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Self delusion

Posted by Richard Wednesday, July 13, 2011


A poll released by the Daily Mail shows the public would vote by 50 to 33 percent to leave the EU if a referendum were held tomorrow, "a huge lead of 17 points" says the paper.

And so what? In August 1974, a private poll conducted for the Labour Party showed that, should there be a referendum on membership of the Common Market, 50 percent would vote to leave, against 32 percent who would vote to stay in, a "huge" lead of 18 points.

At around the same time, Gallup confirmed these proportions, with a poll coming out at 47-30 percent in favour of leaving, exactly the "huge lead" about which the Mail is crowing. Then, as history will recall, when there was a referendum nearly a year later, 67.2 percent voted to stay in, while those voting to leave had fallen to 32.8 percent – a "huge lead" of over 34 percent.

And therein lies the most important issue in relation to those who call for, or argue for an in/out referendum on the EU. Those who advocate such a course of action must be able to show that a slender majority in favour of withdrawal prior to the event would be able to survive a prolonged sustained attack from the Europhiles, once a campaign had started.

To believe that a referendum is winnable on the basis of a helpful poll showing is self-delusion of the worst kind. And without the evidence and arguments to demonstrate how the UK could benefit from withdrawal from the EU, we would stand to lose any referendum.

Assuming the EU lasts as long, that could set the cause of euroscepticism back a generation. And, with that much at risk, with very little assurance that we could win, one really does wonder about the motivations of some of those who support the idea of a referendum.

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