What do the Tories, UKIP and the trade union Unite all have in common? As of yesterday, they all support an In/Out referendum on our membership of the European Union! Just as in 1975, the Europe question has resulted in strange bedfellows. Those with long memories will remember Enoch Powell and Tony Benn unusually campaigning for the same thing. Is this announcement the beginning of a revival in the long-forgotten principled Left, with Socialism rediscovering its pro-democracy roots?
Sadly this is not the case. Len McCluskey shamelessly admitted that he wanted Labour to offer a referendum in order to “help get Labour into power” by cynically throwing a bone to the electorate. This is a sad contrast to those who support a referendum regardless of their own views on Europe as a point of democratic principle.
This is unsurprising. Even the Lib Dems, in yet another policy flip-flop were considering promising one in the aftermath of their abysmal May election performance. Not, it must be remembered, that a Lib Dem promise is worth anything.
Unfortunately for the Great British Public, McCluskey’s advice has fallen on deaf ears at Labour HQ so far. The Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls has dismissed a referendum pledge as ‘silly’ while Miliband has insisted that Britain’s focus “must not be on drifting towards exit”.
This sad disregard for the desires of ordinary British people to leave the EU – many of whom are Labour voters themselves – is distinctly anti-democratic. Labour and the Lib Dems won’t trust the Great British Public for one reason: because the political class know the people want OUT.
This week Lord Ashcroft’s National Poll has shown the Tories edging ahead of Labour. The prospect of a Tory overall majority is becoming more and more likely. The day we can vote on this important issue of our membership of the EU comes closer and closer. Labour will ignore the wishes of the Great British Public at their own peril.