The voice of young liberal democrats

Liberal’s European Russian Roulette by georgeinwashington

I just can not find it within myself to understand the Liberal Democrat’s insane policy towards Europe. In supporting a referendum on membership of the Union we are risking the biggest policy disaster of a generation and playing into the hands of the lunatic elements of the far right. This policy is just stupid.

As a pro European party the leadership seem to be banking on the fact that they will win any election on EU membership. This vote will validate membership and silence the far right. In the end it will be a positive thing for Europe. The tactic is nothing more than a game of chicken, with the winner taking all and the loser crashing and burning. It is nothing less than irresponsible.

The latest eurobarometer polls show that 39% of people in Britain view EU membership as a good thing and 30% as a bad thing. This is shaky ground to hold a referendum on, notwithstanding the fact that with a media establishment strongly opposed to EU membership any referendum will be a tough battle and victory by no means certain. Yes, pro EU parties are overwhelmingly in the majority in parliament and UKIP is insignificant but that is because for voters Europe is a marginal issue. However this makes a referendum even more dangerous those who are anti EU tend to be much more vocal and motivated. By isolating a marginal issue for the majority of voters in this way a referendum on Europe risks being won by a narrow margin by a minority of hard core right wing activists getting out the vote.

The result of a lost referendum will be catastrophic. Leaving the EU would jeopardize security and police cooperation putting us at greater risk of a terrorist attack. We would put at risk millions of jobs and the health of the economy, through disintegrating our economy from our largest trading partners. In terms of foreign affairs, the UK will see itself quickly fading into irrelevance.

Some might criticize my argument as anti democratic, what can be more democratic than a referendum? What could be more democratic than a referendum after all? Well they would be wrong. Firstly it is not democratic to have a small elite in the media coupled with a small minority of hard core racists, mobilize against the best interests of the people.

Secondly, we have fallen into believing the tory propaganda that the EU is poses a serious constitutional change to the UK and so it needs to be validated by the public. The EU is an intergovernmental organization. A highly developed one indeed, but still, not a government or a nascent federation. This is important to understand because it means that all power still rests with our national elected officials. The greatest PR coup of the right was to convince the British people that every new expansion of EU cooperation was a hand over of power to Brussels.

Nothing can be father from the truth. Through the council of ministers our ministers have a veto on all matters of importance and an effective veto on all unimportant measures. Decisions made in Brussels are approved and passed by our elected officials, and if someone has a problem with a certain law, they should take it up with their government and not with Brussels.

Demands for a referendum are not present because the EU is expanding its power, they come from people who only think that it is. Fed by propaganda from a few who are following their own agenda. In fact the new Treaty introduces many additional checks on power.

If the EU did pose a fundamental shift in the structure and functioning of our democracy, I would support a referendum also. Indeed fundamental constitutional changes should only be made with the consent of the people, but on more minor matters there is a reason why we have representative democracy. In this case the Liberals are simply fighting the wrong fight.


Lib Dems, The Suggestion Party by georgeinwashington
August 21, 2007, 12:22 am
Filed under: Foreign Affairs, Iraq, Liberal Democrats, Party Matters, US/UK relations

When Ming Campbell took over the Liberal Democrat Party, he stated that we would no longer be making polite suggestions from the sidelines but hammering on the doors of power. Todays letter from Ming to the PM sadly showed that there has been little change in this direction. Far from hammering down any doors down, Ming “urged a reappraisal” of strategy, he asked the government to think again.

Whilst I am not against polite political discourse the time to ask the government to simply think again has long passed. They should have thought again before the conflict, they didn’t and after four years of failure it is time to start demanding action.

This requires more than a letter to the PM asking him to reconsider his Iraq strategy. We need to propose a credible and workable alternative. To think of bigger solutions than a simple request for a redeployment to Afghanistan. This debate is already happening in the US with presidential candidate Joe Biden proposing a federalising of Iraq into three entities, like the Dayton agreement that brought peace to Bosnia. Despite the fact that Senator Biden is not one of the front running candidates in the election his ideas are now being adopted by the others. The same Senator Biden, in his capacity of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee met with the Ambassadors of the Permanent members of the Security Council where they supposedly all agreed to support a UN sponsored Peace Conference if the US proposed one.

Although the war has been deeply unpopular we in Britain can not escape the fact that we stood side by side with President Bush in his march into Iraq and continued to say nothing during the catastrophic errors in the occupation that have left an incredible mess that is Iraq today. Responsibility and leadership now demand that we make some contribution to its solution, at the very least diplomatically. Why is Britain, as a major partner in this war suggesting the same or proposing a peace conference itself as a permanent member of the Security Council.

If the Liberal Democrats could come up with some dynamic and innovative solutions to the problems in the Middle East, rather than asking the government to do it for us, we would be seen more as capable leaders rather than a party of polite suggestion, and if we can manage to do that, we will be far more likely to be hammering on the doors of power in the near future.