How dangerous is Brown’s anti-referendum stance for Labour?
A new ICM poll in the Daily Mail this morning suggest that nearly a quarter of all Labour voters could desert if the Brown government continues to refuse to hold a referendum on the planned EU constitutional changes.
A total of 82% of those questioned said the revised treaty should be ratified by a referendum and not by parliament. Amongst declared Labour supporters 80% backed the referendum idea with 54% of them believing that the EU already “has too much power over the lives of British people.”
- What could be worrying for Gord is that the survey found that 13 per cent of Labour voters would even consider switching to the Tories if David Cameron promised a referendum.
Although this sort of “what if” polling question is never totally satisfactory the numbers do suggest continuing problems if Brown’s anti-referendum stance continues. The smart thing for him to do, surely, is to push the changes through parliament as soon as possible thus preventing this from becoming a lingering sore. Take the popularity hit now while he’s in a strong position rather than delaying it until later.
The party’s problem on Europe goes back to the promise made by Tony Blair in April 2004 that there would be a referendum on the then proposed new EU constitution. That became a manifesto commitment at the 2005 general election but the vote never happened because the move was abandoned after French and Dutch voters rejected the plan.
Since the EU summit in June Labour has been arguing that what’s now been decided does not amount to a new constitution and that there are “important safeguards for Britain”.
There are no details available on when the poll was carried out. Clearly voting intention questions were asked but there’s no information on what the headline figures are. My understanding is that the ICM August poll should be published in the Guardian within the next couple of days.
The big political question is whether the findings will dampen the pressure on Brown to go for an October general election?