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Mark if you are so unsure of yourself wager. I know the English language and despair at the illiteracy I see online but realise that the education system is pitiful and it is a sad reflection of national decline.

Probably you should reference some book of English Grammar - as for myself I am happy and content that my education was at a time when the English language enjoyed more respect than now. You can take it for granted that the possessive article is used exactly as I described - you are the one with doubt and suggest you rectify the defects in your grammar.

I would not have pointed out your failing in this respect, however it was you who sought to amend my correct version to one that was meaningless and illiterate.

Mark if you are so unsure of yourself wager.

Rick, I'm not unsure at all and I take it that you have accepted my offer of a wager. £20 to be paid to the TPA by whomever is wrong.

This is not a new issue being launched today. Philip Davies has talked about this issue for some time. I attended a fringe meeting at last year's Conservative party conference where he spoke with deep conviction on the issue.

I don't entirely share Philip's views - I think considering withdrawal is premature prior to a tough renegotiation. However, if bloggers here think that we will rekindle public interest in the Conservative party by all MPs parroting the same line then they are sadly mistaken.

Party unity is important, particularly in the division lobbies, but Tony Blair has successfully allowed "outriders" like Milburn to fly policy kites and left-wingers like Marshall-Andrews to pontificate so that he, Blair, can demonstrate how moderate he is.

David Cameron has tacitly and wisely permitted Conservative MPs to follow Philip Davies' line, provided they don't serve on the front bench. At this stage in the debate I think that is sensible and helpful. We mustn't close off ideas not currently party policy.


And exactly in what way is continued membership of this useless and expensive organisation not an unprecedented experiment with the welfare of the British people

Our EU membership has led to (or at least coincided) with an extraordinary turn around in our fortunes from the "sick man of Europe" to make us one of the largest economies in the world.

Even Margaret Thatcher understood the economic benefits. However, it has gone way, way to far down the social integration route. There is too much bureacracy and regulation.

Incidentally, without looking it up, guess what our net contribution to the EU is? How much per year does the evil, monstrous EU cost us directly? Then - look up the answer. You might even be surprised.

How much per year does the evil, monstrous EU cost us directly?

Philip's campaign claims that the direct cost to us of membership was £12,200,000,000 in 2004/2005

True Blue,

While agreeing with much of what you say - I support EU membership in principle but am against the Franco-German recreation of Charlemagnia with a new social model (had to put in something headbanging to prove my Eurosceptic credentials:-).

But it is gross contribution that matters - the EU funding decisions on spend in UK are ones made by a bureaucracy not accountible to the British Government in a meaningful way. While I'm not sure Gordon would spend it better or his admin costs would be lower I think we should decide how our monety is spent in UK rather than Brussels.

Philip Davies appears to have used the gross rather than net contribution. I wonder why? The net contribution is 2.75bn. That's about £50 a head a year.

Philip Davies appears to have used the gross rather than net contribution. I wonder why?

Because a conservative would oppose big government central distribution?

Patrick Minford estimates the British economy would grow by £200 billion if we were free of EU restrictions to trade.

We could get rid of VAT in its entirety, finance local government from a local sales tax of maybe 6%. And govern ourselves.

The cash we pay over is a fraction of the cost of being lumbered with EU restrictions to trade and red tape.

Don't think France and Germany can be anything but a boat anchor now - both countries are insolvent and Italy is looking to them to kep them afloat.

Using the D-Mark to borrow cheaply worked so long as the D-Mark was German but now that German industry is migrating - and there is no net investment in German today - the German structure cannot be sustained.

German tyre production is now in Romania, cars to Poland and Slovakia and Czech Republic, white goods to Turkey and Poland, TVs to Turkey. 16% Germany' workforce builds cars but factories will not be built there.

Far from Germany and France becoming behemoths they are collapsing - all they will have is giant utilities lik EdF, E-oN, RWE and that will be at the end of a Gazprom pipeline.

It is simply a question of what Britain sees as a future, and Australia, Brasil, Argentina, Russia see their future as resource suppliers to China, Brasil is a huge trading partner of Russia and China.

The simple fact is that Britain s 3-4 years behind Germany in terms of going insolvent and when the public spending cuts bite what will be the prospects - lots of little two-man businesses ?

Personally i think privatisation of utilities let us down - as regional companies with huge cashflow they should have become holding companies with engneering anmd high-tech firms like VEBA (now E-oN)and been used for regional regeneration.

Instead they werte traded to US then French and German firms as a City bonus opportunity.

Rick, you've gone quiet. Do I take it that you are writing your cheque?

Of course we'd be bloody better off out of the EU. The damn Tories are the ones who took us in and signed up to Maastricht. And Dave is apparently mightily happy with that. Yet another reason not to vote Tory next week.

Philip Davies appears to have used the gross rather than net contribution. I wonder why?

Because a conservative would oppose big government central distribution?

Gordon Brown could explain that. The tming of the "rebate" does not nett off directly and we pay the gross amount.

More fundamentally, if you pay £20 with the promise of £6 back it has still cost you £20 to join because you only get back the £6 by playing by the rules - if you weren't a member you would not pauy the 20 to get £6 but simply lkeep the £20.
#

The Rebate is kept up because Britain does not draw the full range of aid budget for Northern Cities - if Brown allowed them to spend he would need to match EU funds 50% - so he would have to increase UK public spending to get EU aid and this would reduce the rebate.

So the REbate is only maintained by curtailing regional spending within the UK

I am starting to wonder about you Mark Fulford. I do not suffer fools gladly so be warned.

You should not be so proud and arrogant about your ignorance. I find it bizarre that you invite ridicule and humiliation as a functional illiterate.

The EU is not a federal state in the making. It does not have decentralised decision making, dispersed around a federation of regions. It has centralised decision-taking.

There is so much power placed at the hands of the centre that it is better described as totalitarian than federal. In the USA the States have considerable powers - not in the EU, where centralised decision-taking is kept secret to avoid offending nationla sensibilities. E.G. recently Blair is pretending that State funding is his proposal. Same with ID cards, which is an EU-wide programme.

If an individual leader came along who knew how to manipulate this centralised power using the traditional methods of seizure, media control, intimidation of opposition, and so on, the result would be truly frightening.

If the EU decides to declare war in years to come on an enemy of a centralised poloitburo's choosing, how exactly would the 150 regional governments be able to stop it? I know Blair lied about Iraq and tricked Parliament to get us into Iraq, but at least there was a democratic process. In the EU, there would be none.

Rick, my own words fail me, so I'll resort to the Oxford Guide to English Usage:

5. The apostrophe must not be used:

a. with the plural non-possessive -s: notices such as TEA'S are often seen, but are wrong.

b. with the possessive of pronouns: hers, its, ours, theirs, yours; the possessive of who is whose.

it's = it is; who's = who is.

There are no words her's, our's, their's, your's.

I would normally feel sorry for you, but you dug your own hole.


I would normally feel sorry for you, but you dug your own hole.

At least, in the midst of all this hot air -to which I am a major contributor - £20 has gone to a good cause. And I've learnt a useful point of grammar, too.

Mark deserves only a modicum of sympathy for using the "grammar correction" tactic, but
I wonder if Rick might possibly post an apology for his unpleasant invective against Mark?

Are we to take it that as 7 Conservative MP's turned up including Phillip Davies himself, that means 43 would prefer to get a front bench job than say openly what they believe about the EU.

What hope democracy in the Conservative Party? And what hope Britain?

No Rick used it quite correctly when he spoke of "from our's"........it is impossibe to say "from our" - it makes no sense.

There is no error. It is quite correct

Do we now have two sets of Magnificent 7's?

The first being the eurosceptic block in the Euro Parliament advocating immediate departure from the EPP - Callanan, Deva, Hannan, Heaton-Harris, Helmer, Sumberg and Van Orden.

The second being the only Conservative MP's prepared to put principle before position - Carswell, Chope, Davies, Forth, Spink, Winterton and Winterton.

If the feeble majority of Conservative MP's would follow this lead, the Party would not be fracturing.

Their names should be placed in a Hall of Fame. The rest can go to blazes.


No Rick used it quite correctly when he spoke of "from our's"........it is impossibe to say "from our" - it makes no sense.

This is my last post on this subject.

You are wrong. "our's" is not a word in the English language. Mark has quoted Oxford English Usage at you - I'm surprised you won't accept that. Try any dictionary. Try googling "English grammar our's ours" for any number of references.

Here are just three links from the first page:

http://englishlanguage.allinfoabout.com/difficulties/ours.html
http://www.dailygrammar.com/141to145.shtml
http://www.reflectionsedge.com/archives/mar2005/gdtd_sd.html

Mark has won the bet fair and square. Please admit you are wrong with good grace.

Rick, are you a spoof?

Cameron must set out his EU policy asap. We should not have sub-groups as it may lead to divisions in the party.

Any news on the EPP?

Are we to take it that as 7 Conservative MP's turned up including Phillip Davies himself, that means 43 would prefer to get a front bench job than say openly what they believe about the EU.

Less a campaign, more a fringe meeting.

"The second being the only Conservative MP's prepared to put principle before position - Carswell, Chope, Davies, Forth, Spink, Winterton and Winterton."

William, it seems to be an extraordinary assumption that the MP's who failed to attend Mr What's-his-name's little press conference did so out of cowardice. Perhaps they, like the majority of the British people, recognise the policy of leaving the EU for the electoral suicide it is?

Guys: let's stop the pettiness and focus on arguments.

One more insult from you Rick and you're banned. Blogging doesn't have to be uncivilised.

True Blue and Mark are right, of course. "Ours" not "our's".

Never forget that most of the damage was done in Tory years.

If they havent worked out that membership of the EU is all loss and no gain, then I am for UKIP after over 50 years voting Tory.

Guys: let's stop the pettiness and focus on arguments.

Apologies to Editor and Rick. As True Blue said, it was bad netiquette and lazy to pick up on a grammar error.

"If they havent worked out that membership of the EU is all loss and no gain, then I am for UKIP after over 50 years voting Tory."

They may have worked it out but prefer reform to withdrawal. While there may be varying levels of support for EU withdrawal (it was as high as 52% at one point) the issue would attract so much attention at an election that the Tories would be accused of focussing too much on their core areas. It is also likely that the sheer radicalism of the step might make people think twice at the ballot box. If a Conservative Government can't turn back the tide of social legislation then we should seriously consider departure.

"Another snake rears its head. It's one thing for punters to say what they think, quite another for an MP to launch a campaign against agreed policy a few days before an election. What an idot".

Above posted by True Blue(it). He does not explain what an idot is (I have a feeling he would think that I am one). However, I am sure his heart is in the right place (I could n't vouch for the whereabouts of any other organs - probably in "idot" land).

The EU will be the nemesis of the ALLMODCON Party, and quite rightly so. Cameron has nailed his colours and himself to the mast.

"Never send to know for whom the bell tolls"
(An apt and favourite quote of RAE NORTH of the EU Referendum blog).

When the BNP is surging, Gareth and when Conservative support is wavering, and Cameron has sold himself to the media, it would seem to be advisable for Conservative MP's that wish electors to keep voting for them, that they show their face whenever the matter of British independence is at issue.

I add Hollobone and David Davies to the list making it 9 MP's that see where their duty lies. Cameron is playing the EU's game by, for example not revealing that ID cards and State Funding are EU programmes. He's calling UKIP 'closet racists' - singing Brussels' tunes. He's calling for the elimination of 10% of MP's.

If Conservative MP's don't get it across that they want Britain to remain independent and they wish our democracy to survive, the Conservative Party is finished.

The power of the media is crumbling as electors look beyond the news and the commentators. People can see that the whole political/media infrastructure is corrupt to its core. Blair is a lie. It is a tragedy for the Conservative Party that Cameron wants to join him. But MP's still have a choice. They can back Cameron or sack him. They have legs and they have mouths. They can turn up at meetings and they can speak. Otherwise the lot of them might as well be sent to the trash can.

We have 9 MP's who seem to understand how critical the situation has become. There's hope that this number will grow into a significant movement. Interestingly labour MP's held a similar meeting today to advocate withdrawal from the EU. Let's hear a report about that - or is this all too sensitive for the media class to cope with?


Above posted by True Blue(it). He does not explain what an idot is (I have a feeling he would think that I am one). However, I am sure his heart is in the right place (I could n't vouch for the whereabouts of any other organs - probably in "idot" land).

An idot is a UKIP supporter with no i, dear.

Chad:
"Christina, what is the URL of that federal group that supports the USE formation? That would explain what we oppose for TB very well."


Federal Union website

http://www.federalunion.org.uk/index.shtml

That's it thanks Christina! That's been bugging me.

:-)

There have been many disparaging remarks about Mr. Davies made so far, but while I disagree with his position I applaud him for having courage. He has made it clear he is not seeking career furtherment, but is trying to instigate a reasonable debate.

We are a broad church, we mustn't chastise those who wish to ask questions and try to open up alleyways of thought that have previously been no go areas. We should listen to what his group has to say, but to simply dismiss it would be folly.

I hope Philip Davies will continue in this vein - well done.

I hope Philip Davies will continue in this vein - well done.

Normally I would agree. But to do this a week before the local elections is just stupid. Too stupid for an MP.

I think Davies should have waited until after the elections too, but stand by his right to campaign for withdrawal.

Philip and I go back years. I have to say that he is completely and utterly straight. Also a loyal conservative. He has never wanted front bench stuff. He believes in his community and what he can do for them, not personal glory.

Well said Louise. In 2001 we ran a campaign based on Save the Pound and you are right I too saw person after person sign the pledge and then say but I won't be voting Conservative. Let me spell this out again to those on the "left" and the "right" of the party and the "headbangers" - THE PUBLIC WANT TO KNOW WHAT OUR SOLUTIONS ARE ON THE REAL ISSUES THEY ARE INTERESTED IN ie HEALTH, CRIME, EDUCATION, PENSIONS, COUNCIL TAX etc

Matt

Matt Wright - Do you include DC in your attack ? Going to ride on a sled to talk about global warming during a local election campaign ?

Mark Fulford says 'wait until after the elections'. With votes slipping away to UKIP and BNP, surely an election is as good a time as any to propose the continued existence of Britain.

The market price of treachery is falling, and that of loyalty is rising. Don't count the score in 2001. Play the numbers in 2006.

"THE PUBLIC WANT TO KNOW WHAT OUR SOLUTIONS ARE ON THE REAL ISSUES THEY ARE INTERESTED IN ie HEALTH, CRIME, EDUCATION, PENSIONS, COUNCIL TAX etc"

Why does absolutely everything have to be framed in terms of party strategy? Why does everything we discuss revolve around whether it will help the Tories win the election?

Having a debate about our place in the EU is important in and of itself, and is entirely separate from David Cameron and his escapades.

I agree John. I liked Zac Goldsmith's comment during his ToryRadio interview where he said that even if every single person in the country replaced all of their lightbulbs with energy efficient ones, it wouldn't be anywhere near enough.

I see it the same way for cheerleading. Even if every single person here stopped every single word of criticism and just banged the Cameron drum, it would not help him get into power.

It is simply not enough, as to win, the party needs to address the issues that really concern the usually non-Tory voters.

Forget the strategy and focus on conservative values to build something that really could be built to last.

So let's discuss the real issues without fear. Let's argue, disagree, get hot under the collar without constantly thinking in terms of election strategy.

Stop vote chasing, and start showing what you really stand for and then let the people decide whether it appeals to them.

an election is as good a time as any to propose the continued existence of Britain.

The existence of Britain is not under threat.

"Well said Louise. In 2001 we ran a campaign based on Save the Pound and you are right I too saw person after person sign the pledge and then say but I won't be voting Conservative. Let me spell this out again to those on the "left" and the "right" of the party and the "headbangers" - THE PUBLIC WANT TO KNOW WHAT OUR SOLUTIONS ARE ON THE REAL ISSUES THEY ARE INTERESTED IN ie HEALTH, CRIME, EDUCATION, PENSIONS, COUNCIL TAX etc"

Matt

In 1997 I recall reading in the Sun that the Pound was safe with Tony Blair and he would give us a referendum on the same. As far as I can remember there was no such promise from Major. In 2001 the Pound was already safe; not from Blair (he must have regretted giving the promise of a referendum), but under the convoluted 5 tests of Brown.

In the above quote I notice that Matt does not think that the public regard immigration or the EU as being important enough to mention - a very big and major mistake; even more so after the latest relevation of the release and the uncharted disappearance of foreign criminals from prison. I read that they cannot be returned to countries that are members of the EU.
I expect those released will vote Labour in a spirit of diversity. Although, when I come to think of it, I believe that the EU is pressing that all prisoners be allowed to vote in elections - now I wonder why that could possibly be?.

If the party doesn`t go out there and start chasing votes one simply thing will happen. All t of the things that are now happening we oppose will continue to happen and all of those things that we don`t want to happen will.
Keep on obsessing about the EU, immigration and tax cuts and we will simply keep on losing. Follow David Cameron into the real world and we just might win!

"an election is as good a time as any to propose the continued existence of Britain.

The existence of Britain is not under threat.

Posted by: Mark Fulford | April 27, 2006 at 09:28"

The existence of Britain, as many of us understood to be the culture and inheritance of Britain, is under threat from consensual politics; all the main parties are are Left- wing to one degree or another. There is not a centre party or Right- wing organisation on the main stage.
If you believe that the BNP is Right-wing (a favourite description of the BBC and co) then read Norman Tebbit's letter in todays Telegraph.
There are one or two parties that I would regard as Centre or right of centre, but that certainly does not include todays Tories

Why does absolutely everything have to be framed in terms of party strategy? Why does everything we discuss revolve around whether it will help the Tories win the election?

Having a debate about our place in the EU is important in and of itself, and is entirely separate from David Cameron and his escapades.

There is nothing wrong with having a debate about Europe. The complaint is that this campaign was deliberately timed for launch just before the election. It draws attention to the loud minority of MPs whoe support EU withdrawal. This could have waited. If it was a bunch of Europhiles launching a similar initiative, say in support of EPP membership, would you still think it was good timing?

"If it was a bunch of Europhiles launching a similar initiative, say in support of EPP membership, would you still think it was good timing?"

I would not descibe Clarke, Maude and Hesletine as being a bunch.

Hold on a minute. If Philip Davies believes that the electorate might be drifting to UKIP etc because they don't believe that the Tory Party really cares for their eurosceptic concerns, then Davies' campaign would be prefectly timed to benefit the local election.

Why should campaigning for EU withdrawal harm local election prospects?

"If it was a bunch of Europhiles launching a similar initiative, say in support of EPP membership, would you still think it was good timing?"

Ahem. It is hard to avoid Caroline Jackson's ongoing attack on EPP withdrawal that has gone so far that Labour are using it as part of their propaganda.

I'm not convinced that Philip Davies timed his campaign to sabotage the local elections. I very much doubt it will have any impact at all.

Besides which, I don't really care. I think our EU membership is an important issue entirely separate from party politics. It deserves to be given more attention than it has had so far.


If you believe that the BNP is Right-wing (a favourite description of the BBC and co) then read Norman Tebbit's letter in todays Telegraph.

It's also a favourite description in the Mail, the Sun, and every other mainstream media outlet. If you prefer, just use "fascist."

To be honest, if people are advocating "repatriation" of non-white people and imprisonment for homosexuality, their policies on taxation and private ownership are totally irrevelant.

<<
There are one or two parties that I would regard as Centre or right of centre, but that certainly does not include todays Tories
>>

Today's Tory party is more Eurosceptic than any before it since before Heath. David Cameron wrote the last manifesto, and it is pretty right-wing, or at least I think it is.

If your most important issues are the "flood" of immigrants, EU withdrawal, and "protecting indigenous British culture" than UKIP is an ideal home for you.

They are about as right as you can get without actually falling off the edge of the world into pure fascism. The only problem is that your ideological purity will will enable the two Europhile parties to get it.

The only problem is that your ideological purity will will enable the two Europhile parties to get it.

Unless enough people actually shift to enable UKIP to win a seat of course. What if the size if protest vote seen in Euro elections shifts to the main elections?

I think this "go and leave and join UKIP" approach is very arrogant. What if enough people do just that? You should be seeking to draw people in,not encouraging them to leave.

Today's Tory party is more Eurosceptic than any before it since before Heath
Please clarify this. I can't see how this is possibly true. Roger Helmer who advocates EPP withdrawal, the official party line has not had the whip returned, and Caroline Jackson has been given an absolutely free reign to slag off official party policy without a single word of reprimand.

They are about as right as you can get without actually falling off the edge of the world into pure fascism.
You are falling off the end of rational debate with comments like this.

I don't support UKIP but I see an enormous overlap between them and many Tory Party supporters.

"They are about as right as you can get without actually falling off the edge of the world into pure fascism."

What an unutterably stupid thing to say.

True Blue you betray your ignorance in understanding "left" and "right".

Immigration is not a left/right issue. It is an issue on which 80% of the public is in agreement.

Europe is not a left/right issue. It is a matter of democracy and sovereignty. I see no intrinsic reason why these things are of more interest to the right than to the left.

If you keep going rightwards from UKIP, you are led towards libertarianism, not fascism. Libertarianism (in its pure form) is a pretty unattractive doctrine to me, nevertheless it is about as far from fascism as it is possible to get.

Chad, I can't see much point in hashing out this issue with you any more. You don't seem to read (or at least take in) what I've said on the subject of Europe. I'm not going to be able to change your mind, and I suspect other people are not gaining anything useful from it either.

To answer your point about UKIP. Its
leadership was riddled with elements of the far-right and it is rife with xenophobia. I'm sure there are good, well-meaning people in there, but they are about as intolerant as you can get without entering the unacceptable fringe of politics.

For those considering voting UKIP, I suggest you read this speech of David Cameron's

http://www.davidcameronmp.com/articles/viewnews.php?id=5b8a784391bde6d57c37f6d18187dff0

True Blue, I do read your comments, I simply do not agree with them.

The aim is not to change each others minds but to state our case and present a discussion for others to read both sides.

That seems a very valuable exercise to me.


True Blue you betray your ignorance in understanding "left" and "right".

My point is that the BNP is referred to as far-right by everyone in the media from the Telegraph through to the Guardian. You can take the fight up with them if you like.


Immigration is not a left/right issue. It is an issue on which 80% of the public is in agreement.

If you read what I actually said, then you'll see I differentiated between those opinions which I consider to be on the left-right axis and those which I consider to be the remit of extremists. It doesn't matter to me what you think about the ownership of the means of production (left-right) if you support racism (extreme intolerance).

The reason that these extreme views have become associated with the right is because parties with left-wing political ideology crow about their anti-racist credentials. There were plenty of left-wing parties now thankfully defunct who preached the same extreme values (eg the Soviet Union), but they never had any strength in the UK. Because of this, rightly of wrongly, common parlance has conflated a bunch of extreme views with what is strictly a bunch of economic views. This isn't my fault, but it is a fact. You have to accept it, just as you have to accept that "gay" no longer means "happy".


Europe is not a left/right issue. It is a matter of democracy and sovereignty. I see no intrinsic reason why these things are of more interest to the right than to the left.

I agree, but the most vociferous anti-European voices are on the right at the moment.


If you keep going rightwards from UKIP, you are led towards libertarianism, not fascism. Libertarianism (in its pure form) is a pretty unattractive doctrine to me, nevertheless it is about as far from fascism as it is possible to get.

When I talk about fascism, I mean extreme nationalism and authoritarianism combined with rascism and other forms of intolerance. There is a spectrum from suspicion of foreigners through to xenophobia through to out-and-out racism. I don't see that economic policies are relevant here, which is why I consider fascism to be a useful term if you don't think far-right is acceptable.

This is, however, an argument about nomenclature. If you want to rail against common parlance, that is fine, but there is no right or wrong answer, just accepted practise.

I think we are really talking about two axes here. I thoroughly recommend politicalcompass.org for an analysis of this. Where do you end up on it?

As the person who thought up The BETTER OFF OUT campaign, may I just correct two mistaken assumptions repeatedly made by some contributors to this forum?

Firstly, the local elections simply never occurred to us when arranging the campaign launch. We started planning the campaign in December 2005 and simply got things together as soon as we could. If we'd been ready, we'd have launched the campaign sooner. Those who think we did this to sabotage the Conservative Party's local election campaign are simply mistaken. In any case, we could hardly damage it any more than Francis Maude has already done. Our campaign is designed to run for years - not days.

Secondly, the BETTER OFF OUT campaign is a positive campaign designed to show the benefits for Britain of leaving the European Union. It is NOT an anti-Conservative campaign. Read our leaflet - which you can download from www.betteroffout.co.uk - and you won't find a single word criticising the Conservative Party. The problem with too many members of the Conservative Party is that they're so obsessed with navel-gazing that they just can't understand that people out there are interested in issues, not party in-fighting.

I respect the views of those who don't share my belief that Britain would be better off out of the EU, but I do wish they'd argue their case, rather than resorting to paranoid attacks on the motives of those with whom they disagree.

Firstly, the local elections simply never occurred to us when arranging the campaign launch.

I'm very pleased to hear it wasn't deliberate, but I still think the timing was ill-advised and lacked forethought.

Still, it's done now. Perhaps you could consider timing your next meeting more carefully?

Simon

No-one attacked your right to campaign and many critics above probably share a Eurosceptic view - the critisism is to our MPs who should have enough political sense to recognise A) there were local elections B) that when Labour is in meltdown the Conservative Party must be a disciplined group and C) that publicly associating themselves with this campaign shortly after DCs speech on UKIP will be perceived as more Tory disloyalty.

Sorry it might cause your campaign some difficulty but none of the nine MPs should have associated themselves with your launch or if you wanted them on board you could have looked for a time when Europe actually mattered (ie the Blair budget fiasco) to do it.

A fair point, True Blue. I'll try to remember it next time we launch a campaign. Incidentally, we could have done without the scandals involving Charles Clarke and Two Shags, too, but we didn't see them coming!

criticism not critisism (how did I get that A grade in English)

Ted, it's a pity David Cameron didn't think about the local elections when he made his unwise comments about UKIP.

A fair point, True Blue. I'll try to remember it next time we launch a campaign.

A courteous and reasonable answer - thank you.

our MPs who should have enough political sense to recognise A) there were local elections

Ted, why would this in any way harm local elections if the electorate support the campaign?

Considering the volume of debate conserning the drift from the big 3, it is reassuring that at least a handful of Tory MP's have the balls to raise issues that probably will have a positive connection with the electorate.

It's not exactly as if there really is much of a local election campaign being run anyway (except for the little known ward of Glacial Norway). None of the MPs there did anything to undermine the party in the local election or, for that matter, nationally- they just said that they believe Britain would be Better Off Out of the EU. Shouldn't Cameron be trying to free us of protectionism, federalism and invasive government?

aaargh italics attack!

How do you fix the italics?

I have tried, will give it one more go.

OK now?

"My point is that the BNP is referred to as far-right by everyone in the media from the Telegraph through to the Guardian. You can take the fight up with them if you like."

That is true. But that doesn't mean that there is a direct line moving rightwards from the Conservatives to UKIP to the BNP. It is very ignorant to think so.

"If you read what I actually said, then you'll see I differentiated between those opinions which I consider to be on the left-right axis and those which I consider to be the remit of extremists."

But immigration is an issue over which there is broad agreement amongst the public. Most right-wing voters support controlled immigration. Most left-wing voters support controlled immigration. Most non-political voters support controlled immigration.

If there is a divide then it exists solely among politicians. Even here, there is no ideological reason why the left or the right should favour immigration controls or not. It is more a case (in my view) of some politicians prioritising the tenets of PC over the wishes of the electorate, and others preferring to attend to the wishes of the electorate rather than observe the tenets of PC.

"The reason that these extreme views have become associated with the right is because parties with left-wing political ideology crow about their anti-racist credentials."

They may well do so, but it would be wrong to take them at face value. Many of those proudly proclaiming their "anti-racist" credentials have other agendas at work. You need only look at the Unite Against Fascism website to discover that it has a distinctly "political" agenda (and I don't consider "racism" to be political). They attack the BNP for wanting to abolish the welfare state (which is untrue).

It's about taking a moral high ground to try to further a different agenda. To be able to silence opponents as "racists" is a powerful weapon that the left have been unable to resist using (and abusing).

"It doesn't matter to me what you think about the ownership of the means of production (left-right) if you support racism (extreme intolerance)."

I don’t believe that the ownership of the means of production (a distinctly Marxist phrase) is all that divides left and right. There are a whole *plethora* of beliefs which can be considered “conservative” or “right-wing”.

I just don't think "racism" is a political position. Racism is totally irrelevant to political debate.

There are many "racists" among the left (in fact, I suspect there are racists right across the political spectrum). “Intolerance” isn’t any more the domain of the right than the left (as you seem to think).

"There were plenty of left-wing parties now thankfully defunct who preached the same extreme values (eg the Soviet Union), but they never had any strength in the UK. "

Really? The Respect Party and The Socialist Workers Party are about the same size as the BNP or the National Front. They hold pretty extreme and racist views (mainly towards Jews).

"Because of this, rightly of wrongly, common parlance has conflated a bunch of extreme views with what is strictly a bunch of economic views. This isn't my fault, but it is a fact. "

I *don't* have to accept that there is anything inherently in common with right-wing positions and "extremism" or "intolerance".

I can accept the phrase "far-right" if we make it clear that there is not a direct line placing me nearer to the BNP than Dennis Skinner.

Nor is there anything inherently "extreme" about holding the view that Britain should withdraw from the EU, or that Britain should control immigration, simply because the BNP holds that view. Otherwise one might say that to be a vegetarian was "extreme" or "far-right" since Adolf Hitler was a vegetarian.

"I agree, but the most vociferous anti-European voices are on the right at the moment."

That's completely irrelevant. If the most vociferous anti-EU voices were on the left (as they once were), I'd still agree with them.

"When I talk about fascism, I mean extreme nationalism and authoritarianism combined with rascism and other forms of intolerance. There is a spectrum from suspicion of foreigners through to xenophobia through to out-and-out racism."

"Intolerance" is not a political position. I find Francis Maude to be intolerant towards elderly, white conservative males. I don't conclude from that that he must be right-wing.

It is nothing but PC propaganda to imply that those who oppose the EU, and excessive immigration do so on irrational grounds. There are perfectly legitimate grounds on which to hold to those positions. There might well be some who do hold to those positions for irrational reasons, but that is true on any issue. Indeed, those who hold the opposite view on immigration and Europe often do so on irrational grounds.

"I don't see that economic policies are relevant here, which is why I consider fascism to be a useful term if you don't think far-right is acceptable."

I have no problem with the label "fascist" when applied to the BNP. I have a problem when it is applied simply to those with "right-wing" views.

Eric Forth has as little in common with the BNP as does Tony Blair. He is not any "nearer" on the political spectrum to the BNP. That's what ought to be understood.

You implied that if you moved "further rightwards" from UKIP you would get to the BNP. That is not the case. The BNP are actually much closer to Respect in their views, and UKIP much closer to right-wing Tories.

"This is, however, an argument about nomenclature. If you want to rail against common parlance, that is fine, but there is no right or wrong answer, just accepted practise."

Semantics are important. Especially when people use confusion over terms to portray perfectly sensible mainstream views as extreme. Thus we see that people are intimidated into believing that wishing immigration controlled is "racist", or that wanting Britain to be an independent self-governing nation makes you a "fruitcake".

"I think we are really talking about two axes here. I thoroughly recommend politicalcompass.org for an analysis of this. Where do you end up on it?"

Every time I take one of those tests I end up in the exact same position as George Bush. It's very strange. It's happened about 4 or 5 times now.


Every time I take one of those tests I end up in the exact same position as George Bush. It's very strange. It's happened about 4 or 5 times now.

To avoid this, I suggest you select "strongly disagree" when the pretzel question comes up.

Incidentally, thank you for your response. Politicalcompass.org supports your fairly nuanced position. They put fascism on the opposite end of a scale from libertarianism.

Conservatives are always on about UKIP.

Their membership has tumbled to under 8000 from 27000 when Kilroy Silk roamed the Party in 2004.

BNP has gone to 18000 members from 5000 two years ago.

The Conservative MP's who met to back 'Better Off Out' yesterday know who the real threat is. Half of them come from Constituencies where the BNP is growing fast.


The BNP are organised. UKIP's a bunch of amateurs. Their national office in Birmingham is a joke. The BNP have funds, intelligent leaders, strategy and all that is required to build a political movement.

Don't worry about UKIP. They're history. Watch out for the BNP. They're tidying up their act and they're coming.

If anyone has any doubts, hear about the St George's Day BNP march in West Bromwich. The Police came to stop it, but had to back off as there were over 27,000 marchers present. No mention in any media of course, but those in the know can tell you that this is the threat to Conservative and Labour seats, not UKIP.

I respect the views of those who don't share my belief that Britain would be better off out of the EU, but I do wish they'd argue their case, rather than resorting to paranoid attacks on the motives of those with whom they disagree.

Simon, thank you for coming here to face your critics. My joke that Philip Davies could be a Labour sleeper was to say that, with the timing of this campaign, he is doing Labour's work for them.

My argument is very simple and I hope you'll agree that I made it throughout this debate: a week before an election was the wrong time to ignite a debate on Europe and challenge agreed policy. I accept that it was accidental timing, but that's not much comfort.

On the debate "better off out", that may eventually be the only workable answer. However, as TB says, there are a great many unknowns so leaving is a risk. If we can get Europe working as we would like, it would be beneficial to us. Before making a decision to leave Europe:

1) the situation must get worse – we must be sinking, not just taking on water;

2) a Eurosceptic Conservative government must have tried and completely failed to bring about change– we must try to fix the leaks.

Every sailor knows that you step up into a life raft. We are not at that point yet and we may well be able to avoid it.

Simon

I don't take issue with DCs remarks on UKIP because UKIP is an opposition party directly campaigning against Conservatives and its leadership do contain some rum characters.

A non-political campaign group would IMHO be more effective between Euro Elections - I can see that a nationwide list based election could be a good vehicle for getting the issue out as the Euro Parliament is really pretty meaningless so can understand a Euro-withrawal party wanting to show their strength. I'd still campaign against UKIP in that case as their overall agenda isn't one I support.

Thanks, Mark.

The civilised nature of debate on this forum is most refreshing. Having accepted that launching in the Council election campaign wasn't ideal, nor do I think it was in any sense a major blunder. The issue is really much broader and more important than that.

After over thirty years of waiting for some serious reform of the EU and return of powers to national governments, I think we've been very patient before calling for the UK to leave the EU.

To take up your nautical metaphor, I do think we are on a sinking ship and that it's time to man the lifeboats. In the civilised spirit of this forum, I say "Women and children first!"

By the way, Mark - my brother's company makes lifejackets, so I'm all for making sure that we have all the necessary survival equipment on board before evacuating.

Well put Simon. Your campaign is clearly highlighting the benfits of EU withdrawal in a calm and reasoned way.

My only criticism is that the website is a bit ropey. If you want a free redesign then let me know, as I would be pleased to help.


After over thirty years of waiting for some serious reform of the EU and return of powers to national governments, I think we've been very patient before calling for the UK to leave the EU.

No British government has seriously tried to reform it. With the failure of the constitution, the addition of new nations, the election of right-wing leaders, and the shift in attitude of the European people, we have a unique opportunity to reform the EU with pan-European agreement. To throw in the towel before we even get a chance is not sensible.

To belabour Mark's analogy, a little group of us could jump into the life boat before the claxon sounds, and watch the ship sail into the sunset as we sit becalmed and starve.

If you've waited 30 years, I don't think another 4 will hurt you.

We are so paralyzed we cannot even exit the EPP and start saying what we think.

The launch of Better Off Out within the Conservative Party shows that MP's realise that under Cameron they won't stand a chance against the latest BNP surge unless they start to offer policies that electors want.

It's the Conservative Party that will need the lifeboat soon if it doesn't read the market.

The EU is sinking into economic oblivion, so why that constitutes some kind of haven defeats me. We've got a Europhile leadership just at the wrong time, and we need to backtrack urgently.

It might be a case of rats leaving a sinking ship, but I'd rather be a rat that lives than a mouse that drowns. Better Off Out. And better off with Liam Fox as leader.

So to beat the latest |BNP surge we have to offer policies the people want.
Do you want us to put our jackboots on before or after we do that!

Just use your brain Jack. The only boot needed is on your PC.

If we want minor Parties to make headway and kill our electoral chances, we should carry on as we are doing, brushing the issues that matter to people under the carpet, while smiling at the cameras.

Recent Telegraph report 'shows that the middle and professional classes are also looking with rapidly growing sympathy at the British National Party.

This conclusion is supported by Prof King's analysis of the figures showing a corresponding dip in support for Cameron's Torylite party and faction-torn UKIP.'

Either Conservative MP's correct the errors of their ways, or they will be gone. If they won't represent the views of electors, somebody else will. Better to back 'Better Off Out' than to become the dodos. Cameron will have to go.
The writing is on the wall.

If being in the EU is so beneficial then please tell me what the true benefits are.
Mr Blair passed my letter asking that question on to the Treasury, who never answered the letter. Christopher Booker's offer of Champagne for an answer to the same question was never taken up.
Come on now stop all this silly nonsense and get to the point. Why are we in the EU? What do we gain from being a member that we could not have outside of the EU?

Having read the comments section until about half way down all I can say is this. I live in Shipley, I voted for Philip Davies, I worked on his campaign with him. He is a sound guy, he is not doing this because he wants to cause trouble within the party, quite the opposite in fact. The point to this excersise is to start a debate, something Eurosceptics have not been allowed to do in mainstream politics for some time. Philip has said on many oocasions (and indeed was a key promise in his election literature) that he does NOT want to serve on the front benches, that is NOT why he has gone to Westminster. He has gone to serve as a backbench MP working for his constituency, something Shipley lost when they elected Labour darling Chris Lesley in 1997 and then didnt see him for 8 years.

I am quite sure that some of you think Philip is a danger to the party, I think you are wrong. Yes the Conservative party has had its problems with the E.U. debate over the years, I grew up on it and watching the party ripping itself apart, so I sympathise with you. But the point to this campaign is not to cause a huge trouble for the party it is to start a debate NOW, while DC is reviewing Conservative policy and perhaps affect a change within the party, that will yes upset some left wingers in the press and they no doubt will harp on about it for a bit. But it can also retain some of that true Blue support that IS ebbing away under Camerons reforms. Im a C.F. Chairman and I can tell you that although he is attracting new people to the party he is also losing the support of long standing members who are unwilling to retain their membership.

This is a debate and I think that the proof is in this string of comments, there are many empassioned views and comments, I for one believe that we should leave the E.U. as it is totally unreformable, throw stones at me for saying that if you will, but that is MY personal opinion. But bare this in mind, Philip has NEVER hidden his views from anyone, within the party or within the constituency, he was elected (at least in part)for being honest with the public and he is now being honest within the party. He is a man who will not be censored by threats of no front bench job, because he doesnt WANT one. The amount of respect he commands on the backbenches is already very impressive and he has so far only been there a year and lets not forget people that he is not the only MP who went to the launch and he is not the only one who spoke out against the E.U.

What is Parliament if not for debate? I feel slightley hot cheeked about these folk who say, "we dont need people like Davies, he's a liability". I say to ALL of you, I only wish the rest of our MPs in Westminster could be as brave as Philip AND the other eight MPs including the Wintertons, Christopher Chope, Eric Forth, Bob Spink and Douglas Carswell have been by actually allowing themselves to have an independant opinion.

I will say it one last time, Philip Davies has started nothing more than a debate, that is clear enough by simply looking at the comments thread. Don't write him off a Fruitcake, loony or what ever else just because you dont nessesarily agree with him, engage in the debate and lets see what people think all around the country and from that we can as a party make an informed descision instead of deciding what people want instead. Yes Europe is a sensitive issue and we certainly dont want to destroy the party through this issue, and I am quite sure Labour and the LibDems will try to paint us in a less than progressive light. But this is national politics guys, if we havent even got the balls to debate an issue such as this, how can the British public ever trust us to run the country?

Take a look at the Patriotic Poll
www.patrioticpoll.co.uk
says it all. The speedo has been updated several times. Always telling us that 80%+ want no more EU in it's present format. Full stop!!
Forget about 'not invented here' and pass it on.

Dan - the Party is already destroyed through the issue. If the Party doesn't get its act together, with MP's dumping Caramel, the old form of British politics is gone forever.

The BNP is surging amongst previous Labour supporters. So far the drift from the COnservatives is less, but the momentum is gathering.

Conservative MP's presumably wish to survive. They can forget about Caramel's promises of Front Bench positions. There aren't going to be any. Get behind Philip Davies or die. Caramel's already in the junkyard.


Take a look at the Patriotic Poll
www.patrioticpoll.co.uk
says it all. The speedo has been updated several times. Always telling us that 80%+ want no more EU in it's present format. Full stop!!

The only poll of any importance on this issue is "Do you want the UK to withdraw from the EU as soon as poosible?"

The question that was posed and the way you phrased it are totally disconnected.

The latest poll (YouGov 26th April 2006) gives 35% in favour of withdrawal. Not exactly an endorsement.

I think it is really rather silly to start calling for DCs head, especially as A- He has only been in the job 6 months, B- He has been recieved well throughout the country and C- To do so would just reinforce the image of a party that CANT get its act together and therefore get back into Government.

Although I understand and believe in the campaign Philip is fighting for, starting it 8 days before the country goes to the polls was not a particularly great move, in my mind much better to have waited until AFTER the local elections.

Also your point on the BNP is nonesense, yes they have shown a startling surge in some polls over the past few weeks but it is NOT all it seems. People are sitting up and taking notice because of two things 1 - they are fielding more candidates than they ever have before, this does not mean they expect to win, rather to get the publicity that certain members of the Press and Media are willing to give them as a result also the policies they come out with appear on some levels to be reasonable, that is the entire danger and that is why they are making progress in some opinion polls. That I doubt will transfer to the ballot box next Thursday, because at the end of the day they may agree with SOME of the policies but the vast majority of people know who they are and know what their objective is, that is racism and hate. To start saying that we must ditch DC to stop the haemorage of voters to the BNP is just totally ridiculas, do you HONESTLY think that the average voter is that STUPID as to not understand what these people are all about? The people who are going to vote for the BNP will do so because the BNP are using scare campaigning in certain areas in a massive amount, they are only a small party and they cannot spread many resources over a large area. They aim to try and split the community and to appear as a party that will solve a communities problems, they wont, they will increase them.

The thing to do now is unite together behind DC, if we dont we will die and then people like the BNP will flourish.

It is clear that many want "power" at all costs. However, this "power" if achieved on the present course is illusory - the power of British governments is slipping away all the time.
Ironically, if the Party would only get real about the EU, and what it is doing to this country, it would then have a chance of real power.

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