Ninety-five percent of Broughton Astley voters demand a referendum on the Renamed EU Constitution.
Arriving at the polling station at the Broughton Astley Village Hall a few minutes after the poll opened on November 1st, I was heartened to see several dozen people queuing outside and waiting to register their votes.
Broughton Astley in Leicestershire is England’s largest parish. Located close to the M1, just north of Lutterworth (Junction 20), it is also only a couple of miles from my home. Ron Clements, a village resident and former Conservative County Councillor, had taken the initiative to call for a village referendum. I found out about it only when the plan was agreed and in place, but I was delighted to give what help I could to this very local event.
Earlier in the day we had been campaigning and leafleting in the village, getting a generally encouraging response. The event had also attracted considerable media interest: on Tuesday October 30th I met the BBC’s East Midlands Political Editor John Hess in the village to record an interview, and the referendum was covered on both BBC and ITV. Coverage was generally positive, though Ken Clarke MP, interviewed as a token Europhile, made some disobliging remarks which ran counter to the Party’s position on the issue.
The Chief Executive of Harborough Council, Sue Smith, acted as a very efficient Returning Officer, and the count commenced at 9:10 p.m. It was attended by local MP Andrew Robathan, the Conservative Leader of the Harborough Council Graham Hart, and Regional Campaign Manager David Surtees, as well as East Midlands euro-hopeful Emma McClarkin. But this was not just a Conservative event: campaigners from UKIP and other concerned local citizens were there.
It emerged that over 800 residents had made it to the polling station over the relatively short period the poll was open (4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p””m), during a chilly November evening. Given the short period available for campaigning, the lack of postal or proxy votes, or poll cards or election addresses, the turnout was encouraging. And the result was decisive. 95% of voters demanded a poll on the Renamed EU Constitution. Only 5% voted No. G.K. Chesterton in a famous poem wrote of “The people of England, who have not spoken yet”. Now the people of Broughton Astley have spoken, and they have spoken decisively. It is time for Gordon Brown to listen.
I am delighted by the result, and I pay tribute to Ron Clements and his small group of campaigners who made it possible.
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