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Public must have their say

An in-out referendum on the EU is not something to be treated as a parliamentary knockabout

Tory MPs intent on supporting David Cameron's promise to hold an in-out EU referendum after the next general election complain bitterly over Labour members' time-wasting tactics.

There might have been more sympathy for their position were it not for their own proclivity for previously talking out early day motions seeking to overturn restrictive workplace legislation.

However, the question of an in-out referendum is not something to be treated as a bit of parliamentary knockabout.

Ed Miliband says that he doesn't rule out a referendum in the long run but will not commit the Labour Party to one, seeing its significance as merely bailing Cameron out of difficulties with his anti-EU backbenchers.

Such a stance may make sense in a Westminster bubble where issues are scrutinised to see if they present an advantage to government or opposition.

But outside Parliament a majority of the electorate want to vote on this issue and will not take kindly to political opportunism preventing them from having their say.

In light of the Ineos workforce being blackmailed and bullied by Jim Ratcliffe into accepting worse pay and conditions, there should have been a reaction from Labour benches to Nissan's attempt to do likewise over the EU.

Instead of rejecting political pressure from this Japanese transnational corporation, the only response from Labour MPs was to use Nissan's interference as a further argument in favour of EU membership.

Supporters of ongoing EU membership, including many who urged adoption of the euro, are contemptuous of popular concerns about this centralised, undemocratic big business club.

Opposing a referendum on the grounds that people cannot be relied on not to vote the wrong way betrays a sinister confidence in the Westminster elite as sole political arbiters.

The people's right to vote on EU membership - and to reject it if they want - should be sacrosanct.


No meddling

Britain, the US, France and Italy must be worried about their interests in Libya to resort to a public statement asking Libyans to set aside differences and co-operate in the national interest.

This is hardly surprising. Nato powers were warned before their aerial onslaught on Libya of the potential dangers of ostensible victory.

The Morning Star was no fan of Muammar Gadaffi's regime.

Unlike the British government it did not approve of or collude with the illegal capture, transfer and torture of Gadaffi's opponents during the West's honeymoon with the Libyan dictator engineered by Tony Blair.

But it understood that allying Nato air power with selected armed opposition groups could overthrow Gadaffi but would not usher in a progressive or democratic Libya.

Libya has effectively been reduced to the status of a failed state, with no universally recognised government or state structures.

The last thing that Libyans need is lectures from the authors of their misfortune on how to recover from the fragmentation of their country into an archipelago of tribal statelets, each with its own militia.

Western powers' interference in Libya has nothing to do with concern for local people's human rights.

Their sole motivation is the country's immense oil and gas wealth.

There is no future for Libyans in dancing to a Western tune or fighting over the country's mineral riches.

National unity alone, based on mutual respect and willingness to compromise, can lay the basis of a viable independent state capable of prioritising the interests of all the Libyan people.


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