By Roger Helmer MEP. Follow Roger on Twitter.
Twenty Questions for Conservatives...
- David Cameron gave a “cast iron guarantee”, in the Sun newspaper on Sept 26th 2007, for a Lisbon referendum. But after the Treaty was ratified, he dropped the commitment. Should he have changed his mind?
- The Tory Manifesto (like Labour & Lib-Dems) promised an EU referendum. Should Cameron honour that promise? Why did Cameron whip his MPs in Westminster to oppose an EU referendum?
- Both Conservative and Lib-Dem manifestos promised to address the European parliament’s travelling circus between Brussels and Strasbourg (costing £200m a year). Yet the Coalition failed to back moves by Tory MEPs to curtail it. Why was that?
- The Party had a commitment to repatriating powers from Brussels. It has made no attempt to do so. Was Cameron right to forget it?
- Do you feel that Cameron tried hard enough to resist EU financial regulation; the EU diplomatic service (EEAS); the European Investigation Order etc etc? Do you understand why he whipped his MEPs to support the EEAS in Brussels?
- Do you feel that the government should do more to reform - or withdraw from - the European Arrest Warrant?
- It is reported that George Osborne plans to make more UK funds available, via the IMF, for the €uro bail-outs. Do you think that this is a good idea?
- Do you agree that Abu Qatada, and other foreign terrorist suspects and criminals, should be repatriated, regardless of the European Court of Human Rights?
- Do you believe that the Coalition’s green policies are about saving the planet - or about political correctness, gesture politics and raising taxes?
- Do you approve of the plan to cover Britain with 30,000 wind turbines by 2020? Or do you fear it will despoil our countryside, raise energy prices, undermine industrial competitiveness, and drive families into fuel poverty? And that in any case the target will not be achieved, risking serious supply shortages?
- Are you happy with Osborne’s “static”, zero-sum fiscal model? Must tax cuts always be compensated by rises elsewhere? Or do you think that some taxes could be reduced without affecting revenue, and that such tax cuts would promote growth? Like the 50% rate, and National Insurance holidays for young employees?
- More generally, do you feel that the Coalition urgently needs a growth strategy?
- Do you approve of the government’s university admissions plans, led by Vince Cable’s placeman Professor Les Ebdon? Or do you think that this is a piece of outrageous, Gordon-Brown-style social engineering which will dumb-down our universities and undermine our economy? And grossly unfair to excellent candidates who will be excluded merely because they’re middle-class?
- Are you content with the budget cuts to our Armed Forces, which have seen new Nimrod planes cut up for scrap, aircraft carriers planned with no aircraft, and forces morale decimated? Are you concerned that the government may no longer be able to deliver its first duty -- the Defence of the Realm?
- At a time of economic stringency, are you happy for foreign aid to increase while public services at home are cut back?
- Do you think that the Government has done enough to deliver on its immigration targets?
- It’s reported that David Cameron plans to make the legalisation of same-sex “marriage” the land-mark achievement of his Premiership. Do you applaud that objective, or do you perhaps feel that he should give higher priority to other policy areas? Like energy security? Economic recovery? National independence?
- Are you concerned that London’s place as a global financial hub is threatened by lack of airport capacity, which is likely to drive business abroad?
- In that context, are you happy to spend £30 billion on HS2, to cut twenty minutes off the London/Birmingham rail journey? Or should we have different priorities?
- While Michael Gove is doing good work on education, do you understand the logic of saying “You can have any kind of school you like - so long as it’s not a Grammar School”?
On all these questions, I find myself at odds with the government, and with the Party. But the strange thing is that I find that Conservative voters, and Party members, and activists, overwhelmingly agree with me, and not with the Party Panjandrums. Cameron had better look out. Party members will be asking why they should continue to support the Party when on so many issues they disagree with it. At the heart of the problem is the plain fact that David Cameron gives more weight to bien pensant opinion in the Guardian editorial office than he does to his own members.