Serendipity is a wonderful thing.
Tatler must be beside themselves in coincidentally mentioning two names which appeared in the news within a few days of their November 2013 issue hitting the shelves.
The magazine has an in-depth profile of Geordie Greig, former editor of the magazine as well as the Evening Standard. He currently edits the Mail on Sunday and has been mooted as the successor to Paul Dacre. Although Dacre has had his contract renewed as Daily Mail editor for another year, with the Miliband controversy, the equally well-connected Greig appears to be a natural choice to take the helm after his retirement.
The other person profiled in Tatler was Adam Afriyie, who appeared on the Sunday Politics to discuss his proposal for a 2014 referendum on membership in the EU.
Quentin Letts’s Parliamentary sketch of the Conservative MP for Windsor (p. 99) tells us that the 48-year old is a self-made multi-millionaire. He might be worth as much as £100m. As such, Letts suggests that the MP might not be claiming expenses because he doesn’t need to.
Afriyie, whose father is Ghanaian and mother is English, grew up in Peckham and read Agricultural Economics at Imperial College. After earning his degree, he joined the Conservative Party in 1989. He then made a fortune in publishing and IT. He won election as Windsor’s MP in 2010.
Since then, Afriyie has made friends with several of David Cameron’s detractors, leading some to believe that he is positioning himself as the next Tory leader. Who knows? For the moment, it isn’t important.
Right now, it’s his proposed EU referendum in October 2014 which has politicians and newshounds talking. He explained his position in the Mail on Sunday (October 6); there’s more at the link:
First, the public clearly want an EU referendum. According to a Populus poll, more than eight in ten people want a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU; half of the population want it immediately and a further 33 per cent want it within the ‘next few years’.
This is no great surprise. People have had no say on our continued membership of Europe since 1975.
Anyone under the age of 56 has not had a chance to voice an opinion through the ballot box. That’s about 33 million people between the ages of 18 and 56 – not far off the size of Canada’s population.
Secondly, I believe it’s vital to set a date before the next Election. An early referendum will kick-start the renegotiation process today.
It will strengthen the Prime Minister’s hand in those negotiations. Right now, EU officials are stalling that process and waiting for the result of the 2015 Election.
It’s such a marvellous idea for those of us who remember Cast Iron Dave’s ‘guarantee’ on the issue.
So it comes as no surprise that everyone except Afriyie and half of Britain thinks it’s an absurd idea. That tells us we should have it next year, as the MP says. He assured Andrew Neil on Sunday Politics that he also has an unspecified number of Labour MPs on board with the idea.
‘Panic’ in Parliament
On October 5, the Mail reported ‘panic’ in Westminster at the very idea of an Afriyie-sponsored referendum on October 23, 2014.
Although Afriyie hasn’t said as much — at least where I’ve read or heard — on November 1, 2014, EU Qualified Majority voting will disappear in favour of a double or triple majority result. Eurosceptics point to that day as the one when national sovereignty also disappears. The EU will be making our big decisions for us.
All three party leaders — pro-EU — are opposed to Afriyie’s bill. So are party faithful, not just MPs but media pundits, too. From the reader comments I’ve seen, UKIP also opposes a 2014 referendum — not surprising, if true, because it would scupper their main party position.
It seems to me that if we don’t hold the referendum before 2015, large numbers of people will continue to vote UKIP whatever happens – and if they do, there is a distinct danger that Labour will gain a majority and we will never see a referendum at all.
Protest votes are understandable mid-term, but mainstream politicians continue to underestimate and dismiss the power and significance of populism – currently expressed in the form of UKIP votes. Because at the heart of a populist movement is a legitimate concern unacknowledged by the political establishment.
By holding an early EU referendum, we would have recognised, embraced and addressed those concerns.
An early EU referendum would resolve the issue for all political parties as well as the British people. And for my party, I believe it will reunite the wider Conservative family so that we can win convincingly in 2015.
The referendum is one of the main reasons that many voted for Cast Iron’s party in 2010. Since then, Tories have proffered various excuses, one being ‘We can’t because we’re in coalition.’
Afriyie’s proposed bill is a great idea. Bring it on!
What say you?