Cameron and the Referendum Game

Tom McGuire 

copyrigh European Union 2012 Council Union

David Cameron finally gave his long-awaited speech on Britain’s relationship with the EU last Wednesday morning promising Britain an in/out referendum on its membership of the EU. This referendum would come after the next election, and only if he does not succeed in changing the relationship as he hopes to over the coming months, and indeed years. This appeared to be a bold and surprising move from a Prime Minister usually averse to making his position so clear. Beneath the surface it was vintage David Cameron; the Prime Minister distilled into his purest form, in the shape of this one speech.

The promise of a referendum was that special type of promise: the David Cameron promise, the kind that upon closer inspection is nothing of the sort. Making any firm pledge on ‘when-I-win-the-next-election’ grounds is dubious for any politician; it is particularly problematic for David Cameron. With the Lib Dems withdrawal of support for boundary changes he seems increasingly unlikely to command an outright majority after 2015, having failed to win one in 2010 when it was his to lose. We have also seen the Prime Minister twist, turn and weasel his way out of a number of apparently firm positions on a variety of issues throughout his term of office. Most recently, most glaringly and most shockingly, when he overturned his prior assertion that he would adopt the recommendations of the Leveson Inquiry if they were not ‘bonkers’. They weren’t, he didn’t, and tellingly nobody was remotely surprised. This is a man whose promises carry little weight, even by politicians’ standards. Read more of this post

Not quite red Ed

Labour Leader Ed Miliband MP Speaks At Progress Conference In London. by mass419

(c) mass419

Tom McGuire

When Ed Miliband took his place on the (curiously almost exclusively blue) platform to make his speech to the conference, there was a mutual understanding that it was time he delivered. A year on from his dramatic victory over his brother Ed Miliband is yet to convince the country that he is a Prime Minister in waiting. Nick Robinson was busy reminding BBC viewers that Margaret Thatcher took a long time to convince her party faithful, and indeed the country, before she seized the initiative so dramatically and speculating outlandishly that we could be about to see one of those moments. Read more of this post

Not easy, but right?

(c) Alex Folkes/Fishnik Photography

Tom McGuire

‘Not easy, but right.’ These were the buzzwords in Nick Clegg’s keynote speech to end the Liberal Democrat Conference in Birmingham on Wednesday afternoon. They underline the determined mood that has gripped his party of late, as they visibly gain confidence with time and experience in office.

There is no hint of an apology for what has happened but there was a stark admission that ‘no matter how hard you work on the details of a policy, it’s no good if the perception is wrong.’ This does not work well for a party previously accused of being unfit for government and not ready for power, it all makes Clegg seem hugely naïve. Read more of this post


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