Let’s call a spade a spade: given the BNP electoral successes I think this is probably one of the most important things we can do in politics right now. Last night was not a good set of results for the Lib Dems; anything that places our national vote share behind Labour’s simply is not good enough.

Rather than do an exhaustive analysis I intend to do something novel, something that has not been done much during this electoral cycle, and focus on a European issue.

I remember one of the first blog posts that I wrote critical of a position Nick Clegg had taken was in support of the ‘Lisbon rebels’, who were cast out of front bench paradise for rebelling against the party line and voted for a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. I tuned into the video that Nick Clegg has published in a bid to answer questions regarding Europe prior to polling. Frankly, I find his assertion that all proponents of a referendum are eurosceptics or ‘eurowreckers’ whose real agenda is to pull Britain out the EU slightly disingenuous; not least because I am in favour of a referendum but also a europhile.

It is because I am in favour of Europe, because I believe in the principle and ideal of Europe, that I support the idea of a referendum. I want to see the kind of Europe that is democratically accountable to its citizens and that more importantly they are given a stake in.

It is a sad comment by Clegg that a ‘No’ vote would change nothing; this is not how it should be, and this is not the kind of Europe we should want, that steamrollers ahead regardless of the wishes of its citizens. Yesterday. we saw a record low turn-out across Europe of 43%, and a major swing in favour of centre-right/right-wing eurosceptic parties. What does this tell us if not that Europe’s citizens feel disenfranchised and disillusioned with ‘their’ Europe?

What is our answer to this? Currently, Nick Clegg’s answer is to pay a reckless game of poker with our long-term national interest and call for a referendum on our entire membership of the European Union. However, this is a clear fudge and avoidance of a potentially sticky issue. Unquestionably this damaged us at the polls yesterday. We are neither here nor there, not committed to giving the people a say on this important document, and instead we have a crepe paper commitment to let people vent their spleen by throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

A referendum on the Lisbon Treaty would by its very nature bring the issues out into the open and allow for a fully informed debate in which pro-Europeans can shape the debate about the kind of Europe we want. It is a poor pro-European in my opinion who won’t allow it to happen and it only lends traction to the demagogic rantings of the likes of UKIP that a referendum is not allowed. It lends unnecessary weight to their argument that the EU is something distant, an imposition, an argument that we clearly saw last night carries weight with vast swathes of the electorate.

Clegg is right that there are many worthy reforms in the Treaty, the worth of which will be lost on people who will not be given a say in its adoption. We should change our position and support a referendum on the Treaty.