EU Referendum Stance Was Big Factor in Labour Defeat

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In a shocking twist none of the pollsters predicted, the Labour Party has been decimated in the General Election. Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls and Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander have both lost their seats and after getting just 30.4 percent of the vote and 232 seats, Ed Miliband has resigned as Leader.

Why did this happen? One of the answers is simple. Labour refused to commit to an In / Out EU referendum.

UKIP supporters faced a stark choice in the election. Vote for UKIP and risk a Labour government propped up by the SNP — and no EU referendum — or vote Tory and be guaranteed one, as promised by David Cameron.

Because the Conservatives were the only major party in parliament offering a referendum, many former Tory voters tinkering with the idea of voting UKIP, in the end decided to vote Conservative to make sure they get what they have long wished for.

However, many former Labour voters intending to vote UKIP could never bring themselves to vote Tory — even for a referendum — so they stuck with UKIP. This led to the UKIP vote hitting Labour more than the Conservatives.

It cost them a whole host of marginals, which meant Ed Balls lost in his constituency, of Morley, as did many others.

Labour therefore have only themselves to blame. Unfortunately, in spite of what you might think, there was large scale support for pledging an In / Out referendum in the Labour Party.

A recent poll shows 51 percent of Labour voters wanted an EU referendum, whilst other supporters of a referendum included Labour’s largest donor John Mills and Unite leader Len McCluskey.

However, Ed Miliband’s Shadow Cabinet was equally split on the matter. Unfortunately for Labour, Miliband and Douglas Alexander over-ruled the sensible advice of Labour Party Policy Co-ordinator Jon Cruddas who was the biggest advocate for a referendum in the Shadow Cabinet.

Indeed, there are a growing number of Labour backbenchers who believe it is time the Great British Public have their say on our continued EU membership. In 2011, a sizeable group of Labour MPs defied their Party Whips and voted in favour of an EU referendum.

Of these Labour MPs, 17 stood for re-election (list below) and all but one were victorious. Indeed, whilst the national Labour vote changed from 29.0 percent in 2010 to 30.4 percent yesterday, on average these 17 MPs increased their average majority in 2010 of 46.8 percent to 51.8 percent.

This is decent evidence to suggest the public want Labour politicians to stand up for Britons’ right to have their say in a referendum on the EU.

With Ed Miliband and Douglas Alexander gone, the greatest stumbling blocks for Labour to support a referendum on the EU have been removed. We can only hope the Labour Party membership elects a new leader who supports the traditional Labour values of democratic accountability: a Leader who will give us a referendum on our EU membership or better still, lead us Out of the EU altogether.

Electing a Blairite like Chuka Umunna who would deny us a say on the EU instead of a truly principled Labour MP such as Kate Hoey, MP for Vauxhall, will only spell further electoral disaster for Labour.

This article was crossposted in The Commentator.

List of Labour MPs who voted for a referendum in 2011 who sought re-election in the General Election:
Candidate
Constituency
2010 Vote Share (%)
2015 Vote Share (%)
Ronnie Campbell
Blyth Valley
44.5
46.3
Rosie Cooper
West Lancashire
45.1
49.3
Jeremy Corbyn
Islington North
54.5
60.2
Jon Cruddas
Dagenham and Rainham
40.3
41.4
John Cryer
Leyton and Wanstead
43.6
58.6
Ian Davidson
Glasgow South West
62.5
32.8
Natascha Engel
North East Derbyshire
38.2
40.6
Frank Field
Birkenhead
62.5
70.2
Roger Godsiff
Birmingham Hall Green
32.9
59.8
Kate Hoey
Vauxhall
49.8
53.8
Kelvin Hopkins
Luton North
49.3
52.2
Steve McCabe
Birmingham Selly Oak
38.5
47.7
John McDonnell
Hayes and Harlington
54.8
59.6
Dennis Skinner
Bolsover
50.0
51.2
Andrew Smith
Oxford East
42.5
50.0
Graham Stringer
Blackley and Broughton
45.3
61.9
Gisela Stuart
Birmingham Edgbaston
40.6
44.8
AVERAGE
46.8
51.8

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