It doesn’t give me pleasure to point out the stupidity of today’s politicians – or their hypocrisy. I’d rather the people at the top of the tree were worthwhile, honest people who listened to their constituents and didn’t try to govern in a way that they believe is in the ‘national interest’. I am terribly uncomfortable with a few people who ‘know best’ overriding the wishes of the country as a whole. Yet they keep telling us that they do ‘know best’. This weekend Ed Miliband did it again.
In his speech to the Progress Conference Miliband repeatedly pointed to giving power back to the people. He said, ‘Power in Britain is far too centralised. Local people don’t feel they have a say in the decisions that shape their lives.’ He said, ‘But immigration doesn’t just work for everyone automatically. And we got it wrong in government. Not just the policy. But our failure to listen.’ He doesn’t see the irony of promising to listen then reiterating, quite firmly, that he will not offer the British public a referendum on our membership of the EU.
He makes fun of the problems in the Tory party over Europe without acknowledging the incredibly high number of people (of all political colours) who would now like a referendum on the EU. He said, ‘David Cameron may try to out Farage-Farage on Britain’s membership of the European Union. But in all of our decisions we make, we will always stand up for the national interest. And our national interest lies in staying in the EU. And working for the changes that will make it work better for Britain. It is wrong now to commit to an in/out referendum and have four years of uncertainty and a ‘closed for business’ sign above our country. Of course people are frustrated about the EU, but in town centres across the country I heard loud and clear where people see the national interest, what people are most worried about: jobs, living standards, the fate of their small businesses. One Nation Labour will not put them at risk.’
There are so many things wrong with this. For a start, he believes – as David Cameron seems to – that there is some incredible prospect of renegotiation. He apparently thinks that the EU will roll over and let us dictate the terms of our membership when senior European figures frequently say that there is no chance of moving backwards, that it is towards ever-closer political and fiscal union that the EU must go. And then he states that our ‘national interest’ will be served by staying in the EU. I wouldn’t mind if he and Clegg and the people who frequently trumpet this could give us sound and credible figures but they can’t. That’s why they’re losing the war and, if they can’t concoct a decent argument, they deserve to.
I wonder what Miliband’s actual vision of ‘One Nation’ is. At the moment it feels very much like a nation having to believe what one man tells them. Is that the message he was trying to put across? Wake up, Mr Miliband, and realise that you can’t talk about listening to people and connecting with them only to deny them a referendum that more and more of them are clamouring for.