Will the time ever be right for it to be held?
The big political news overnight is that Dave has said in an article under his name in the Telegraph that he’ll consider a referendum on the UK’s EU relationship.
But there’s a catch. This will only happen when the time is right.
To agree with the principle of doing something but with a caveat on the timing is the classic ruse used by politicians through the ages.
The article might help deal with some of the pressure for now but then again it might not.
A key part of Cameron’s argument for a delay is his view that Britain would be in a worse position if the referendum produced an “In” vote.
He says this would have profound disadvantages because “further attempts at changing Britain’s relationship with Europe would be met with cries that the British people had already spoken”.
That clearly is right but is it going to resonate with those within his party and potential UKIP switchers who have been campaigning hard for such a move?
For most of the referendum backers appear to have absolutely no doubts about the outcome – it would be to get out.
So threatening them with the consequences of Britain voting to remain might not have much potency – they simply do not believe that that eventuality would happen
After all the polling on this is pretty clear. People tell pollsters that they would vote to leave.
I’m not sure that that is a correct view. If there ever is an IN-OUT referendum then those fighting for the status quo would use precisely the same tactics as being employed ahead of the Scottish independence vote. You sew in voters minds a fear of the unknown and most referendums that have held in the UK have resulted in a rejection of whatever change is being proposed.
Just two months ago, for instance, ten major English cities had votes on whether to switch their local government to having elected executive mayors. Only one produced a YES vote.
Mike Smithson @MSmithsonPB