Cameron’s biggest EURef error could be diverting from Wilson’s winning 1975 template

Cameron’s biggest EURef error could be diverting from Wilson’s winning 1975 template

A debut guest post by TC

Up to the point of announcing the date of the referendum, Cameron had been following the example set by Harold Wilson.  In 1975 Wilson was faced with a split in his party and cabinet over the European EC question.  To address this problem, Wilson’s response was to have a renegotiation of our terms with the EC and then have a referendum to decide whether we remained or left.  The Wilson cabinet was also allowed to campaign for either side.

Up to that stage Cameron has followed Wilson’s plan.  However, since the announcement Cameron has diverged from the Wilson plan in one major aspect.   In 1975 Wilson chose to stay aloof from the campaigning letting his pro-EC ministers such as Roy Jenkins play the key roles in communicating the case for staying in the EC.    The result of this was that it never did become a referendum about Wilson’s government and it was less acrimonious for the Labour party.

Cameron has chosen a different course and has clearly decided to front the REMAIN campaign.  As a result, his political fortunes are becoming intertwined with the outcome of the referendum.  Even solid Europhile supporters such as Ken Clarke now openly talk about the fact that Cameron will resign if the people vote for LEAVE.

Therefore nine weeks from the referendum vote, it is in danger of becoming for some voters, particularly left wing leaning voters, an opportunity to send a message to Cameron and Osborne.  “Just vote LEAVE to kick them out.”

Every time that Cameron and Osborne appear in the media advocating REMAIN, they cement in some voters minds the fact that they are part of REMAIN.   If this continues, far from being an asset to REMAIN, Cameron and Osborne may become, its biggest liability. It is better for referendums that they should avoid being viewed as an opportunity to “kick the Government”.  Cameron is creating that opportunity.

TC has been a regular PB poster to several years

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