By Tim Montgomerie
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Hats off to Conservative MEP Geoffrey Van Orden. He regularly polls his Conservative supporters in the Eastern region and publishes the results. It's good to see one of our elected representatives listening to grassroots members and seeking to champion their views.
This is how Mr Van Orden reported the most recent results he collected (they were published last weekend):
“My soundings suggest that most people don’t want to leave the EU but want a different EU and a different relationship. There is seething discontent over the EU, which is deeply rooted and goes back many years. Now it is coming to a head as people see the opportunity for change. I think the views of the Tory grassroots on this issue are probably shared by a majority of people across the political spectrum.
Sooner rather than later, there will have to be a new Treaty to deal with the effects of the eurozone crisis. This will present the opportunity to reshape the EU and set it in a new direction with a looser relationship for countries such as Britain. In my opinion, the aim should be a new draft Treaty, put to a referendum, by 2015.
“The strong views of our citizens provide ammunition for the government in negotiations in Brussels in the months ahead. Furthermore, No.10 can take reassurance from the support for many key government policies when it shows strong leadership. Over 84% back the efforts to rapidly cut the deficit and 63% supported the Allied military intervention in Libya”.
“On other issues, immigration and related ‘human rights’ issues always feature as top concerns. People are now impatient for concrete results. 96% say they want immigration reduced with 86% demanding drastic reduction provided that businesses could recruit skilled employees from overseas to meet genuine needs and there were still seasonal worker schemes to meet the temporary needs of food producers."
In December the European Parliament passed a resolution from Geoffrey Van Orden, the Conservative Defence spokesman. It condemned the "deliberate neglect and misgovernance that is destabilising Zimbabwe" and called for UN sanctions against Robert Mugabe and his cronies.
Today in Brussels foreign ministers from the EU are meeting to finalise plans to add 28 people and 36 companies to a list of 167 Mugabe associates who are banned from travelling to the EU. The list is expected to include European companies, which is unprecedented.
Mr Van Orden comments:
"Given the appalling situation in Zimbabwe, stronger sanctions against Mugabe and those keeping him in power are necessary. I welcome the EU measures but they must be rigorously implemented. Too often the EU pays lip service to tough action and then finds every way possible to evade its own measures.
More importantly we must get other southern African countries, particularly South Africa, to disown Mugabe and insist that he steps down. Zimbabwe's neighbours are the key to the desperate change that is needed. It is the greatest moral stain on Africa that so many leaders have applauded Mugabe or stood quietly by while the Zimbabwean people have been systematically brutalised and starved.
It is a sad comment on Britain's standing at this time, and the poverty of its foreign policy, that the Government is unable to persuade Commonwealth African countries, in particular, to take the right action over Mugabe."
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