Was Ming right to reject a referendum?

Was Ming right to reject a referendum?


    Has he called this one well for the Lib Dems?

As well as the TUC voting in favour of a referendum on the EU Treaty (but rejecting the RMT call for a “No” vote), Lib Dem leader Ming Campbell has added his voice to the debate.

In an interview with the FT, he stated that the new EU reform treaty was “sufficiently different” from the original constitution to avoid the need for a referendum. However, he said that if there was to be a vote, it should consider the bigger issue of Britain’s continued membership of the EU. With the Lib Dems’ backing, it should mean that Brown is home and dry in the Commons on this, unless there are enormous numbers of Labour MPs defying the government.

So, ahead of the conference, has Ming done the best thing for his party? Is he right to describe the Treaty as sufficiently different? Will this just reinforce feelings that Campbell is too close to Brown?

Even the most die-hard Lib Dem might concede that 2007 has not been an annus mirabilis for the party, with even the official line describing May’s locals as a “mixed bag”, the party not entering government in either Scotland or Wales (and I don’t see that they will make major gains in either nation from being in opposition), disappointing poll showings, and mutterings about Campbell’s leadership.

Ming may declare that he has “tonnes of energy, tonnes of commitment”, but when his period at the helm is over, where will he fit into the pantheon of Liberal leaders? Are the party simply treading water under his leadership and keeping their fingers crossed for a hung parliament?

    A few snippets from the last 24 hours:
  • The Chancellor Alastair Darling has attacked the banks for lending too freely;
  • Abe steps down as Japanese Prime Minister – who will replace him;
  • The Russian government resigns and Putin names the relatively unknown Viktor Zubkov as the new PM – is he now a presidential contender for 2008 or simply a transitional figure?
  • … and donor trouble has hit Hillary’s campaign.
  • Finally, today’s “teatime thread” is scheduled to be the fourth and final part of the Benchmark Seats series.

    Paul Maggs “Double Carpet”

    Guest Editor

    Mike Smithson returns on 17th September

    Paul Maggs runs The Election Game – click on the logo to email for more information.


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