How does Labour secure a majority in 2015? Leadership on Europe

In the run up to the Progress event on Monday 3rd February, we are publishing a series of pieces on what is required for Labour to secure a majority in 2015. Here, Callum Anderson looks at the need for leadership on Europe.

In just a few months, UK voters, along with their fellow EU citizens, will be given the opportunity to vote in a new cohort of MEPs, who will represent them in the European Parliament for the next five years. Current polling does not read well for the three main parties – UKIP are regularly polling numbers in the high 20s, and could ultimately ‘win’ the election. Regardless of whether the party leaders like it or not, Europe, and Britain’s place in it, remains an issue for many.

With all this is mind, Labour Uncut’s joint event with the Fabian Society next Monday is extremely timely. Uncut’s very own Atul Hatwal will discuss, alongside Peter Kellner of the pollster YouGov, the Fabian’s Marcus Roberts and the Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee, how Labour can secure a majority government in 2015. Whilst the issue of Europe, and Britain’s membership of the European Union, is not as striking as the economy, it has, and continues to cast, a dark shadow over successive governments. It is one that must be tackled head-on. And soon.

Where does Labour stand on all of this?

Naturally, Ed Miliband and the shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander have voiced their broad support for Britain’s membership of the EU. But, at the time of writing, only the Conservatives advocate an EU in/out referendum in 2017, with both Labour and Liberal Democrat frontbenches highly reluctant to acquiesce. This has led to their respective leaderships of both parties being forced onto the defensive by the Conservatives and the media alike: ‘don’t you believe that Britons should be given a chance to decide?’ they ask.

So, how should Labour go forward?

As I wrote a couple of months ago, Labour must not be afraid to highlight the clear the advantages of EU membership – trade, employment, and the ability to influence on global issues such as climate change and defence, to name just a few. However, at the same time, it must acknowledge the EU’s failings – in particular, the democratic deficit that exists between the European Parliament, the European Commission, as well as the ludicrous level of spending that is put aside for the Common Agricultural Policy.

Labour must offer a clear and compelling argument for Britain’s continued membership of the EU, by being both frank and open with the electorate, if our future economic prosperity and global standing is to be safeguarded.

Callum Anderson currently works at the Community Development Foundation

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11 Responses to “How does Labour secure a majority in 2015? Leadership on Europe”

  1. Rallan says:

    Answer your own question; don’t you believe that Britons should be given a chance to decide?

    If you’re right that there are “clear the advantages of EU membership – trade, employment, and the ability to influence on global issues such as climate change and defence” then you’ll have no trouble convincing the public. Right?

  2. BenM says:

    Any Tory promise of an EU referendum is simply to lance their own internal boils.

    It has nothing to do with democracy.

    Labour can resist all the wild accusations that will inevitably come their way from Tories and their discredited press lackeys – polls show the EU DOES NOT move votes in the way europhobe Tories suppose.

    So while Tories continue their internal war over the EU and foreigners in general, Labour should simply sit back, have a beer and observe.

  3. Tafia says:

    Any Tory promise of an EU referendum is simply to lance their own internal boils.

    It has nothing to do with democracy.

    What complete and utter arrogant drivel. The people have more right to decide about the EU tjamn the garbage in Westminster do. Once the euros are out of the way, UKIP’s ‘borrowed’ tory voters will drift back – most realise voting UKIP in 2015 may allow Labour to shade it, and the promise from Cameron of a direct in/ot referendum in 2017 will bring them back

  4. Clr Ralph Baldwin says:


    depends how you sell it 🙂

  5. UKIP Imp says:

    As good democrats and seeing the majority wish to have a referendum, surely this should be a no brainer for you guys. Even the Tories go so far as to pretend they will hold one.
    No use just remaining silent on this issue, that won’t help you sneak in by the back door, people need to know where you stand.

  6. UKIP Imp says:

    Ah Ha. I can post directly to Conservative home and torment a Tory but Labour have to apply censorship. I should have guessed.

  7. BenM says:


    Your post is typical europhobe diatribe.

    Most British eurosceptics refuse to try to even understand the European Union and how it works, opposing it in blind ignorance.

    Look, you europhobes have been banging on about Europe for three decades. It has always been your scapegoat of choice yet no out-and-out europhobe Party has got close to winning the General Election.

    You are whistling in the wind if you think there will be a referendum in 2017. The Tories are going to lose in 2015 and Labour will rightly resist promising to hold one.

  8. Tafia says:

    Actually BenM, I am very pro-EU. I’m also in favour of us joining the euro. There are an awful lot of people exactly like me and all in favour of having a referendum purely to put this all to bed once and for all. And if you don’t give us that referendum, we will vote for a party who will.

    But ultimately, that referendum will happen. Surely you aren’t scared of it are you? Not a wobble-lipped cowardy-custard are we?

    And you have succesfully projected yourself as being even more arrogant than you were at the start. And also rather thick.

  9. Tafia says:

    “We are in a four-party fight. Anyone who does not understand that is living on another planet. I don’t think anybody in the Westminster bubble should underestimate the depth of that disaffection against all of us, of whatever party.”

    Peter Hain

  10. BenM says:

    The EU does not move votes like europhobes suppose.

    Call the europhobe bluff. Do not promise a referendum.

    PS. Worth pointing out that there will always be positive polling for all kinds of referenda – not just the EU.

    People tend to respond positively to such questions – we all like being asked about stuff.

  11. Tafia says:

    Stop burying your head in the sand BenM and man-up. The people want a referendum. You will then have to either accept that in order to win it you are going to have to re-negotiate to acceptable terms (acceptable to the voter that is) or lose it and leave,

    It is going to happen. The EU elections are too close to the General Election so it will remain ‘hot’. UKIP will make further advances not only in the euros but also the council elections at the same time. The subsequent 19 months will be dominated by issues EU whether you like the idea or not and the popular press (Sun, Star, Mirror, Express, Mail) along with Sky News are not going to drop this and will keep it up front and centre no matter what the dullards in Westminster try to deflect it. The other issues of the day will be largely ignored. Cameron has already mafe it an election issue and once the euros are out of the way he will bang it in over and over again along with the mainstream press and Labour will have no choice other than to accept it as a main – if not THE main – item in the agenda.

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