The general election on 7 May 2015 will quite possibly be the most important election during my lifetime (so far – nearly half a century, folks). If you thought 1997 was a biggie (and for my generation it certainly was), this one has even more at stake. For the first time in quite a long time, we have a genuine choice between two diametrically opposed ideological visions: on the one hand, the incumbent Prime Minister offers us an even smaller state with radically reduced public services putting us on a par with Europe’s outliers; on the other hand, a return towards the European mainstream (I’d like to be more emphatic than that but that would be overstating it).
This is already quite enough to make this an election worth fighting for. But there is an even bigger issue at stake, one which would determine the UK’s entire future. And one on which there has been an alarming degree of silence during this election campaign. David Cameron is offering an in-out referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union. The referendum would be held in 2017 after an attempt by the government to persuade the EU to “reform”. If satisfactory reforms are not forthcoming, the implication is that the government would not campaign to stay in. Even if it were to campaign for an in vote, who can say that the public will not treat the referendum as a chance to protest against an austerity government heading for its mid-term trough?
Abandoning its EU membership (‘Brexit’) would be catastrophic for Britain. I hold this to be self-evident, and if you disagree then you might as well stop reading now because anything I say from this point forward is not addressed to you. For a mercantile nation with a history of internationalism and pretensions to global influence, Brexit would be crazy. But it could happen. Cameron will not get the “reforms” he wants. (I use quotation marks because “reform” in this context is a transparent euphemism for the repatriation of powers. God knows the EU could do with genuine reform, but that is not on the agenda, certainly not in the context of a UK-driven treaty renegotiation.) He has painted himself, and the country, into a corner. If he wins, there WILL be a referendum in 2017; and there is every chance that the country will vote to leave an unreformed EU. Decades of toxic disinformation and woeful public education have queered the EU’s pitch, and the organisation has not helped itself.
All this is to say that it is essential for the future of the country that Cameron does not remain Prime Minister after 7 May. The duty of any patriotic voter is to do whatever he or she can to avert that possibility. Treat 7 May as EU referendum day. Cast your vote in whichever way is most likely to oust Cameron from office. Do it for yourselves, for your children, your neighbours, your pet, your Queen and country.