by Stephen Tall on August 13, 2013
Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. More than 600 party members have responded, and we’re publishing the full results.
55% of Lib Dems oppose in/out EU referendum
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?
(Figures compared to last time we asked this question in March 2013).
36% (+2%) – Yes, it should
55% (-3%) – No, it should not
9% (-2%) – Don’t know
I first asked this question last December: then, committing to an in/out EU referendum was opposed by a 2-to-1 margin, 63% to 32%. It has narrowed noticeably since, now standing at 55% to 36%, but that’s still a significant majority against. There is little appetite within the party it seems for bending to Tory back-benchers’ whim on this topic.
The party’s autumn conference in Glasgow will have a debate on Europe in September, including a policy motion which will commit the party to an in/out referendum — but only “when the EU Act triggers a referendum” (ie, the next time further powers are to be transferred).
Here’s a selection of your comments:
I do think that being an influential member of the EU is where our future lies although reform of the EU is essential. However, there is a growing desire of the UK population for an in-out referendum and as a Democratic party I think we should offer that option. My main concern would be that both sides of the argument would not get equal funding or coverage.
I think the point has come where it is inevitable, and fighting it would only look like distrust of the people.
Support, provided we make it very plain that we believe our place is right at the heart of europe
Our current policy – to have one when a treaty changes our relationship with the EU – is the correct one.
In theory we probably should. But I don’t trust the UK electorate to make an informed decision on this.
For goodness sake let’s get the question asked and answered now. This shilly-shallying around is bad for everyone. Logically we need to be in Europe. Emotionally a lot of people resent their influence on us. Let’s decide now.
We had one years ago, that’s it, end of issue.
Yes – In the event of a treaty change or other significant transfer of powers or change in fundamental relationship between the EU & UK
No it shouldn’t, because we have a parliamentary democracy, and the MPs have the power, a referendum is irrelevant… but Yes it should, because the media have already wound people up to the point that they want and expect one. We should insist on a booklet of audited facts to be supplied to every registered voter.
I voted ‘Yes’ to go in and I am still very much pro Europe. However the way in which the EU has dealt with its weaker members is worrying. I am also not clear on how we will work in the EU as the members of the Euro move, by necessity, closer together.
I think our existing support for an in/out referendum where there is a major treaty change is a mistake.
We have demonstrated an appalling inability to sell ideas that the press doesn’t like. I think a government should protect jobs and businesses and the people of the nation. Letting them commit economic suicide is a dereliction of duty. BUT people want that vote, so we have to take the plunge.
Very reluctantly and with the trigger being the EU Act and NOT some supposed renegotiation of terms of membership.
I think the manifesto should argue for a fact based discussion of the benefits and problems of membership rather than the current emotional slanging match.
* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum, and edited the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He also writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.