Balls says Labour would be “pretty stupid” to rule out an EU referendum

February 11, 2013 6:31 pm

Speaking to the Yorkshire Post to a regional lobby lunch last week, Ed Balls said:

 “As long as we don’t allow ourselves to be caricatured as an anti-referendum party, which we’re not – we’ve absolutely not ruled out a referendum – I personally think that for now this is quite a comfortable position for us. If we allow ourselves either to be the ‘status quo party’ on Europe, or the ‘anti-referendum party’ on Europe, then we’ve got a problem. But I think we would be pretty stupid to allow ourselves to get into either of those positions.”

Of course Ed Miliband recently said “my position is no – we don’t want an in/out referendum”.

  • David B

    Well the position is clear – clear as mud

  • Chilbaldi

    With all due respect to Ed Balls, he is wrong.

    Two possibilities. One, he has fallen into the trap of the Tory media who framed the referendum situation exactly like this, in a ridiculously biased way. Two, he is empire building ahead of a possible future leadership shot for him or Yvette.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=715486331 Alex Otley

      Nonsense. Labour looks out of touch by not offering a referendum. If Labour goes into the next election opposing a referendum, the Tories will run with it. Labour will be the party that protects wasteful Eurocrats etc. Bad bad bad policy.

      • jaime taurosangastre candelas

        I agree. Given that Cameron’s euro-speech could have been predicted “a country mile” ahead, for a couple of months at least, I find it odd that the Labour strategists did not capitalise by having Ed make some commitment before Cameron did. As it is, Ed is now playing “catch up” on a popular matter.

  • jaime taurosangastre candelas

    With all due respect to Chilibaldi,

    Lots of parties and within parties individual luminaries are offering referenda. I should therefore expect a referendum soon after 2015, whichever government is in power. Of course, it is open to Labour to deny entirely that a referendum is wanted by anyone normal, but that would seem to be slightly “hopeful”.

    Perhaps it would be better for Labour to work out how it would vote in the event of a referendum? And not to ignore the possibility.

    Of course, most British people don’t seek a referendum, instead being more concerned with day-to-day matters. But if offered a referendum, and with nothing else to have to choose from, the evidence says most will be happy to see such a referendum.

    So, Labour, get your position prepared.

    • Chilbaldi

      How about the referendum we have planned already for 2015, aka the General Election?

      We live in a representative democracy after all.

      • jaime taurosangastre candelas

        Well, it would seem that most parties are passively in favour of a referendum:

        The tories now with Cameron’s vague multi-IF, AND, AND, IF logical torture that just might have a referendum in 2017.

        The Lib Dems, explicitly from 2010, and on an In / Out basis.

        The UKIP, clearly. (Like with the SNP, I’m not too sure what the UKIP or SNP will stand for in 2018m after the EU and Scottish referenda are lost. Will they self-implode?)

        The SNP, to gain negotiating head-room in Europe.

        I am unsure of the positions of the minor parties and independents.

        So, we will probably have a referendum if some combination of those parties form the next government.

        I believe that while most normal people don’t really consider Europe to be a huge issue, if they are offered a referendum on Europe “for free”, they will find that attractive. And thus I believe Labour should have a position on Europe, and a campaign plan for a referendum, because it just may be forced upon them.

        • rekrab

          If we are to indulge in the what “If’s” ain’t it just a tad strange for the Westminster government to proclaim trade disaster for Scotland if they split, while suggesting a split from a bigger trade partner, Europe would be fine?

          Jaime, are you an antagonist?

  • JoeDM

    Mmm…. The Mili-shambles over the EU Referendum continues.

    • reformist lickspittle

      Meanwhile, in the real non-Tory troll world, nobody cares ;)

      People like you were braying and gloating just a few weeks ago that Dave’s “brilliant coup” over a (jam tomorrow) referendum would put the Tories ahead in the polls.

      What happened??

  • Daniel Speight

    “As long as we don’t allow ourselves to be caricatured as an anti-referendum party…

    That is the of course the danger.

  • Redshift1

    I don’t think Miliband’s and Balls’ statements are actually incompatible.

    Given Miliband’s reasoning was that Cameron is causing 3 years or more of economic uncertainty by promising a post-2015 referendum (totally unnecessary since if he really wanted one he could it now, since he’s in power); that isn’t to say it has been ruled out. We could promise a referendum, but at a later date or not on in/out. We certainly wouldn’t be agreeing with what Cameron sees as good points to negotiate over.

    • reformist lickspittle

      Of course they aren’t incompatible – at least by anybody apart from a Westminster commentariat that don’t, by and large, “do” nuance or detail ;)

  • Dave Postles

    It’s pretty stupid to be even discussing it when another 1k jobs are at risk at Republic. Retail is going down the tube – people’s livings are being destroyed. Just respond: it’s not the time to consider this side issue.

    • rekrab

      Absolutely Dave, all these side garnished issues are deflecting from the main meat on the plate.

    • Redshift1

      Construction has been even worse. They’re just short of a 10% sector-wide contraction since Osborne’s spending review!

  • uglyfatbloke

    Labour was absolutely the anti-referendum party in Scotland – though that was not a caricature – and it was disastrous. It’s going to take a while to recover from that, so Ed (Balls) is spot-on in his analysis.

  • http://twitter.com/ElliotBidgood Elliot Bidgood

    Yesterday I went to a debate hosted by People’s Pledge about the possibility of a referendum, chaired by Will Straw. Owen Jones was one of the panellist, and he warned about precisely this kind of nonsense from the Labour leadership – not only the risk of being seen as anti-referendum party refusing to give people a voice, but being seen to haggle over minor details and nuances in our position on a referendum, in contrast to the ‘Thatcher’ clarity of conviction Brits will tend to prefer and which Cameron seems to offering. Can we please just sort out our stance and be clear please?

  • Pingback: Why Labour must rule out an EU referendum now | Julian Priestley |

  • Pingback: Why Labour must rule out an EU referendum now | Julian Priestley

Latest

  • News Deliver on devolution, say LabourList readers

    Deliver on devolution, say LabourList readers

    Given that there are a multitude of different issues facing local authorities, particularly in the midst of significant cuts to local budgets, we asked LabourList leaders what they they would like to see the next Government prioritise in their area. We asked people to rank what they thought was most important. In terms of average rankings, most people thought that creating more and better jobs was the most important priority for Government. This is, perhaps, unsurprising – although the number […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Change starts now

    Change starts now

    The outcome of the Scottish referendum answers decisively the question on independence. But the issues unleashed and feelings exposed in the campaign will mean further important action for Labour, action to address the economic disaffection and political alienation which was laid bare on the doorsteps in Glasgow just as they are in towns across England. While we campaigned for a No vote, too many of the poorest, most deprived, who we are in politics to empower and to represent, voted […]

    Read more →
  • Featured Miliband calls for UK Constitutional Convention – and the whole country will have a say, not just politicians

    Miliband calls for UK Constitutional Convention – and the whole country will have a say, not just politicians

    This morning David Cameron called for a rushed through, Westminster-based, top-down, politician-led approach to solving the questions around UK-wide devolution. I wasn’t impressed. I said that: This is an unprecedented chance to extend similar powers down from the centre to the whole of the UK. The Labour Party – in every corner of this land – has an important role to play in the renewal of our society and democracy that must take place. We must end top down Westminster […]

    Read more →
  • News Make this Conference about the NHS, LabourList readers tell Miliband

    Make this Conference about the NHS, LabourList readers tell Miliband

      Ed Miliband should make the NHS the focus of his Labour Conference speech, say LabourList readers. 52% said that setting out Labour’s offer on the health service should be the central offer of Miliband’s address to delegates on Tuesday. It has been rumoured that Labour will attempt to make the NHS the defining issue of the 2015 election, and a poll earlier this week suggested it was the only “big” issue that we hold a lead on, beating the […]

    Read more →
  • News Video “Our country only works for a tiny elite few at the top, and this Labour Party knows that must change” – Miliband responds to the referendum result

    “Our country only works for a tiny elite few at the top, and this Labour Party knows that must change” – Miliband responds to the referendum result

    This morning, Ed Miliband gave a speech, following on from Johann Lamont and Alistair Darling, in which he responded to the results of the referendum. He clearly emphasised that although Scotland voted to remain part of the UK, this was the beginning of massive change across the country: “this was a vote for change. change doesn’t end today. Change begins today…devolution is not just a good idea for Scotland and Wales, it is a good idea for England and indeed Northern […]

    Read more →