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Why was Graham Brady sacked for being off message but Caroline Jackson is allowed to continually go off message and dismiss official party policy with immunity?

She has not receieved even the mildest rebuke from Cameron. Can she not even be publicly reminded of her obligation to leave the EPP?

That said, I'm sure no-one would care if Cameron broke his EPP pledge if he offered a referendum on EU membership, but without such a policy, breaking this unequivocal pledge would spark open warfare.

Caroline Jackson gets away with it because she's not standing again, and the damage of an MEP virtually unknown even in her own region mouthing off is less than the damage of her defecting the LDs.

Chad Noble asks the right question about Caroline's repeated statements that stray away from the party's policy.

Some possible good news if Kirkhope is removed. He is an appeaser for the EC and has endorsed statements that favour the Euro and the EC meddling in education policy.

If CCHQ want to exclude members from selecting existing MEPs then they need to considerably beef up the criteria that MEPs are measured against. MEPs are not like MPs, they have no individual mandate. MEPs are delegates and as such need to stick to party policy.

If MEPs don't like that they are welcome to join another parties delegates list in 09.

Send for Dan Hannan. the only decent one of the whole bunch of them. Dan for Leader!

If she is standing down at the next Euro Elections, there'll be at least one 'Con gain' seat.

Let's hope they elect Robert Atkins. I've lost count of the number of times he's offered help and support. Unlike some MEPs who we never see from one election to the next.

The problem of having rebellious Europhile MEPs could have been solved by the normal democratic system that we used to have within the Party.

If the Party Board had not taken away our democratic right to rank ALL of the EU parliamentary candidates for the EU parliamentary elections - the membership would have deselected those sitting MEPs who do not represent our views.

Outrageously the board decided (on 23rd April 2007) to make the sitting MEPs secure in their seats by removing from the rank & file our democratic power to deselect them -simply by ranking other candidates above them.

It seems that their belief in local democracy and in the slogan "trust the people" does not extend to the Conservative Party members.

For a pro-EU party like the Tories to leave the EPP would be ridiculous, as Dave as belatedly realised. This lady is quite right.

If you want to fool around with Euro committees come and join us. :)

When will the party realise that the general public are not all that bothered about Europe? They may have slight doubts about it and dislike the distance and democratic accountability but not to the extent of many Conservatives who bring everything down to a big old fight about Europe.

The recent speculation about challenges to Tomothy Kirkhope's position and Caroline Jackson's comments may be linked by the EPP-ED pledge, but are even more so by the question of power; power as a concept to hold together a group of MEPs with diverse opinions and the power to act within the European Parliament to shape European policy as tradional tories see it, concentrating on the efficiency of the Internal market and rebuffing federalist goals such as further deveopment of the European Common Foreign and Security Policy. Therefore we must look at any new potential Euro-leader candidate from the following perspective - can they face the reality that power within the Parliament comes not from ideals but from having the numbers to vote with? And can they command enough loyalty from all Conservative MEPs to sustain them at times when, due to the consensus politics that exists in Brussels, compromises must sometimes be made?

These silly efforts to form a tiny, insignificant anti-EU splinter group should stop. The EPP pledge was a step too far.

The number of voters interested in these arcane matters is miniscule, but you can be sure they'll notice if we bicker about it. "Tories split over Europe" again.

As I've said before, if your most important political issue is a referenduum over Europe (read - you want to leave the EU), then the Conservatives are not for you. You will remain unhappy here. There will definitely be no offer of a referendum on membership of the EU before the next election. If you think there will be, by all means put money on it; you'll get good odds.

There is a party for people who want a referendum over Europe, and they are more likely to fit your worldview on other matters.

"When will the party realise that the general public are not all that bothered about Europe? They may have slight doubts about it and dislike the distance and democratic accountability but not to the extent of many Conservatives who bring everything down to a big old fight about Europe."

As I said yesterday, you really are like a broken record.

This thread is about our leader in the european parliament, how can you possibly suggest that our elected representetives and their leader is not an important issue.

The telegraph's petition on the eu treaty has more than 100,000 signatures, so to suggest that people don't care about europe at all is you (like gordon brown) treating the public like fools.

Perhaps Cleo, you should start asking people what they care about, rather than telling them.

I fail to understand why we hould listen to a person that has never voted conservative on how to run the conservative dlegation in the european parliament.

Timothy Kirkhope stood as a Eurosceptic but went native very quickly. He was Vice-President of the EPP when he was elected and kow-towed to Herr Poettering (especially over Helmer's expulsion from the EPP and acceding to EPP demands to withdraw the Whip). Kirkhope did not help Hague form the promised new group and supported a series of Europhile reports and policies.

The Whip was only restored to Helmer at Cameron's insistence. Yet Europhiles like Beazley, Elles and Jackson get away with supporting all sorts of federalist nonsense against party policy. Truly disgraceful.

Caroline Jackson is right when she argues, in effect, that the Movement for Reform is a busted flush. Our delegation Leaders, deliberately, have done virtully nothing to promote or expand it. The Czechs joined at President Klaus's insistence but it is unlikely that they will leave the EPP now.

The ED Group is down to one page on the EPP website. All we have to do is to expand the ED group as set out in the EPP agreement (which allows the ED to oppose EU integration). Once the ED is a formidable force within the alliance, the EPP would have to be supportive or there would be a divorce.

The sorry story of the new group/MER debacle is not just indictment of the Tory Europhiles who lead the delegation. It has demonstrated William Hague's lack of commitment and political nous. To have been outmanoevred by the nobodies and has-beens in Brussels is disgraceful.

Even worse, Cameron has protected the Europhiles (even the constitution supporting Beazley) who have undermined his declared policy to leave the EPP from deselection. Dave's calls for a referendum are all talk and no action, demonstrated by the Tories briefing against the rally a week on Saturday.

Unfortunately, neither Chichester (a maverick Europhile) nor Tannock (a quisling careerist) can be trusted on the EPP issue. Geoffrey van Orden is the only Eurosceptic who might win. Conservative Home should campaign for him to stand.

More horse trading, more fudging, just like the EU itself without the bribery and corruption.
Why on earth don't we just leave the EPP, if it means a loss of money, so what, it's good ammunition as to just how corrupt the Parliament is, notwithstanding that Welsh toss-pot and wind-bag making noises about reform.
Some-one has to lead the sheep, as otherwise this status quo will exist for ever. If we do not lead then others will not follow, they will be intimidated into accepting the present set-up.
The Eurosceptics have it all to go for, everything to gain.

"As I've said before, if your most important political issue is a referenduum over Europe (read - you want to leave the EU),

True Blue, a referendum on EU membership could actually suit integrationists, reformists and withdrawalists and would help the nation, as whatever the decision, our direction will be clearly set for a generation.

Neither side are saints. There are careerists in all camps happy with the status quo, and both should be prepared to argue their case and put it to the people to end the constant bickering.

I'd campaign to leave, but if the voice of the people is to stay for the next 25 years, then so be it. That's democracy.

That's why I have called for the Tories to become euroneutral at a party level to broaden support to pull in people from both the LibDems and UKIP.

The splits, divisions and distractions over the EU will rumble on until finally we are allowed to have a proper debate and vote on the issue.

So for me, the call for a referendum is not about leaving, but about resolving the issue and giving Britain a clear direction for a generation.

I believe the Party has moved quite a long way in the eurosceptic direction since the Major years. There is definitely a place for those who wish to have a major re-defining of our relationship with the EU within the Party. We now have a small number of MPs and MEPs who are signed up to the Better Off Out campaign.

The apparent apathy of the public over the EU is quite understandable as a result of the intangible nature of the treaties and the very slow and stealthy nature of our loss of sovereignty. We have failed to make the case by not linking the changes directly to people's everyday lives.

Although the public have never heard of the EPP, they do understand a simple message that by leaving it the Party is marking a clear change of direction. While the machination of the inner workings of the EU are unknown to the public, there is nevertheless a clear desire for politicians to be accountable to them for their decisions. Our Conservative MEPs need a leader who understands this.

I've asked many times what advantages to Britain are there in our MEPs remaining in the EPP and never once had an answer.
Would it be so bad if our MEPs were forced to sit alone in the European Parliament?
Looking at the EPP website I can see there is very little that this group have in common with a British Conservative vision of Europe.

Charles Tannock appears to be getting a lot of unfair criticism. He is an extremely bright man and an eloquent orator. In addition, he has an excellent grasp of foreign policy matters and takes sensible viewpoints on most of the great foreign affairs issues of our time such as the Middle East,India and Pakistan, Turkish accession to the EU and the EU's relationship with the USA.

I believe he would be a worthy successor to Timothy Kirkhope who has achieved the nigh on impossible of holding together a disparate group of egos. Timothy deserves credit for his achievements in keeping the delegation intact, preventing any defections and campaigning for a Pragmatic- sceptic approach. The vast majority of the British public want the UK to influence and reform the EU from within and that is the approach Timothy has correctly taken.

Giles Chichester is simply incapable of uniting the delegation as he is too much of a polarising figure.

I was surprised to read from Moral Minority that the Conservative Party was not supporting the Rally as it is being led by a Conservative MP, Bob Spink.For more details see http://www.proreferendumrally.co.uk/registration.php

"The vast majority of the British public want the UK to influence and reform the EU from within and that is the approach Timothy has correctly taken".
You have statistics for this claim?

If the party is seriously committed to breaking its ties with the EPP then why in the name of God were EPP carrier bags, keyrings and bottle openers available from the MEP stand at conference a couple of weeks ago?

I`ll make it as short as possible.

1. David Cameron told his MEPs to leave the EPP and they disobeyed.

2. People are only bored about the issue of "Europe" because the three major parties do their best to keep quiet about it. The British public are not fools, however and an increasing number of us are at last realising that the only sensible way is OUT of that bureaucratic, inefficient, and corrupt body. Britain should be ruled by Britons - what`s wrong with that?

Here's a mischievous thought. How about allowing all members of the party to vote for the next leader of the delegation

True Blue, a referendum on EU membership could actually suit integrationists, reformists and withdrawalists and would help the nation, as whatever the decision, our direction will be clearly set for a generation.

You might well say that. You could even be right, although I don't agree. I'm simply saying you won't get a referendum with this party. Choose another one if this issue is that important to you.

Derek, reliable sources tell me that CCHQ and the Whips have told Conservative MPs and MEPs to boycott the Pro-Referendum Rally!

It's not a question of whether Tannock or Chichester can be 'trusted' on the EPP. That's Cameron's policy, and the leader in Brussels is responsible for delivering that policy. And if anyone has shown he can't be trusted on the EPP issue, it's Cameron himself.

As for whether Geoffrey Van Orden can win, no-one from the Eurosceptic lot can command a majority in the polarised delegation of Tory MEPs. The leader needs to be someone who has the political and personal qualities to unite that fractious bunch - someone who is not ideologically dogmatic or aligned (much as I admire GVO). Charles Tannock certainly has those qualities.

Tim Kirkhope is a survivor with a degree of cunning but seems to have rubbed too many people up the wrong way (notably Philip Bushill-Matthews, who looks likely to challenge Kirkhope's man Robert Atkins for the deputy leadership). Giles Chichester does not seem to have inspired many of his colleagues.

It'll be an interesting few weeks in the run-up to the election. What's clear is that neither Kirkhope nor Chichester have a groundswell of support. However, the attitude of some MEPs seems to be 'let's not rock the boat'. I guess whatever happens, Tory MEPs will get the leader they deserve, one way or another.

This is a chicken and egg scenario.

The current MEPs being the chickens ;-)

If a new "splinter group" is actually formed - the MER - other MEPs from other countries will soon join it.

What it needs is someone to take the plunge first, which no-one is willing to do. Hence it remains an aspiration.

Once the MER has been set up, it will soon become a mainstream group and act as a significant internal brake to EU federalism.

Conservative MEP's - LAY THAT MER EGG AND STOP BEING CHICKENS!!

'I think if we stay in the federalist EPP and work at it, we could tilt it in the other direction'.

does that sound familiar to anyone else?

Caroline Jackson's message ought to serve as a wake-up call: MER is going nowhere. The reason being that Helmer, Hannan and the like are mistaken in their belief that vast swathes of the EPP parties hate the Christian Democrats as much as we do. No-one has ever been able to list who the partners we want to woo are.

The Czech Civic Democrats are on side, but as much as a personal favour as anything else. A minor Bulgarian party thought about it, but aren't so keen. The Polish Law and Justice were invited but the Czechs (who know their politics) baulked at the idea.

Who in the European Parliament wants to join up with us? What's the criteria? Would we like Fianna Fail for example?

If we do a change leader, Charles Tannock would make a good 'unity candidate' - sufficiently euro-sceptic for the party at large, but not a head-banger like one or two I could mention.

We should stay in the EPP. To answer Malcolm's point, to be influential in the European Parliament, we have to be in a large grouping like the EEP to secure committee seats. That's one advantage. Plus there's the funding.

It think it would be really odd for Conservatives not to sit with colleagues who are come from the parties of Angela Merkel, Nicholas Sarkozy and Philippe Gonzalez.

Most centre-right parties from Eastern Europe are in the EPP and don’t want to leave it.

The only people who are keen on setting up an alternative 'centre-right' group are Polish homophobes and the like.

'We should stay in the EPP. To answer Malcolm's point, to be influential in the European Parliament, we have to be in a large grouping like the EEP to secure committee seats. That's one advantage. Plus there's the funding.'

I don't think that conforming and adopting policies that you disagree with could be considered being influential, and the funding is a pitence.

'It think it would be really odd for Conservatives not to sit with colleagues who are come from the parties of Angela Merkel, Nicholas Sarkozy and Philippe Gonzalez.'

Nicolas sarkozy and Angela Merkel are not conservatives in the same sense that david cameron and william hague are.

'Most centre-right parties from Eastern Europe are in the EPP and don’t want to leave it.'

No, they don't want to leave it when they are told that if they even consider it, they are immediatly kicked out of the epp.

'The only people who are keen on setting up an alternative 'centre-right' group are Polish homophobes and the like.'

It was always very foolish for the conservative party to link itself with christian democratic parties. Just because they are 'centre-right' doesn't mean that they are anything like us and instead of sitting with polish homophobes, we currently sit with italian homophobes (forza italia) german racists (christian democrats and their 'no green cards for indians) and an a party in an alliance with the far right freedom party of austria(austrian people's party).

Oh dear. Recent polls indicate that a majority of Tory voters might just support withdrawal now. That will be the only honourable position if Brown and his 26 counterparts ratify the EU Constitution (Mark II).

The recent turnaround in opinion poll fortunes has something to do with the Conservative Party offering clear policies and not vague equivocation.

But the transformation is far from complete.
It may be one thing to insist that Brown honours his Manifesto referendum promise; but if all our MPs were to read their solemn oath, it prevents them supporting the country being ruled by a foreign power.

Are promises just there to be broken, and if so - why?

I'm not sure I want to be sitting with Spanish Socialists - Felipe Gonzalez's Party - in the European Parliament, or just about anywhere for that matter.

Trying to classify ourselves in a European context on a simple right/left model is rather futile. I find many of the Free Democrats' free-market inclinations more appealing than some of the CDU's underlying statist tendencies. It goes back to the old 'problem' (or 'triumph') whereby the Conservative Party is a big tent that encompasses what would make up 3, 4 or maybe 5 parties in countries with PR systems like Sweden or the Netherlands. Our electoral system forces the creation of coalitions prior to elections, whereas PR systems tend to create coalitions after them. This may be changing, though. As we saw in Sweden, a coalition of 4/5 parties came together to form a pre-election coalition, although still notionally competing against each other in the actual voting. This allows the voters to decide which strand of the 'conservative coalition' gets pre-eminence in any eventual centre-right government.

PR could be much more entertaining than we think ...

But Justin what is the point of a few commitee seats when the party we sit with does not reflect our own point of view. And funding for who? MEPs or Britain? If we can screw an extra few billion pounds of our own money back for Britain that is one thing but a bit more funding for MEPs really doesn't justify anything.
Personally I don't give a toss what MEPs of any other country do but I do expect MEPs from the British Conservative Party to reflect the views of the party.

You are right of course Malcolm. We carry pretty much zero influence on these committees and in return sit with a party that has a view completely at odds with ours over the future for Europe. The funding issue is a red herring as well. Independent MEP's get more funding then one's within the EPP.

Dan Hannan would be a superb leader of the group. Unlikely to happen with the new selection methids though. Great pity.

Actually Cleo the public do care about the effect that the EU and its increasing sucking up of our power to govern oursleves has on the lives and our country. The canard that this is not the case is one of the things, along with refusing to talk about tax or immigration, that Cameron has thankfully accepted is just not not true and we can all see the benefits of that change.

On Kirkhope and Caroline Jackson all I can say is that they have completely gone native and no longer even vaguely repreesent the views of those whose votes they received. The sooner that Kirkhope goes as Leader the better for both our party, our country and the European Parliament.

Lastly if Cameron abandons his pledge on the EPP completely then he will have lied to us all and I for one will not support in any way a person who has so brazenly lied to secure my vote. I hope therefore that he will stick to his, sadly already partially broken, promise on the EPP so that I can continue to support and work for the Conservative party under his leadership. For me, and all Conservatives both activists and voters locally, this one really is a major red line.

Justin - to be influential in the European Parliament, we have to be in a large grouping like the EEP to secure committee seats.

We don't even have influence within the EPP let alone a "European Parliament" which neither you or I never voted to even exist in the first place.

Plus there's the funding.

That is an excellent point, and we should definitely take that money if we can.

However as net contributors to our overlords, aren't we only getting a small proportion of our own money just being graciously returned? Plus most of it goes to UK Euro-maniac MEPs (including a few from - technically - our own party).

Let's hope they elect Robert Atkins.

Another appalling Eurofanatic.

It's good to hear that Kirkhope may be on the skids and I'd be delighted to see the end of Atkins too.

When the Conservative Party eventually gets back on track again post-Cameron I look forward to the day when the last Eurofanatic slams the door behind him/her and defects to their leftist party of choice.

Kent PPCs and I have been asking the people if they would like a referendum on the EU Treaty. Overwhelmingly across Kent from Rochester to Maidstone, Cranbrook, Gravesend, Deal, Ramsgate and Sittingbourne and Sheppey, people literally queued to sign our petition to call on G. Brown to keep his promise of a referendum.

However, around 30-40% of people actually wanted a say on whether we stayed in or out.

Of course it is not the most important thing on people's minds, they care about education, filthy hospitals, crime etc but we are the only party campaigning on this issue and it also gives us a platform to speak to voters on other issues. But when the national media is running with a story, it makes sense to link into that with local campaigning.

In Maidstone the most important issue at the moment is our filthy hospital that has killed 100s of people with c-dif, a management that denies it was their fault or indeed the government's but three weeks ago they were worred about closer integration with Europe.

Cameron has said we will leave the EPP-ED. Let's see what the alternative coalition make-up is likely to be and then comment.

Justin,
As an association chairman, should you not be a more disciplined and support Cameron's call for an eu constitution referendum rather than giving weight to Brown's dismissal of any need for such a vote?

COMMENT OVERWRITTEN.

ENOUGH PROMOTION OF YOUR WEBSITE, WILLIAM!

Worth recording - somewhat belatedly - that Tannock is on the record as having advocated that Tory MEPs should become FULL members of the EPP - hardly a good eurosceptic. And also that the MEP threatening to stand for the Deputy Leadership is even more europhile than Atkins. So hardly a move in the right direction there, then! And just what is Trad Tory's definition of a "eurofanatic"?

As far as I know, Tannock is neither especially pro nor anti EPP. I suspect his saying that we should be full members of the EPP reflects dissatisfaction at the status of the ED wing of the EPP, the thinking being that we can influence things more our way as full members. This argument is backed up by the near-election of a Swedish reformist recently as head of the EPP, which means had we been allowed to run our own candidate we could now be leading the biggest group in the parliament. Being in the ED we can't in practice ever lead the EPP, which by definition limits the influence we can have over the group.

The alternative, of course, is Cameron's plan, to leave the EPP, but I don't think Tannock is at all opposed to the new group in principle, especially if a Tory can lead it. Giles Chichester is on record as saying we should stay in the EPP. As for Philip Bushill-Matthews, who's reportedly standing for deputy, let's get out of the pro and anti argument, he's a decent guy with a track record of leadership and achievement.

Let's not forget that this issue is not about the EPP, which is of yawn-inducing unimportance to the average punter. It's about who's the best leader for the Tories in Brussels.

'Let's not forget that this issue is not about the EPP, which is of yawn-inducing unimportance to the average punter. It's about who's the best leader for the Tories in Brussels.'

LEADER?

A leader must represent the followers, I wouldn'y vote for the conservative party in the european parliamentery elections if they were led by a europhile. The conservative party is now a moderatly eurosceptic party, and as such it should have a moderaty eurosceptic leader who offers FULL support to the leader of the party as a whole,which means supporting the decision to leave the epp.

How can Cameron possibly not deliver a pledge he claims to have *already* fulfilled?

Remember this from July 2006?

"David Cameron today fulfilled his pledge to withdraw the Conservative Party from the European People’s Party (EPP) Parliamentary Group and form a new group in the European Parliament...the new group will be formed at the beginning of the next European Parliament in 2009."

Clearly, that CCHQ press release confirms that the pledge had been fulfilled, so no unforeseen future event could prevent it from happening as it had already been happened.

For now until May 2009, we can only trust Cameron that he was telling the truth in that release. The 2009 euro election day will be Cameron's day of truth.

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