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Democrat July-August (Number 130)

Lib Dems exposed on EU poll

Record turnouts vote for a referendum

The latest People's Pledge referendums in the traditional Lib Dem constituencies of Cheadle and Hazel Grove in Manchester demanding a poll on Britain's membership of the European Union have both produced huge majorities.

In record 35 per cent turnouts in both Cheadle and Hazel Grove constituencies, 87 per cent and 88.5 per cent voted respectively for a say on EU membership.

This follows the first People's Pledge poll in Thurrock earlier this year which saw a landslide victory for the campaign with 89.9 per cent of respondents agreeing that a referendum should be held.

These referendums are the largest sample of public opinion on voters' attitudes towards an EU referendum for decades and they will cause consternation among all the main parties at Westminster who have all tried to ignore the issue.

In both Cheadle and Hazel Grove both Liberal Democrat MPs, Mark Hunter and Andrew Stunell, refused to even accept the invitation of the People's Pledge to debate the referendum issue in front of their constituents.

During the campaign thousands of voters were informed that their local sitting MPs had voted against giving them a say on Britain's relationship with the EU when this was last debated in parliament last year, despite the Lib Dems having hypocritically proclaimed their commitment to what they called a 'real in/out referendum'.

In both marginal seats, which are both up for grabs at the next election, neither politician can now afford to ignore the 13,606 and 12,043 local voters respectively, which is greater than either politician's majority. Over 12,500 people have signed The People's Pledge locally, and the cross-party campaign will be keeping all of these supporters up to date with their MPs' views through to the next general election.

Campaign Director Chris Bruni-Lowe said that the result demonstrated a very high level of support for an EU referendum among ordinary voters even within two traditionally Liberal Democrat seats. "In the current uncertain climate for the coalition government, if MPs such as Andrew Stunell and Mark Hunter continue to oppose the right of their constituents to have a vote on this issue, they must be prepared to accept the electoral consequences.

"Especially, as both MPs stood at the last general election on the Liberal Democrat manifesto supporting a referendum on EU membership.

"The political parties at Westminster are going to have to rethink their attitude to a national referendum on the EU," he said.

This referendum was taking place at a time when the EU issue is not even centre stage politically yet as Brussels has not finalised the next treaty that will centralise a new raft of powers in a bid to save the euro.

But this charter for permanent neo-liberal euro-austerity is already running into trouble.

The German Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe is due to rule on 12 September on the legal compatibility with German law of the European pact on budget discipline - the "fiscal compact" - and the eurozone's permanent bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism.

In line with previous rulings, it is likely to ask for a bigger say for the German Parliament and points to the limits of the current German constitution as part of the eurozone architecture-in-the-making.

German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle this month (August 12) also became the latest German politician to call for a referendum on handing over more powers to Brussels as part of a new EU constitution.

Whatever the outcome, when the implications of this new drive to put in place 'European economic governance' are spelt out in Britain, then the popular demand for a referendum will become very hard for the party leaderships to resist.

Until then, the People's Pledge will continue holding local referendums in marginal seats around the country, giving voters a say who have been denied a voice by the political establishment.

With 125,000 supporters, the Pledge is now one of Britain's most successful and influential campaigns with significant support in Westminster and around the country. Add your voice to the growing demand to have a say on your future and visit: