Wednesday, August 22, 2007


EU Referendum Issue Not Crucial

It's a fine old mess regarding the EU constitution. Negotiated in Brussells by Blair last June as almost his last act, it has been offered up to British voters as something substantially different to the draft constitution rejected so emphatically by France and Holland in spring 2005. However, seeking to assuage doubts of those who supported the rejected treaty, some heads of state assured their citizens that then new deal was, indeed, up to 90% the same as the old one which did not make it. Blair insisted changes were just minor amendments which did not require any time consuming referendum. Gordon, sensing a very palpable banana skin, agrees.

But it's not that easy.
Firstly Labour promised a referendum on the draft constitution in its 2005 election manifesto'

Secondly there's what Blair said in advance of Brussells:

“You can’t have a . . . rejection of the treaty and then you just bring it back with a few amendments and say we will have another go." Seems like he has done just that.

Thirdly a recent ICM poll showed that 24 per cent of Labour voters say they would be less likely to vote for the party if it's against referendum plus 13 per cent saying they would be more likely to vote Tory if they promised to offer a referendum could increase their likelihood of voting Tory if the Conservatives promised a ballot. If reflected in a general election that could swing the result.

Fouthly opinion leaders have the wind in their sails. William Hague has used all his formidable skills to argue the case and several heavyweight columnists appear to agree with him, most notably Simon Jenkins in the Sunday Times.

Whenever I'm really confused about an issue I tend to turn to that wisest of old birds, Peter Riddell of The Times. I would recommend Gordon to as well, if he has any doubts as today's piece would reassure him:

A majority of the British public oppose the treaty. But, apart from a vocal minority, voters do not care that much about Europe as opposed to health, crime and jobs. And past evidence shows that the more the Tories talk about Europe, the more they damage their own chances. Arguments about the EU would complicate an autumn election, not least because the treaty talks are due to be concluded at a heads of government summit in Lisbon on October 18. But whatever the sound and fury of the sceptic press, Mr Brown can probably ride out this issue. The EU will not decide the next election.

Amaze yourself. Test the feeling ov voting about Europe.

Vote YES to Free Europe Constitution at!
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