At last we have the long awaited speech outlining Cameron's position towards the EU. Made at 8am yesterday morning, I wasn't up in time to watch it.
Nevertheless, having read the various reports and blogs, and listened to the views of both Labour and UKIP on television, I must admit that I'm not much wiser. To me it appeared to be one of those speeches which seems to offer something to everybody, but when closely examined, actually offers nothing.
The whole speech seems to be a blatant attempt to win the next election as everything mentioned is conditional upon the Conservatives being re-elected. Whilst he doesn't mention UKIP, the whole thing seems to ba an attempt to get the "fruitcakes and nutters" back into the Tory fold. In effect he was saying to people like myself, "UKIP don't have a hope in hell of winning the next election, so the only way that you will get a referendum is to vote Tory". Whilst this might seem a valid argument at the moment as Milliband is against a referendum, I'm sure that if the Tories enter the election campaign promising a referendum, Labour will do likewise.
As understand the situation, Cameron is saying that if he wins the next election (and that's a very big "if"), he will take that as a mandate to renegotiate our relationship with the EU, and following these negotiations, he will put the result to a referendum at which he will campaign for a "yes" vote. There is absolutely no indication as to the matters which would be subject to re-negotiation or what outcome he would be seeking.
For me, the best assessment of his speech, albeit from a UKIP point of view, is by Alexandra Swann in her blog for the Telegraph (here) in which she concludes that it is
"waffle, platitudes and vague promises". Milliband's response that the uncertainty brought about by this speech is damaging to industry and investment is probably the most stupid of all as he could call for a referendum at any time and would probably get sufficient support from the Tory Eurosceptics to get it through parliament..
Alastair Campbell New Hereditary Peer
7 minutes ago