Referendum Campaign: avoid the “In-or-Out” trap

Ming Campbell has come up with a spiffing wheeze.  Never mind a referendum on the Renamed Constitution, he says, let’s resolve the EU question once and for all, and have a referendum on whether we should leave the EU altogether. Tempting, isn’t it?
A call to all Eurosceptics: don’t fall for this rather obvious elephant-trap.  The strategy is transparent, the cynicism is overwhelming.  There is only one reason for Ming’s approach, and it is simply this: he knows for certain that he (and the pro-Europeans) would lose a referendum on the Constitution.  But he believes they can win one on the In-or-Out question.  He has no interest in consulting the people, and no intention of doing what the people want.  He simply sees the clamour for a referendum as an obstacle to further European integration, and he wants to get round it.  I have often remarked on the extraordinary contempt for democracy and public opinion shown by our rulers in Brussels.  Clearly this contempt is shared by the Lib-Dems.
The next thing: Graham Watson MEP, leader of the Liberals in the European parliament, pops up on the BBC to tell us that simple-minded voters can’t possibly be expected to read or understand the 500 pages of the Renamed Constitution.  But he accepts that despite their mental challenges, ordinary folk might just grasp the difference between In and Out, so that’s the best way to resolve Britain’s relationship with the EU “once and for all”.
It’s not just the Lib-Dems.  Keith Vaz MP, once Labour’s Minister for Europe, and now rumoured to be back in favour with the Labour leadership, has trailed a similar idea, and for much the same reason.  There is a good chance that this thought has also been going through Gordon Brown’s mind as he ponders a way out of his referendum dilemma.
So (at the risk of emulating Cassandra): two warnings.  For Eurosceptics, watch out!  This is a deliberate trap set by our opponents, with one single objective: tempting us into an In/Out referendum which they believe we would lose.  If so, we should have lost the battle for a generation.  Don’t fall for it.
And for the Europhiles: don’t be so cocky!  The polls  on the In/Out question are all over the place, depending partly on how the question is phrased.  In an In-or-Out poll, the essential choice would be “Leave the EU completely; or stay in accepting the Renamed Constitution“.  Of course this is a false choice, because in any conceivable scenario, the UK would at least remain in a free-trade relationship with the continent, so the implication that we would put up the shutters and blow up the Channel Tunnel is absurd.  But equally the NO campaign in any such referendum would clearly present a YES vote as a vote for the Constitution, which in effect it would be.  Add to that the powerful differential turnout in any EU poll, and the Europhile dream of a final and permanent YES to the European question starts to look flaky.
The question before our country, and our parliament, is clear: it is whether or not we ratify a draft EU treaty which is for all practical purposes the failed Constitution re-heated.  That is the choice.  That is the question that must be on the ballot paper, in the referendum which we must now have.

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8 Responses to Referendum Campaign: avoid the “In-or-Out” trap

  1. R Hewson says:

    I agree whole heartedly with your comments and can see exactly what these Europhiles are aiming for in changing tack and wanting a referendum, it is in fact so obvious that it is hard to believe that these people think we Euro sceptics are so naive as not to see through the charade. It’s a well known fact that the majority in Britain wish to remain in co-operation with the rest of Europe. What we don’t want is to loose our sovereignty, or to have all our laws regulations and governing body handed over to Brussels. We need to keep a government we can vote in, and out, as we the British nation sees fit. If a referendum is granted like it should be, how can we as a nation be assured that the right question will be put on the voting paper? It is pretty obvious that the pro Europhiles will load the question in the favour of a yes vote purely by putting the question in such a way that the majority would vote with a yes. It would seem that we are between a rock and a hard place and the Ming Campbell’s of this country who wish to see an end to Britain as an independent Sovereign Nation have us on the ropes.

  2. Denis Cooper says:

    In 20005 all the Liberal Democrat candidates committed themselves to support a referendum on the constitution – now Sir Menzies Campbell wants the Liberal Democrat MPs to renege. So much for his principles, and theirs if they agree to do follow his line.

    Page 14 of

    Click to access manifesto2005.pdf

    or in the case of Sir Menzies Campbell, page 6 of

    Click to access manifesto2005scot.pdf

    “We are therefore clear in our support for the constitution, which we believe is in Britain’s interest – but ratification must be subject to a referendum of the British people.”

  3. Jason O'Mahony says:

    Come on Roger! You guys have been whinging for years about how you were duped in 1975. Even if the Reform Treaty falls, you’ll still be bitching about the EU anyway. Time to settle this once and for all, and decide whether the UK stays in or out. It’s the real question. We’ll (The Irish) miss you, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do!

  4. Andrew Smith says:

    Interesting that Jason O’Mahony should regard a UK vote as “once and for all”. It was not so in Ireland or in Denmark when public approval for the Nice Treaty was sought. Nor in France and Holland when their citizens so convincingly rejected the Constitution, of which the current proposed Treaty is more a clone than a brother or son.

  5. Jason O'Mahony says:

    Andrew, In fairness, we had a general election in between the two, where the Government promised a second referendum. Your fellow Eurosceptics in Sinn Fein were opposed to it, but they lost the election. Parliaments cannot bind future parliaments, in Britain or Ireland. Seriously though, why not push for a vote on the real question: In or out?

  6. Peter Dunn says:

    The Libdems call for an in or out referendum is indeed a ploy to kill a smaller bird (the matter of the constitution/treaty) by netting a much larger one (stay in the E.U. for ever, once and for all). As such, it is a cynical ploy but also politician-speak for don’t read my lips, study my heart.
    What has been missing from this debate all along is an honest appraisal of the pro’s and con’s of our present position.
    Will we ever get that? I doubt it as the government (any government unfortunately as the Conservatives also seem to have swallowed the Brussels is Best bate) knows that to present the whole truth just might sway public opinion. The assumption must be made that the reason we don’t get a honest appraisal is that the government know the vote, if ever we get one, would be in favour of leaving.
    Of course, trade is always used as a frightener, but who seriously believes that the Europeans would turn up their noses at millions of pounds of trade.
    So, will we get a referendum? I seriously hope so. Will any government risk a referendum on leaving the E.U. atogether? I doubt it.

  7. Bring it on – I think the in or out question should be asked and quick.

    Great Britain should not be a sub region of any super state, it is our birth right to self determination, and our history.
    No-one voted for an EU what was voted for in 1975 was for a Common Market, a free trade area, what we got was lies (even then)corruption and deceit, British tax payers have funded the modernization of Europe and subsidized the French farmer and Spanish fisherman amongst others. It’s time Britain got out and good ridance to the EU.
    We can still be friends and trade without being subsumed. So I say lets have the vote, win it and get the flock out of there PDQ.

  8. Paul Richter says:

    If we can persuade GB to let us have a referendum, the fact fact that he has so far denied us represents further proof that our leaders are self-serving shameless liars who will get their quisling way regardless of the wishes of the majority.

    A referendum on the treaty is anyway pointless.

    If the referendum takes place and goes against the treaty in its present form, it will be the merest flicker of inconvenience to the european project. It will take only a few more months, not years, of ratcheting from Brussels to complete the total destruction of our Great Britain that countless thousands of our forebears have died to build and protect.

    Please let us have a shit-or-bust British referendum to decide IN or OUT of the European Union, while there is still any semblance of a national identity in our island home, and before the remaining free-born subjects of the Queen die of shame, frustration or old age.

    If OUT, we will still have immense hard work ahead to reconstruct some form of democracy and decency in our country. We are led in Westminster by proven liars and obfuscators who have betrayed us in succession for a generation and more.

    If IN, then all pretence of democracy is gone for perhaps another generation, and our England is gone forever. Perhaps we, the betrayed and defeated patriots, may be permitted to seek some quiet corner of our old Commonwealth in which to spend our remaining days in relative peace.

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