Saturday, 27 October 2012

Decide Europe "Through The Ballot Box"

Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson Called A Referendum On Europe
In May 1975 I had just turned 18 and was about to leave school. On 5 June that year I was able to cast my vote in the national referendum on whether the UK should continue as a member of the European Economic Community. The result was a vote of 67% in favour of remaining in the "Common Market", as it was often referred to at the time, on a 65% turn-out.
I was able to vote because the Labour Party, led by Harold Wilson, had promised in it's manifesto for the General Election of October 1974 that the people would decide "through the ballot box" on whether to remain in the EEC.
Since 1975 the nine member EEC has morphed through many treaties and names to the almost unrecognisable European Union of twenty seven nations we have today.  There is no doubt that being a member of the EU has brought many benefits - although thankfully the UK avoided being sucked into the disasterous single currency - but it also has many critics.
And yet no one younger than people of my age has since been offered the opporunity to once again directly decide whether this arrangement is one we wish to continue, despite a regular series of hints and undertakings by all political parties since.
The next elections for the European Parliament are due to be held in June 2014. My view is that the UK government should call another referendum next year in order to seek a fresh mandate from the British people before participating in any further European elections.
However, as this is not going to happen, I urge Ed Miliband and those responsible for drafting the Labour Party manifesto for the next UK general election, scheduled to be held on 7 May 2015, to include a clear, unequivocal commitment to hold another national referendum on whether the UK should continue as a member of the European Union. 
Let's give the new generation (and anyone of voting age of 54 and younger!) the chance that I was given, to decide "through the ballot box".

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