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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Nick Clegg: EU referendum a question of "when not if"

With David Cameron away in the US, Nick Clegg took to the dispatch box for Prime Minister’s Questions today. Unsurprisingly, there was no shortage of references to EU referendums, most of them of a hostile nature. Ahead of today’s debate on the ‘referendum amendment’ to the Queen’s Speech, Clegg was repeatedly asked why he would not support the calls for an in/out referendum as pledged in the infamous 2008 Lib Dem leaflet (calling for a “real” referendum on Lisbon) and in the party’s 2010 manifesto.

Clegg responded that this issue had been settled by the passing of the 2011 EU Act which contains a ‘referendum lock’ in the event of EU treaty change, and accused the Tories of “moving the goalposts” with their policy of an in/out referendum in 2017.

But, within this bit of rhetorical politicking, Clegg said something rather interesting. He said that, due to the 'referendum lock', it was a matter of "when, not if" there is an EU referendum "because the rules are bound to change" as a result of developments in the eurozone.
Well, if the rules are "bound to change" why aren't the Lib Dems actively supporting David Cameron's proposals to reform the UK's relationship with the EU - or at least putting forward their own vision - and then putting that to a referendum ? Or would the Lib Dems rather the rest of the EU changed the rules without active input from the UK Government? Good luck winning any kind of referendum on that basis Mr. Clegg.


Rik said...

Hard to see for both Labour and LibDem how being against a referendum would do them any good.
Or better how being as vague as possible (as they both do now) will do them any good.

In that respect I thought earlier that Labour had adopted the pro-referendum stand just after Cameron did. After Mr Ed clearly stated it that way. Just to have the issue from the table. You simply donot want an issue playing up in electiontime where you take the views (on the EU and asking the voter) that are unpopular to very unpopular in the land.

Would be a disaster if this starts to play a few months for the elections. And it likely will with UKip determining for a big part the agenda (so EUish) and the Tories presented with an excellent issue to attack Labour and LibDem with.
Not even to mention Mr Ed changing views on this roughly every week, which hardly makes him look statesman-like. Should get that off the table as well and asap.

As said earlier with issues like this:
-long term playing;
-in the middle of media attention;
-top of the voters agenda;
-important in the decision for whom to vote;
-bad PR for a few years now already and probabbly for the next couple of years as well;
-a specific player (UKip) joining the game,
you have to be very careful with your voterbase. And whatever happens, seen as undemocratic is a big negative just for that simple fact (being undemocratic) itself.
You cannot escape the the will of the voter under the present circumstances on this issue. No way you will get away with quickly deciding and hoping everybody has forgotten it at electiontime.

Anyway Clegg and Mr Ed have a similar credibility problem as Cameron on this. Labour has changed it views a couple of times and nobody knows where they are at the moment. Clegg similar.
These vague statements, like now from Clegg, will convince not many people about the way the respective party is going. They will at least have to come up with a clear idea (when, what sort of referendum (probably only an in/out will do) and not have it reversed the next day. Like Mr Ed did a couple of times.
And waiting with it hardly makes him look statesman-like as well. Potential PMs usually can give a clear vision on the topics of the day. Mr Ed simply looks more like a moron than a potential PM imho on this issue. Only thing being he has been so lucky that UKip and Conservatives donot attack him on it and keep attacking on it. So he would be exposed. Hoping that the Tories and UKip (which now probably has to look at Labour and LibDem as well to gain further in the polls) will keep sleeping is hardly a safe-election strategy.

Anonymous said...

How out of touch are Labour and the Lib Dems? I am disgusted by the disrespect shown by them to the electorate.

I demand a Referendum. Well done UKIP for forcing the current bunch of useless chimps (sorry our MPs) to at least consider this issue.

If Labour and the Lib Dems are serious about Europe then I urge them to resign as we only need one useless set of politicians, either Parliament or Brussels, and not two.