Lipitor Buy Cheap Arcoxia 90 Mg Uses Buy Zoloft Brand Online Cheap Cialis Canadian Buy Original Viagra

Why Labour is making two tactical mistakes on the EU referendum


8:45 am - October 21st 2011

by Sunny Hundal    


      Share on Tumblr

The government’s decision to have a debate on whether the UK should have a referendum on the EU has the Labour party jumping with joy. They think it’s Christmas come early, with one source telling this blog: “This debate is more about the present divisions of Cameron’s party over Europe than it is about Britain’s future in Europe.”

That is certainly how they hope the debate will play out in the media too.

But I think the party is making two mistakes here.

Labour MPs will be whipped to vote against having a EU referendum. The official line is that Britain would lose too much in trying to re-negotiate the treaty while the financial health of the entire continent is under serious threat.

“We need to focus on jobs and growth, not the EU,” they say. Here are my two problems with this.

First, by stating that Labour MPs would have a free vote on the issue, the party would have set itself apart from the Conservatives. That move would have grabbed media attention alone. Ed Miliband could have said the party had moved on from command-and-control of the past, and was happy for a robust debate on Britain’s future within the EU. Swing voters would have taken notice.

Plus, Ed Miliband has little to lose with having a debate within Labour on the EU. Labour voters and members are split but there just aren’t the angry factions on either side.

The second tactical mistake is unashamedly partisan. A free Labour vote would have presented the Tory whips with a huge nightmare. It would have strengthened the hand of the Eurosceptic MPs and Tory in-fighting would have been bloodier.

But given that Tory, Libdem and Labour MPs will be whipped to oppose the referendum – the threats of resignation are just posturing. Tory whips can breathe relatively easier in the knowledge that the government will not face an embarrassing defeat.

For the principle of having an open debate on this issue, and to give Tories a bloody nose, Labour MPs should have been allowed a free vote on the EU referendum.

Update: According to PoliticsHome, Labour MPs Graham Stringer and John Cryer will defy the whip on similar grounds.


Note: I’m moderating a debate titled: ‘Should Britain stay in or leave the EU?’ on Saturday. Maybe I’ll see some of you there.

    Share on Tumblr   submit to reddit  


About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
· Other posts by


Story Filed Under: Blog ,Europe ,Foreign affairs ,Labour party ,Westminster

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.


Reader comments


Plus it is also stupid from the point of view of pro-europeans. There will be a referendum, probably within the next 10 years. The political momentum behind it is too great.

So the question for pro-europeans is not “how do we stop a referendum?”, but “how do we win one?”.

Part of the answer to that surely lies in the question of timing. Have one now and it is winnable. Have one forced on you 10 years down the road, and forced on you after 10 years of being afraid of one and 10 years of rises in the UKIP vote every euro election, guarantees a defeat – and a a heavy one.

First, by stating that Labour MPs would have a free vote on the issue, the party would have set itself apart from the Conservatives. That move would have grabbed media attention alone.

The attention of a media largely owned by those living outside the European union and intensely hostile to it.

Ed Miliband could have said the party had moved on from command-and-control of the past, and was happy for a robust debate on Britain’s future within the EU. Swing voters would have taken notice.

The kind of ‘swing voters’ who would otherwise have nothing to do with a party with a vaguely socialist history and who would happily drag the party even further to the Right.

For the principle of having an open debate on this issue, and to give Tories a bloody nose, Labour MPs should have been allowed a free vote on the EU referendum.

Britain’s future in Europe is a little more important than giving Cameron a bloody nose.

Nobody is going to thank Labour in ten years time for making a decision that will effect all our lives just to undermine a Tory leader as disposable as John Thingy and Gordon Whatsisname.

Shatterface,

I find myself in the odd position of thinking Sunny has a point here (actually, that’s happened a lot recently – not sure why).

The attention of a media largely owned by those living outside the European union and intensely hostile to it.

The media reflects the normal (uninformed, pre-referendum) view of the people who buy the papers or watch it remember. You see, it’s all very well thinking these evil external owners control the press, but there is a limit to that working, which is set by what people are prepared to read – and publishers are aware of their markets.

The kind of ‘swing voters’ who would otherwise have nothing to do with a party with a vaguely socialist history and who would happily drag the party even further to the Right.

So you feel that it would be better to have a Labour party with no claim to represent popular opinion and no chance of winning elections? It’s a fair position, but not one that will appeal to the professional politicians who currently run Labour (and the other major parties to be fair…). Because, you see, almost all swing voters will be to the right of Labour – that’s just the way it works for a left-wing party. To be a party that attracts enough voters to form a government you have to appeal to voters you know. Sunny at least sees this.

Britain’s future in Europe is a little more important than giving Cameron a bloody nose.

It’s too important for the people to decide then? Incidentally, Britain is stuck in Europe – we can’t get the engines started so we aren’t moving. You may be referring to the European Union, which is something a bit different.

“Britain’s future in Europe is a little more important than giving Cameron a bloody nose.”

This is a vital point. This is the future of my children. We’ve had a referendum. We voted overwhelmingly in favour and now an obnoxious collection of foreign media owners, ministers who are working for the Americans (traitor is not too strong a word) and some fairly vile racists are trying to wreck it.

We are a European nation and we always have been. Get used to it. And being on full trading terms, with a role in making the decisions, is vital to us. The impotent ringside seat our leaders will have at this weekend’s negotiations shows how much good it does us being aloof.

So the question for pro-europeans is not “how do we stop a referendum?”, but “how do we win one?”.

YES.

“Ed Miliband could have said the party had moved on from command-and-control of the past”

He could have said it. We’d also know that was a lie 🙂

This is a vital point. This is the future of my children. We’ve had a referendum. We voted overwhelmingly in favour and now an obnoxious collection of foreign media owners, ministers who are working for the Americans (traitor is not too strong a word) and some fairly vile racists are trying to wreck it.

If the Yes to the EU campaign is run on the same basis and same lines as the Yes to AV campaign, I think a similar result is likely.

@ 4:

“We’ve had a referendum. We voted overwhelmingly in favour”

Are you referring to the one in the 70s? Because you know, the EU’s changed rather a lot since then. If we had a referendum on the existence of the monarchy and the result came out in favour, but then the Queen started overruling Parliament and arrogating more and more power to herself, would you say “We’ve had a referendum on the monarchy, get used to it!”? Or would you consider that the changed situation justified reopening the question and having another vote on the matter?

“If the Yes to the EU campaign is run on the same basis and same lines as the Yes to AV campaign, I think a similar result is likely.”

Pretty much this. Another reason to start planning how to do it now, and avoid the same mistakes.

“would you say “We’ve had a referendum on the monarchy, get used to it!”?”

Strangely no, for fairly obvious reasons. How about a referendum on the monarchy, or the unelected house of lords or anything else about our constitutional arrangements? Why is Europe the only thing we have to vote on repeatedly, despite the utter failure of any party favouring withdrawal to succeed in any election, ever?

Can anyone seriously suggest that if we have another referendum on membership of the EU and we vote yes again, the same people won’t be back, telling us, once again, that they didn’t read the question, or they thought it was about something else, or they think we should keep having it anyway?

A referendum would not settle this question.

12. Paul Newman

So the question for pro-europeans is not “how do we stop a referendum?”, but “how do we win one?”.

YES.

Can I suggest repeatedly holding one until the people,get it right ?

XXX:

You can’t compare the democratic EU with the undemocratic monarchy. What you’re saying is akin to saying that we should have a referendum on being ruled by a central UK government every time that we collectively feel that they’re not doing it right. We wouldn’t, because we can influence government through elections, something we can do on an MEP level, and something the UK can do on a higher political level.

Now, if it is the case that, just as we don’t really take seriously the Cornish claims to independence from England…that the rest of the EU doesn’t take seriously the concerns you hold about the EU, then maybe it’s time to accept that you are what you are…an inconsequential minority on the fringes of a system everyone else is positively engaging in.

“the same people won’t be back, telling us, once again, that they didn’t read the question, or they thought it was about something else, or they think we should keep having it anyway?”

They probably will, but there would be fewer of them and they would be back to losing deposits. It would settle it for both mainstream parties.

I’m also fairly certain that the ERS won’t be running the Yes to the EU campaign if it were to happen (which it’s still pretty damn likely it won’t do until the terms are very favourable for a yes vote anyway)

Chris @ 10:

“Strangely no, for fairly obvious reasons. How about a referendum on the monarchy, or the unelected house of lords or anything else about our constitutional arrangements? Why is Europe the only thing we have to vote on repeatedly, despite the utter failure of any party favouring withdrawal to succeed in any election, ever?”

Because as I said before, the nature of the EU has changed significantly over the last few decades in a way which the nature of the monarchy and the House of Lords hasn’t. The debate surrounding the monarchy and the Lords is the same as it has always been in recent history, because they have remained the same; the EU, however, has not stayed the same, so the organisation we are now part of is different to the organisation we originally voted to stay in. I’m struggling to see why you’re so opposed to the idea of re-opening a debate when the circumstances in which the debate was originally settled no longer apply.

Lee @ 13:

“What you’re saying is akin to saying that we should have a referendum on being ruled by a central UK government every time that we collectively feel that they’re not doing it right.”

No, it’s more like saying that we should have a referendum whenever a major constitutional change is enacted. Which is something I’d have thought that most left-wingers would be in favour of, but still.

“Now, if it is the case that, just as we don’t really take seriously the Cornish claims to independence from England…that the rest of the EU doesn’t take seriously the concerns you hold about the EU, then maybe it’s time to accept that you are what you are…an inconsequential minority on the fringes of a system everyone else is positively engaging in.”

Remind me again, what proportion of referenda held on EU intergration have come out with a positive answer?

Oh, and in addition to my comment above: even if we accept for argument’s sake that my concerns about the EU are the fringe obsession of an inconsequential minority, that still doesn’t prove that they’re unfounded. After all, there was a time when abolitionism, or support for democracy, or for female suffrage, were all the concerns of a small group of obsessives.

“A referendum would not settle this question.”

Quite. There are far too many hysterical obsessives on both sides. The issue whether to join the Eurozone went on for years, long past GB’s recommendation in June 2003 that joining would prove damaging.

I listened to the interviews with the party leaders on the BBC Today programme just before the 2005 election. John Humphreys slipped a nice question to Charles Kennedy about joining the Eurozone. Back came the instant reply: “A missed opportunity.” Even then it was clear that Kennedy hadn’t a clue as to what he was talking about. With that, Blair and the Iraq war and Michael Howard’s dog-whistle politics, I decided I really couldn’t vote. With the low turnout at that election, it seems much of the electorate came to a similar conclusion.

Even if Britain dropped out of the EU, that wouldn’t make it disappear. Exported products and services to the EU would still have to conform with EU standards – except the standards would be decided without a British input.

20. Northern Worker

Sunny, I find myself in total agreement! I think it will increase the credibility of Labour considerably if they are seen to support their MPs as representatives of their constituents. Whereas Cameron and Clegg will be seen as dictators with a three-line whip.

But if the vote for a referendum was won, is there presently a large enough majority in the country to vote ‘out’? Against the ‘out’ vote would be the considerable forces of the elite, and massive amounts of money courtesy of the EU. Remember Ireland?

21. Northern Worker

I would further add that it might not be such a bad idea to leave a referendum a little longer to let the EU situation get worse and even more undemocratic. Until it looks like what it is.

” Against the ‘out’ vote would be the considerable forces of the elite, and massive amounts of money courtesy of the EU”

And in favour of ‘out’ would be the small underdogs of the entire tabloid press and the multi-millions of the conservative party’s backers.

23. Shatterface

So you feel that it would be better to have a Labour party with no claim to represent popular opinion and no chance of winning elections?

I don’t have any interest in the Labour Party other tthan not wanting it to lurch further to the Right than it already is.

There’s a huge overlap between those who want to pull out of the European Union and those who hold Europe responsible for everything from immigration to a Human Rights Act they would like to see us withdraw from, and Sunny’s proposal just panders to them.

Lee – given how Libdems killed debate over NHS at party conference, I wouldn’t be smirking at others if I were you 😉

25. Leon Wolfson

@1 – Assumptions piled on assumption. There is no “momentum”, it’s a story peddled by the xenophobes on the right to their tame press.

A referendum is unwinable. Period. We’d see the anti-European press pour money into creating an environment of fear, and pushing any FACTS out the debate entirely.

The previous referendum tells us all this quite clearly.

@19 – Worse, people ignore that the EEA and EFTA members pay the EU for access. We’d be paying ~£2 billion a year for that, with no return. That’s a significant proportion of the current EU spend, for which we DO get returns.

26. Roger Mexico

Actually a referendum to take Britain out of the EU would be eminently loseable. To start with public opinion is against the EU, but not overwhelmingly so. The most recent one I could find was by YouGov for ‘Vote UK Out of Europe’:

http://today.yougov.co.uk/sites/today.yougov.co.uk/files/yg-archives-voteukouteu-yougov-031011.pdf

Even with the question order being loaded, presumably at the request of the client, the question If a referendum on whether the United Kingdom should remain a member of the European Union (EU) were held tomorrow, how would you vote? was only won by withdrawal by 51% to 27%. If you think that sounds like a lost cause, remember that pro-AV was ahead 45% v 32% at one stage and compare that to the result (in case you’ve done your best to blot it from your mind it was 32% to 68%)

And the reason that I think a referendum to make the UK come out of the EU would be lost is for the same reason as the pro-AV one was. People will only vote for change if they have a good reason to do so.

Sunny, at least the lib dems debate in the first place, and did debate the nhs at conference. I thought you hated what aboutery btw? 😉

Xxx: the route to the eu as it sits was started decades ago. The time for a referendum was in the 90s. I also love that you compare a conservative approach to democracy, as opposed to the progression and evolution of a more globalised democracy , as being on a par with suffrage!

@25

“A referendum is unwinable. Period. We’d see the anti-European press pour money into creating an environment of fear, and pushing any FACTS out the debate entirely.”

Classic anti-democratic opinion. The people are too stupid to vote the way you want them to, so you deny them the chance. You come up with spurious reasons in favour of remaining in the EU, but you tacitly accept that they are unconvincing.

I don’t think some of you grasp the point of democracy, which is about a government having the consent of the majority of the people, and a nation having the ability to change its government peacefully.

I don’t know if a referendum would be won by my side. It’s impossible to say, but if the majority of the people of this country want us to leave the EU, in spite of the arguments in favour of remaining, then, if democracy means anything, we should damn well leave.

This is not an issue where ‘the tyranny of the majority’ can be raised. We are not deciding whether the majority can take away the rights and liberties of the minority. We are discussing the political governance of this country, and if this is not an issue which it is legitimate to put to the vote of the people and decided democratically, then what is?

Lee @ 27:

“the route to the eu as it sits was started decades ago.”

When the referendum on membership was held, the PM specifically said that we were signing up to a trading area, nothing more. No meaningful assent was therefore given to the idea of ever-closer union. Even if we had given assent to that idea, it still makes sense to ask people again once they see how that works in practice.

“I also love that you compare a conservative approach to democracy, as opposed to the progression and evolution of a more globalised democracy , as being on a par with suffrage!”

I’m not sure what “a conservative approach to democracy” is supposed to mean, but the analogy was with other causes that were once considered the preserve of eye-rolling obsessives, and intended to show that “the mainstream doesn’t care about this!” is a poor argument.

“When the referendum on membership was held, the PM specifically said that we were signing up to a trading area, nothing more. No meaningful assent was therefore given to the idea of ever-closer union. Even if we had given assent to that idea, it still makes sense to ask people again once they see how that works in practice.”

People voted for parties through MPs, parties that drew ever further in to the EU model of democracy. that’s as meaningful as an assent as there is in British politics.

“I’m not sure what “a conservative approach to democracy” is supposed to mean, but the analogy was with other causes that were once considered the preserve of eye-rolling obsessives, and intended to show that “the mainstream doesn’t care about this!” is a poor argument.”

My point was simple, those causes were progressive causes. Of course they needed to be fought for, the people doing the eye rolling were conservative by nature. There’s an inherent irony there.

Just because we had a referendum in the 1970s is not a knockout argument against having one now. Most of the people who voted in that referendum are now dead. Which is the fundamental problem I have always had with things that try to bind successors. No generation has the right to bind their descendants. Therefore, the option to change any law should be open to every generation. I am not saying that we definitely should have a referendum about EU membership. That is the point of open debate to consider all the options. Let’s hear all the arguments stripped of ranting and scaremongering without the recourse to you had a referendum in the 1970s so can’t have another.

33. Leon Wolfson

@28 – Really? So reprisentative democracy is, by your reasoning, anti-democratic.

Forcing repeated votes funded by special interests serves the interests of those special interests. Limiting it to general elections at least gives parties without massively deep politics a *chance* not to have their views drowned out by paid shilling.

In the longer term, we still need campaign finance reform.

And I do nothing of the *sort*. Typical anti-discussion tactics – say that someone who disagrees with you doesn’t really hold those views and that therefore those views are invalid. This is *precisely* the kind of issue I’m talking about!

And no, we should not, if it’s to the benefit of this country to remain. Otherwise you have a system of a simple tyranny of the majority. Of course it can be raised, it absolutely IS a situation where you’re trying to set precedents for it, and there should never be, as far as I’m concerned, referendums.

They are, again, simply a vehicle for special interests to spend their way to victories which benefit those special interests, and only those special interests.

I’m with Leon on this. Referendums on complex issues should never come about, and it was right of Labour not to put one forward. A referendum on if we should have an extra bank holiday? Sure, go for it. A referendum on a body that most people simply will not turn up to vote on, and those that do will mainly be ill informed about the vast complexity of the structure of the EU, what it is and what it is not (with regards to the EEA for example and the requirement to still provide freedom of movement for workers), and what they actually influence by a media that has it’s own agenda on the subject? It’s not that we had a referendum in the 70s about it that’s the knock out argument, it’s that it’s not a fit subject for a referendum that is the knockout argument.

“I don’t think some of you grasp the point of democracy, which is about a government having the consent of the majority of the people, and a nation having the ability to change its government peacefully.”

In reality, of course, we can “throw out” the government that isn’t doing what we want, so there’s your peaceful and very much democratic mandate and “consent”. All is right in the world. Most people in this country voted for parties that want positive engagement with the EU. How’s that for majority?

Lee @30:

“My point was simple, those causes were progressive causes.”

Simple, and utterly irrelevant. Besides, who gets to decide what’s “progressive” and what isn’t? What does “progressive” even mean? I doubt that many eurosceptics would describe European intergration as a particularly “progressive” thing; what gives you the right to say that they’re wrong?

@ 32:

“And no, we should not, if it’s to the benefit of this country to remain. Otherwise you have a system of a simple tyranny of the majority.”

“Tyranny of the majority” refers to the majority depriving a minority of various rights, not to a government following the wishes of the greater part of its population. And if you’re going to decide not to hold a referendum in case the people come up with the “wrong” answer (which is an extraordinarily arrogant position to take), why not apply that position to other areas, and not hold general elections in case the people vote for the “wrong” party?

38. Leon Wolfson

@36 – No, that’s not my stance. Again, the problem is that referendums are basically ways for special interests to buy results that they can’t buy from law makers.

@ Leon Wolfson,

you can’t polish a turd, mate, and your opinion is a turd. The reason you are dead against a referendum is plainly and simply because you are afraid the majority of people will vote for leaving.

So you go on about the evil tory press and such like, ignoring the massive tax-payer funded propaganda from the other side, and underlying this is your obvious contempt for ordinary people’s ability to decide this issue – again because you recognise how many of them disagree with your opinion.

Your position is summed up by: “A referendum is unwinable. Period.” This can be paraphrased as; “We must at all costs prevent the people exercising their democratic right to choose”.

We will win in the end, because people like you – our adversaries – already know that you’ve lost the argument, so all you can do is prevent the debate. Your position is so weak, but unfortunately for you, telling people they are too stupid or easily-swayed to be allowed to decide, doesn’t go down too well with the average voter. Your whole argument is an insult to the people, which is why you must at all costs prevent the debate.

“We will win in the end, because people like you – our adversaries – already know that you’ve lost the argument, so all you can do is prevent the debate”

Haha, I love the idea that there would be a “Debate”, as opposed to mountains of front page headlines of “Help put a stop to this:” with some picture of a bendy cucumber with a “stop” sign over the top of it, and a mountain of Tory funded lies as to the supposed “cost” of the EU and how many babies and soldiers that could save!

We’ve not lost the argument, but the public aren’t interested enough in the EU to care about the facts. If a referendum was had, and lost, it’d be nothing to do with reasonable arguments, factual debates. That’s why we don’t want a referendum, it would be a sham and a farce wrapped up as if it was somehow democracy in action rather than a majority backed whim of the xenophobic right.

majority endorsed*

42. Leon Wolfson

@39 – Oh, finished eating your quota of babies for the day then?

Keep arguing for those rich special interests. They’re SO much more important than the people, after all. And polls with self-selection? Ah, right. Yes, gotta prop up those special interests from the start.

Your outright spitting contempt for our system of *representative* democracy is remarkable.

@37 – Or, ooh, not allow special interest funding in elections by reforming campaign finance? Yea, see, THAT’S a reasonable idea compared to your hyperbole.

@40,

‘Haha, I love the idea that there would be a “Debate”’

Of course there would be a debate. I for one would be discussing it with the people I know, blogging about it, arguing with people who disagree, trying to get people who agree with me to vote, trying to convince others who don’t. The media is only one aspect of society. You talk as if it is all there is.

“We’ve not lost the argument, but the public aren’t interested enough in the EU to care about the facts.”

There’s that contempt for the public attitude coming out again.

“a majority backed whim of the xenophobic right.”

Yeah, I blame that racist rightwinger Tony Benn. He led me astray with all that talk of democracy and accountability, before showing me his nazi memorabilia collection. And you tell me you haven’t lost the argument? All you’ve got is smears about xenophobia and hoity-toity disdain for ordinary voters, neither of which are convincing. That is why you cannot face putting it to a democratic vote.

@42 Leon,

I’m not sure if you think that repeating the term ‘special interests’ over and over again has some kind of hypnotic power to render your adversaries powerless in the face of your otherwise weak rhetoric… but it doesn’t. Let me know when you’ve found yourself an argument.

“The media is only one aspect of society. You talk as if it is all there is.”

And you talk as if your tiny sphere of bloggers and friends actually matter in the grand scheme of such a “debate”.

“There’s that contempt for the public attitude coming out again.”

I have complete contempt of the public attitude, but I don’t blame them for it. I don’t understand why we expect people to know enough to make informed decisions.

“All you’ve got is smears about xenophobia and hoity-toity disdain for ordinary voters, neither of which are convincing. That is why you cannot face putting it to a democratic vote.”

I can’t face putting it to a “democratic” vote as lies such as lack of democratic accountability are so pervasive they are easy to portray (as you do) as fact. When the playing field is neither fair, balanced nor accurate it’s not the right time to have a referendum.

46. Leon Wolfson

@44 – …says someone who has no problem with special interests controlling the country. Typical. Of course you’re scared of any argument which says to them “no, let’s have actual democracy”.

More, it’s your Tories who care about the EU at a time like this.

http://www.leftfootforward.org/2011/10/tories-may-care-deeply-about-europe-but-no-one-else-does/

Gotta have those distractions!

@45

“And you talk as if your tiny sphere of bloggers and friends actually matter in the grand scheme of such a “debate”.”

It’s a microcosm. Our whole society is made up of such ‘tiny spheres’ and I assume that I am not the only one who cares about this issue – for instance 100,000 signed that petition. That’s 100,000 ‘tiny spheres’ for starters.

“I have complete contempt of the public attitude, but I don’t blame them for it.”

You’re a member of the public too, aren’t you? Do you have complete contempt for yourself? Or do you hover above the rest of us on some kind of cloud of enlightenment?

“When the playing field is neither fair, balanced nor accurate it’s not the right time to have a referendum.”

Ah, it’s not fair! You’ve got the whole of the political establishment on your side, you’ve got the leadership of all three major parties, you’ve got the BBC, a budget of millions, and of course, all the most intelligent cloud-dwellers like yourself to figure out a strategy to overcome the handful of racists and patently insane people who care about sovereignty, but it’s not fair is it?

I think we may get to a point where a referendum becomes inevitable.

@46 Leon,

my Tories? You mean your Tories, don’t you? Like Cameron and Hague and indeed all the Tory government – they all agree with you. They’re your bedfellows, and if you’re nice, they might give you a reach-around 🙂

“It’s a microcosm. Our whole society is made up of such ‘tiny spheres’ and I assume that I am not the only one who cares about this issue – for instance 100,000 signed that petition. That’s 100,000 ‘tiny spheres’ for starters.”

Lots of tiny spheres with scant regard for the facts, yes. Same as the big spheres.

“You’re a member of the public too, aren’t you? Do you have complete contempt for yourself? Or do you hover above the rest of us on some kind of cloud of enlightenment?”

The self is not the group. Just because I accept the public can’t make an informed decision doesn’t mean individuals can’t.

“I think we may get to a point where a referendum becomes inevitable.”

Keep telling yourself that, I believe the BNP do on the subject of “closing the borders” too.

50. Leon Wolfson

@48 – Funny, looks like everyone sensible in all three major parties thinks it’s a waste of time and a distraction from real issues.
]
And the “No” campaign at the last referendum outspent the “Yes” campaign by a *minimum* of 4:1, very likely more. Against that kind of money…

@49,

“Lots of tiny spheres with scant regard for the facts, yes. Same as the big spheres.”

Was that you conceding the point? Earlier you laughed at the notion of a debate, now you accept that there will be a debate, albeit one you think is ill-informed. We’re making progress!

“The self is not the group. Just because I accept the public can’t make an informed decision doesn’t mean individuals can’t.”

Given your position on the great unwashed, are you prepared to denounce all forms of participatory democracy, such as elections to Parliament, councils etc? If so, can you outline what you would prefer. If not, why not? Why is a general election acceptable, but not a referendum?

“Keep telling yourself that”

I’m not telling myself anything. It was an observation. I said ‘I think’. I may be wrong.

“I believe the BNP do on the subject of “closing the borders” too.”

I wouldn’t know. I’ll take your word for it.

@50,

“And the “No” campaign at the last referendum outspent the “Yes” campaign by a *minimum* of 4:1, very likely more.”

Are you talking about the AV referendum? What’s your problem then? Those guys are on your side in this one! Say hello to your pals Cameron and Hague – they love the status quo, just like you.

53. Leon Wolfson

@52 – “Those guys”? Really? Because we don’t know precisely who was behind it. But if say the Koch brothers wanted to put 10 million into a referendum campaign, they could. And nobody would have any way of finding out, outside the organisation who received it.

(What? You think foreign business men WOULDN’T like the UK to shoot itself in the foot, compared to America?)

54. Leon Wolfson

@51 – With a general election, there are some – inadequate – controls on campaign finance. With a referendum, there are none. While campaign funding reform has to remain a goal, for now what can be done is campaigning against referendums and ensuring that the general election funding rules are strictly applied!

It’s a microcosm. Our whole society is made up of such ‘tiny spheres’ and I assume that I am not the only one who cares about this issue – for instance 100,000 signed that petition. That’s 100,000 ‘tiny spheres’ for starters.

and nearly one million voted for UKIP in the last general election. 3 percent of the vote

The cost of a referendum on leaving the EU?

Compare the cost of the referendum, held in April this year, on bringing in the alternative vote instead of FPTP:

“Alternative Vote referendum will cost £80 million

“Next month’s referendum on changing the voting system will cost taxpayers nearly £80 million, draining squeezed council budgets by an average of £180,000 each.”
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/av-referendum/8438349/Alternative-Vote-referendum-will-cost-80-million.html

In the current fiscal climate, I can think of many better ways of spending £80 millions.

@53 + 54

the funding issue cuts both ways. It’s pure speculation to assert that one side or the other will be better funded, and it’s ridiculous for you to portray the pro-EU establishment as the underdog in this fight.

@56 Bob,

£80 million, huh? That sounded like a lot of money … until I googled “cost of EU membership”.

Now it doesn’t seem so big.

59. Leon Wolfson

@57 – Because it doesn’t fit your propaganda, right. It suits you to try and demolish democracy to get what you want, and me to defend democracy. Well, there we go.

And £7 billion a year, when EFTA access would be at least £2 billion, with no say whatsoever in making the rules and ignoring all the benefits of EU membership.

Regardless, you’re hand-waving away real cuts to real people in pursuit of special interest’s attack on democracy.

@ 59

really, Leon, this is advanced Orwellianism!

Are you consistent? Do you tell the Scots that the referendum which led to devolution demolished democracy in Scotland? Do you tell the Northern Irish that the referendum which ratified the Belfast Agreement destroyed democracy? Did we, in London, destroy democracy when we voted to set up the Mayor and Assembly?

“Now it doesn’t seem so big.”

But the EU will still be there after the referendum deciding the regulations and standards which will apply to Britain’s trade with the EU.

62. Leon Wolfson

@60 – I don’t believe identity politics are a good idea and always oppose referendums. I strongly believe that regional parliaments should be implemented on an even basis now, with several within England, now the regions have them, with Westminster taking a federal-only role.

The London mayorship is an expensive joke, and I supported an election between the pro and anti parties at the time of the Belfast Agreement as the best way to solve the situation (rather than just holding the exact same election later on!)

And sure, you’re preaching advanced Orwellian methodology. Why is this supposed to be a good thing?

@62, Leon,

I believe this country should leave the EU, and I support that policy and argue for it. In a democracy, I have a right to express my political opinions in a peaceful manner. I am also aware that many others agree with me, and that polls show that even a majority of the public may agree with me, even though the leadership of the three major political parties do not.

At the time of the EU Constitution all three parties made manifesto commitments to hold a referendum. They all reneged in the end, with greater or lesser degrees of dishonesty over the Lisbon Treaty. Many other referendums have been held, so holding a referendum on this issue cannot be labeled unprecedented, nor can referendums be denounced as anti-democratic, or that a referendum on this issue would ‘demolish democracy’.

I don’t really understand your argument, to be honest. I don’t know why you think it’s such a terrible thing if the people get to vote on something of such importance. I don’t know if it is because you strongly believe that we should remain in the EU and that you fear a referendum would be lost by your side, or whether this anti-referendum stuff is the main issue. After all, the Parliament would still need to act on the referendum.

I can’t find any consistency in your position. You say you want regional assemblies. That suggests you think it a good idea to limit the power of central government and make decisions at a more local level. If so, the very same arguments apply with regard to Brussels! Also,the disdain both you and your confederate Lee seem to have towards ordinary people is quite grating. What would you think of me, if I’d said at the time of that big march in London against the cuts that all the participants are a bunch of idiot robots programmed by the ‘special interests’ of the unions and the labour movement? You’d denounce me, I’m sure. So. look in the mirror and denounce yourself!

I don’t believe in the tyranny of the majority. Neither do I believe in the tyranny of the minority! Individual liberty must be safeguarded and government must be with the consent of the people. The advantages and disadvantages of our membership of the EU are becoming secondary matters, as the people begin to resent the refusal to let them have their say, and if politicians were as blunt as Lee Griffin @45, there’d be a storm of indignation, likely to force the issue right to the centre of the stage.

Whatever happens in the vote on Monday, and I’m sure you and Cameron will win through, the game is only just beginning 🙂

64. Leon Wolfson

@63 – You then immediately depart from reality with ranting over the Lisbon treaty.

The EU Constitution, which would have added far greater democracy than Lisbon, and is very different from what we ended up with, is not the same thing at all. But special interests managed to kill that off.

You are just arguing over and over that special interests should be able to pour money, unmonitored, into controlling this country. That’s all it amounts to. Of course you can’t understand why that’s bad, but more thoughtful people can and do.

The contempt for democracy you have is quite usual for the right.

“You say you want regional assemblies. ”

No, I don’t *want* them. But it’s unrealistic to abolish the ones which exist, and the West Lotharian question needs to be solved. So, let’s have them for roughly the same numbers of people across a federated Great Britain.

I am, in fact, bitterly hostile to regionalism and factional politics and ideally would like to see anything between the EU and local councils wither away in the long term.

“Individual liberty must be safeguarded and government must be with the consent of the people.”

And that’s why I support the EU – UK governments have been slapped down again and again by the EU on rights by both the EU and the ECHR. Westminster is not a friend of democratic rights.

And of course the “game”, the ongoing damage inflicted to – in particular – poor people in the cause of smashing apart the UK, will be ongoing. You can’t give up, you have to ensure that it’s something which always hangs like a spectre over any possible progress, at a time when Britain is on the verge of a plunge to third-world status.

@64

I was wondering what you meant by ‘special interests’. Now I know:

“The EU Constitution, which would have added far greater democracy than Lisbon, and is very different from what we ended up with, is not the same thing at all. But special interests managed to kill that off.”

You mean the populations of France and the Netherlands. It was their votes which scuppered the Constitution (or was it the Koch brothers? they must have had cramp in their fingers after filling in all those voting slips!)

“ranting over the Lisbon treaty”

My comments are reasonable and measured, not ranting in any way.

“You are just arguing over and over that special interests should be able to pour money, unmonitored, into controlling this country.”

I don’t believe I have argued this.

“The contempt for democracy you have is quite usual for the right.”

I’m not rightwing, and I have expressed no contempt for democracy. Quite the opposite. I have stated that “government must be with the consent of the people”. This is the essence of democracy in my view. There is no contempt in that.

“You can’t give up, you have to ensure that it’s something which always hangs like a spectre over any possible progress”

Finally, we agree!

66. Leon Wolfson

Yes, you HAVE argued for it. That is the current situation – there is NO control of finance for referendums. Where did the No campaign’s finance come from?

You are, by your posts, a hard-line right winger, and your repeated argument for referendums is spitting repeatedly at the democratic system. If you don’t want to be called these things, then don’t BE them. It’s really simple!

And no, we don’t agree, since you want to keep it hanging rather than accept representative democracy. And no, you most certainly DID both lie and rant over the EU Constitution, something quite different to the Lisbon Treaty. You must have had a party when it was defeated…can’t be having real power taken away from your corporatist masters now.

Leon @ 64:

“the West Lotharian question”

West Lothian, surely?

“And that’s why I support the EU – UK governments have been slapped down again and again by the EU on rights by both the EU and the ECHR.”

The ECHR is a separate institution to the EU. And have you got any examples of how the EU itself has helped improve civil liberties? All I can think of is the European Arrest Warrant, which has quite the opposite effect…

@66 Leon

I’ve tried to argue rationally, but I feel like I’m in that Monty Python argument sketch.

You seem to be working with your own definitions of important terms like democracy, and goodness knows what you mean by ‘special interests’, which seem to fulfil a function similar to the devil in a medieval village i.e. blamed for everything, when more prosaic explanations are at hand.

I have no concept what you mean by ‘hardline rightwinger’. All I’ve done is argue to leave the EU, and argued that the people of this country should have a say in the matter. If that’s hardline rightwing to you, then fine. I don’t have the Leon Wolfson Dictionary of Alternative Definitions.

69. Leon Wolfson

@68 – Yes, your argument would go down very well in one of their comedy sketches. Back in the real world, you’re a sinister clown.

“goodness knows what you mean by special interests”

Yes, I mean, it’s only a common term and anyone paying attention to the debate would know about it.

Over time, you’ve taken every single hardline Tory right idea which has come up. Then denied it. I’m using the definition of “you posted it”. A shocking idea I’d read rather than emoting over posts, I know!

@ Trooper Thompson #29

an excellent, principled post. It is a pity that so many posters on a blog called Liberal Conspiracy show such an illiberal contempt for democracy and for the intelligence of their fellow citizens. Perhaps we should dispense with genral Elections also.

@ Chris #4

“We’ve had a referendum. We voted overwhelmingly in favour…”

If that is the best the anti-referendum lot can come up with, that is embarassing. The referendum took place when I was a toddler. Count me and many millions of others out of your ‘we’. And the EU is a very different beast with very different powers from the organisation people voted to enter in 1974. In fact it wasn’t even a ‘European Union’ it was a Common Market. That’s all.

71. Leon Wolfson

@70 – Repeating the same far right lies AGAIN? Gotta argue against citizens having a chance, don’t you. Can’t stand the exclusion if big and foreign investors into making decisions via propaganda in this county. Gotta go for them buying their way to victory in referendums, wrecking us for their sake.

And when in your lifetime was there a referendum on the UK having a representative democracy? How DARE the UK practice it! The House of Lords changed, was there a referendum? No! Well, where’s the outrage?

Oh right, it’s an issue of pure xenophobia from the far right.

Leon @ 71:

“And when in your lifetime was there a referendum on the UK having a representative democracy? How DARE the UK practice it! The House of Lords changed, was there a referendum? No! Well, where’s the outrage?”

The arguments about Representative Democracy and the House of Lords haven’t changed much in recent years, so it’s reasonable to say that the conclusions we came to still apply today. The EU, on the other hand, has changed significantly since the 1970s, so it makes sense to re-open the debate. And FWIW, I personally would be in favour of a referendum on the democratisation of the House of Lords.

“Oh right, it’s an issue of pure xenophobia from the far right.”

Given that you’ve just called the Tories sub-human on another thread, I don’t think you’re in a position to try and claim the moral high ground here.

73. Leon Wolfson

I haven’t said sub-Human, that’s a typical far right lie. Maundering on and on an about English nationality which means nothing to me is just that, you’re being a bigot for your own purposes.

And fine, let parliament, the Parliament elected with safeguards against undue influences debate it. But that’s not good enough for you is it? You have to have a campaign of lies, just like the PR debate. You have to have foreign money pour in to the UK’s politics, to make a mockery of representative democracy, which you evidently detest.

“Repeating the same far right lies AGAIN?”

They are not ‘far right’ and they are not lies. Please point to what i said that is a lie.

“Gotta argue against citizens having a chance, don’t you.”

???

No, actually I am in favour of myself and my fellow citizens having a say about whether or not the government should arrogated the powers we entrust it with to non-British institutions. Apparently you are against this.

“Can’t stand the exclusion if big and foreign investors into making decisions via propaganda in this county.”

I see. A referendum amounts to you to “big and foreign investors making decisions via propaganda”. Your post drips with olympian contempt for your fellow citizens.

“Gotta go for them buying their way to victory in referendums, wrecking us for their sake.”

Are you now suggesting that the public will be taking bribes from these ‘big and foreign investors’?

“And when in your lifetime was there a referendum on the UK having a representative democracy? How DARE the UK practice it! The House of Lords changed, was there a referendum? No! Well, where’s the outrage?”

As has been pointed out to you, the remit and powers of the organisation a previous generation voted to join in 1974 have fundamentally changed. The remit of the UK government – to make laws for and administer the UK – have not fundamentally changed, except in so far as parliament has wrongly tried to change them, something that is not within their gift but rather the right of the British public.

“Oh right, it’s an issue of pure xenophobia from the far right.”

This is just a silly smear. Nothing I said was xenophobic, it is merely a matter of national sovereignty and it is not intrinsically an issue of left or right. Tony Benn is a suporter of the sovereignty of the British parliament. Is he a ‘right wing’ ‘xenophobe’ for questioning the power of the EU too?

Treating a popular vote as some kind of ‘right wing’ plot in which the public are the helpless pawns of ‘big and foreign investors’ just shows what an elitist and arrogant attitude you have to your fellow citizens. It is not what I understand as in any way liberal. But who knows, perhaps you can explain why you know so much better than tens of millions of other Britons?

“Maundering on and on an about English nationality which means nothing to me is just that, you’re being a bigot for your own purposes.”

The fact that it means nothing to you does not mean it means nothing to tens of millions of other people. Nor does it make them ‘bigoted’ for meaning something to them.

76. Leon Wolfson

“Apparently you are against this.”

Nope. Vote for an anti-EU party at the general elections, if that’s your desire. I mean, the UKIP cost the Tories their majority, so from my perspective you’re useful idiots, but that’s your choice.

“something that is not within their gift”

Yes it is. Parliamentary sovereignty is the basis of the Westminster system of government. You are, anti-democratically, trying to kick the basis of the system out from under it.

“elitist and arrogant attitude you have to your fellow citizens.”

Oh yes, I support campaign finance limits. SO eliteist and arrogant, compared to your view that buying peoples votes in referendums by PR blitzes based on lies, as happened in the AV campaign. People have seen it happen and recently, you’re also a revisionist.

(I voted no, because I don’t think AV solves FPTP’s issues and causes wider swings, not because of the lies of the “No” campaign)

I don’t pretend to know better, but you want to pretend that money should buy what Government won’t vote for.

“Can anyone seriously suggest that if we have another referendum on membership of the EU and we vote yes again, the same people won’t be back, telling us, once again, that they didn’t read the question, or they thought it was about something else, or they think we should keep having it anyway?”

It is extraordinary to see a supporter of the EU haveing the brass neck to make such a claim. Remind us of what happened to Ireland and others when they voted in referenda on the EU and gave what the EU true believers considered the wrong answer… They were told they had given the wrong answer and to go back and vote again until they got it right.

Or have you conveniently erased that from your memory?

“the UKIP cost the Tories their majority, so from my perspective you’re useful idiots, but that’s your choice.2

I have never voted for UKIP in my life, or any party near that side of the spectrum. I simply believe, as do a lot of people across the spectrum, that the public should be allowed a say in our membership of the EU. I notice you simply ducked my reference to Tony Benn. Perhaps your brain just couldn’t process it.

“compared to your view that buying peoples votes in referendums by PR blitzes based on lies, as happened in the AV campaign.”

More nonsensical attribution of ideas I don’t hold. Where we differ is that I respect the results of popular votes even if I don’t agree with the overall decision. It seems you can’t credit your fellow citizens with having minds of their own and of acting in good faith, even if mistakenly. You seem to believe that those who vote as you would not want are either malicious, corrupt or simply gullible. That is the mentality of an elititist and an anti-democrat.

“you want to pretend that money should buy what Government won’t vote for.”

Again, this is just silly. You haven’t explained how the votes are to be ‘bought’ from the public. No one ‘buys’ my vote, and I credit the rest of my fellow citizens with the same integrity, even if they vote differently from me.

“Forcing repeated votes funded by special interests serves the interests of those special interests.”

More silliness. The vote on entering the Common Market was in 1974. That is 37 years ago. The institution Britain entered has changed greatly and its powers increased greatly. It is not unreasonable to revisit that over a third of a century on. I am not in favour of having referenda every five or ten years, obviously that would be ridiculous, but to suggest that ‘repeated’ votes have taken place, or are likely to take place on this is simply fantasy stuff.

Of course there are interest groups funding campaigns in referenda. But so are there in general elections, and that is no intrinsic argument against the latter being condicted; likewise for the former.

There is a possible referendum coming up on Scottish independence. given that the last one was in the late 70s that’s not unreasonable. If people were pushing for referenda every five, ten or fiteen years then that wold be silly, for sure, but it is not reasonable to keep binding people by decisions made several decades ago by previous generations.

Paine wrote in The Rights of Man:

“Every age and generation must be as free to act for itself in all cases as the age and generations which preceded it. The vanity and presumption of governing beyond the grave is the most ridiculous and insolent of all tyrannies. Man has no property in man; neither has any generation a property in the generations which are to follow. The Parliament or the people of 1688, or of any other period, had no more right to dispose of the people of the present day, or to bind or to control them in any shape whatever, than the parliament or the people of the present day have to dispose of, bind or control those who are to live a hundred or a thousand years hence. Every generation is, and must be, competent to all the purposes which its occasions require. It is the living, and not the dead, that are to be accommodated. When man ceases to be, his power and his wants cease with him; and having no longer any participation in the concerns of this world, he has no longer any authority in directing who shall be its governors, or how its government shall be organised, or how administered.”

And if he wrote it today, then on the evidence of this thread you would probably be sneering at that great democrat and Liberal as a ‘far right’ server of ‘special interests’. I find it puzzling as to what you actually understand by liberalism and democracy in the first place. You appear to find it repugnant conceptually to accomodate in those modeals anyone who doesn’t share your own views.

@ 45 Lee Griffin

“I have complete contempt of the public attitude, but I don’t blame them for it. I don’t understand why we expect people to know enough to make informed decisions.”

I don’t understand why you assume that you know so much better than the rest of the public.

On what is this based? Raging egotism? Parents who told you you are wonderful? Friends who agree with you? Is it based on anything measurable, or just on a strong, self-admiring ‘feeling’?

81. Leon Wolfson

Stupid site crashing.

Well, short answer then! – Keep on shilling for those special interests Lamia. Keep RIGHT on transparently shilling.

Paine is quite right, that’s why we have parliamentary sovereignty. He also strongly supported Representative Democracy over direct for states of any size, and argued strongly for the social compact which you demean.

“Keep on shilling for those special interests Lamia. Keep RIGHT on transparently shilling.”

This is utterly stupid. You appear to be unable to construct a counter-argument, so you resort to smears about those who disagree with you. That just shows how intellectually bankrupt is your position.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. sunny hundal

    Why I think Labour is making two tactical mistakes on the EU referendum http://t.co/hoDyJtyl

  2. In-Debate

    Why I think Labour is making two tactical mistakes on the EU referendum http://t.co/hoDyJtyl

  3. Jordan Millward

    Why I think Labour is making two tactical mistakes on the EU referendum http://t.co/hoDyJtyl

  4. Tom Williams

    Handling is pretty poor. RT @sunny_hundal: Why I think Labour is making two tactical mistakes on the EU referendum http://t.co/Ro6srsEy

  5. House Of Twits

    RT @sunny_hundal Why I think Labour is making two tactical mistakes on the EU referendum http://t.co/rdaU5g4V

  6. Double.Karma

    RT @sunny_hundal Why I think Labour is making two tactical mistakes on the EU referendum http://t.co/rdaU5g4V

  7. sunny hundal

    Why I think Labour is making two tactical mistakes on the EU referendum vote http://t.co/hoDyJtyl (from earlier)

  8. David W Edwards

    RT @libcon: Why Labour is making two tactical mistakes on the EU referendum http://t.co/3hqF0biI

  9. House Of Twits

    RT @sunny_hundal Why I think Labour is making two tactical mistakes on the EU referendum vote http://t.co/rdaU5g4V (from earlier)

  10. The People's Pledge

    Why I think Labour is making two tactical mistakes on the EU referendum vote http://t.co/hoDyJtyl (from earlier)

  11. -

    Why I think Labour is making two tactical mistakes on the EU referendum vote http://t.co/hoDyJtyl (from earlier)

  12. bill bold

    Why I think Labour is making two tactical mistakes on the EU referendum http://t.co/hoDyJtyl

  13. sunny hundal

    @isabelhardman yes, I agree. Said the same this morning on libcon http://t.co/hoDyJtyl bad tactical decision

  14. Paul Cotterill

    Europe's No1 blogger @sunny_hundal get's it half right on Labour & Europe http://t.co/VrzmYV08 I will provide more correct analysis later.

  15. Labour and the Lucas amendment « Though Cowards Flinch

    […] Hundal posted earlier today on Labour and the EU Referendum Bill, He argued that, tactically,  Labour would be better […]

  16. Naya Thrace

    Why Labour is making two tactical mistakes on the EU referendum | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/6ChnULNv via @libcon

  17. sunny hundal

    @dlknowles I see my subliminal indoctrination is working… 😉 http://t.co/hoDyJtyl





Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.