Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Not true Barry Sheerman, not true

At PMQs today there was an interesting question from a Labour MP:

Mr Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op):
As the Prime Minister struggles with certain elements in his party over Europe, does he ever think back to an inspirational and visionary Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, who faced similar difficulties but stood up to the rebels in his own party and secured a yes vote for staying in Europe? Will he join me in celebrating the centenary of Harold Wilson’s birth next week? Across all parties we should celebrate that great, innovative Prime Minister.
Except that part about standing up to the rebels in his party isn't true. As The Telegraph reported just last year (my emphasis):

'The final lesson from 1975, particularly for Mr Cameron, relates to the wisdom of allowing ministers the freedom to differ. After the EEC vote, Wilson was able to bring back into the fold ministers such as Tony Benn and Michael Foot who had campaigned for 'No’, preventing a drain of talent from the government. Like Wilson, Mr Cameron also has a small majority and his Government includes Cabinet ministers who might well be inclined to take a different position from him. Allowing them to follow their consciences, will ensure that he too can walk away from the referendum result with his Government intact. To do otherwise would be catastrophic not only for the second Cameron Government, but also the Conservative Party more widely.'

Why did David Cameron not correct Barry Sheerman? Maybe because after the referendum he doesn't plan to bring BREXIT campaigners back into the fold.

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