Ed Miliband has finally nailed his colours to the mast, and they are the blue and yellow of the EU. Once in power he will only hold an EU referendum should the EU grab further powers from the UK, an event which he describes as “unlikely”.
The lines are now clearly drawn for the European elections in June and for 2015. All three main politically parties, as we already knew, are avowedly in favour of the European Union. Each of the three party leaders are interchangeable. Each head of the three-headed Milicleggeron can only be distinguished by the colour tie being worn. They may try to give a different spin to their position, but in reality they are all equally pro-EU. By definition, this means that their priorities once in power cannot solely be the national interest of the UK. If there were any justice, this in itself should make them unelectable.
While Miliband’s article in the Financial Times today (it’s behind a pay wall, but you can view up to 8 articles for free once registered) was ostensibly attacking the “uncertainty” caused by the Conservatives and their offer of possibly having a referendum at some point several years down the line, I think the real target was the Lib Dems.
Nick Clegg has made a lot of noise recently trying to avoid complete electoral oblivion for his party by positioning them as the only pro-EU party on offer. There is a pro-EU vote out there, and by positioning himself as the only game in town, Clegg thought he could stave off electoral humiliation. Miliband’s declaration has taken the wind out of Clegg’s sails.
By ruling out an EU referendum, Miliband is guarding against any rallying of support for the Lib Dems. The Tories will no doubt gleefully seize today’s announcement as an opportunity to position themselves as the only established party who will offer the people a say. It is a sign of Miliband’s confidence for 2015 that he thinks that losing this ground will do his chances no harm. With a Conservative party that, by any measure, has lost support from 2010 when it could not win after 13 years of Labour hell, this makes it likely that Ed Miliband will be Prime Minister in 2015, not by merit but by default.
Miliband is cynically pursuing the 35% route to becoming Prime Minister. Given that the inbuilt Labour bias in the constituency boundaries is unlikely to change, Labour can win in 2015 on just 35% of the national vote. To achieve this all they need do is win back some of the vote that deserted them in 2010 under the hugely unpopular Gordon Brown. They can do this with a few dog whistle policies, mainly focussed on “bashing the rich”. No matter that these policies crumble under any kind of scrutiny, nor that they represent the worst kind of negative politics of envy, with no positive message or vision for our country. Empty sound bites such as the “jobs guarantee” or “taxing the rich” by reinstating the 50p rate will be enough to win back their core vote.
All of this presents a huge opportunity for UKIP. All three established parties are pro-EU. The country at large, despite the constant spoon feeding of pro-EU messages from the BBC, national newspapers and the political classes, are soundly sceptical of the EU project and its pernicious effect on our lives. All three parties are performing to type, coming across as arrogant, disconnected and negative.
The “vote UKIP get Miliband” message that we will increasingly hear from the Conservatives is without substance. Barring a major disaster in his fortunes, Miliband will win. Miliband’s speech gives us all an extra incentive to get UKIP’s message of independence out there. Vote UKIP get UKIP. Get the message across that the people of this country deserve better, and with some UKIP MP’s likely in 2015 we will start to see a change. Who knows, if enough of us choose to vote for the positive messages from UKIP, instead of from tribal loyalty or to “keep the other lot out”, UKIP could hold the balance of power in the next parliament.