THE BLOG
16/06/2015 07:25 BST | Updated 15/06/2016 06:59 BST

The Big House... From the Inside

Tuesday morning dawned with MPs from every party buzzing in to debate one of the big questions of the election, the referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union. To quote that revered philosopher Yogi Bear, it was another case of deja-vu all over again

Tuesday morning dawned with MPs from every party buzzing in to debate one of the big questions of the election, the referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union.

To quote that revered philosopher Yogi Bear, it was another case of deja-vu all over again, with stragglers from ancient battles largely peddling the same old narrow negativity, if with a few novel touches of ornamental xenophobia-lite.

Tory newbies sometimes interjected with freshly minted maiden speeches (though for this old lag it was too often the same old songs, but with a different meaning now that they had won - outright).

We were also treated to an appearance from the all-new anti-European Union group 'Conservatives for Britain'. (Is there such an entity as ' Conservatives Against Britain' I wonder?) Anyhow, their newish, youngish chair suggested innocently that their only objective is to strengthen the Prime Minister's hand - consistently with the group's objectives.

These objectives include re-establishing Great Britain's absolute sovereignty (including, I assume the province of Northern Ireland - which often falls off the end of the pier in the speeches of the most profound unionists). So this warm embracing support will be of little comfort or assistance to Mr Cameron.

Neither of the two prospective Liberal Democrat leaders were to be seen. They have wounds to lick, and the other 75% of the parliamentary party to persuade.

But Labour were present, if not correct, explaining (or rather not) their metamorphosis from being resolutely against the referendum before the election to now being stolidly in favour (omnes 'hear hear' 'quite right too' &c). And that's how they voted - with the Tories.

I was speaking on behalf of Plaid Cymru.

I outlined some of our concerns.

The referendum may be held on the same day as the Welsh General Election. All the people of Wales will be able to vote in the Welsh election, and rightfully so. But the Tories intend to prevent those who harbour dodgy allegiances i.e. foreigners, from voting in the referendum (apart for our tame variety - from Ireland, Cyprus, Gibraltar and Malta).

So some people will be turned out of our polling stations half way through doing their bit for democracy. Rejoice, rejoice will be the cry of various international baddies, from places as far apart as Moscow, Damascus and Pyongyang.

We are also in favour of giving the vote to 16 and 17 year olds. The government, unsurprisingly, is not. Then again, should the people of Wales be informed of the national result (our 'national' that is)?

And what would happen if Wales voted to stay in, contrary to the wishes of our neighbours. Presumably their version of 'national' would carry the day.

Dear readers, the path to the referendum, and from the referendum, is neither straight nor broad.

- - -

On Wednesday we had questions to the Secretary of State for Scotland for the first time in the new Parliament.

Mr Speaker calls questioners from all parties with scrupulous impartiality. But as there are now so few non SNP MPs from Scotland it's an easy gig for MPs from England. They took full advantage of the opportunity to ask questions with a somewhat tenuous link to Scotland (you'll see a slightly less blatant version of this at Welsh questions next week ...).

David Mundell the Secretary of State, and Scotland's only Tory, had quite a bit to say about the faults of Scotland's SNP government, and not a lot to say about the virtues of his own. But to be fair to the poor soul, he had to spread the butter a bit thin as he had to answer every question.

That is except for some sporadic assistance from his minder (?) Anna Sourby. She is also Minister for Small Businesses, unmistakably English and a distant Thatcher sound-alike. Now that should really make her popular north of the border.

The only Labour MP from Scotland and the (somewhat endangered) sole Scottish Liberal Democrat scarcely got a look in. But this might be a blessing for them at present. For they have a problem. How to attack the government without appearing to support the SNP.

So, for now, they attack the SNP, and appear to side with the Tories!

Don't think there's an easy answer to that one.....

A version of this piece appeared in Welsh in Y Cymro on June 11th 2015