I was stuck on a rail replacement coach on my way back to London yesterday, which left me in the unusual situation of reading the Observer from cover to cover, including this rather interesting piece by Will Hutton.
His argument seems a solid one, that there are many reasons to think the current bout of opposition to the EU constitution won’t carry over to the referendum itself. What is interesting is not that he praises the constitution as such (he takes its general desirability as a given) but rather that this is a no-nonsense riposte to the somewhat whiny argument that the referendum would be overwhelmingly “anti”. Instead Hutton envisages the gradual build-up of institutional momentum as the, currently non-existant, “pro” campaign gets off the ground, boosted by “pro” votes in the other countries to hold referenda.
It’s rather optimistic (especially his assertion that, in a poll based on the refererendum question, the “pros” are only 2 percentage points behind and his belief that the British press would change its hostility to the EU) but his basic theory seems sound: that dialogue and debate over the actual constitution (rather than half-baked conspiracy theories) and a growing understanding of what it actually means will lead to acceptance.
Which does mean I’ll have to read the bloody thing. Bugger.