I'm not one to agree with Thatcher but on this issue I do, referenda are a device of dictators and demagogues.
I personally really dislike them, I think they let incredibly important issues be decided by people with no real understanding of the issues. They reduce complicated and important issues to whichever side can run the best campaign and can get their points across most often and hopefully trip the other side up. It has little to do with the actual issue itself.
The issue of whether we should be in Europe or not is an incredibly complicated one and not something I have a firm opinion on. After all, I'm a teacher, I don't know the ins and outs of the relationship between us and the EU and with the contradictory soundbites we hear from both sides, it's often hard to know what to believe. Despite this, I suspect I have a greater understanding of it than your average Brit, I have a politics A-level and I do follow politics relatively closely. Rather than being a case that the Great British public vote with full understanding of the facts, I suspect that swathes will vote because of either Europhobic reasons or because their party tells them to vote one way or the other.
It's also an irreversible decision once it's made. This is problematic because public opinion on something like Europe is so changeable. The decision to stay or leave could come down to the public feeling that month. However, it will be irreversible, if we leave they won't have us back because the public have decided they like them again 2 years down the line.
What I dislike about it most at the moment is the way that it is childishly being used by the politicians who want it. It's all about giving the Great British public their say on an important matter and anybody that doesn't want to do this, doesn't want to give the people their rightful say. It is pure populism and is going to back us into a referendum that I suspect none of the major parties actually want. If referenda were so great, we should have them all the time on every important issue.
I'd love to see the Tory MP's put the next budget to a referendum. After all, shouldn't the public get their say on such important matters?
Right that's my tuppence worth. I'm off to poll my class on what they'd like to do for the next 6 weeks.
That's it in a nutshell though isn't it. If we vote to come out we'll be out for good. It's not the hokey cokey. In, out, in, out, shake it all about. It took us years to get them to accept us. But what if we vote to stay in? Will that shut the anti Europeans up - somehow I doubt it. The big money - the city, the media bosses are behind this campaign. If they lose they'll just start agitating for another, and another and another. At the moment most of Europe is in recession, and not an attractive propositon. But surely when the Coal and Steel treaty was first signed most of Europe was recovering from the war and we refused to have any connection with them - which we later came to regret. As Max says, these issues are too complicated and too clouded by prejudice stirred up by the right wing press. I'm pro EU. I'm not sure that's the right thing to be, but until someone comes up with a cogent argument that I can understand as to why we should leave, I'll remain pro EU.