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The Peoples Pledge

Peoples Pledge - Home.

I spent yesterday at the congress of The People's Pledge at the Methodist Central Hall in Westminster. The campaign has a simple aim which unites people across Britain's political continuum; it asks voters publicly to register the following pledge;
I am voting for an in-out referendum on EU membership. I will use my vote to help secure a majority of MPs in Parliament who support an EU referendum.
and to campaign for that referendum. If you agree, please click on the link above and sign up. 

It's a cross-party organisation and I found myself in uncomfortable company. The Communist Party and RMT union both support the campaign, as does UKIP. Most supporters want the referendum so they can vote to leave the EU. Some pro-EU people support it because they want to resolve the issue once and for all so Britain can really commit to political union.

Apart from squirming at receiving fraternal greetings from the Central Committee of the British Communist party, I also found it embarrassing that pro-EU speakers (whose support is of great value to the campaign) were howled down by the antis, even when they made sensible points. I found it uncomfortable to look around at those doing the howling. I agree with them on Britain leaving the EU but  I didn't much like the look of them. I couldn't help feeling the media, to the extent they decided to cover the event, would have fun with the images of elderly - and rather snarly - Daily Mail readers.

The scariest part for me was the confusion on all sides between politics and economics. Pro-EU speakers spoke of banding together against the peril of an economically-rampant China as if we would need gunboats to make the Chinese buy and sell stuff. Anti-EU speakers spoke of locking ourselves into a failing bloc in economic decline, as if by remaining a member we could only sell to EU countries. In fact overseas trade only accounts for 15% of GDP and EU countries account for only 50% of overseas trade. This, despite forty-odd years of being trapped inside the EU's tariff barrier, which makes us less competitive in global markets.

The economic vision of most participants seemed to be at the level of the medieval guilds. It was as if Adam Smith had never written the Wealth of Nations. Of course, this wasn't true of all those there, as conversation over drinks and dinner with my old Blogpower mucker Ian Grey of Shades of Grey confirmed. 

To be fair, this was a well-organised political event that drew more than 2,000 delegates from across the country. It was far bigger than the 'Occupy the City' nonsense that is dominating the newspapers. It made very clear that many people in Britain (opinion polls suggest a majority among supporters of all parties) want to have a say on whether Britain continues with the EU project or not. Politics is a dirty business and sometimes you have to work with whomever will help you to your destination, even if they plan to mug you on the way. I also learned new respect for the abilities (if not the ideas) of Keith Vaz, who was the only pro-EU speaker who could get the hall to listen to him politely. He really is an ingratiating little slime ball.

For me, however, the speaker of the day was Ruth Lea. She calmly and wittily put the economic case for Britain's withdrawal from the EU and skewered the scaremongering of those who pretend millions of British jobs depend upon membership. We run an enormous trade deficit with the EU. There is no way BMW will stop selling us their cars or Poggenpohl their kitchens. Even if, when we leave, our EU friends want to get all politically medieval on our economic arse, we are a market they can't afford to lose. Liberated from the tariff barrier and the Eurocratic obsession with regulating our every economic breath, we would become an even more important one.


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I guess some parliametarians still do have enough spine to actually stand up for the people who elected them after all. Just not enough...


Here’s what I don’t get.

I am pretty sure David Cameron said he wanted a referendum before he to get elected. He also said he wanted it so if enough people signed a petition about something it could be debated in Parliament. So how come now he orders MPs not to vote for it, or else…

So I am trying to work out how that does not make him dishonest and a liar. Am I just being naive?

I also can’t really see how the UK as a whole actually comes out ahead being in the EU anyway.

Cascadian said it.


Some very astute men once wrote (abridged and shortened):

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another......We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Thomas Paine was a contemporary of these men. Even after the passing of hundreds of years the gist of the message is clear.

Trooper Thompson

Here it is, to the Labour Party conference 1962:

Trooper Thompson


have you ever read the speech by Hugh Gaitskell on this issue? It really is worth finding. I'm sure one of the things he notes is how politics makes for strange bedfellows. If I find it, I'll send the link.

Lord T

The enemy of my enemy .....

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