Monday, 29 September 2014
EU Referendum: A Free Bet?
However events change as they often do in politics. What I thought was not possible five years ago was that a major party would offer a referendum on EU membership as Cameron has done. Those who took part in very lonely campaigns over the last 20 years must be invigorated by the fact that the question of EU membership is starting to take centre stage.
In some ways UKIP can take the credit for this and for the about turn by Cameron. Despite Cameron previously refusing a referendum on the basis he wanted to stay in and deploying a three-line whip on the same basis, he has performed a very significant u-turn.
And he has done so as a result from pressure from his own party who in turn feel the heat from the rise of UKIP. It’s odd therefore that many in UKIP having extracted this concession now dismiss the Tories offer. One wonders what they actually want. Perhaps this is a reflection of UKIP’s long standing fundamental indecisiveness of whether it is a pressure group or a fully fledged party.
The latter seems to have won out and has a consequence become a party that not only jumps on every bandwagon going (when Nigel is not falling off it) but performs consistent rapid backtracking on party polices withing 24 hours as per VAT on luxury goods. Then in addition it often makes clear that it simply wants to destroy the Tories and nothing else. Somewhere in the mist the party's mission of exiting the EU has become somewhat lost.
Now it is understandable given Cameron’s track record of many not “trusting” him on this issue – an unprincipled, shallow, useless chancer he is. For me this for the eurosceptic side is a bonus – not only does his lack of authority and principles make him very vulnerable to his party’s whims but having an incompetent “general” in charge of the “in” camp is beneficial.
Thus for me it's not a question of trusting Cameron but strategy. Like most in the country I don't trust politicians in general. Well actually more accurately I should emphasise that I do trust them…to do precisely what they’re told when they absolutely have to, for example the consequences of marginal seats concentrates the mind no end. That’s the nature of true power and democracy.
The EU referendum then becomes one that is more of a question of strategy and having a punt (worth noting that certain UKIP supporters bet against their party)
The brutal reality for those who wish an EU referendum is, as it stands, voting for any other party in 2015 will guarantee that we won’t get one, thus we stay in the EU for another 5 years. Labour won’t give us one, UKIP can’t and nor can any other party.
However… a Tory victory has given the possibility of a referendum in 2017. And in my view political reality says Cameron won’t have a choice but to deliver. If he wins the general election it will only be with a small majority giving rebellious backbenchers a lot of power. These backbenchers will consist partly of those who have campaigned for a referendum during this parliament and others who also simply just don’t like Cameron. Thus if he fails to deliver it is very likely that he will be out on his ear sharpish.
Of course despite this Cameron may be able to wriggle out of a referendum but in the event of that what would we have lost? Nothing other than 5 more years in the EU; the same as would be by voting for anyone else anyway.
So in betting terms what we have if we want a referendum is a free bet.