Monday, October 24, 2011

Why Ed is spot on in handling the EU referendum vote.

Sunny Hundal reckons that Ed Miliband is making tactical mistakes by whipping Labour MPs to vote against a referendum vote in today's debate in the Commons. I think he's wrong and that Ed is spot on.

Whilst it is true that there are different views amongst Labour MPs - Kate Hoey and Graham Stringer are both known as sceptics,  they are nowhere near as bad as the headbangers in the Tory party and there are real gains to be had in supporting the government on this.

Firstly, we should argue strongly that whatever the views about the case for or against a referendum, now is not the time. The focus of the government, business and the political class should be solely on the economy. There is little else of any significance other than steps to economic growth and diverting attention to a political argument. Even more ludicrous is the idea that the European leaders would entertain Britain attempting to renegotiate our position at a time when they are focussed on keeping their countries functionally solvent. We can argue we are acting in the country's best interests, not working out our obsessions at a time when the country can least afford it.

Secondly, there is a tactical reason why backing the government is a good thing on this occasion - it frees up Tory MPs to vote against their leader's wishes and drips further water into those cracks within the party. If it can spark further resignations from junior levels of the government, that just adds to the tactical value. Being able to say that Cameron only held the line as a result of Labour support would be a tremendous victory.

A referendum would put the issue to bed for another generation and I'm convinced that it would be won. With businesses, trade unions, the government and most of Labour (oh, and the Liberal Democrats) lined up in favour of Europe against the massed ranks of the flapping white coats.

So, on this occasion, Sunny, I think you're wrong. Ed is exactly right. Vote with the government this time and enjoy the ongoing squirming.


Anonymous said...

"The focus of the government, business and the political class should be solely on the economy"

Depending on your views, some would argue this is exactly what's happening.

Although I'm not naive enough to believe any of the bullshit numbers that are thrown about on how much we give the EU each day, we do give them a *lot*. So surely there could be some analysis into whether the "money lost" from leaving the EU (assuming there is money lost) is less or more than the gain from no longer having to make membership payments.

I'm on the fence with it at the moment. I sway towards leaving, but only because most of what you hear about the EU is doom and gloom. I'd welcome some unbiased analysis on the pros/cons so I could make a more informed decision.

Anonymous said...

We'd continue to pay into the EU if we left and stayed in the European Economic Area, like Norway. A huge amount, I suspect. We'd also have to obey EU rules. The only thing that might go is EU based rules on employment, maternity leave, etc. In the medium to long term, you could not expect BMW or Nissan to keep investing in the UK. The days of manufacturing airbus wings in Fulton would be numbered. Free movement of people would continue to apply to the rich.