58% of Lib Dem members against pledging in/out EU referendum in 2015 manifesto

by Stephen Tall on April 1, 2013

Lib Dem Voice polled our members-only forum recently to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 650 party members have responded, and we’re publishing the full results.

nick clegg euDavid Cameron has said the next Conservative election manifesto will include a pledge to hold an in/out referendum on the UK’s continuing membership of the European Union. Do you think the next Liberal Democrat manifesto should include the same pledge?

    34% – Yes, it should

    58% – No, it should not

    7% – Don’t know

David Cameron’s speech two months ago promising a future Conservative government would hold a referendum on British membership of the EU was expected by some to be a game-changer: in reality, there was the merest flicker of interest in the polls, quickly extinguished. The pressure I half-expected to build on the Lib Dems (and Labour) to respond in kind has not arrived, at least yet.

And, according to our survey, a majority (58%) of Lib Dem members remain opposed to the party matching the Tory leader’s pledge. That’s down slightly on last December when we previously asked the question — 63% then said the Lib Dems shouldn’t commit to a referendum — but still a near 2-to-1 majority.

Here’s a sample of your comments:

As the only real pro Europe party, we should concentrate on telling the true story of our involvement in the EU.

We have more important things to be getting on with at the moment; when the EU is back on track, then we can think about it.

I agree with an in/out referendum, but would like the eurozone to have an opportunity to mend itself beforehand. I support membership of the European Union, but would like to see substantial reforms including non-interference in social policy.

Show some leadership! Explain the benefits of Europe to the people. The argument is being lost to the extremists because of fear.

There is no sense in the Lib Dems chasing anti-EU votes. Polls consistently show more people in favour of the EU than vote Lib Dem. That is where we should look for voters.

This is a representative democracy and we should also oppose referendums on principle.

Our union membership is the only part of the constitution confirmed by popular referendum. Our citizenship and rights are too important to risk with the far right media’s lies. Another referendum would only poison things further, even if we did stay in.

I had thought that we were the one party which was committed to the European project.

Though I strongly think we have already made the decision we need to go with the mood, but make absolutely certain that we legislate to ensure full information is given to all voters, and that lies and misinformation are outlawed, with heavy penalties. Newspapers to be required from the outset to be balanced and to give full page spreads to explaining things. LD policy should be clearly stated that we are European and that we will continue to be, but we must set out the things we want to change.

Representative parliamentary government is far preferable to government by referendum which tends to be less well informed and very irregular.

We are reaping the reward of decades of treating Europe as a convenient bogeyman for all our own failures.

The one hope I have is that the threat of a referendum will mean big business will swing its money behind staying in and lead to an effective YES campaign.

We need to be more proactive spelling out the consequences of leaving Europe. A collapse in our balance of payments, a huge rise in unemployment, and economic meltdown.

Waste of money

The clue’s in the name: Liberal DEMOCRAT. We shouldn’t shy away from a referendum. its coming one way or another so lets get on with it and make the case for the EU!

Because of lies and distortions promoted by advocates both for and against the EU,the public at large are being denied a balanced view of the issues involved: best left as it is

We need to win the argument about the EU being good for Britain. We also need to demonstrate our commitment to EU reform and repeat this message over and over again.

I’ve been of the belief for a long time that Euromyths in the press would make an informed debate difficult and negatively affect how free and fair any referendum would be.

we are the ONLY party not divided on this – it will in all probability totally destroy the Tories they are so divided

  • 1,500 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. 647 responded to the latest survey, which was conducted between 14th and 17th March.
  • Please note: we make no claims that the survey is fully representative of the Lib Dem membership as a whole. However, LibDemVoice.org’s surveys are the largest independent samples of the views of Lib Dem members across the country, and have in the past offered accurate guides to what party members think.
  • For further information on the reliability/credibility of our surveys, please refer to FAQs: Are the Liberal Democrat Voice surveys of party members accurate? and polling expert Anthony Wells’ verdict, On that poll of Lib Dem members.
  • The full archive of our members’ surveys can be viewed at www.libdemvoice.org/category/ldv-members-poll
  • * Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum, and also writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.