h1

Ed Miliband’s “No EU Referendum” move might be less of a gamble than it looks

March 12th, 2014

What could have potency is “being denied a vote”

We are now just ten weeks away from the Euro Elections and today sees Ed Miliband make a speech in which, effectively, he rules out offering an referendum on whether the UK should stay IN or OUT.

This creates a clear dividing line with David Cameron and reinforces the Tory line that the only sure way of getting a referendum is by going blue.

Yesterday YouGov published its monthly EU referendum tracker which showed only for the second time that IN was ahead of OUT – a finding that got much wider coverage in the international media than in the UK. Looking at the detail the percentage wanting OUT remained the same. What changed was a 5% uplift in the STAY number from the don’t knows and won’t votes.

If YouGov is reading the public mood correctly then Miliband’s move has fewer risks for LAB than might have appeared. For all the pressure for a referendum has come from those who want out not those who want to remain.

    Until now almost all the pointers have been that the outcome of the vote would be OUT. If that appears not to be the case then it might take the edge of their enthusiasm for a referendum.

The finding could also help Nick Clegg who has positioned the LDs as the party of IN and, of course, he’s due to have his public debates with Nigel Farage. Maybe the niche market that Clegg was aiming for is larger than we think.

Where today’s announcement by the LAB leader could be risky is that it could be portrayed as wanting to deny giving voters a choice. That might have salience.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble