The People’s Pledge will unpledge BNP candidates
The whole point of launching the initiative is to make sure that there is a broad choice of mainstream candidates offering an in/out referendum on the EU. Their aim is to secure a pro-referendum majority in Parliament.
There is little doubt that the issue of a referendum on the UK’s continuing membership of the EU is of the utmost importance to very many from across the political spectrum; it may even be the defining political issue of the age.
But a pledge is a 'solemn undertaking', and so His Grace does not take them lightly. He has a long association with past campaigns which attempted to secure a referendum on the EU. His heart is very much with the spirit of the Pledge initiative, but his head was troubled on two counts:
Firstly, in some constituencies, it is entirely possible that the only candidate offering to support the referendum may be the BNP candidate. If the ‘main three’ parties all eschew the campaign as being trivial, vexatious or simply a distraction, those voters who take the pledge are swearing to vote for the BNP, UKIP or Green, all of whom are likely to put up Pledge-supporting candidates. Yet it is observed that UKIP in particular do not stand in every constituency: in 2010, there were some 90 seats, mainly in Wales and Scotland, without a UKIP candidate. If the BNP stand in (say) Glasgow North-East, with its appalling levels of poverty, and none of the main-party candidates agree to the People's Pledge, the exhortation to Glaswegians is to vote for the BNP as ‘the only candidate who publicly promises to support a binding referendum’.
His Grace was troubled (to say the least) that, by supporting the People’s Pledge campaign, he may be exhorting his readers to vote for the BNP, whose candidates will doubtless bend over backwards to garner every vote.
When His Grace put this matter to some of the campaign’s high-profile supporters, he was told he was being ‘facile’ and ‘completely stupid’, not least because such a scenario is extremely unlikely to occur.
Secondly, His Grace was troubled (again, to say the least) that, by supporting the People’s Pledge campaign, he may be exhorting his readers and communicants to vote for those who have undermined the constitutional foundations of the nation and brought the country to its knees.
It is evident that the Pledge is incompatible with membership of a political party: those who take it are promising to grant a five-year term of office potentially to their political opponents, provided that those opponents will support a Bill calling for an in/out referendum. So, if one were a Conservative supporter in Kirkaldy and Cowdenbeath, and Gordon Brown suddenly supported the campaign and the Tory candidate did not (nor any other), this pledge requires the Conservative supporter to vote for Gordon Brown.
And so we have a 'solemn undertaking' to vote against one's party. His Grace thinks it counter-intuitive to expect Conservatives to vote Labour or Socialists to vote Tory or Greens to vote LibDem when we are gifting power for five years, with no assurance at all that the campaign will succeed.
His Grace takes his voting very seriously: he is accountable ultimately to God, as are all believers. And his conscience does not rest easily with having contributed to another Labour victory – during which they would wreak further havoc upon society, the Constitution and the nation’s finances – still with no referendum. Not least because the People’s Pledge have yet to set out precisely how they will win such a campaign (against BBC Europhilia and the EU’s coffers) should a parliamentary majority be achieved.
While His Grace continues to mull over the second of these issues, he has received an assurance on the first which goes a long way to permitting His Grace to view this campaign more favourably.
He has been assured that the People's Pledge will not be including information about BNP candidates in their listings. They are of the view that ‘the party should not be given moral or democratic equivalence with others, since it seeks to offend and exclude people on the basis of race’. This is significant because it is the first indication from the People's Pledge of a political policy or moral stance which surmounts the hitherto paramount issue of a referendum.
His Grace has been assured that the People’s Pledge will not be accepting signatures from BNP candidates and neither will their views be listed on the question of an EU referendum.
That could not be clearer: BNP candidates who profess support for the People’s Pledge will be swiftly unpledged.
Which just leaves the thorny issue of potentially having to vote for Gordon Brown.