To Vote or Not to Vote, That is the Question

One thing that struck me most at the Conservative Party Conference was the apparent lack of any real policy towards the European Union. Don’t get me wrong, this is my first Conference as so I should probably wait before I should make such a judgement, but considering its importance it did strike me as odd. Not that it was completely ignored, with William Hague reaffirming the support for a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, but I still feel it was somewhat lacking. And I am not the only one on this train of thought; it was raised at both the Bruges Group event on Monday and at a dinner I attended with Martin Callanan MEP. Both times it was that the Conservative Party does not have a robust policy with regard Britain’s future with the EU.

Like all good Tories, I am Euro-sceptic and I am very much inclined towards a withdrawal from the EU and setting up a free trade agreement with them instead. I understand the need for a close relationship with Europe and the necessary trade-related issues plus other agreements but I despise the entire EU Constitution project and the protectionist policies it enforces, much to the detriment to us and other parts of the world. A withdrawal from the EU can achieve this aim, where renegotiation cannot, and it is futile to believe so. There are too many within Europe that are committed to the federal Europe project, and that is fine but Britain should not be a part of that Europe. That is also why all attempts at renegotiation will fail.

Of course, this is not encouraged by the Conservative Party, or rather David Cameron. I’m no admirer of the man, but I do see his potential to bring the Conservatives back into government after so long in exile.  But Tory policy is whimpish at best, trying to please all sides and, as with all policies and ideas that try to appease both, it does not. The Euro-sceptics are unhappy, the Europhiles are unhappy, only David Cameron is happy. And it is important that the problem of Europe is addressed, for the current balance will not last forever.

And grumblings are already underfoot, as at the Bruges Group fringe. Euro-sceptic Tory voters are being encouraged to not back the Party at the European elections next year, and Nigel Farage MEP seemed eager to canvass them for UKIP instead. This ‘protest’ vote I feel would only damage the Party, splitting it along its old lines and bogging down the Party leadership once more. This ‘protest’ is aimed at forcing the Party leadership to adopt more radical policies towards Europe, and though I do agree with that, it is neither the time nor the place to act in this way. But it will be tempting to many Euro-sceptics who feel that the Party deserves no loyalty for its failure for a tough stance on Europe.

I, though not through loyalty to Cameron, will back the Party at the elections cause it is important that we stand united for the next General Election, whenever that may be. And we must not let the Europe question destroy us once more when we are so close to Number 10. And hopefully Cameron realises this, and that he will back his commitments on Europe so far, and ideally go further. It is necessary to appease the grassroots and prevent a possible pre-2010 upset. Let us just hope that this is unnecessary worry and the Party will remained strong, and stand behind Cameron, whether we like him or not with regards Europe. It is important not to let disagreements on policy destroy our chances of election success.

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6 thoughts on “To Vote or Not to Vote, That is the Question

  1. Well then I must be something of a bad Tory, and Daniel Cowdrill can attest to that (since I’m sure I’ve mentioned this to him several times); I’m not Eurosceptic. Though I can’t stand those “Italian style” chain restaurants – and I’ve now tried them in two countries. But if you can present some logical reasons why I should be perhaps I will consider the notion.

  2. Do the Tories still want to leave the EPP to set up their own group with the likes of Jean Marie Le Pen, Robert Kilroy-Silk and Mussolini’s grand-daughter? Is that still on the cards?

    I was struck by your first comment that there was no real policy on Europe, thanks for your honesty. I was wandering though if there was any real policy discussed at all, and if so what?

    I’m speaking as a true novice and outsider to Tory conference procedure, and obviously I’m not privy to any conference documents you may have recieved, but some suggestion of the new policy direction – if any – would be incredibly helpful on this blog to the many swing voters who will read it.

  3. Re policy, try the pdf you can find at this link.

    Re setting up their own group with the likes of Jean Marie Le Pen, Robert Kilroy-Silk and Mussolini’s grand-daughter, let’s ignore the ridiculous premise in the question and agree that Tom is indeed a novice re the Tories.

  4. I must say I have to in part agree with Gareth. The EU has morphed and is continuing to morph in to some huge superstate which was not its intended purpose. Its power and influence continue to erode not just the national sovreignty but democracy in general. We do not elect these bureaucrats, we are having treaties that are tantamount to a blueprint of a European superstate forced on us without the chance to vote on it and areas that should be of the national governments control are being fritted away. Well thank god for the Irish is all i can say! At least their government isnt afraid of debate or democracy.

    I wholeheartedly support free trade, free movement of peoples and closer socioeconomic relations in Europe however thats all. In other words it should be what it was intended to be in the first place: a trading market! However Gareth I think your criticisms of Cameron are pre-emptive and a tad harsh. Time will only tell whether he is ‘whimpish’ on Europe. He has already promised a referendum on the EU treaty that for me is enough of a slap in the face to Europe for now and gives us a good indication of the direction he will take us in.

    The point I am making is threefold. I whole heartedly support not announncing major policy because 1) we arent in government (yet) we couldnt implement it anyway 2) If it is good vote winner policy gordon brown would get his toxic touch all over it as was shown over the inheritance tax debarcle and 3) the election could be up to 18 months away. Theres no rush.

    While Labour are taking such a battering and ripping themselves apart we can almost sit back and enjoy the show. However we can use this time when the attention isnt as much on us to formulate policy which I am sure will be euro sceptic in some way to publish nearer the election. I must admit I wasnt a cameroon to begin with but as time has gone on I have been struck by his cool demeanour under pressure, of which he has particularly in the first months had alot of, his conference speech last year ended up forcing the ‘election that never was’ off the agenda. I think that saved us from another defeat. It was too soon for us.

    Camerons latest conference speech was tough and I would argue his most right wing and frank to date. That gives me even more cause for hope but again I would emphasise the point : WAIT AND SEE. I don’t think we have seen anywhere near what cameron is made of yet.

    (Good to see you blogging btw gareth)

  5. The EU is a corrupt, anti-democratic institution, one about which the British people now ought to be given an opportunity to assess its worth to the United Kingdom. It is a matter of regret that there has still not been a thorough independent cost-benefit analysis on membership, for it is a prerequisite for any referendum on remaining in the EU. One can deduce the reasons for it not happening quite easily – the costs will outweigh the benefits by some considerable margin.

    For something that thinks of itself as a European “government” it is still incapable of policy harmonisation. It can never have a unified dynamic foreign and defence policy (e.g Iran/Iraq/Afghanistan/Georgia), nor is it able to speak with one voice on economic matters.

    It remains an artificial construct for a leftist political class wishing to “sovietize” the continent using covert methods. These people are aided and abetted by useful idiots on the centre-right.

    Gareth Moore is right to smell a rat in as far as Conservative policy on the EU is concerned. Many of us will have seen William Hague fail to give a clear idea in an interview with Andrew Neil last week on what our party would do if the EU Treaty was enacted before the next election – the man who gave us the “foreign land” speech reduced to the sort of deceptive double-speak of Heath, Clarke et al.

    Next year’s Euro-poll should be about Lisbon, it should be about why the EU still cannot get its accounts signed off by the Court of Auditors, and it should be about further expansion (i.e Turkey). The sad fact is that it won’t be, already it is being hijacked by those in all parties who are claiming it as a national referendum on Gordon Brown. We know what the country thinks of Brown via the last local government elections and the by-elections that took place over the summer.

    The only hope that this country has, is if from somewhere there emerges a Declan Ganley type figure who is able to finance a cross party campaign about this country’s relationship with the EU. Someone who is charismatic, young, and atrractive to those who have gone to sleep on the subject of Europe. Like Gareth, I attended the Bruge Group fringe meeting and whilst the debate was good knockabout stuff, those espousing good solid Euro-sceptic views were (with great respect) eccentric characters with certain worrying maniac tendencies – not the sort of people who could present the case for withdrawal to the British people.

    Until such a person does emerge, we will all have to sit and wait for decades until the entire edifice crumbles – which one day it surely will.

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