Tuesday, April 20, 2004
Given Blair's obstinate refusal to use the word 'referendum' in his statement to the commons on the European constitution, I'll be interested to see what else the phrase 'let the people have the final say' could mean. I'm sure many flippant suggestions could be made, but I think quite seriously that his options, now everyone thinks he'll hold a referendum, will be quite limited.
I thought, perhaps, that it could mean making the constitution an election issue during the general election campaign - i.e. have acceptance of the constitution as a prominent part of the Labour platform, and gamble on (a) people not caring enough to swing away from Labour on it; and (b) the Conservatives still being too shambolic to get into power from the people who might swing away.
This seems to be the most likely option, since the general opinion climate makes it unlikely he'd ever put Europe out as an issue on its own. (Even Blair admits, in his latest party e-mail, that the campaign of the eurosceptics has been 'partially successful', or something like that - I deleted the e-mail quite quickly). But I'm sure there are other things he could do which could be interpreted as a 'yes' vote. Perhaps he could even branch into reality TV style technology and using a popular celebrity to back Europe while people texted in their votes.
The question with any possible option, though, would be whether he could actually get away with anything other than a referendum. As for most people Europe isn't that important, I reckon he could. But since he's so generally unpopular these days, it could go either way...
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