You may have noticed a lot of noise about an EU referendum from the three wise monkeys that lead the establishment parties (there was a little-known fourth wise monkey, Shizaru, or “do no evil”, but he seems to have been airbrushed from history by a hostile media). Specifically, the cream of our political system have been trying to outdo each other in how best to spin the fact that they do not want the people of the UK to have a vote on membership of the EU at any price.
None of the establishment parties want to see an EU referendum. That they are attempting to neutralise the topic is due in no small part to UKIP. Miliband, Clegg and Cameron would quite happily continue ignoring the concerns of millions of people in this country on this issue, as on others, if it were not for UKIP giving those people a credible electoral alternative.
We now know that Miliband will not give the people a say. Clegg likewise. Cameron would love not to have a referendum. If there is one, he will be front and centre campaigning to stay in. He has been forced into offering one by certain sections of his party and of course because he seeks in vain to nullify the threat UKIP poses. His referendum promise has left him wriggle room, like his cast iron guarantee of a vote on the Lisbon treaty, and we all know what happened there. To pick just one hole, we have been promised a referendum in 2017 based on a renegotiated relationship with the EU. What happens if (as seems likely), that negotiation hasn’t happened by then, or if (as seems very likely) no significant changes are won? I can just hear Cameron, a la Lisbon treaty, arguing that there’s no point in a referendum as the negotiations are not finished, or because there has been no change in the relationship to put to the people. And of course, he would have to win an election first, which would take a minor miracle given that he has less support than when he failed to win the last one.
Make no mistake, if any of the establishment parties ever truly wanted to have a referendum on our membership of the EU we would have had one by now. We had one on the alternative vote (remember that?) despite the fact that almost nobody apart from the Lib Dems wanted it.
In forcing through the AV referendum, the Lib Dems seemed to forget this leaflet:
Whenever the latest policy pronouncement is made (by which I mean the daily stream of soundbites), I think of that Lib Dem leaflet. There is no difference between all three of the establishment party leaders, certainly not on any of the big issues of the day. They are all pro-EU, pro mass immigration. Their spin may hint otherwise, but if we look past this to their actions then by their fruit shall we know them.The only possible explanation for this move away from a commitment to a public vote, made in both their 2005 and 2010 manifestos, is that Clegg has realised the people might not give the answer he wants. I suspect he had a bite of a reality sandwich with the long campaigned for AV referendum, and realised that he should be careful what he wished for.
Our establishment parties are more interested in spin than substance. Words are rarely followed by action. They are masters in creating hot air and an illusion of activity out of nothing. To compound this, we have a mainstream media that is more interested in personalities and in tripping people up than in any serious reporting of the issues that people care about or robust scrutiny of policies.
UKIP are the only party who speak from genuinely held beliefs; of independence from the EU, independence from an overbearing and overspending state, independence from the political establishment. Only UKIP can be trusted to bring about a vote on the EU. After all, the Lib Dems got their vote on AV, and UKIP will go into the next general election having succeeded them as the third biggest party in British politics. What might we achieve in a cause that has the backing of the majority of the country?