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Spencer Pitfield: The CPF's enthusiastic but measured debate about Europe

Pitfield SpencerDr Spencer Pitfield is the National Voluntary Director of the Conservative Policy Forum (CPF). Follow Spencer on Twitter.

Another election and another bumper crop of CPF papers have made this a busy month. The sad passing of Baroness Thatcher gave a particular poignancy as we read through the record-breaking yield of submissions on Europe.

The hard work of all my volunteer colleagues in the every region was evident in the creation of 90 new CPF groups in past year. This was bolstered in March by the support of many of our MEPs, who spoke at dozens of events across the country and reported back on their work in Europe – sprinkled liberally with tough home truths.

The summary of all Europe submissions – with over 1,800 taking part from in excess of 150 CPF groups nationwide - will be out on 14 May but I can confidently predict a broad endorsement of the Prime Minister’s speech and a fascinating chart showing the policy areas our Members approve of EU-wide joint action - such as trade, climate change and air traffic control - and policy areas like the proposed Financial Transaction Tax, employment regulation and fishing, where they would rather powers flowed back to the UK.

Anger over the constant switching from Brussels to Strasbourg flowed through almost every submission, while Members were more split on the ability of the EU to effectively organise action between member nations that were free to choose and change their level of integration much more freely: the consensus settled around a pre-defined set of institutions or tiers into which each Member could choose to enter. I hope you enjoy the full submission when we send it to David Lidington MP in May.

We are now concentrating on the 40/40 seats and I am calling each of the newly selected candidates in person to explain how useful a CPF Group can be for recruiting and retaining Members, giving them a real voice in the 2015 manifesto process. Recent papers on Europe, Immigration and Schools have proved excellent recruitment tools and I hope that our next few, challenging topics will continue that trend: watch this space for Local Health, Bill of Rights, and a slightly experimental cross-topic paper, which will capture a handful of extra questions that may not be appropriate for an entire paper.

What question would you like to see on that discussion brief? Email any suggestions to drspencerpitfield@gmail.com.

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