Richard North, EUReferendum, posts on the growing clamour for a referendum on this country’s membership of the European Union, citing among others comments by Ed Balls whose remarks – and those in the Guardian – I will address later.
I have for some time been of the same opinion as Richard, namely fighting a battle on the ground chosen by ones opponents is but a path to certain defeat. If we are to be ‘allowed’ a referendum it has been my contention that unless a level playing field can be agreed – equal airtime, equal newsprint, equal budgets, etc – no referendum to leave the European Union will ever succeed. Among those clamouring for a referendum on EU membership – and at the forefront – is Patrick O’Flynn, Chief Political Commentator of the Daily Express. An interesting ‘conversation’ between O’Flynn and myself took place on Twitter yesterday:
“oflynnexpress Let’s just get the referendum on and then rip into these arguments and see who wins. Democracy could be a good think for Britain I reckon.
WitteringWitney @oflynnexpress Referendum: And you can of course guarantee equal air time, equal budgets, no EU interference, no lies? Dream on…….
oflynnexpress @WitteringWitney putting up the white flag just because the other side may play dirty is not a strategy I find persuasive
WitteringWitney @oflynnexpress White flag: Who is raising that, I’m not. If the odds stacked against then a plan to counter is needed. Not heard one yet….
oflynnexpress @WitteringWitney @CallingEngland @grahnat what do u expect me to say? I want UK out of EU and only realistic way to achieve that is a ref
oflynnexpress @WitteringWitney fact that people are no longer deferential to the political class is a massive change in favour of Better Off Outers
oflynnexpress @WitteringWitney …in 1975 the role of the political establishment was decisive. Now they are as likely to instill hostility as compliance
WitteringWitney @oflynnexpress 1/2: That may be so but the public are fickle and easily swayed. They now favour a party they held discredited 2 years ago…
WitteringWitney @oflynnexpress 2/2: I rpt, there is no plan/strategy in place & until that is decided BOO can never win. Sadly neither does Ukip have a plan
WitteringWitney @oflynnexpress EU Ref: Accepted, but an ack ref needs a level playing field wud help? A call for that by DExpress? @CallingEngland @grahnat
oflynnexpress @WitteringWitney @CallingEngland @grahnat of course – when we get to the ref we’ll put huge pressure on the Beeb etc to play straight
WitteringWitney @oflynnexpress Good but as topic ‘hot’ y not get ball rolling so parameters set now Leaving till ref called 2 late. @CallingEngland @grahnat”
And there, sadly, the ‘conversation’ ended. It truly is beyond belief that those pressing for a referendum have not addressed this extremely important question of ensuring that there is a level playing field. Neither is there any discussion or plan, should they gain that which they seek, for the ‘after’. In all the calls for a referendum where is there pressure for the politicians to publish a cost/benefit analysis? Besides the Daily Express, Ukip are also at the forefront of calls for a referendum on EU membership – where have they called for a level playing field? Where have they addressed or presented a plan for the ‘after’? Much has been made of the scepticism of Conservative MPs and their being faux-eurosceptics – methinks the latter term could be widened to include the Daily Express and Ukip. Cynic that I am, the thought had occurred that perhaps all those clamouring for a referendum are but ‘Judas Goats‘ leading us to our slaughter?
Reverting to the comments by Ed Balls, this is of course another example of politicians dictating to us, thus cementing their position as our master. The public could have their say but the time is not now? Of course Mandelson believes a referendum should be held – he knows damn well that on their terms an ‘In’ result would be a given.
Allowing politicians to hold a referendum on their terms, at their time of choosing can best be summed up as follows: