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This is a comment re EPP posted yesterday by Richard North on his excellent blog wwww.eureferendum.blogspot.com;
"Furthermore, the Tories are now perilously close to missing a key slot, as the allocation of group funding is made on a six-monthly basis. Unless they form a group and announce it next week, they will have missed that slot. The chances of that are now remote, which means that nothing is going to happen before December - if at all."
It will be interesting to reconcile this with the 13th July 'deadline'

Is the U turn on Fisheries POlicy an indication of how committed David Cameron is?

One only has to look at his spokesman's comments in the Western Morning News to see the answer. A pledge to reform from inside without the caveat of what one will do in the event of failure is a disaster not only for fishermen but also the marine environment.

"has now set a 13 July deadline to deliver his "rock solid" commitment to pull the Tories out of the EPP."


Surely a black-and-white leadership pledge to withdraw from the EPP is a "rock solid" commitment?

If it is, why does it need any reiteration? If it isn't, was he fibbing?

Why is Hague being trailed as the fall-guy for this policy failure in two or three Sunday newspapers ? Looks like a real bit of spin

Cameron's first and most important task is to keep the Parliamentary Party coherent and working together. There has been nothing as damaging to Conservative reelection chances in the past as splits on Europe.

There is now only a very small pro-EU Conservative rump left in the House, and that combined with the disintegration of the Parliamentary Labour Party, now competing to fill the leadership vacancy, gives the realisation that a new era has started in British politics.

The switches in and out of policies by Cameron are puzzling, but they are no doubt being used to obscure developments as a defensive manouvre rather than they have any real significance. The general direction is now becoming clear enough, though I can understand why Richard North's nerves are getting frayed!

The only real decision that can actually be taken now is to leave the EPP and begin an effective opposition to ever closer union in the EuroParliament. We can only tackle fishing if we first win power.

However if we create a EuroParliament opposition, we would have a chance to make some progress on fishing before winning power in the UK - which could be four years away.

The ultimate threat of withdrawal from the CFP will make that negotiation more effective. If however we already have a declared policy of withdrawal from the CFP we will not have the possibility of renegotiation, as the opposition can merely point out that as we are withdrawing, there is no point in negotiating with us.

If we make no progress in the EuroParliament on fishing, we can if we decide subsequently withdraw unilaterally.

Cameron's strategy is becoming clear enough. He acts as a charming buffoon bicycling to work and sliding with huskies, which it makes it hard to credit that he actually knows what he is doing on hard issues. But there is little doubt that he does.

We have the back-up of Richard North to chase up any wavering on any points Cameron might have missed, so we are well served!

William - Please look at the CFPover the past 32 years. The specific backup of withdrawl was there to make sure our fishermen had a life line. After 30 years of suffring ( Many having their business destroyed under a Conservtive Government) this stategy will not wash with them. They didn't beleive us at the General Election becuase they didn;t "trust" us. This move has destroyed that trust. Regrettfully it may be forever unless a rebuttle of the u turn is issued by our party and soon. The monger it is left the more damage it is doing.

The problem with having an Official Opposition is if this opposition numbers around 40 or 50. Then we have a Lib Dem problem where people just look at us in a distainful way.

If the numbers look more like 100-125 then it begins to look like a REAL opposition with some numerical clout.

Hague is right to be coy until we have enough believers to really make the argument stick.

[*FX*] Polite cough

Might I draw attention to my earlier prediction that:

"It is not beyond reason to imagine Mr Cameron would sack a Shadow Foreign Secretary who failed to achieve on an important personal manifesto commitment. For all we know, that may be an outcome Mr Hague would relish as it may likely increase his opportunities for speaking at various well-paid pro-Europe events."

In my opinion it would be preferable to move Hague from foreign affairs and to the treasury and move Fox back to the foreign affairs portfolio.

Fox is wasted at defence and would be much more inclined to take us out of the EPP

"Why is Hague being trailed as the fall-guy for this policy failure in two or three Sunday newspapers ? Looks like a real bit of spin."

Either William Hague is genuinely sceptical about the feasibility of withdrawing from the EPP or he is being used as a lightning conductor because of his position as a darling of the Eurosceptic right (which means the Eurosceptic right will cause less of a fuss if it is William Hague who is the bearer of bad tidings, rather than David Cameron).

William Hague is hardly the darling of the Eurosceptics----especially after his speech on Wednesday!

'Mr Cameron is creating a Europe-wide opposition to federalism'. Errr come again? This is newspeak worthy of New Labour.
From Nu-Lab to Bloo-Lab with Loo-Blab. This just fits the purpose does't it?

"William Hague is hardly the darling of the Eurosceptics"

Silly me - the 2001 election campaign must have been a figment of my imagination.

At a time when we have troops in Iraq and Afganistan risking there lives Defence should be one of the biggest jobs in Westminister.
Liam Fox isn`t wasted at defence he is useless as he seems to have become the Conservative version of the Invisable man.
He should be campaigning hard to make sure our trrops have the eqipment and backing to do the job there being asked to do not doing a disappearing act.

Jack, I think the problem Fox suffers from is being sidelined when it comes to defence. Defence these days is more a part of foreign policy, which is why Hagues been doing the talking...if not Hague itll be Cameron. Fox is wasted not through his own choice. Hes simply not given a chance.

I think the problem Fox suffers from is being sidelined when it comes to defence.

Actually it is that Defence is 2.5% GDP and frankly subscale. Britain is no longer a major force and is hoping to pool itself into Europe where noone wants to spend any money on Defence.

It is not so much Foreign Policy as DTI. Most projects are undertaken to keep the Unions happy - why else did we build Eurofighter ?

They have the same attitude to squaddies in the British Army as the Victorians did and like Gladstone they are able to wax indignant about matters like Armenian Massacres but just won't spend the money on the military.

The Tories are only credible on Defence when they have a spokesman with military experience

Fox, like others in the Party is compromised by the lack of strategic direction.

Blair is currently undertaking two mutually incompatible programmes - the support of the US in Iraq/Afghanistan, and a major restructuring of the armed forces as an expeditionary force to meet his commitments to the ERRF.

For Fox to cry "foul", he would have either to call for a reduction in US support or the junking of the ERRF commitment. Since the Party has no declared policy on either, he is not in a position to make a stand on either, which effectively emasculates him as a shadow defence secretary.

I am afraid I just don`t buy these excuses for Dr Fox. Personally I think he as not excelled, to put it kindly, at whatever task he as been given.

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