Let's say that Labour offer an In/Out referendum as is being suggested in a few well informed places. Joe Litobarski write in CiF today from a pro-European Perspective as well.
What happens next. The election is probably a long way away. The boy Dave can look and see what it does to Labour's polling rating.
Or they wait until 2013 to offer it. That would be European Election year.
Now cast your mind back a few years. The Tories offered a referendum on the EU Constitution. The European Elections took place. The Tories won the election handsomely, but the UKIP vote more than doubled, going from 3 seats to 12.
Labour, realsied that the Eurosceptic position on Europe was popular, that people wanted a referendum. Indeed it was the only area where the Tories were consistently ahead of Labour in the polls. Combined with a remarkable showing for UKIP, Britain had voted overwhelmingly for Eurosceptisism of the soft or hard kind.
Thus, realising that in a Westminster election most of the 2 million plus votes that went to UKIP would go to the Tories and needing to kybosh the Tories strongest card at the next general elections, Labour announced that it too would be holding a referendum on the European Constitution in the Queens speech of that year.
This was despite the implacable opposition of the colleagues across the channel. Chirac was fuming, and the Commission muttered darkly.
This move by Blair was ultimately the reason why public opinion in France forced Chirac to offer a referendum in that country. The French population demanded that they too had a say. This public pressure spilled northwards into Holland. The Constitution ultimately died because of the votes in Britain's Euro elections.
That it would resurface again as the Lisbon Treaty was no real surprise but the ambitions of Europe had taken a knock, a knock that it has yet to fully recover from. In Britain at least the shenanigans over forcing through the Lisbon Treaty, the sight of all three major UK parties wriggling and reneging on their promises has pushed a hard Euroscepticism up the agenda.
So what happens next now.
If History be our guide then I would suggest that if Labour offer an In/Out referendum, and it is perceived to be popular, then the Tories will be forced to offer the same.
If they did not they would face the prospect of hundreds of thousands of their own MPs' voters and members doing an Enoch Powell and lending their vote to Labour in order to get that referendum. Countless activists could not campaign against it in al conscience. Cameron in order to have credibility with his own people, in order to stop the Labour Party outflanking him on what he perceives to be his own territory would have offer it.
He by then will have had years of frustration dealing with the dead hand of European influence on policy.
Issues such as prisoner votes will bedevill his premiership between now and then and his patience with the Brussels elite will be getting stronger month by month.
And therefore we can ask what of UKIP? It will slowly be consolidating its position over this time. The sympathy of the general public will be moving its way as the same issues that harass the Tories push more and more in its direction.
It's vote share in Westminster polling will increase, up from last year's 3% to this year's 5%. Upwards of 7-8% where its support will cause psephological havoc in marginals.
The Lib Dems will no doubt be in a quandary, but many of them, like the Labour Party will see the bleak decision of in and out as their only chance of lancing the Eurosceptic boil pustulating across the land. They too will offer a referendum on our membership, as they did last time.
The net result will be that al parties will go into the next election offering a referendum on our membership of the EU. The UKIP campaign will be as much based on its small state localist agenda, on choice in education, in civil liberties on fairer, simpler flatter taxes, on a serious approach to crime and criminality, on all those areas where the mainstream has left the population behind.
And the country will finally have a chance to set itself free.
Bring it on.
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