Wednesday 12 March 2014

Changing The Rules Of The Game

Following on from my initial reactions last night to Miliband confirming that Labour will rule out an automatic referendum on the EU, he gave his speech on an EU referendum today, the full text of which can be found here. It will come as no surprise that much of the speech is highly predictable as demonstrated by a couple of excerpts below. Miliband's position is little different to Cameron's

We have the Norway lie:
Exit from the EU would put all these gains at risk. Either we would end up outside the single market or even if we could stay within it, it would be under terms and rules dictated by others. That would be bad for Britain.
We have the 3.5 million jobs lie:
Almost half of all overseas investment in the UK comes from within the EU. Directly providing 3.5 million jobs. And much of the rest of the investment into our country comes because we are part of the single market.
And we have the EU can be "reformed" lie:
Our priority would be different. Instead of this approach, we need one driven by the national interest. Which keeps the country’s focus on the biggest issue facing us: the future of our economy and the cost-of-living crisis. Which understands that Britain’s future lies in the EU. But reforms the EU to make it work for Britain...Now, there are no current proposals from other countries for such a transfer of powers. I do not believe this is the direction in which Europe should head. Indeed, I think some powers should come back the other way
All of which begs the question do Miliband and Cameron use the same speech writers, so similar are they? However there is one crucial difference. Towards the end Miliband promised the following:
So today I am announcing that the next Labour government will legislate for a new lock. Not simply a referendum on any treaty change proposing a transfer of power. Because there have been too many referenda like that in other countries which have been ignored. But a lock that guarantees that there will be no transfer of powers without an in/out referendum...
This is the set of conditions under which the next Labour government would have an in/out referendum. With a clear lock that guarantees that there will be no transfer of powers from Britain to the European Union without an in/out referendum. The alternative is David Cameron’s approach.
On the face of it that looks appealing - Labour are promising an 'in or out' referendum if there is a treaty that transfers more powers to the EU. With a new treaty impending then effectively Labour are promising a referendum as well during the next Parliament (assuming of course they don't try to wriggle out of it).

However one senses Miliband's promise is a giant trap. By promising this new lock he completely changes the dynamics of a referendum and moves the "20% status quo effect" - inherent in any referendum - in his favour.

A simple "yes/no" on a new Treaty is biased towards rejecting the Treaty and maintaining the status quo. By contrast Miliband has added a large uncertainty into the equation that rejection is not the status quo but instead the unknowns of exit which means it will become significantly harder to achieve.

Thus voters will be faced with complicated Treaty change (which they probably won't read) dressed up as necessary reforms, notably for the UK a "better deal" via Protocol 9 - Associate Membership - or the massive uncertainty of exit fueled by lashings of FUD. With this in mind it's clear that by this proposal Miliband tips the inherent 20% advantage towards staying in.

Subtly tucked away at the end of his speech a couple of paragraphs demonstrate that Miliband's proposals are far more dangerous to the Eurosceptic cause than Cameron's.


  1. So Miliband is a liar. You're surprised? I'm surprised you're surprised!

    1. :-) No, I'm not surprised that Miliband is a liar.

      The key point is that his speech now changes the dynamics of a future referendum on its head. Whereas before it didn't matter who wins in 2015 (between Labour and Tory) now with Miliband's speech it does as the Labour option makes winning a referendum much much harder.

  2. The most egregious is that the EU can be "reformed".

  3. Spot on TBF. This is the long standing Marxist approach to subverting democracy. They would be taking a poll to approve a future EU treaty with possibly limited implications, and turning it into an in/out referendum.

    Doing this, Labour will ensure many voters forget all the issues of EU membership and/or feel voting to leave on the basis of the treaty before them is excessive.

    The result will be a win for the 'in' side and the prospect of escaping the EU lost for at least another 30 years, if not permanently thanks to the pro EU propaganda that is increasingly indoctrinating our children in schools.

    If Labour wins the election, the EU would likely accelerate treaty negotiations to ensure it is put to a vote during the UK parliament so the Miliband plan can kill off any possibility of a British exit, ensure ongoing financing by UK taxpayers and cement the union ahead of further enlargement.

  4. They don't want to leave the EU and they'd rather we were in the Euro, but they have have an awkward, and potentially very awkward, electorate to manage.

    They also have to fight each other - well according to accepted (by them) rules. The mock fighting has had introduced the entirely unwelcome question of the EU. They'd prefer not to talk about it at all, coming treaty or not.

    For all their problems I do think that UKIP have made this stuff an issue and we wouldn't have seen the referendum lock - dubious thing as it is - without them.

    UKIP's value is unsettling the cosy stitch up. It's a shame they don't appear to have much more about them, but there we are.