Saturday, February 2

The Saturday Post

Small Businesses Demand Referendum

Well now, we are pleased to report that Members of The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) overwhelmingly (90%) voted ‘yes’ on whether there should be a referendum on the new so called 'EU Reform Treaty'. In a snap poll held on the organisation’s website, the FSB, which is the UK's biggest member based business organisation with over 210,000 members, asked members the following question: ‘Do you believe that the UK Government should hold a referendum to find out the views of the UK electorate on the EU’s Reform Treaty?’ The result was an emphatic yes (2492 voted yes whilst only 280 said no).

Clearly the online vote is a reflection on the frustration that owner managers have for the cost and interference in the process of business as a result of the UK's continued membership of the European Union. A matter that this blog will never tire of commenting on. The FSB's press release which was not picked upon by the nations media quoted John Walker the FSB's Policy Chairman thus: “This poll clearly shows that small businesses are worried about the new EU Reform Treaty and believe they should have a say on whether it is implemented. The Government should stick to its promise of holding a referendum on the proposals. The packaging may have changed but the provisions are almost identical .

This is not the first time that FSB members have spoken out on the EU. In 2001 (by 66 per cent) and 1975 (52 per cent) branch delegates voted to call upon the Government to take the UK out of the EU. The FSB who states they are the Voice of Small Businesses on both occasions only whispered silently the wishes of their members in the Westminster village, well as one FSB official said in response to an enquiry as to how the successful motion at conference would be implemented, '' we don't won't to disturb the politicians it could effect our negotiating position on other issues''. The response from this blogger, expletives removed was nothing. That same blogger now waits with considerable interest to find out what pressure the large small businesses organization's leaders will put on our politicians on behalf of their over regulated and over taxed members in response to the recent on line poll.

There is of course every reason why the FSB should be annoyed at Gordon Brown reneging on his promise to hold a referendum on this important treaty. Their concerns should be as vehemently communicated (if not more so) to Number 10 as the the concerns were to Number 11 Downing Street when Alistair Darling announced plans that would devastate small business owners and their investors, in his first pre-budget report in October last year by a huge increase in Capital Gains Tax (CGT). The effect of the latest EU treaty on business, particularly small enterprises, will be considerably more costly than Darling's attempted tax hike.

The clear message from the Editor of this blog to the FSB (as a member) is rather than supporting the EU's various regional initiatives and ''exploring European policy with regard to growth'' (FSB North East Web site) it is hoped that the Federation's well resourced lobbying activities in keeping with the stated wishes of its membership will vehemently demand a referendum on the reform (Lisbon) treaty.

If the needs of small businesses are to be protected and promoted then a full and proper debate on the impositions imposed on business life in a post reform Treaty UK must be held. That debate can only properly occur if there is a referendum.

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