Offering a referendum on Britain's future in Europe would be a massive own goal and should be avoided, former party leader Neil Kinnock has warned.
Ed Miliband's policy director Jon Cruddas indicated yesterday that the idea was under consideration as the Opposition draws up its detailed policies to take to the country in 2015.
A Labour pledge to put Britain's European Union membership to a public vote would heap further pressure on Prime Minister David Cameron as he seeks to placate eurosceptic backbenchers.
He gave his strongest hint yet last week that he could consider a poll after the general election. But Lord Kinnock urged Labour activists at a party conference fringe event to argue strongly the case against Labour also promising to open the ballot boxes on the issue.
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"I hope that people won't pursue the idea that there's an inevitability about it." he said.
"We are not resistant to a referendum because we are afraid of a test of opinion.
"We are resistant to a referendum because it would be a gigantic distraction, it would disable political and economic activity in the rest of the European Union and the only real beneficiaries of the whole exercise would be the masters of propaganda."