ Ministers/ Prime Ministers or Heads of State as the Council, and the directly elected Members of the European Parliament as the two bodies making most decisions, plus the European Commission (Commissioners appointed by the Council and endorsed or not by the European Parliament, staffed by civil servants who compete for jobs there in open competition from right across the EU Member States) which produces the draft laws which are then negotiated by the Council and Parliament. It’s not identical to Westminster – both chambers at EU level are filled with individuals that have been elected! – but that doesn’t make it less legitimate in democratic terms. What it does mean is that the public of the EU ought to be taking the European Parliament elections seriously and not using them as referenda on the performance of their own national governments…
But there’s a heart issue too and it is something that REMAIN must articulate properly.
It is patriotic to believe that being British is a great thing. Being privileged enough to be born in the British isles or of British parents is great, and it is one facet of who we are and confers some rights and privileges as well as responsibilities.
We are also European (and I’m using that word correctly to refer to citizens of the EU, not just residents of a continent) with the rights and privileges that come from that, as well as responsibilities, and I don’t want to lose out on that aspect of my identity. I’m happy with the responsibilities that go with that too. The idea that my children and grandchildren would be more hemmed in, and be less able to consider Europe as a whole their continent to live, work and travel in, is terrifying.
The Germans are not less German by being European, nor the French less French nor the Dutch less Dutch – are we really to think that being British is such a weak thing that we are less British for being European too? How can that really be a patriotic stance?

LEAVE will try to say that all the things we have as a Member State are still possible if we vote to leave, that we can be given all the good things without being part of the club.
The EU bureaucrats that our politicians and civil servants cannot at the moment best as a member of the club will roll over and grant us privileged access if we leave, apparently. We have 44.6% of our exports of goods and services trade going to the EU (2014, source ONS), 48% of Foreign Direct Investment to the UK coming from the EU (source HoC Library paper 06091). The UK receives 3% of goods exports from the EU (I don’t have a figure for the services side, and the source for the 3% is NIESR), so the UK would not automatically have the upper hand in any negotiations and it certainly does   not equate to ‘them needing us more than we need them’. Indeed, even with the generous parameters used for the Open Europe simulation of Brexit negotiations (which included retaining Freedom of Movement for EU citizens which those supporting LEAVE don’t generally like), the sheer cutthroat nature of the process shone through – each Member State’s representatives have to get a deal that their voters at home would tolerate.
LEAVE will try to say that there’s a shining bright world out there that we are being denied, and that we can both shut it out and be part of it.
Some admit that we’d need migration, even retaining Freedom of Movement in return for single market access (as Switzerland and Norway do and as the Open Europe Brexit exercise simulated), others talk of the UK  being “full” – but that’s two different visions of life outside the EU that cannot coexist.

No one’s quite sure what would happen in terms of our economy either.
We’re told that the rest of the world will want to trade with us if we are outside the EU. No doubt it is partially true as we’d still be a market of 70 million. And yet America wants the UK to remain in the EU. 32 of 50 Commonwealth states already have free trade arrangements in force or agreed with the EU, they’re not a British Empire and Australia (which considers itself an Asian economy these days and said they saw no advantage to the UK leaving the EEC back in 1975) had one of their former DPMs has explained why Australia also wants the UK to remain in now… In fact, there’s not really a clamour of countries saying please leave the EU and trade with us.
I think people who clamour for free trade deals only might not know what a trade deal really is these days… Iceland might have a trade deal with China while there is no UK or EU deal at present, but it is the TERMS of a trade deal that matter – the Iceland deal is hardly equal terms between the two parties. It is ludicrous to believe that the UK representing a market of 70 million would obtain better terms than a bloc negotiation of half a billion people. Of course it is not just the free trade aspect that matters in trade deals – the major elements are about standard harmonisation – exactly the “red tape” element of the EU that those supporting LEAVE most dislike!
LEAVE say that decisions need to be made at Westminster, and yet are the same people calling for this denounced Westminster as corrupt only a couple of years ago. The same thrill of being anti-establishment that was prevalent n bringing down politicians then is being harnessed now. When its people within Westminster feeling it, that’s practically zen… But being anti-establishment is both a blessing and a curse: the public’s innate conservatism carried the anti-AV referendum result last time there was a nationwide referendum vote so there is normally a bias in favour of the status quo from voters.
No one is willing to talk about what role xenophobia is playing in all this. From the assumption that the whole of Romania and Bulgaria would “flood” here when freedom of movement was allowed to those new Member States to refugee crisis from Syria, the idea that we are somehow special and should be able to lock ourselves away from the world is based in fear, not outward looking openness to the world.  The coordinated attacks on women in Cologne have led to an unpleasant attitude among some politicians here that that EU membership equates to ‘lock up “our” women because the Muslims are coming disguised as Syrian refugees’. Never mind that only three of those arrested are recent arrivals in Germany, nor that refugees are excluded from Freedom of Movement, nor that refugees don’t get German passports for ten years…
We need to learn from history – and yet a quick look back shows that LEAVE are using  the same accusations (higher prices, lower wages, NATO not the EU stops wars between its members, we’d be better trading with the Commonwealth) as NO did in 1975. LEAVE are doing without much challenge being made against them, partly because it seems that journalists themselves don’t seem to know enough to challenge it.
But then, when they are challenged publicly, those doing the challenging are accused of being in the pay of the EU. It cannot be the case that exposure to something and learning how it works automatically means that person is biased in its favour. If that were the case, no one arguing that Westminster should be supreme should be allowed to do so if they’ve ever worked there, and if that sounds ludicrous, then that’s because it is.
They also say that there would be a second referendum, with a fantasy story that a vote for LEAVE now would somehow result in a “better” renegotiation down the line after which they could then vote REMAIN. Nonsense on toast. The only way to get change in the EU – as Margaret Thatcher knew – is to be firmly committed to being in and then fighting for change for the good of all, not just your little corner. With so much change in the world right now, we should be keeping our friends close not alienating our nearest neighbours.
Basically, LEAVE is trying to sell a utopia without being able to agree even between themselves what that looks like.
And worse, the generation that already got the chance to vote on this is the one most likely to vote LEAVE and to actually turn out to do so. Young people 18- 29 are 63% in favour of REMAIN, versus 37% LEAVE, but are much less likely to turn out.

There’s one referendum, just one, and we’re under starter’s orders. If you are lucky enough to get to vote (and loads of people affected don’t, from Brits living in other EU countries to EU citizens settled here, and 16-17 year olds who were enfranchised for the Scottish Independence Referendum), please use that vote wisely.

 

YAV?

Why vote YES for the alternative vote?

1) Because each constituency gets the candidate that gets more that 50% of preferences expressed by the voters there.
Even though some will be “woohoo!” preferences and others “grudgingly but only because s/he is marginally better than that other bloke/ woman I really couldn’t stand to have” preferences, to have ranked the candidate indicates some sort of goodwill towards them.
NB there’s no guarantee that 50% of the votes cast is the same as 50% of those eligible to vote.  For that, you’d need to make voting compulsory.

2) Because no seat should be a safe seat – 200,000 or so voters have determine the results of several recent elections via key marginals. And what’s wrong with candidates having to seek the second preferences of a wider group of voters in a constituency?
The theory of First Past the Post is we vote for individuals not for a prime minister or party.  This is clearly not what really happens, but little energy is put into campaigning in the safe seats. There jolly well should be if our votes are meant to be equal.
The argument against is that candidates might start using more BNP-like language to seek that sort of party’s voters second preferences.
This is because if the BNP came last in a constituency, then BNP supporters’ transferred second preference votes would be the first to be transferred and could determine the outcome in specific seats as claimed by the NO2AV campaign and in a constituency split very closely between two leading candidates it may be only those of the voters that gave their first preference to the party that received the fewest first preferences.  Just a thought: would that clip have seemed as dramatic if “extremists” had been replaced throughout by “the Green Party”?
The idea seems to be to say that AV gives supporters of smaller parties more than one vote. Blogger Rupert Read explains this brilliantly.  If you go into a restaurant and you find your first choice isn’t available because it wasn’t popular enough, why shouldn’t you have the chance to opt for a second choice dish rather than go without food?

3) Because unless you are a tribalist supporter of a specific political party you probably don’t have one party that closely reflects all your views – AV allows you to rank the candidates to express this.
Or not to – you can rank as many or few as you like. Oh and you might actually want to find out what they stand for – better political engagement!

4) Because your vote is often either tactical, or if you support a small party, choosing between candidates for the least worst ones most likely to get in.
This scheme allows you to both vote for where your heart lies (say a smaller party) and then choose between the others on offer that might stand a bigger chance of getting in thereby giving a more accurate picture of political beliefs in the UK. So yes, in a way you are still voting tactically, but you are doing this visibly rather than in your head…

5) Because most of us are already voting in elections that use a system other than First Past the Post right here in the UK… Are you in Wales? Scotland?  Using STV in Northern Ireland?  Voting for the London Mayor? Or Mayors more widely – using AV itself? Or what about the European Parliament Elections – surely you vote in those?  All those elections already use a system other than FPTP, so are we REALLY going to be totally confused and unable to vote if we use something else for our General Elections?

6) Because the BNP are NOT more likely to get elected!
The BNP are campaigning against AV. But if most people in a constituency want to vote BNP we should not be looking at rigging the voting system against them as the best way to stop them getting into parliament.
For the BNP to be elected under AV, they would need more than 50% of the vote to have expressed goodwill towards them by giving them a preference.
Frankly, democracy means the power of the people, and if a majority want to vote BNP then we should let them express that, even if we find the message abhorrent.  There are better ways to confront the BNP message than to attempt to use the voting system against them.
But FPTP is the system that means more seats are gained by extremist parties. If you look at Council seats, second and third and fourth preferences of voters voting for other parties would in very many cases have transferred against the BNP in the Council seats that they have won.

7) Because it is really not that complicated…
First Past the Post predates mass literacy thus only requiring an X – but most people know how to write their numbers these days.  And to prove that the press is making a meal of it and that it is not difficult, here’s a group of school kids to explain!

8 ) Because the line from the No campaign that “it’s more difficult to predict” is actually a benefit…
It should mean less lazy journalism and pollsters in the run up to elections.

9) Because “it costs money to change” doesn’t mean it is the wrong thing to do
Here’s the Spectator on why… and a challenge on the figures (which No campaigner chair Margaret Beckett described on Radio 4 Any Questions today as having been extrapolated from the costs of introducing electronic counting machines in Scotland…).
£250 million sounds like a lot of money – but £20 million? A drop in the ocean and nothing compared with e.g. the NAO report that fraud, customer error, and DWP staff error costs £900 million per year each last year! (That’s a whole other issue that needs sorting).
And was it cost effective to extend the vote to women in 1918?  To younger voters in 1969? Would it have made it the wrong thing to do?

10) Because there isn’t going to be a referendum for AV Plus, D’Hondt, pairing or an STV system around any time soon
AV retains many of the familiar things about FPTP (ability to have landslide governments, smallish constituencies represented by one person) – whether you see those as good or bad depends on your view of FPTP and proportional representation systems. Actually, there’s not a massive difference between AV and STV if you realise that it is how STV would play out if used in a single member constituency…
But honestly, AV is the only show in town as an alternative to FPTP.  
If it’s not enough of a change for you, by all means vote no. As blogger Neil Harding points out, that’s rather like saying no to a minimum wage becasue you support a £8 level not a £5 level…
But I’d urge you to take part, and obviously – given this post – to vote yes. What have you got to lose?

A sense of sovereignty…

Ok, so there’s not going to be a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty in the UK.
The Czech President has signed, ratifying the Lisbon Treaty and bringing into force the treaty over which there have been so many statements, bits of information and misinformation and more proposterous headlines in our press than even I could have imagined.

I can’t parody them well enough after a long day at work, (but who needs parody when you’ve got “Signed. Sealed. Delivered. Up Yours” at the Sun and “Britain: the end” on the Express). You’ll just have to read Nosemonkey’s Tweets, now gathered together in one place to get a sense of what’s being said.
The Q&A on the Sun’s website informs readers that “the aim of the Treaty is to build a federal united states of Europe” – must be a different Treaty from the one I read then.  The Daily Telegraph talks about more British powers being “surrendered to Brussels” but doesn’t directly cite any and instead offers this:

Daniel Hannan, a Tory MEP and leading Euro-sceptic said the signing was a step towards a European super-state. “The boot continues to stamp on the human face,” he said.

The Daily Telegraph also says that “one of the most visible changes the treaty makes is the creation of a new permanent president for the EU, who will chair European summits and set the union’s agenda”. 
Again with the President of the EU thing! 
The EU is awash with Presidents: President of the European Commission (Jose Manuel Barroso), President of the European Parliament (Jerzy Buzek) and this role, President of the Council.  This is not a Napoleonic high ruler of all Europe role but, as the Telegraph itself sets out, a role for chairing summits and setting the agenda (i.e. the work programme).  It’s likely also to have some overlap with the “Foreign Minister” (actually the High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy) and therefore have a “world stage” role.  But we’re not about to be ruled from Brussels with the President’s face on our Euro banknotes…

Oh what’s the use?  When that’s the quality of the information being given out, how are we ever supposed to have an informed debate in the UK?

I used to teach constitutional politics to people who really ought to understand it, but often really didn’t. 
I found the most effective way to bring the key points home was to run a constitutional quiz, with an element of competition between “teams” within the group, and a ridiculous prize (a handful of boiled sweets or losing team to buy winning teams in the bar that night).  I’m particularly missing the chance to teach the big constitutional change that’s been promised today.

Not completion of reform of the House of Lords – it seems that, with talk of Kirsty Allsop and others becoming new peers if the Conservatives win the next election, the chance of signing up sympathetic names with a recognised expertise is too attractive to an incoming government for any swift promise of reform. 
Actually, the idea of short-term peers appointed for one parliamentary term for a specific task rather than for life, while a big change constitutionally, is potentially quite attractive as a way of getting some real expertise into parliament without requiring them to be elected to a constituency (a system by which if we get expertise its incidental to being a consituency representative rather than by design).

No, David Cameron’s speech on Europe today was actually very radical.
Not the defensiveness on dropping the pledge on a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty – it’s been obvious for a while that that was going to come because, as he said, holding a referendum on a(n amending) treaty that has already passed into European law is a pointless exercise and most governments don’t want to use up all of their international negotiating capital on a big dramatic but ultimately futile gesture. 
The interpretations of the UK constitutional settlement are new, and definitely interesting. 

There are indeed some changes coming in the Lisbon Treaty – Ralf Grahn’s Grahnlaw blog sets these out comprehensively  and Euractiv does the same for the layperson– but its the changes proposed in today’s speech that I want to look at from the constitutional side.
Cameron proposes three UK constitutional changes:
1) a referendum lock, to require referenda on any future Treaties, which all parties would pledge never to overturn;
2) a sovereignty Bill, on which more below; and
3) a block on the use of “ratchet clauses” (known as “passerelle” clauses elsewhere in Europe) that would allow extension of QMV to areas on which there are currently national vetoes, without the backing of a vote in the UK parliament. 

David Cameron says

“if we win the next election, we will amend the European Communities Act 1972 to prohibit, by law, the transfer of power to the EU without a referendum.  And that will cover not just any future treaties like Lisbon, but any future attempt to take Britain into the euro.  We will give the British people a referendum lock to which only they should hold the key – a commitment very similar to that in Ireland”.  
“It is not politicians’ power to give away – it belongs to the people.  So at the General Election, we will challenge the other political parties to accept the referendum lock and pledge never to reverse it”. 

Three ideas to think through here:
I’m dubious about the idea of a “pledge never to reverse it”.  I guess such a pledge could have no weight in law, because in the UK we have a principle that no parliament can bind another – this a key point of our parliamentary democracy.  In that case, the only weight of such a pledge would be in the infamous court of public opinion.
Secondly, up until now, we’ve also had another point of parliamentary democracy that we are a representative democracy – we elect representatives to take decisions on our behalf and hold them to account through elections.
And thirdly, a quick aside if I can: I’m not a constitutional lawyer, but I’d be interested in a view on this one… the thing about the European Communities Act is that it is effectively a piece of the UK’s constitution.  I mentioned that we have a tradition in UK politics that no parliament can bind any future parliament.  Just like any other piece of UK legislation, the ECA could be repealed at any time.  Until now, you can speculate that would’ve taken the UK out of the EU (although of course there would’ve been a whole load of further work) if a future government have , but now there’s a clear procedure for so doing, an “exit clause”.   Actually, I’ve just heard Chris Bryant, the Europe Minister, say that. So it must be right.
Ooh – one more, having just heard William Hague on BBC Newsnight – why wouldn’t a referendum lock be triggered by accession of a new Member State?  This was explicitly excluded in the interview just now, but given that accession of, say, a big new Member State like Turkey would change the relative power of the UK in the EU – so why would that not be automatically subject to the referendum trigger?

The idea of a Sovreignty Bill immediately gave me a sinking feeling when I heard the term – was this yet again a “EU law must not be superior to UK law” argument of the sort that the tabloid press raised when the Lisbon Treaty was drafted to put into the text of the Treaty something that’s been case law since before the UK joined the EEC (the German courts tried to argue that their Constitution came above everything else, but actually tried to use this principle to block the single market – ironically one of the elements of the EU that is most acceptable to the UK eurosceptics)?

Actually, what is described makes some sense:

Take the sovereignty of our laws.  Because we have no written constitution, unlike many other EU countries, we have no explicit legal guarantee that the last word on our laws stays in Britain.  There is therefore a danger that, over time, our courts might come to regard ultimate authority as resting with the EU.  So as well as making sure that further power cannot be handed to the EU without a referendum, we will also introduce a new law, in the form of a United Kingdom Sovereignty Bill, to make it clear that ultimate authority stays in this country, in our Parliament.  This is not about Westminster striking down individual items of EU legislation.  It is about an assurance that the final word on our laws is here in Britain.  It would simply put Britain on a par with Germany, where the German Constitutional Court has consistently upheld – including most recently on the Lisbon treaty – that ultimate authority lies with the bodies established by the German Constitution.

Of course, what with this, the incomplete Lords reform and the idea of a British Bill of Rights, it might be clearer and more effective to establish a written constitution for the UK.  This would of course be likely to require a higher threshold for change – and that would protect citizen’s rights (and stop Councils (ab)using counter terrorism legislation to justify putting spy cameras in people’s bins).
But it seems no politician is willing to spend the political capital that could be spent pushing forward their policy agenda on a full-on tidy up of the UK’s consititutional settlement.

What about the rachet clauses?  Are they really so scary?

Furthermore, we would change the law so that any use of a ratchet clause by a future government would require full approval by Parliament.

According to the easy guide to the Lisbon Treaty (ok, Wikipedia) the treaty also allows for the changing of voting procedures without amending the EU treaties. Under this clause the European Council can, after receiving the consent of the European Parliament, vote unanimously to:

  • allow the Council of Ministers to act on the basis of qualified majority in areas where they previously had to act on the basis of unanimity. (This is not available for decisions with defence or military implications.)
  • allow for legislation to be adopted on the basis of the ordinary legislative procedure where it previously was to be adopted on the basis of a special legislative procedure.
  • A decision of the European Council to use either of these provisions can only come into effect if, six months after all national parliaments had been given notice of the decision, none object to it.

So essentially promising a full vote of parliament on the rachet clause is effectively required by the Treaty of Lisbon itself!  So that’s not actually that radical then…

If you look at the development of the EU to date, you’ll notice that there’s been a speeding up in recent years.  There was no new Treaty between 1956 and 1987 although the original 6 member states were joined by 6 new countries in that time. 
The Single European Act, in 1987, is still the most radical change to the powers of the EEC/EC/ EU that has taken place – and Thatcher thought majority voting was a price worth paying for a completed single market. 
We’ve had a huge number of new Member States (6 to 9, to 10, to 12, to 15, to 25 and now 27) and there’s always been a sense that enlarging the EU in terms of the number of Member States should be accompanied by a “deepening” of the sort of decisions taken collectively.  But I don’t think that we’re there any more.  When Lisbon was being negotiated, if you read the press reports afterwards, there seemed to be a bit of a sense that the Treaty better be as good as it could because there’d probably never be a chance to develop another one. 
So I’m not clear how much use any of this is likely to be anyway?

Finally, there are also three policy areas named from which a future UK Conservative government would seek to extricate the UK:
1) social and employment policy;
2) the charter of fundamental rights, and
3) criminal justice.
I have to admit that at the moment I can’t really understand why these are so totemic.
For example, a range of questions inspired by the social and employment policy field:  I’m not clear what the damage that eminates from Europe as opposed to poor implementation and goldplating? The example cited is the NHS and the Working time Directive, but don’t tired doctors make mistakes? Why can’t the BMA find an alternative approach to training that doesn’t require such long hours that e.g. parents of small children would never be able to train? And would the extrication go wider than just the NHS or public sector?
And presumably the price for extricating the UK might take into account the fact that UK-based companies would then be able to compete against those based in other European Member States by requiring their workers to work long hours? 
Happy to try to understand more on this one if someone can explain this to me, please. 

On the Charter of Fundamental rights – forgive me, but don’t we already have most of these rights via the Human Rights Act? 
Or indeed a British Bill of Rights, were such a thing to be introduced and the HRA repealed?  
I’m not going to deconstruct the argument that appears to have been revived today on e.g. the imposition of collective argaining or the right to strike, but would suggest instead that you read this excellent summary and take into account the “national rules apply” sections of the Charter’s text.

I’m going to stop now – after all I no longer teach constitutional politics.
But, it looks like there are going to be interesting negotiations if and when there’s a change of government in the UK, especially if the story the Guardian is running right now gives a taste of the likely tone…