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  1. #1

    The EU referendum of 1975 and beyond...

    Or strictly speaking the the EC referendum, which was what the EU was previously known as.

    As a no deal Brexit looms large I got to wondering what life was like in the UK before we joined the EC. Under Conservative PM Edward Heath we joined on 1st January 1973 - a date of course better remembered for Hibs thrashing Hearts 7-0

    I'd only have been in primary school at the time so would have had no interest in what was going in politically, but I was interested to read that just two years later, the Labour government under Harold Wilson staged a referendum on whether to stay in the EC. The remain vote held sway with 67.5% - only the Shetland Islands and the Outer Hebrides voting to leave.

    In 1983 Labour under Michael Foot made a pre-election pledge to leave the EC without a referendum (would that have been permissable?), but were thrashed at the polls and forced to shift their anti-European policy. I guess Corbyn's Euro scepticism has its roots here.

    Anyone remember what life was like before we joined the EC? Was there actually a public clamour to join? It seems to me that until the Brexit referendum, most of us didn't really give more than a passing thought to our membership of the EU. And even today, can any of us name our Euro MP?
    Last edited by G B Young; 21-08-2019 at 08:24 AM.


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  3. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by G B Young View Post
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    Or strictly speaking the the EC referendum, which was what the EU was previously known as.

    As a no deal Brexit looms large I got to wondering what life was like in the UK before we joined the EC. Under Conservative PM Edward Heath we joined on 1st January 1973 - a date of course better remembered for Hibs thrashing Hearts 7-0

    I'd only have been in primary school at the time so would have had no interest in what was going in politically, but I was interested to read that just two years later, the Labour government under Harold Wilson staged a referendum on whether to stay in the EC. The remain vote held sway with 67.5% - only the Shetland Islands and the Outer Hebrides voting to leave.

    In 1983 Labour under Michael Foot made a pre-election pledge to leave the EC without a referendum (would that have been permissable?), but were thrashed at the polls and forced to shift their anti-European policy. I guess Corbyn's Euro scepticism has its roots here.

    Anyone remember what life was like before we joined the EC? Was there actually a public clamour to join? It seems to me that until the Brexit referendum, most of us didn't really give more than a passing thought to our membership of the EU. And even today, can any of us name our Euro MP?
    A faction of the Labour left led by Tony Benn and including the young Corbyn always opposed the EEC as a capiltalist plot. Wilson's referendum was his way of ending that division. He allowed cabinet ministers to campaign for either side. I guess much the same trick that David Cameron tried to pull except that he got away with it.

    Don't know about a public clamour but the UK had been trying to join the EEC for about a decade, famously rebuffed by Charles de Gaulle, qui a dit "NON!".

  4. #3
    @hibs.net private member Moulin Yarns's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by G B Young View Post
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    Or strictly speaking the the EC referendum, which was what the EU was previously known as.

    As a no deal Brexit looms large I got to wondering what life was like in the UK before we joined the EC. Under Conservative PM Edward Heath we joined on 1st January 1973 - a date of course better remembered for Hibs thrashing Hearts 7-0

    I'd only have been in primary school at the time so would have had no interest in what was going in politically, but I was interested to read that just two years later, the Labour government under Harold Wilson staged a referendum on whether to stay in the EC. The remain vote held sway with 67.5% - only the Shetland Islands and the Outer Hebrides voting to leave.

    In 1983 Labour under Michael Foot made a pre-election pledge to leave the EC without a referendum (would that have been permissable?), but were thrashed at the polls and forced to shift their anti-European policy. I guess Corbyn's Euro scepticism has its roots here.

    Anyone remember what life was like before we joined the EC? Was there actually a public clamour to join? It seems to me that until the Brexit referendum, most of us didn't really give more than a passing thought to our membership of the EU. And even today, can any of us name our Euro MP?

    There, in your last sentence, is possibly your answer. Scotland is represented by 6 MEPs not 1.
    #Persevered
    Scotland can be a beacon, within these islands and beyond, for a socially just and sustainable society. Whilst there are many priorities which will require independence, there is also much that can and must be done now by the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government.

  5. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Moulin Yarns View Post
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    There, in your last sentence, is possibly your answer. Scotland is represented by 6 MEPs not 1.
    Sorry, what I mean is does anyone know who their 'constituency' MEP is? Or is 'Scotland' simply the constituency for all six? Along with half the electorate I didn't bother voting in the last European elections as I thought it was going to be a needless exercise so I'm not sure what form the ballot paper takes. Were all the Scottish MEP candidates listed on it or is there some sort of 'localisation' involved? I'd kind of assumed the fact we have a Brexit Party MEP meant that a constituency with a lot of Rangers fans maybe voted him in.
    Last edited by G B Young; 21-08-2019 at 10:20 AM.

  6. #5
    @hibs.net private member HiBremian's Avatar
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    Pleased to say I was at Tynie on EEC Day 1973, but the whisky kind of blurred out the second half

    Seriously, three attempts to join the EEC at that time was all about markets and the end of empire as far as I remember. Independent ex-colonies were starting to make their own trade arrangements, and what I always remember about the 1960s and early 1970s was a focus on the "balance of payments", with exports dwindling as the likes of India found other sources for manufactured goods. The UK desperately needed an alternative and the EEC was there on the doorstep.

    I don't see that changing any time soon. The UK's need for the EU was then, and is now, primarily economic.

  7. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by JeMeSouviens View Post
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    A faction of the Labour left led by Tony Benn and including the young Corbyn always opposed the EEC as a capiltalist plot. Wilson's referendum was his way of ending that division. He allowed cabinet ministers to campaign for either side. I guess much the same trick that David Cameron tried to pull except that he got away with it.

    Don't know about a public clamour but the UK had been trying to join the EEC for about a decade, famously rebuffed by Charles de Gaulle, qui a dit "NON!".
    As a remainer, how did Cameron get away with it? The referendum cost him his job and only made Tory division worse. Wilson (I've just read) stumbled on in office until 1976.

  8. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by G B Young View Post
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    As a remainer, how did Cameron get away with it? The referendum cost him his job and only made Tory division worse. Wilson (I've just read) stumbled on in office until 1976.
    No, Wilson got away with it. He wanted to stay in the EEC.

    Wilson could easily have stayed on until 79 I think. He wasn't forced out or anything, afaik.

  9. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by G B Young View Post
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    Sorry, what I mean is does anyone know who their 'constituency' MEP is? Or is 'Scotland' simply the constituency for all six? Along with half the electorate I didn't bother voting in the last European elections as I thought it was going to be a needless exercise so I'm not sure what for the ballot paper takes. Were all the Scottish MEP candidates listed on it or is there some sort of 'localisation' involved? I'd kind of assumed the fact we have a Brexit Party MEP meant that a constituency with a lot of Rangers fans maybe voted him in.
    Scotland is one constituency. You voted* for a party and each party submits a list of candidates in priority order.


    * well you specifically didn't, "one voted".
    Last edited by JeMeSouviens; 21-08-2019 at 10:21 AM.

  10. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by JeMeSouviens View Post
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    No, Wilson got away with it. He wanted to stay in the EEC.

    Wilson could easily have stayed on until 79 I think. He wasn't forced out or anything, afaik.
    Ah, ok.

    Seems Wilson's health was declining. The early signs of colon cancer had apparently been detected and it seems in hindsight he may also have also have been exhibiting traits of Alzheimer's disease. I remember watching a programme about him which made it clear his wife despised the Westminster scene so that can't have helped.

    In echoes of today I see there was a hung parliament when he took office in 1974 and he had to hold another election which gave him a majority of just three. Again, that can't have helped make the job any easier.

  11. #10
    @hibs.net private member Moulin Yarns's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by G B Young View Post
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    Sorry, what I mean is does anyone know who their 'constituency' MEP is? Or is 'Scotland' simply the constituency for all six? Along with half the electorate I didn't bother voting in the last European elections as I thought it was going to be a needless exercise so I'm not sure what form the ballot paper takes. Were all the Scottish MEP candidates listed on it or is there some sort of 'localisation' involved? I'd kind of assumed the fact we have a Brexit Party MEP meant that a constituency with a lot of Rangers fans maybe voted him in.
    Again totally not understanding that the whole of Scotland elects 6 MEPs. There is no constituency MEP.

    This was not the first time that that was how we elected our MEPs.

    The last time Scotland elected separate MEPs for constituencies was in 1999, so there have been 5 European elections since with a single Scotland constituency.
    Last edited by Moulin Yarns; 21-08-2019 at 12:07 PM.

  12. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Moulin Yarns View Post
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    Again totally not understanding that the whole of Scotland elects 6 MEPs. There is no constituency MEP.

    This was not the first time that that was how we elected our MEPs.

    The last time Scotland elected separate MEPs for constituencies was in 1999, so there have been 5 European elections since with a single Scotland constituency.
    It's not a case of not understanding, I simply didn't know. My memory may be failing me as I'm certain I must have voted in most of those European elections, but I couldn't have told you what the format of the ballot paper took.

    My point was more that until Brexit swamped the news agenda I'd imagine that the majority of the Scottish/UK electorate were at best rather indifferent to our membership of the EU and had next to no idea who represented them in the European Parliament. Whether most now know who the UK's MEPs are I'm not sure, but I imagine everyone now has a view on our EU membership!

  13. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by JeMeSouviens View Post
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    Don't know about a public clamour but the UK had been trying to join the EEC for about a decade, famously rebuffed by Charles de Gaulle, qui a dit "NON!".
    Yep, that's what I remember on the front pages. The French holding us back.

  14. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Moulin Yarns View Post
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    Again totally not understanding that the whole of Scotland elects 6 MEPs. There is no constituency MEP.

    This was not the first time that that was how we elected our MEPs.

    The last time Scotland elected separate MEPs for constituencies was in 1999, so there have been 5 European elections since with a single Scotland constituency.

  15. #14
    Testimonial Due Colr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lapsedhibee View Post
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    Yep, that's what I remember on the front pages. The French holding us back.
    Looks like that had good cause!!

  16. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Colr View Post
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    Looks like that had good cause!!
    Britain didn't sign up to the Treaty of Paris in 1951 nor the Treaty of Rome in 1957. But when they did feel like joining, any delay was all the fault of foreigners.

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