A report on the Battle for Britain – May 2015

With the publication of the Referendum Bill, and David Cameron’s visits to other EU countries taking place, some features of the referendum are already obvious.

As expected, David Cameron’s reform agenda is minimalist. Clearly his aim is to produce enough, or just enough, changes to proclaim his reforms a success but, at present, this seems unlikely. They will be too weak.

The opposition, in the shape of the SNP and Labour, have shown no capacity at all to discuss the issues on the referendum and are, effectively, sidelined. The SNP has not even wanted even the Cameron minimalist agenda and is concentrating on such minor issues as wanting EU citizens and 16-17 years old included in the voting. Labour seems to be trailing in the wake of the SNP and is absorbed in its own internal leadership election. They saw no reason to have a referendum and have been wrong-footed!

It seems to be conceded on both sides that party politicians will play a smaller role than in 1975. Salmond has said the pro-EU side should be non-party and many withdrawalists think the same should be the case. However, some politicians are too ambitious to forfeit the limelight.

Conservatives are, in any case, paralysed. They are waiting for the results of David Cameron’s reforms and are, in the meantime, avoiding any debate on fundamental issues.

In this void, there has been a spate of speeches by businessmen pressing for the UK to stay in the EU. On examination, these are actually speeches in favour of staying in the Single Market and never address the political issues.

Some attention should be directed to the polls which are alleged to show an increase of support for staying in the EU. However, what matters is the voting intentions of those who actually vote. Referendums generally have a lower turnout than general elections but this, of course, cannot be counted on. Clearly, the pollsters understated the weight of the over-60s’ votes in the general election. This block is far the most eurosceptic and has, of course, experienced the results of giving the politicians a blank cheque in 1975.

Finally, it is notable that two pro-EU themes seemed to have been thoroughly discredited and disappeared from the proEU argument. One is the ‘three million jobs’ argument and the other is that ‘Norway and Iceland have to obey fax democracy’. Bereft of these two themes, it is noticeable that no new facts and no new arguments have been put forward by the proEU forces.

Photo by Airwolfhound

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Anthony Scholefield

Anthony Scholefield

Anthony Scholefield is Director of the Futurus Think Tank

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2 comments

  1. Gordon WebsterReply

    I think the wheels may be coming off the SNP pram regarding Europe. 1) Their assertion that they speak for Scotland is not sustainable by fact. Fifty percent of Scots are against them and they only got one MEP – UKIP got one on the East of Scotland. 2) Ms Sturgeon has already started criticising Europe and the ECJ over an increase in the Unit Price of alcohol. She is forced to be for Europe, because she has tagged her flag to the Anti Westminster, Anti Tory mast. I do not think that she is as committed to Europe as Mr Salmond, because Europe will always dilute her power. In Gavin Bowd’s (St Andrews Uni) book Fascist Scotland, you can see where Salmond got his love of Europe. His father was a paid-up fascist, and his mentor Douglas Young – ex SNP Leaders – was interned for wanting Germany to win the war. Ms Sturgeon only owes the commitment to Europe that Salmond stamped on the Party and not all of the SNP share his enthusiasm.

  2. Edward SpaltonReply

    Dear Mr. Webster,

    Very glad to receive your comment. Having a Scottish wife and so family on both sides of the border, I would much rather we lived in one country than two for purely personal reasons – strong constitutional, political and strategic considerations apart.

    It is, of course, ridiculous that a supposedly nationalist party should want to surrender its country’s future to the EU – which Senhor Barroso rightly characterised as “an Empire”. Slovakia, with around the same population as Scotland, quickly discovered the reality of its plight. Its government had joined the euro currency and kept all the rules but quickly found itself compelled to bail out far richer countries which had cheated. When they pointed out that the euro-treaty stated that no country could be made liable for the debts of others, they were told that they must show “solidarity”. Martin Schulz, the President of the European Parliament, hectored the Slovak Deputy Prime Ministers “How many people do your represent? I am the President of the European parliament and represent all the people of Europe”. I have got it on video somewhere. The Slovak “rebellion” lasted all of three days!

    As our colleague, Dr Anthony Coughlan of the Irish National Platform in Dublin points out, the representation of smaller EU countries in the parliament and in the Council of Ministers was much reduced by the Lisbon treaty.

    Please keep in touch and let us know your suggestions. If you mark them for my attention, they will come straight to me.

    Edward Spalton
    Chairman

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