Euro-referendum – the view from the Lib Dem blogosphere

by Stephen Tall on September 13, 2007

I think it’s fair to say there’s not been universal acclaim of Ming’s verdict, posted here on Lib Dem Voice yesterday, that a referendum on the EU reform treaty is “not necessary”. Here’s the scores on the doors…

Agreeing with Ming

David Nikel
Paul Walter
Frank Little

Disagreeing with Ming

Gavin Whenman
Chris Black
Arwen Folkes
Nich Starling
Antony Hook
Jonathan Calder
Toby Philpott
Stephen Tall
James Graham

Finally, it seems there may well be a fourth Lib Dem MP backing moves for a referendum, according to the Daily Mail’s Quentin Letts: “Paul Keetch (Lib-Dem, Hereford) tried to get Mr Murphy to agree to a referendum.”

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Didn’t I hear the official Lib Dem spokesman on Radio5Live about a week ago saying no need for a referendum? Sorry can’t remember name.

by Chris Paul on September 13, 2007 at 9:04 am. Reply #

One of the arguments for a referendum some LDs put forward is that we would be united during such a poll while the other parties split. This list goes some way to demonstrating the awful truth: while we may be officially a pro-European party, ours also contains a range of views. If anything, that pro-European label keeps most of the party’s Eurosceptics quiet. I doubt that would remain the case during a referendum.

by Graeme on September 13, 2007 at 9:31 am. Reply #

After 54% of the Lib Dems on this website called for a referendum on the EU less than two weeks ago, this kind of reaction is hardly a surprise.

by Letters From A Tory on September 13, 2007 at 9:54 am. Reply #

You can add me to the list of dissenters when I finally get round to blogging about it!

by Joe Taylor on September 13, 2007 at 9:58 am. Reply #

Coming along just a little late (apologies), is my blog comment on this, which goes in the ‘Agreeing with Ming’ column.

by Jeremy Hargreaves on September 13, 2007 at 9:58 am. Reply #

I think it’s about time this EU squeeze on the British voter was put to the test.
If the Lib-Dems aren’t allowed a voice in the House on this (by leadership decision)….then I will cease membership of the party -soon after the last chance to speak out against the EU takeover goes.

by Trev Gillett on September 13, 2007 at 10:24 am. Reply #

@Graeme—the thing is, a lot of us calling for a referendum want one because we think we can win it. We’re not anti europe or eurosceptics, we want it in order to make the case.

So the party is split on whether to have a referendum, but a lot less split on what we want the result to be. although I’ve no doubt there will be some no campaigners, there’ll be a lot less than in other parties.

by MatGB on September 13, 2007 at 10:25 am. Reply #

This just proves to me that even the Lib Dems don’t really know what they are talking about when it comes to understanding European Treaties – understanding what power and soverignty is in the 21st century – and also judging the mood of the British people.

Compare new proposals to Nice Treaty (which they replace) and you will see little shift of any actual power. The big shifts in power happend at Maastricht – that is why we called for a referendum then – the Tories didn’t. So there is no constitutional need for a referendum. The question then is – is one desireable?

The answer to that is yes, as Britain (an inparticular the Tories and other Europhobes) has still not come to terms with the Maastricht settlement of 1991 when the EU was created in its current form. The real argument isn’t about this new reform treaty, its about Britain’s place in Europe. Don’t let the Europhobes bamboozle you with arcana, people on the doorstep just think that we have given too much power away, they don’t even really know what that power is.

We should have a referendum! Lib Dems should be brave enough to call for the referendum that really matters and what this is really all about. In or out!

by Anon on September 13, 2007 at 10:25 am. Reply #

I tried to comment earlier but it seems to have evaporated. Peter Black AM ought to be added to the “agee with Ming” column – see comment on the Whiskey Priest blog. Also I am intrigued, Stephenus, why you put yourself in the “disagreeing with Ming” column when your post on the matter makes it crystal clear that you actually….er….agree with Ming but didn’t like his choice of words – “too lawyerly” I think was your phrase. Perhaps there should be a third category: “Agreeing with Ming but incandescently indignant about his choice of words”.

by Paul Walter on September 13, 2007 at 11:47 am. Reply #

PS My name has no “s” on the end of it – but don’t worry, everyone does it to everyone in my vast extended family and indeed, for other families with first names as surnames (eg I have a friend called “Rodger” who is always called “Rodgers”!

[Editor’s note: sorry, Paul. Duly corrected.]

by Paul Walter on September 13, 2007 at 11:49 am. Reply #

…But then there are all of us who’ve commented, say, on yesterday’s Lib Dem Voice story, so you’d have to add me and others to the disagree column!

And also to Paul Walter(s): tell me about it 😉

by Alex Wilcock on September 13, 2007 at 11:53 am. Reply #

I am quite frankly embarrassed by Ming’s decision. Here’s hoping for an uplifting speech next Thursday, where he attempts to distance him self from Brown.

by Paul P on September 13, 2007 at 11:57 am. Reply #

9 (Paul) – I wasn’t taking a named vote! – just linking to those who’d posted on their blogs.

I felt, on balance, the tone of my post was more agin Ming than pro-Ming (on this occasion).

by Stephen Tall on September 13, 2007 at 12:05 pm. Reply #

What I want to know is how much if the treaty is new in terms of EU law.

As I understand it the majority of the treaty is already EU law so if there is no change, then I agree no referendum on the treaty.

However I would like to know from those who have read the document what are the new things and if theses new things are just consolidation of existing rules.

e.g. the foreign minister idea – does this come with new powers or the same powers just vested in a single spokesman?

by lloyd on September 13, 2007 at 12:15 pm. Reply #

Lloyd – Richard Laming has done a very good analysis here (pdf) which I think is what you are after.

In answer to your last question about the “foreign minister” idea – it is closer to being just a single spokesman. She/he will have no new decision-making powers (unanimity from all member state governments will still be required on taking a position), but the person will have some greater ability to project that position internationally.

That item is I would say the most significant change in the treaty – most of the rest are frankly piffling little things like capping the size of the European Parliament and insisting that the EU Council meet in public to agree legislation.

by Jeremy Hargreaves on September 13, 2007 at 12:30 pm. Reply #

A good point was made further up this post, and elsewhere in the blogosphere – whether the party are for or against the Treaty per se matter not; we are always asked to make the case for Europe, and this is surely the best opportunity to make that case.

I am pro-Europe, and pro-referendum. I really didn’t expect to find myself at odds with liberals or Liberals on the issue of putting matters of national importance to the vote!

by Liam Pennington on September 13, 2007 at 1:27 pm. Reply #

I want to see no dissing of my position on this issue using the excuse I am a “serial dissident” by certain individuals.

Any nonsense and there will be repercussions.

I proudly stood on a pro-referendum platform as a Parliamentary Candidate in 1992 in Birmingham and I certainly have seen no convincing argument put forward to change that position on the current treaty.

Let’s get out there, take on the Europhobes and take the British people with us on the treaty.

We’ve let UKIP and elements of the Tory Party poison the atmosphere about the EU for far too long. It is time they were taken on and trounced good and proper.

by Toby Philpott on September 13, 2007 at 9:44 pm. Reply #

Liberals afraid of trusting the people aren’t, well, very liberal.

I’ve blogged on the {EU Reform Treaty] Referendum issue and am firmly in favour of it and think politically and tactically we need to support such.

This issue cuts across opinion in all major parties, even an officially pro-EU party, like the Lib Dems. Failure to support a referendum may well lose the party seats in tight Westcountry Lib Dem / Tory contests – not a happy prospect !

by Barrie Wood on September 14, 2007 at 12:14 pm. Reply #

BBC website is reporting we have called for a referendum on Britain’s EU membership saying “more soon”

by Hywel Morgan on September 14, 2007 at 1:47 pm. Reply #

Thank you Editor – no need to apologise – easily done.

“I felt, on balance, the tone of my post was more agin Ming than pro-Ming (on this occasion).”

Thanks Stephen – yes your tone was very anti-Ming and you were vindicated by the later press release on Friday.

by Paul Walter on September 15, 2007 at 2:35 pm. Reply #

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