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.