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This is becoming a bit of a trend as well as the EPP issue Osborne got some unfriendly press coverage for inept spinning of his tax policies.Would straightfoward unspun announcements be too much to ask?


This is actually a lot more important than the EPP issue.

Cameron must realise that all these muddles are inevitably going to make rows.

Maybe it's his version of triangulation. Offer the europhiles as the first move.
e.g. Ken Clarke, Merkel, Sarkozy etc what they want - e.g. no departure from EPP, no end to the CFP

Then see what that does to support, and then spin round and run the opposite policy when the furore breaks out.

Six months ago Ken Clarke went live on C4 to threaten blue murder if Cameron pulled out of the EPP, and the policy was deferred. Now Clarke is quiet, and the eurosceptics are up in arms, and the EPP withdrawal policy's put back on again.

It's the ancient game of divide and rule - effortless for Cameron, but it forces opponents to expend vast amounts of energy trying to influence him in order to get their way.

Cameron can switch twice a day if need be! It must all seem like high grade entertainment as the differing sides vie for influence. And hourly policy switching must completely confuse the Germans and the French! That's got to be worth it.

O dear, another mess, another confusion, another hasty statement, another retraction.

Isn't it time we had a few concrete policies?

The CFP has been an environmental disaster. Quitting the CFP is good for sovereignty and good for the environment. Why isn't Cameron for exit unequivocally? Are Gummer and Clarke getting at him? Are they threatening to quit the policy groups if they don't get their way? Am I too conspiratorial?

Isn't this just part of working with the EU as it is, as William Hague said yesterday, until we can change the EU and re-write the Treaty of Rome or possibly even pull out all together?

"Are they threatening to quit the policy groups if they don't get their way? Am I too conspiratorial?" - CCHQ Spy

You're supposedly the spy, aren't you meant to find stuff out like that?

Is there any good reason why they should *want* to abandon the fisheries policy?

I live next to Hastings, which has Britain's only remaining beach-launched fleet of small boats. Two of the leading fishermen there are currently being prosecuted by DEFRA, who have interpreted EU laws in an even more draconian way than the EU.

The CFP is an injustice.

"Is there any good reason why they should *want* to abandon the fisheries policy?" - John Hustings

I agree with John. Why abandon a policy which is 1) popular 2) would seem to work. We have to ask, what is to be gained by abandoning this particular policy?

The policy was dumped in December last and remains so. Helm was simply reporting that which we have known for six months. There is no way that Cameron is going to support this policy, even if he gives lip service to it for political expediency.

Thank heavens we still have a beach-launched fleet of small boats at Hastings. Perhaps we should establish further fleets from Lizard Point to the Humber, armed to the teeth with contempt for Brussels legislation.

Stuff like this makes me wonder if we haven't been a bit lucky lately - that our success in the polls is mainly a result of Labour's dreadful performance over the last months, and less about the much-hyped genius of our own team.

IF Labour ever get their act together, then we could be in trouble. Fortunately I think that's unlikely: they are so locked into their feuds, their conniving, their habit of incompetence, that we could probably coast on our lead for a long time.

But we must remember the value of leading a coherent, on-side party, which is achieved not through expecting blind loyalty but from operating with proper leadership and competence.

Labour mistakes and LibDem removal of Charles Kennedy.............with Kennedy the LibDems would have made it a three-way contest

I think we need to start from the perspective of the environment. We need to be able to take control of a sustianable fisheries policy. This may upset fishermen as well as eurocrats but is best for the fishing industry in the future,

Matt

My concern is that Cameron and the leadership are doing their utmost to put off any policy decision at all.

Now I can understand the need for a clean slate to an extent, but we do not want to be 100% policy averse.

What has been reported is just the tip of the iceberge. The fact is the Fishing Policy has been sent off to review by no other than John Gummer MP.
Since the Fishing Policy was announced in December 1998, the basis for it has always been the horrendous enviromental disaster of the CFP, but who signed the Regulation that caused that disaster - John Gummer.
Do you think Coastal Communities trust we Conservatives - rightly no they don't. Cameron, because he never wanted the Fishing policy, has undone from day one the excellent good Owen Paterson MP did.
Fishing is important because it was the only clear precise honest EU policy we had. Sadly William Hague's speech was back to the bad old days of fog, fudge, deception, and downright lies.
The top of the Party will say people like myself will split the Party, but it is they by being deceitful that are causing the problems.
By getting the little bit of EU debate to date so wrong, they are destroying their own credibility in all other areas.
If they are going to continue to lie over the EU, can they be trusted in anything?

Putting off any serious business until election time makes sense (bar the EPP which can be done any time). We cannot achieve anything until in power. We should fire our ammunition only when the time comes.

Meanwhile at least cameron can confuse everyone with changes of policy, and keep our opponents wondering how to play him. It's all a bit nuts in a way but as the media makes it happen this way, we might as well relax, trust the young demi-god we've elected to play the game well, and enjoy the discomforture of our opponents. It's been a long time coming.

Matt at 18:04: "I think we need to start from the perspective of the environment. We need to be able to take control of a sustianable fisheries policy. This may upset fishermen as well as eurocrats but is best for the fishing industry in the future."

Well, I'd never of thought of that!

Matt, why don't you just read the policy instead of making vacuous comments about what it should be? It's actually on Conservatives.com here.

I am horrified at even the suggestion of reversing the Fishing Policy. Cornish Fishermen applauded the Policy and praised the excellent Green Paper produced by Owen Paterson MP. As a fisherman's wife I am eternally grateful to Owen for travelling the Globe to see how other Countries managed there fisheries. As a Conservative Councillor I am proud that this resulted in a policy that not only looked at fish stocks but the marine environment as a whole. Why did it not bring in votes in great numbers last year ?- John Gummer had created such distrust amongst the Industry when he was Fisheries Minister that his successors stood no chance. What is happning now that we are gaining trust - John Gummer gets to review the policy and destroy that trust of fishing communities again. This time it may be forever.

It seems to me to be sensible to work to change these policies from within rather than spitting your dummy out and say your not taking part anymore. Fishing fleets including our own fish in international waters as well as the waters of our neighbours and it is done vice versa by other country`s in Europe therefore it seems to me the only efficent way to run fisheries policy is internationally.
The policy of pulling out originally it seems was done for political reasons rather than policy ones which is not always the most sensible way to resolve policy.
I get the impressiuon at present that rather than confusion on Europe we are getting some people trying to pick fights on the subject as the party sensibly takes time in deciding the right path to take.
I don`t think we want to be like the Lib/Dems and rush out poorly thought out policys that are easily pulled apart and seen to be ill thought through and completly daft within a couple of hours of being launched.

This is a farce. It begining to look that neither Cameron nor Hague can be trusted on Europe - the EPP split or CPF withdrawal.

I am wondering if there is a malign influence on Cameron - Heseltine, Gummer, Clarke, Patten and Llewellyn have form.

The thing is, that to have a fishing policy, you've got to have a worthwhile number of fish available in the first place (no pun intended..... or maybe it is)!!! ;)

Jack Stone @ 19:23

"It seems to me to be sensible to work to change these policies from within... Fishing fleets including our own fish in international waters as well as the waters of our neighbours and it is done vice versa by other country`s in Europe therefore it seems to me the only efficent way to run fisheries policy is internationally."

We would never have atually thought of such a profound statement without your assistance.

Once again, have you actually read the policy?!!! If you had, you might notice that we strongly recommend working with the Norwegians, the Faeroes, Iceland, Greenland, Canada and N. America - who actually are involved in managing the ecosphere, rather than Austria, Luxembourg, Slovenia, etc.

"The policy of pulling out originally it seems was done for political reasons rather than policy ones..."

No, it was done originally because the policy is an environmental, ecological, social and economic disaster which is so funadmaentally flawed that it is incapable of reform.

I don`t think we want to be like the Lib/Dems and rush out poorly thought out policys that are easily pulled apart and seen to be ill thought through and completly daft within a couple of hours of being launched.

Gosh! You mean spending two years in research, including going to sea on trawlers, visiting every major North Sea and Atlantic fishery, consulting with hundreds of fishermen, visiting research institutes, discussing with experts and corresponding with them, wasn't enough? Well, slap my wrists! I'm a closet Lib-Dim after all.

" Two of the leading fishermen there are currently being prosecuted by DEFRA, who have interpreted EU laws in an even more draconian way than the EU." Louise Bagshawe 17:11

Think we could link this to the thread about our State sector employees.......oops I forgot, we've got to be nice to them as they are all such marvellous people doing really really worthwhile jobs and making our lives so, so much better.

Thanks Louise for drawing the plight of the two fishermen to our attention, hardworking men trying to go about their business as best as they can and to scrimp out a living from the sea, in contrast I would suggest to the well remunerated "workers" at DEFRA.

The top of the Party will say people like myself will split the Party, but it is they by being deceitful that are causing the problems.
By getting the little bit of EU debate to date so wrong, they are destroying their own credibility in all other areas.

You think they may be heading for another John Major trying to play both sides of the street ?

Paul, many thanks, but I think it's worth pointing out that this incompetent and shameless government is to blame for DEFRA policy, rather than officials. Labour's DEFRA has been an utter disaster. The treatment of the Hastings fishermen is symptomatic of the wider problem there.

Labour fundamentally does not understand rural or agricultural/fishing communities.

You'll make a fine politician Louise. ;)

Policy making procedures in the party should draw as much anmated discussion on thsi site as the A-list does.

In many areas, policy development is being made through the review groups that at least facilitate member (and public) involvement. However we appear to have other policy areas where senior members of the party have licence to make policy on the hoof and at best confuse the party membership and wider electorate.

The political breath of fresh air required after Blair must involve clarity and consistency not spin, confusion and kite-flying - something that this week's sagas over the EPP and CFP have not demonstrated.

I hope that we can quickly learn and do much better.

...but I think it's worth pointing out that this incompetent and shameless government is to blame for DEFRA policy, rather than officials....

And things were sooooo much better under the Tories.

Well, let's look on the bright side. There is no longer any need to get annoyed when Cameron announces a policy or idea that we do not like as we can just sit on our hands and wait until the inevitable u-turn the next day.

In short, we'll soon all 100% agree with everything David Cameron says; just not on the same days of the week! ;-)

Educate me, regardless of the merits or otherwise of CFP withdrawl, can someone articulate the downside of exit? What would the reaction in Brussels be? Have we not given a commitment?

Tom Tom, you are correct, on the EU issue we are right back to the Major years, trying to appease both sides. It won't work, and by having a EU policy based on decpetion, it is the top of the Party that will cause all the infighting to start again. Hague's speech was grim, he really should be taken to task for what he is doing, or not doing, whichever way you look at it.

Is there someone in Central Office leaking gossip/anti-DC spin or am I being too conspiritorial?

It seems twice now we've had something leaked by "reliable sources" which causes outrage, then the leadership have to step in and say "Er, no actually the policy is x".

If it is the leadership why go through this public messy process, outraging the party just to test the water? Cant they guess what happens if you renege of a leadership pledge?

This seems to be another case where trying to walk in the middle of the road leads to getting run over.

The CFP is a disgrace, and an environmental disaster. Not only does DC need to show firm and consistent conservative belief and leadership - but he needs to consistent in his new environmental crusade. No good hugging glaciers and pedalling bikes if he abandons the opposition to the CFP: in whose name countless millions of fish have been sacrificed in the cause of "protection" and EU quotas.

I am relieved that this is another "muddle" sorted out - possibly helped by the outrage of the grass roots about this latest EU-friendly move.

Nobody has mentioed that CFP was a requirement of EU entry. Exit will surely have major consequenses?

Nobody has mentioed that CFP was a requirement of EU entry. Exit will surely have major consequenses?

"Stuff like this makes me wonder if we haven't been a bit lucky lately - that our success in the polls is mainly a result of Labour's dreadful performance over the last months, and less about the much-hyped genius of our own team".

The wonder of it all is that the author of the above post only wonders and fails to realise the sudden apparent enthusiasm for Cameron and the Conservatives. I am sure that he will eventually twig when Blair, Prescott go and our Gordon portrays Labour as being more Eurosceptic and Right - wing than Cameron's Lib/Conners (not that will take much effort on Gordon's part).
Barring a sudden collapse of the conomy the EU will once again prove to be the nemesis of the whimsically and oddly named Conservative Party at the next GE (and as it has continued to be since "Major drove the Tory bus into a brick wall").

Good post. I doubt Gordon can 'out-euro bash' us though! That is one political fudge that only we can lose.

Best post of the thread Adrian Owens.Your point about clarity cannot be stressed enough.

So what do we say on the door step - are we leaving the EPP, if so when? Are we for repatriating our fishing rights, or not?

I suppose we can just make it up to suit the situation - just like the Lib Dems!

"I suppose we can just make it up to suit the situation"

That does appear to be the Cameroon way. So just say "no,no" to a europhile and "yes, yes" to a eurosceptic in answer to your questions, and you'll be in line with official policy.

This Cameroon take on "Compassionate Conservatism" seems to be the exact opposite of Bush's "you may not like what I say but at least you know what I stand for" original version.

If EPP withdrawal is supposedly back on the cards, what do you make of this from the Telegraph today?

"Aides to Mr Cameron said he was still determined to withdraw the Tories from the EPP at some point but that he was unable to guarantee that this would happen this year, or even before the next European elections in 2009, because allies from other countries still had to be found to form a new grouping which the Tories would join."

It's notable that the policy of withdrawal came under Michael Howard's leadership. Folkestone has the biggest fishing fleet on the south coast, albeit greatly reduced in size from its peak. He knew what he was talking about and had support from local fishermen and environmentalists.

Nobody has mentioed that CFP was a requirement of EU entry. Exit will surely have major consequenses?

The only way to get what you want in the EU is to be awkward. France does it all the time.

All you need is the balls to carry it off. The only long term major consequence would be that everyone else would want to follow suit.

Elvis got it so right; "a little less conversation, a little more action please."

People will um, ar, be unsure, but if someone is just a little bit brave, and makes a move, it will actually make it easier for others to follow.

All Cameron has to do is say he is forming a group focussed on 'european alliance' not 'european union', working as one, not merging into one, then pull out of the EPP.

He could do this today, if he wanted to.

It will be a clearly pro-cooperation move, but with an unequivocal nation-state foundation.

However, I realise there is no chance of that happening. Cameron has found that the eu is one subject that he can't waffle and wear europhile and eurosceptic hats at the same time.

Tim will be writing that £100 to the TPA, I'm sure.

T amazes me that people call for detailed policys now just six months after David Cameron was elected.
Policys need to be well researched and thought through not cobbled together like the Liberals seem to be doing at present.
Europe will not decide the result of the next election as it barely regiested with people out on the street. It is only the Conservative Party who seem to be obessed by it.
If people are not careful this anti-europe, anti all things foreign obssession that many in the party seem to have will kill our chances of not just winning the next elction but ever getting back into power again.

"I doubt Gordon can 'out-euro bash' us though! That is one political fudge that only we can lose."

Comment from Julian Williams:

"Why do you doubt that, he has all the credentials and the motive to do just that.

First there is his record of opposing entry to the EU by inventing his 5 tests, and he was proved right to keep us out.

Second there is his standing as a chancellor who presided over a period of economic stability. It might be sickening but the public (and Cameron it seems) thinks he has been brilliant.

Third there are his papers lodged on the treasury website estimating the true cost of membership to the EU. Estimates, incidentally, which are twice those produce by the Eurosceptics studies.

Fourth there is his hatred of sharing power, he is hardly wanting get rid of Blair only to play second fiddle to Mandy (with whom he has not spoken since Mandy became a commissioner)

Fifth he can say I stand up for Britain, a powerful rally call against the SNP "little Scotlanders" or a "Confused Cameroons". By being pro-British he can capitalise on the anti-immigration vote without mentioning immigrants.

Brown has it all ways, and he has set it up very well. But who cares, the alternative is a Blair clone spiv, and quite frankly it is time for a change. That twit you elected is more failed blairism, no thank you. "

One charge against Cameron which may stick is the wholesale repudiation of the last Conservative manifesto. He wrote it. Did he believe it at the time, or not?
There is an extraordinary paradox it seems to me in what is going on here generally.
We know the public liked the "old" policies on tax, immigration, school discipline, etc., until they discovered they were Tory policies. So the only way to make people like Tories is to, er, ditch the old policies?
And the BBC will continue to run with the EPP story. Today's "what the papers say" slot featured Freddie Forsyth's Express column castigating Cameron on the EPP issue. When, if ever, have they ever quoted his column before??

If people are not careful this anti-europe, anti all things foreign obssession that many in the party seem to have will kill our chances of not just winning the next elction but ever getting back into power again.

Quit the BBC Stereotypes will you.

I believe that we should never have joined the EU and would vote to get out tomorrow. However I am not, nor have I ever been anti-European. I know that the same goes for the leading Eurosceptics in the Conservative Party.

There is nothing Xenophobic about wanting your Nation to be able to pick its own rulers.

Deputy Editor, please could you ask Julian Williams exactly what he meant by "papers lodged on the treasury website estimating the true cost of membership to the EU"? I heard that those Treasury estimates (net cost in the range £50 - £250 billion pa) had not been published.

It's also worth remembering that if we left Europe, the so called "Europe obsession" would go away. Wouldn't that be a relief?

"Deputy Editor, please could you ask Julian Williams exactly what he meant by "papers lodged on the treasury website estimating the true cost of membership to the EU"? I heard that those Treasury estimates (net cost in the range £50 - £250 billion pa) had not been published."

Julian Williams:

"The information was posted by Gordan Brown in a paper which is on the treasury website. I got the information originally from Eurofacts, but later found the paper on the Treasury website.

I can hunt it out, it was about 6 months ago and I did not keep a note of the link.

Eurofacts listed the costs and the drag on the economy as laid down by Gordon Brown and it came to a stupendous expense, something like the equivalent of 25% of GDP.

I am very surprised the Eurosceptics have not used this official analysis of the costs of our membership as a basis to attack the EU; it is the first official cost/benefits analysis put on the record,it is very explicit and the figures are much higher than anyone, including sceptics, have ever put forward.

The fact that Brown did this and put his name to it is very interesting. My conclusion is that it is there for future use.

They say Brown will make Ed Balls his chancellor. I think he is another sceptic of the EU?

To me it all looks like preparation for some sort of show down with the EU and philes."

Thanks. The eurofacts reference is Nov 4th 2005, Vol 11 No 2 page 3 and the Treasury link is:

http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/media/093/BF/global_europe_131005.pdf

The eurofacts headline was: "The Chancellor: EU membership costs 28 percent of GDP each year" which they worked out to be £326 bn pa, corresponding with the official GDP at current prices for 2004 = £1164 bn. The article said:

"Very odd, this pamphlet. "Europe's in a deep hole and must reform" is its message. But - inadvertently or deliberately - it's really a cost-benefit analysis of UK membership of the EU: and Mr Brown's numbers come out far worse than those of Minford or Milne."

In fact for comparison, eurofacts July 29th 2005, Vol 10 No 20/21 page 3 gave those estimates for all current and future costs of EU membership as Milne 26.0% of GDP, Minford 24.5% of GDP, which convert to £303 bn pa and £285 bn pa respectively.

I have to say that I treat all these estimates with great caution because there are so many imponderables. Even on something relatively simple like the costs of regulation, we would still need regulations even if we weren't getting excessive and ill-conceived regulations imposed by the EU, and when it comes to calculating "opportunity costs" at best it's just educated guesswork. There's absolutely no doubt that EU membership is a net economic cost, not a net economic benefit, but what is unclear is the true magnitude of that cost and how quickly we will be able to recover once we have withdrawn.

However these are not the unpublished Treasury studies to which I was referring, which as I heard from a supposedly well-informed source in January this year were directed specifically at calculating the costs of our EU membership, and which came up with the range £50 bn pa to £250 bn pa, central estimate £150 bn pa - which is 13% of 2004 GDP and £2500 each year for every man, woman and child, or about £50 each per week.

If the costs were treated as the cumulative outcome of a constant average drag on the UK economy over the 33 years since we joined the EEC, the bottom figure would equate to a loss of economic growth of just over 0.1% pa, the upper figure would equate to a loss of about 0.6% pa, and the central estimate to a loss of about 0.4% pa - which I find quite credible.

I don't know how the Treasury figure is calculated, but I've read Minford's.

I follow him as regards our cash contribution and the cost of the CAP. Also he explains well about the Common Manufacturing Policy which forces us to pay 50% more than the rest of the world for manufactured goods. e.g. TV's cost 65% more here than in New York, and furniture 75% more.

He did not mention thye price of fish - how the CFP has caused fish to become a rarity with a premium price in the UK. He did not mention how the EU has contributed to the demolition of our savings based pension funds.

His biggest figures of EU cost were that the CAP keeps farmers in business when without it, a lot of land would become available for environmental/housing/business schemes. If we paid less for land, he argues, our economy would grow far faster.

He also points out that if we are harmonised as regards service regulation, our bouyant services sector will be crippled. As it is the intention of the EU to do this, the cost could grow to the levels mentioned by the Treasury report.

Right now the EU costs us in money around £50 billion, in inappropriate regulation about £50 billion. The loss of opportunity in that our land resources are locked up in uneconomic activity could be costing around £100 billion a year, and the collapse of our financial services sector could in time cost another £100 billion a year.

The greatest cost of all is the loss of morale caused by being governed by an unaccountable and corrupt bureaucracy, which has ensured that we lose control of immigration into Britain, and the operation of our own legal system.

Our society is threatened with fracturing into sectarian politics, if we don't get rid of the EU, get back our own law-making, and sort out the loss of order on our streets.

Our British sesne of fair play will be the final cost of staying in the EU. Once lost it is unlikely that it will return. There is far more at stake than the mere money, although that cost is itself staggeringly high.

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