The People’s Pledge is a campaign that brings you together with others in your constituency to demand your MP supports an EU referendum.

Ed Miliband’s EU referendum mistake

Posted: May 29th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Campaign News, Conservative Party, Labour Party, The People's Pledge Blog | Comments Off

The problem now for Ed Miliband is: without an EU referendum guarantee, what can he offer that stands a chance of attracting disenchanted voters back to Labour?

Between now and May 2015 the People’s Pledge will be making it clear to voters across the country which of their candidates for parliament trusts them to decide on Britain’s EU membership ~ writes campaign co-founder Stuart Coster.


Of all the places to pick in which to make his ‘election response’ speech, billed as aiming to rebuild trust after recent mixed results for Labour at the polls, Ed Miliband chose the Essex town of Thurrock.


This is the constituency that, back in April 2012, voted 89% in support of an EU referendum when we in the People’s Pledge kicked off our grassroots campaign for an in-out EU vote.


More than 30% of Thurrock voters took part in the postal ballot, administered independently by Electoral Reform Services, putting the consultation on a par with election turnouts.


So it was hardly an auspicious start to a bid to reconnect with disenchanted voters  – certainly in this town, nor indeed nationally where polls show a significant majority want a say on EU membership – for Ed Miliband to rock up with the news that an EU referendum still isn’t his priority.


When it comes to an election voters perceive matters, Ukip’s appeal as a protest will undoubtedly be reduced. Further, EU critics tempted towards Ukip who recognise that securing a referendum is the only way to potentially change Britain’s relationship with the EU will be torn away to a likely governing party that promises to deliver one. Recent polling by Lord Ashcroft suggests that, next year, at least a half of the recent Ukip vote could be up for grabs.


Labour was of course far from alone in feeling the squeeze in the past few weeks, but David Cameron at least has his referendum pledge to help bring a crucial number of those voters back into his fold.


The problem now for Ed Miliband is; what can he offer that stands a chance of attracting some of this disenchanted group back to Labour?


From the questions fired at Mr Miliband after Tuesday’s speech, even senior local Labour figures can’t understand why the party responsible for our original EEC referendum of nearly 40 years and 5 treaties ago won’t also today commit to consulting people again.


John Kent, the ousted Labour leader of Thurrock council, told BBC Essex that the lack of a referendum pledge was a key mistake and a fellow Labour councillor stood up to tell Ed that he was repeatedly tackled about the issue on the doorstep, being asked ‘Why will you not trust us?’.


In unfortunate contradiction with the stated purpose of the event, Ed gave all this the brush off. Yet such sentiments also align with the views of the 28 Labour MPs so far on record as backing an EU vote. This list includes shadow cabinet members Steve McCabe and Jon Cruddas, former Miliband frontbenchers Tom Harris, Tom Watson, Gerry Sutcliffe and Ian Austin, together with ex-ministers Keith Vaz, Andrew Smith and Frank Field.


Miliband’s counter-stance – that an arbitrary wait is better than an ‘arbitrary date’ – is one that no doubt looked clever within the Westminster bubble. Outside, it just appears designed to dodge the concerns of a large majority by kicking an EU referendum into the long grass.


Many in Westminster also still fool themselves that the EU issue isn’t influential in people’s voting decisions, despite a referendum also clearly impacting on critical questions of trust. According to YouGov polling in March, voters in fact rank the EU as a more important issue than housing, transport, education, crime and tax.


Even more frustrating about Ed Miliband’s refusal to back an EU vote is the lack of recognition of how it could solve his current problems. A referendum pledge could neutralise the immigration issue, liberate floating pro-referendum voters from backing the Conservatives next year and, most importantly, send the signal that Labour wants to hear people’s views.


Having guaranteed an EU referendum, it’s also hard to see why Labour need fear holding it. Ukip’s 27.5% share of the vote even at such heights of hype ought to give pro-Europeans confidence that a referendum is eminently winnable for ‘In’.


Yet, Ed Miliband seems intent on his terrible current strategy and, while David Cameron will be hoping his own pledge delivers, Nigel Farage also needs to choose his next steps carefully. For him there’s a huge danger that he and Ukip could actually end up being remembered as the people who scuppered everyone’s chance to vote on EU membership.


We will keep encouraging an opening of minds and a burgeoning trust among leading Labour figures, but alongside we are also building our records of where all parliamentary candidates stand on an EU referendum, particularly in key marginal seats. Our goal has always been to secure in the next parliament a cross-party majority of referendum supporters. Between now and May 2015 we will be making it clear to voters across the country which of their candidates for parliament trusts them to decide on Britain’s EU membership.


This article was first published on


For the latest campaign news, please follow us on Twitter or add us as a friend on Facebook (sign in required) – and if you haven’t done so already, please sign the People’s Pledge today to help us get the support of all parties for an EU referendum.


Ed Miliband pledges an “unlikely” EU referendum

Posted: March 12th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Labour Party, The People's Pledge Blog | 2 Comments »

Labour party leader Ed Miliband has today given a speech outlining his party’s policy on EU membership and a referendum.

He has said that Labour would go slightly further than the government’s EU ‘referendum lock’ legislation, but an ‘in/out’ referendum would still depend on a new transfer of powers from Britain to Brussels being proposed – a scenario he himself admits is “unlikely”.


Ed Miliband has today announced that a future Labour government would back “an in/out referendum” on EU membership – but only IF it is proposed that new powers are transferred from Britain to the EU.


Despite backing the idea of consulting people should parliament decide to give up further powers to the EU, he has ruled out giving us a vote on the significant powers already passed to the EU over the past 40 years of UK membership.


Highlighting the change over the government’s existing ‘referendum lock’ legislation, Mr Miliband said that this vote “would not just be a referendum on the narrow question of whether to allow a transfer of powers from Britain to Brussels”.


The Labour leader first shifted towards keeping the government’s ‘referendum lock’ back in January 2013 and his stance outlined today brings his policy into line with the Liberal Democrats’ most recent position on an EU vote.


However, Mr Miliband’s support for a referendum still depends, arbitrarily, on a new transfer of powers from Britain to Brussels being proposed – a scenario that he himself admits “is unlikely there will be any such proposals in the next parliament”.

Read the rest of this entry »

Success! MPs approve EU Referendum Bill

Posted: November 29th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Campaign News, Parliament, The People's Pledge Blog | Comments Off

Houses of ParliamentMPs have today approved the EU Referendum Bill.

Backed unopposed, without a final vote, the Bill will next year move on to the House of Lords – where it faces an even tougher test to become law.

But securing the backing of MPs for the Bill is a significant achievement – notable for not one MP daring to vote against an EU referendum at the Bill’s important Second and Third Readings.


We are very pleased to report that MPs have today approved James
Wharton MP’s EU Referendum Bill.


Backed unopposed, without a final vote, the Bill will now be sent to the House of Lords with the clear endorsement of the people’s chamber.


The Bill will, however, face potentially an even tougher test in the Lords, since it is even harder there to prevent a Private Member’s Bill running out of time.


But securing the approval of the House of Commons for the EU Referendum Bill is a significant achievement.

Read the rest of this entry »

Labour veteran urges Miliband to back EU vote

Posted: September 23rd, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments Off

Veteran Labour former shadow cabinet member and
1992 party leadership contender Bryan Gould has urged
Ed Miliband to back an EU referendum.

His intervention comes amid growing calls from senior Labour figures past and present for Ed Miliband to
pledge to give people a say on Britain’s future relationship
with the European Union.



Ed Miliband must “listen” to the people he wishes to represent and pledge to hold an in-out referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union, according to a veteran former Labour shadow cabinet member and party leadership contender.


Bryan Gould, a member of Neil Kinnock’s shadow cabinet from 1986-1992 and contender against John Smith for the leadership of the Labour party, urged Ed Miliband to “go with it” on an EU referendum and challenged the Labour leader to explain “what can go wrong?”.


Speaking at an event hosted by the People’s Pledge EU referendum campaign and Blackwell’s Books to introduce his new book Myths, Politicians and Money, Gould argued that a referendum vote would either resolve the issue for the “foreseeable future” or enable politicians to respond to public concerns about the EU by “securing a renegotiation of the arrangements, perhaps a departure from the European Union”.

Read the rest of this entry »

MPs give unanimous backing to EU Referendum Bill

Posted: July 8th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Campaign News, News, Parliament, The People's Pledge Blog | Comments Off

On Friday, MPs voted unanimously to approve James Wharton’s Private Member’s Bill for an EU referendum. The Bill was approved at its 2nd Reading by 304 votes in favour to zero against. If successful, this Bill will take an EU referendum out of the unreliable realm of political promises and into law.


Friday’s debate and vote on the EU Referendum Bill has now been published in the House of Commons record Hansard (5 July 2013 : Column 1169).


The one page Private Member’s Bill, presented by James Wharton MP, set out that a referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union “must be held before 31 December 2017″.


The vote listing shows that, including tellers (MPs who count the votes), 306 MPs voted to approve the EU Referendum Bill. The breakdown by party is as follows:


295 Conservatives
6      Labour
5      Democratic Unionists


The six Labour MPs supporting the Bill were Roger Godsiff, Kate Hoey, Kelvin Hopkins, Dennis Skinner, Graham Stringer and Gisela Stuart.


There were also two Conservative tellers who acted for the opposing side in order to enable a vote to take place, despite being “strong supporters of the Bill” – as Peter Luff MP made clear during the debate.

Read the rest of this entry »

Lib Dem splits over an EU referendum

Posted: June 28th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Campaign News, Liberal Democrats, Parliament | Comments Off

When James Wharton MP’s EU Referendum
Bill comes before Parliament next Friday,
Liberal Democrat MPs have probably their last opportunity to align with huge popular support
for an EU referendum – in
cluding, a new People’s Pledge study has shown, among their party’s own voters.

If Nick Clegg is genuinely concerned about the relevance of his party he cannot afford to ignore the message opinion polls are sending him about the unpopularity of his policy on an EU referendum.


A new study of opinion poll data has revealed huge splits between Nick Clegg and Liberal Democrat voters over an EU referendum.

Polls going back over the past year to June 2012 show a large proportion of Lib Dem voters support an EU referendum.

The data reveals that at least half of Lib Dem voters – sometimes up to three quarters – indicate in polls that they support an EU referendum held within the next few years.

In contrast, Nick Clegg’s opposition to an in-out referendum for the foreseeable future typically has the support of little more than a third of Lib Dem voters.

In the most recent ICM poll where the opinion was split by party support, 72% of Lib Dem voters said that an EU referendum should happen either immediately, on the same day as the next general election, or after the 2015 election.

A YouGov poll, also conducted last month, revealed only 33% of Lib Dem voters agreed that there was “no need for any referendum on EU membership”.

Read the rest of this entry »

EU Referendum Bill: Please write to your MP

Posted: June 12th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Campaign News, Parliament | Comments Off

On Friday 5 July 2013, there will be a very important vote in Parliament on an EU referendum  – and the People’s Pledge is leading the charge to secure a successful outcome.

By supporting James Wharton MP’s Bill to write an EU referendum into law, we can take another big step closer to ensuring an EU referendum actually happens, regardless of who wins the next general election.

Please help us to secure a positive outcome to this vote by taking a few minutes to contact your MP – details below.



On Friday 5th July, James Wharton MP will present a Private Member’s Bill which aims to write into law that an EU referendum must be held by the end of 2017.


If passed, this legislation has the potential to shift a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU out of the vague realm of political promises and into law.


It will commit whichever party wins the 2015 election to hold an EU vote, or force them to take the politically very difficult step of repealing this referendum law.


In just a few weeks, we can take another big step closer to an EU referendum actually happening. That’s why we must do everything we can to ensure this Bill succeeds.

Will you help?

We urgently need to map the voting intentions of MPs so that we know where to focus campaign activities in the coming weeks.

Read the rest of this entry »

EU referendum amendment vote: full analysis

Posted: May 17th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: News, Parliament | Comments Off

On Wednesday, MPs voted on an amendment
to the Queen’s Speech tabled by John Baron MP aimed at demonstrating support in Parliament
for a Bill that would write into law the holding
of an EU referendum.

Such a bill, Mr Baron argued, would serve to increase
public trust in David Cameron’s pledge that he will hold
an in-out EU referendum by the end of 2017.



Official figures for Wednesday’s vote on an EU Referendum Bill have now been published in the House of Commons record Hansard (15 May 2013 : Column 749).


The amendment proposed by John Baron MP to the Queen’s Speech was as follows:
“This House respectfully regrets that an EU referendum bill was not included in the Gracious Speech.”


The vote listing shows that, including tellers (MPs who count the votes), 133 MPs voted that an EU referendum bill should have been included in the government’s legislative programme. The breakdown by party is as follows:

Read the rest of this entry »

Success and Next Steps towards an EU referendum

Posted: March 27th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Campaign News, The People's Pledge Blog | Comments Off

People's Pledge Congress 2011The People’s Pledge celebrates its 2nd birthday this month, having made spectacular progress in our campaign for an EU referendum.

Now that the Prime Minister has switched his party’s policy to support an in-out EU vote, where next for the People’s Pledge campaign?



The People’s Pledge has had a spectacular 18 months.


As recently as October 2011, the Prime Minister whipped his MPs to vote against an in-out EU referendum motion in Parliament.


By January this year, David Cameron had executed a remarkable turnaround.


In his recent speech on Britain’s relationship with the EU, he said: “When we have negotiated that new settlement, we will give the British people a referendum with a very simple in or out choice. To stay in the EU on these new terms; or come out altogether. It will be an in-out referendum”.


This welcome u-turn came after a busy year of  ground-breaking grassroots campaigning by the People’s Pledge.

Read the rest of this entry »

Renegotiation and an EU referendum

Posted: March 22nd, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Conservative Party, Government, News, The People's Pledge Blog | 12 Comments »

Can David Cameron fundamentally renegotiate Britain’s membership of the EU and what does that mean for the referendum he recently promised?

People’s Pledge director Stuart Coster looks at the
Prime Minister’s options.



Debate provoked in recent weeks by the Prime Minister’s speech about his plan to return some decisions from Brussels to Westminster and to hold a referendum on the outcome has centred on whether or not Britain should renegotiate its membership of the EU and, if so, which powers we should seek back.


Mainstream commentators, however, have almost completely ignored the methods by which any renegotiation could occur.


No doubt encouraged by Number 10, most journalists have been distracted into debating the desirability of EU renegotiation and not its feasibility, since a focus on process rather than substance would in fact highlight the fragility of David Cameron’s new EU policy.


All the potential methods of initiating a discussion with the EU about the balance of powers between Westminster and Brussels – short of informing the EU that the UK is leaving the club – are highly unlikely to deliver a formal negotiation, nevermind the agreement of the EU’s 26 other member countries to any changes the UK government demands.

Read the rest of this entry »