Wednesday, 19 June 2013

No one wants a referendum on EU membership - so lets give them one

Get opinion pollsters to ask people if they want a referendum on UK membership of the EU and they will say yes, by an overwhelming majority. In fact ask them if they want a referendum on almost any issue and they will say yes by an overwhelming majority.

UK Polling Report - run by Anthony Wells, probably the most respected talker of sense on opinion polls  (well he ought to be!) has only discovered one subject where more people didn't want a referendum than did want a referendum, and that was on whether the UK Monarchy should continue.  His conclusion was that people were so sure they did want to keep the Queen they didn't want a referendum.

So who really wants a referendum on UK membership of the EU ? No one. People who want to leave the EU don't really want a referendum, they want top leave the EU. poeple who wnat to stya in the EU have no incentive to hold a referendum they could lose.

It is usually argued that people don't have a choice at elections time because all the main parties support staying in the EU.  Actually, people do have a choice, If you want the UK to leave the EU all you have to do is vote for one of the minor parties that wish the UK to leave.  The every fact that all three main parties want the UK to remain in the EU should tell people something important. It's not that all the parties are the same, but despite their differences they all think the UK is better off in.   In fact as the EU has grown more and more countries have joined or want to get in - only one has left - Greenland ?  Well, you get the idea if it was such a terrible thing why would so  many parties in so many countries want their country to be members ?   It's because unlike the public, they engage with the EU and understand it a lot better. They don't get their information about the EU from the Daily Mail, well if they do, they can check it and find out that there are more myths about the EU than about the Gods of ancient Greece and Rome. 

It is sometimes argued referendum resolve issues, one way or the other. This is rarely true - the losing side is rarely content to accept the verdict and usually pushes for another vote.  In 1983 Labour advocated leaving the ECC (as it was)  soon the Conservatives might be led by a leader advocating exit - but everyone would do well to remember that leaving the EU is not a magic wand.  Anyway - despite being on the whole opposed to referendums, because so many politicians have promised referendums on the EU and then wriggled out of their commitments - they electors deserve a referendum. I hope we can vote to stay in and get on with deciding what sort of EU we want.

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