I went on a jolly to London yesterday, to partake in a mass lobby of Parliament regarding the Referendum vote. Although, as I've previous mentioned I wasn't really interested in the debate itself - the vote was always a foregone conclusion - I thought it important to help contribute to the numbers outside. To try to show that this was an issue people do care about. It was also great to meet up with fellow bloggers Mark Wadsworth and Witterings from Witney, and to meet The Talking Clock and Katabasis.and later in the evening Helen from Your Freedom and Ours at the Bruges Group debate.
Personally I thought the turnout for the lobby was rather good although it wasn't quite as large as the one for the mass lobby on the Lisbon Treaty in 2008, which is to be expected considering the short notice and that it was a Monday. However it still took over 2 hours to get in.
I didn't get to see my Tory MP, and to no surprise he voted against the motion. Interestingly during the Lisbon Treaty debate, he couldn't have been more helpful. He promptly answered my correspondence, he gave me his mobile number and when I was queuing he came out to meet me and enabled me to jump the queue to get in. Since I met him at the General Election count last year, standing as a UKIP candidate (in a neighbouring constituency), he has been less helpful. Letters and emails go unanswered and he didn't even meet me in the lobby yesterday - though my chances of meeting him were slightly better than Wittering from Witney's were on speaking to his MP.
But not all is in vain. There are some positive outcomes. By dividing his party so comprehensively Cameron will go down in history as another Tory leader who couldn't win an election. Cameron's greatest asset last year was Gordon Brown. The Tories benefited from the 'anyone but Gordon vote' (and still they couldn't win), in 2015, if the coalition lasts that long, that won't be a factor. A divided party, Europe, the economy, no Gordon Brown...say goodbye to any chances of winning in 2015 Cameron.
Also, the rebellion appears to be larger than expected, Cameron has 'lost' a large part of his party, which makes for interesting times when further votes on Europe are coming down the track. Senior Tory figures are denying that it is a humiliation which of course means that it is (*crunches popcorn*), and at least now even the most dim-witted amongst Tory members now have it in black and white that 'wait 'till Dave gets in' was an illusion all along.
One question got answered though. We're often told of the 'benefits' of EU membership in vague terms - good for Britain, national interest etc. If nothing else yesterday's vote answers that question unequivocally. That the three main parties in Parliament shows such contempt for the electorate, and that successive Tory leaders are prepared to destroy their own party first, tells us all we need to know on who actually benefits out of our membership of the EU.