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"Conservatives need to advocate a new relationship with Europe, not no relationship"

Straw man alert! Of course no-one is arguing for this however framing it as 'in or out' can make the latter seem a leap into the dark when it is in fact simple honest rearrangement of our relationship with the EU to make us positive allies.

BetterOffOut has started the excellent work of making the case for leaving the EU but I would still like to see better frames like 'Alliance or Union' which I am sure will win more support amongst the public as it covers both the 'leaving' and the 'destination' and leaves us with two choices or relationship with the EU, not the false argument you present of one or no relationship.

I think Malcolm Rifking would be surprised to learn that he's a Europhile

Oh don't worry, greg - we're all Europhiles now according to some people!!

Iain argues that the Tory leadership should consider adopting Ming Campbell's policy of holding a vote on whether Britain should leave the EU altogether. Iain believes that a pledge to hold an in-or-out referendum might kill UKIP in one fell swoop

An interesting idea, and of course there's no reason why the Clarkes and Heseltines should not campaign actively for their dying and unpopular Federast ideology.

All genuine Conservatives would welcome the return of those disillusioned activists who left to join UKIP.

Now I do recall that there was somebody who called UKIP 'racists and fruitcakes', but I did say 'genuine Conservatives'

I have supported the idea of an 'in, out' referendum for some time.

As I see it, Cameron can't lose. The likes of Ken Clarke have nothing to fear if the EU is as great as they make out. And, if the people think we are better off out, then we should be out. It certainly wouldn't damage us electorally. Lots of people would support it.

Well we'll soon know if the LibDems are genuinely seeking a democratic reassessment of our relationship with the EU or are playing dishonest distraction games, if they keep their 'in or out' referendum call *after* the ratification of the eu reform treaty.

We really won't know the real position of the LibDems and Tories until after ratification and that is when it will really kick off when Hague runs out of 'ifs'.

Well we'll soon know if the LibDems are genuinely seeking a democratic reassessment of our relationship with the EU or are playing dishonest distraction games, if they keep their 'in or out' referendum call *after* the ratification of the eu reform treaty.

We really won't know the *real* position of the LibDems and Tories until after ratification and that is when it will really kick off when Hague runs out of 'ifs' and the LibDems face the test of their EU referendum call.

As someone who wants us to leave the EU I also have to be a realist. I am by no means sure that an in/out vote would go the way I want but I am sure that it would do serious damage to the Tories and that seems pointless.

Personally I believe that the pressure for a change in our status and a return of powers is becoming overwhelming and that when people realise this cannot be done within the EU then the majority in favour of withdrawal will become so large that it cannot be ignored.

It seems far more sensible to me to continue to undermine the EU (or rather point up how they are doing that themselves) and let events take their course.

The Lib Dem line was a desperate gimmick intended to confuse and outflank. An indicator of how bad things were for Ming.

We don't need gimmicks.

What we do need is to seriously address the constitutional questions facing us in the round: Devolution, EU Membership, Replacement of the Lords. At best its a piecemeal process and frankly, if we are to be worthy of government, we cannot duck these issues indefinitely.

I don't subscribe to the suggestion that we don't need a fight with the old school europhiles, if there are any more of them than the usual culprits.

The grassroots want some action on these issues and is watching, waiting.

It is right to say that we will not now be granted a referendum on the constitution. Although it is to be hoped that Brown will face the same problems in Parliament as Major did with Maastricht, we must presume that it will pass.

Cameron has rightly pointed out the threats posed by the permanent president; the treaty-making powers; the common foreign policy; the "escalator" clause etc etc. Once these provisions become a solid reality will they suddenly become acceptable to the Tories or, more importantly, the country? Clearly not.

In these circumstances we will have to decide as a party whether we are in favour of the EU as it stands or against. The answer is obvious and the objections of the tiny, malign rump of Tory Europhiles must be ignored.

I have to disagree with Iain Dale however on the issue of holding a referendum on the "in/out" question. This is wholly unnecessary. As a party, we ought to promise, as a manifesto commitment, that we will repeal the European Communities Act 1972 and then get on with it once elected. After all, Heath took us into the EEC in the first place without a referendum.

Although we are ahead in the polls, the boundary imbalance means that a working Tory majority remains unlikely. Such a policy will destroy UKIP, which cost us 27 seats in 2005, and give us that majority. It is about time that we burst the boil of our EU membership and moved on. Let's hope Cameron has the courage to follow this path.

It makes perfect sense for a EUphile organisation to call for an in or out referendum at a time when the government is under pressure to call a referendum on the Reform Treaty.

It distracts from the call for a referendum on the Reform Treaty and it will be much easier to win, because as someone pointed out no one other than the Better off out Campaign is actively promoting an alternative. It will therefore be possible to use the cast out into the darkness scare stories.

The polls indicate a large majority would vote against the Reform Treaty but a much smaller majority would vote to leave the EU.

To increase the chances of wining a vote to leave, the Conservative party would have start by putting together a credible argument for a future for Britain outside of the EU and then to campaign for that outcome in the referendum.

Winning a vote on the Reform Treaty could effectively put us in the same place but without the danger of splitting the party.

There is no guarantee the electorate would take an anti-EU line. Voters could easily decide we are better off in than out.
The flaw in Iain Dale's stretegy is this: if the Tory leadership campaigns for either withdrawal or - more likely - funadmental change in our relations with the EU, and the electorate votes the other way, we will have handed Brown the lifeline he needs to win the next election.


The time for a bolder approach to Britain's relationship with Europe will be within the next few years but it is not now.

OK Tim, I would agree with you about now not being the right moment to alter policy while we are about to contest the EU Constitution in Parliament, and we are campaigning for the referendum that was promised by Labour in the General Election, and then abandoned.

If Labour go ahead and successfully ratify the Constitution through Parliament, however there will certainly be a need for a Conservative rethink on policy. We will not be able to defer it for years, as you suggest.

Cameron has already promised in a 'cast iron' guarantee that he would hold a referendum on the handing over of powers as a result of the Constitution/Treaty in The Sun on the 26th September.

If he is to maintain trust in his leadership, he cannot just abandon that promise as so much hot air.

He could possibly maintain credibility by replacing that policy with another one - such as a determination to renegotiate Britain's whole relationship with the EU.

Hague has said publicly 'we cannot go on like this' and Heseletine has indicated in print that he thinks it would be right to withhold our payments to the EU.

There is a lot of talk going on behind the scenes, and rightly so. If Cameron's leadership is to consolidate and strengthen, he will have to frame the new thinking into policy, and not leave the whole topic hanging over the Party's heads unresolved.

If the Conservatives are going to make a credible pitch for power, they must have a policy on the EU which is credible. That means they cannot just abandon Cameron's promise in The Sun, and allow Hague to retract on his 'we cannot go on like this' statements.

Right now is certainly not the moment to announce a major policy alteration or even a formal review. But the Conservatives will be required to make a credible electorally convincing statement of their European Policy once the situation over the EU Constitution comes clear.

Iain Dale's suggestion of holding a referendum on British EU membership might become part of that policy, possibly, at some point. Where he would be wrong to suggest, would be to try to rush from where we are now to that position now.

If however we are to attempt a renegotiation, we might need the fallback position of promising to hold a referendum on continued membership as part of the renegotiation.

People are expecting to be given a role in the decision as to our relationship with Europe after many promises. The Conservatives could only gain politically by fulfilling those promises, and making a referendum on a renegotiated relationship a part of the new Party policy.

Now is not the right time. But this will have to be addresses before the next election. Fear of Ken Clarke etc is not enough for the Party to abandon its responsibility to form a coherent and relevant new policy to meet whatever circumstances unfold once the ratification proceedings for the COnstitution are complete.

This is yet another version of the old Machiavellian choice between playing the lion or the fox. Clearly, with its internal divisions on the subject, the tory party had better choose the smaller animal, alternately snapping, purring and eluding the European snare. A premature roar could undo all the progress of the past three months, much as many of us on the right would love to hear it.

I am certainly in favour of us leaving the EU but agree with Ken that campaigning for a referendum on the Treaty *post* election has the same effect in practice without allowing the federasts to confuse the issue.

My problem with the Editor's stance is a fundamental lack of trust in CCHQ to be anti-EU. I am as tired as anyone here of the Conservative Party's 5 europhiles (of whom Rifkind is certainly one) holding the rest of us to ransom over their idiosyncratic perversion.

Could agree with you more, Ken. Such a referendum would put our recovery back ten years. Shaping the EU closer to the wishes of the British people will take a long time and we will just be bystanders if we remain in opposition.
Why the fixation with UKIP? I've never met anyone who was a member. I know plenty of Libdems and Labour voters and the massed ranks of the uncommitted or undecided. Persuading them to back us is the key to electoral success.

thats easy. We lost 27 seats in the 2005 general election by a majority less than the UKIP vote. They may not have many members but if Labour's majority had been 54 less in 2005 the result would have felt very different.

"Why the fixation with UKIP?"

Because it is a home for voters that the tories incorrectly assume would all vote for them if UKIP didn't exist.

UKIP is a shambles right now, but even if it whithers and dies by its own organisational incompetence (more than likely unfortunately), something else will fill the void until such time as one big party gives the people a chance to democractically have our direct say to determine our future relationship with the EU.

That fact is, most ukippers, whether members or voters are honest, principled people tied to the issue not the party or tribalism and good on them for that.

Totally agree with Ken,Tapestry & Simon Denis. As someone quite sympathetic to the aims of BOO I looked at the tactics of the Eurosceptics over the last 30 years with some despair.Lets win where we can and then seek to build on those victories. At conference both John Redwood and Syed Kemall both strongly advised listeners not to be sidetracked by Ming's idea of an in or out referendum but to get the referendum on the Constitution,win it and see where we go from there.They're right.

Jonathan, you are assuming that all the UKIP votes ould have come to us and that if we had espoused policies attractive to them we would not have lost voters to the LibDems and Labour. UKIP is the refuge of the defeated. Ignore them.

If a promise of renegotiation with the EU were to become Party policy at some stage, and if that were to be followed by a referendum, I guess the choice offered in the referendum would have to be as follows -

'either - do you agree with and approve the terms of the renegotiated relationship with the EU, and wish Britain to remain a member of the EU on these terms?

or - do you prefer total withdrawal from the EU, and to restart negotiations with the EU as a fully independent country?'

To me that would be a credible position for Cameron to adopt in view of his and Hague's earlier statements, and a way to resolve the EU question in the most satisfactory way possible.

What a well-written Editorial.

"Such a policy will destroy UKIP, which cost us 27 seats in 2005, and give us that majority"

A wonderful assumption that we won't lose any seats with such a stance. Unfortunately, real life won't work out like that, and a net gain is unlikely.

All this will do is open old wounds, and remind people of how divided the party can be, which will not engender the mainstream to vote for us.

Though I want to get us out of the EU, this is not the moment for such a referendum which will let Labour seize back the agenda on the EU, the LibDems off the hook and UKIP to claim a moral victory.

We have a powerful winning hand at the moment against all comers (subject to adopting a rational, logical and consistent position on apost-ratification referendum) which we would throw away if we followed Iain's advice.

I have longish post here as to why: http://tinyurl.com/3xy7dd.

I totally agree with David.
Remember the "B's" . All they did was destroy the party and not advance their case one jot. UKIP was born as a result of their action.

As sceptical as I am on the EU, Tim is aboslutely right and Iain Dale is wrong.

The last thing I want is the Europhiles getting a yes vote and thats why the Libdems want to push it down the route Dale suggests.

Stick to the current path and we will eventually get the right deal.

This was my comment on Dale's Diary:

'Did they actually print that?

I'm not sure where to start really. You think we should propose a referendum which the Conservative party machine will take no official line on, and leave both the Labour Party and the Lib Dems to campaign as one voice for a 'yes'. A referendum in which a 'yes' result would provide any subsequent government with carte blanche to give any and all powers to the European Union, and in the unlikely event of a 'no' result (since the only party behind it would be the aforementioned UKIP) we would have no bargaining power with the E.U., since our ultimate sanction, full withdrawal, would already be the declared will of the people.

Free vote or no free vote, not only would this issue quite obviously split the party up, it would also voluntarily render us an inert force in deciding one of the most momentous questions in our country's history, and rally the depressed Labour Party at the same time.

I really haven't heard such utterly brainless hogwash in a long time.'

As usual, conhome's analysis is spot on, but in a way I wish you hadn't engaged with Iain Dale's argument at all. Responding to it in a prominent way seems to give what is in essence just a brain fart far too much validity.

It was rather brave, as Sir Humphrey would say, of Iain Dale to advocate a referendum on EU membership in the Telegraph. His chances of being selected in Maidstone will have diminished greatly. The Candidates Department takes a dim view of any candidate who departs from the official line, especially in the media. Silly boy!

Dale is brave enough to broach the subject but his argument is far too simplistic.

''Iain argues that the Tory leadership should consider adopting Ming Campbell's policy of holding a vote on whether Britain should leave the EU altogether.''

Thank you, Mr Dale!

Three things to remember about Iain Dale:

1. He had just about the worst result of any Tory candidate at the last election.

2. He was chief of staff of the awful David Davis leadership campaign.

3. He was responsible for the disaster that was 18 Doughty Street TV.

He's an amusing blogger but he's not a clever politician.

This idea is as stupid as his political record is unimpressive.

I agree completely. We deserve a chance to vote on whether to stay in or out of the EU. Everybody must agree that we have never had a vote on this before, the EEC was something completely different. We should have one on the constitution first though.

The only trouble is that this could end up with internal arguments that might put an end to any political advantages we have over the other parties at the moment.

Richard North calls Iain Dale a lightweight.
North is right.

There are two distinct arguments going on here.

There is the argument of Ed vs Ian Dale and the argument for staying in the EU. Virtually everyone agrees that as a matter of tactics Ian is simply wrong and that the main thing to do now is pillory the Government for breaking its referendum policy. A referendum on the EU itself is not something that the Party is psychologically or politically ready to offer...yet.

The much more interesting argument is from those people who want us to remain in the EU long term, desperately swimming against the zeitgeist. You can always spot these people arguing for caution and raising fears, threatening party splits and electoral catastrophe, assuring us that there is widespread public support for the EU out there somewhere, undetected by the polls but ready to bite us the minute we have the courage of our convictions.

I support Iain Dale on this. He will know as North Norfolk Turkey has said that he might damage his own chances of selection by doing so.

Yet what this country needs is principled MPs. And we have far too few of them. A handful has stood up to be count in BOO; a few more - but not many – among the top echelon of the parliamentary party agree with BOO but cannot say so.

And that’s it.

For many years this party has vacillated on the EU but always – when the chips are down – going with Brussels. If we carry on like this then within a year or two or three (tops) we will have no independence left whatsoever. Then what?

When do we start to fight back? We are getting to the now or never stage. This latest treaty will be the last -there is no need to have another.

Today we are no longer a parliamentary democracy (at least the former German President Herzog has had the guts to admit that of his own country). We still pretend that we elect MPs and thus a government that can govern.

Yet over 80 per cent of our laws are Brussels’ laws rubber stamped here. Two thirds of our government functions are wholly or nearly wholly controlled from Brussels.

Anyone who still thinks that we can shape the EU to our wishes is living in cloud cuckoo land – just read the treaty of Rome as already amended by the four later treaties. It’s all there in black and white. Those with time to spare can scan 170,000 pages of directives and regulations.

What mantle is it that David Cameron wishes to inherit – leader of a vassal state – 12 little regions in the Europe of Regions and the Cities?

Will Cameron be the next Churchill? Discuss.

Thank you Iain Dale. Much appreciated!

But Dale is not saying out of principle; he's saying it would be a good idea to propose this referendum in order to strip another party of its supporters and raison d'etre, and neutralise them as a threat in the next general election, an election in which he hopes to stand. It's hardly a principled stand is it?

As an ex Tory voter and now a voter/ memeber of UKIP, I can honestly say that I hate the EU with a passion. I voted UKIP at the last election (and the sitting Tory MP lost it to the Lib Dems by just 200 votes (UKIP got over 2000!). My reason for doing this was simply due to the 3 main parties agreement to not mention the EU during the whole election campaign - disgusting!

The 3 main parties can waffle on about domestic politics until they are blue in the face but there is nothing left to waffle about - the EU has seen to that and with over 60 extra areas lost to the EU via the Constitution (I don't care what it's meant to be called), the UK parties have even less to tempt the domestic voters with.

At the next election, I will vote for the party who advocates withdrawal from the EU or at least offers a referendum on the issue and I'm sorry to say (especially being a true Tory at heart) I will even vote Lib Dem if their offer of a referendum is still in their manifesto.

Good idea, make it a manifesto item.

And the devil take those that disagree, since when was the elctorate deemed to febrile for decision making.

One possible alternative is:
first - a debate on benefits/ disbenefits of EU for UK
second - a referendum with a number of options with a single transferrable vote.

questions could include do you want (order preference):
-leave totally, no links
-leave but with free trade links and cooperation on certain issues such as environment, terrorism
-stay in but renegotiate in order to pull back certain powers
- stay in as we currently are (if after treaty)

I'm not saying this is my view but it could be a way of getting past the blanket "in or out" referendum question, which is not the only choice the public want as far as I can see. Worth discussing, especially if Gordon doesn't let us have a referendum on the treaty.

But what of events?

On 20th November the Government announced that the final terms of the EU Reform Treaty will not be available to Parliament until after the Treaty is signed.

As one of the clauses will curtail the powers of Parliament contrary to the 1688 Reform Treaty this seems certain to eventually result in a constitutional crisis. The Conservative Party will, if following the strategy being pushed here, find itself once more trailing public outrage just as it is today over Treasury inefficiencies and Defence under-spending.

British voters, especially those in England need a voice to protest their growing disenchantment and disenfranchisement. Cameron is improving but has yet to summon the courage to lead.

The links to Hansard and House of Lords exchanges are on two of my blogs.

It is encouraging to hear that other readers of ConservativeHome are unimpressed by Iain Dale. I very much agree with the views that he is a lightweight and not a clever politician. If he were ever elected as a Conservative MP, it would be a bad day indeed for the Party. And, yes, he certainly is responsible for the disaster that is 18 Doughty Street.

For now we must adhere to the referendum pledge.

Even though out is the only principled and correct decision I fear a referendum in or out would be lost.

The reason it would be lost is because the populus at large have been brainwashed into thinking that, amongst other lies, three million UK jobs depend on continued membership of the eu. When asked the populus says that health, education, post offices, council tax, immigration etc are more important than the relationship with the eu. What is never understood is the extent to which policy in all areas is either dictated from or influenced by Brussels. Worse still they believe they live in a democracy and the veneer of democracy given by MEPs convinces many that such is the case.

One way to change these perceptions is to focus on a single issue and fishing would be an excellent example whereby perceptions can and must be changed. Might Owen Patterson take the lead again?

Simon R @ 15.02 you make a good point which I shall not labour!

I am a Europhile floating voter. The Conservative Party's current attitude to Europe is a major concern to me, at a stage when you are otherwise not unelectable (for the first time since about 1993).

I suggest you keep quiet - very quiet - on this issue. You need to wake up and realise that very few swing voters hate Europe enough to consider voting Conservative solely on the back of an anti-Europe ticket. Just as many, and probably more, would decide not to vote for you because of your deeply regressive views in this area.

Concentrate on real policies that actually touch people's lives. Your attitude to Europe is one of your biggest problems, because you allow it to act as a "veto" issue on who you choose to represent you - that is narrowing the pool too much, and affecting the quality of everything the party does.

Don't say I didn't warn you...

Alex @ 16:37 recites the usual contradictory warnings of the Europhiles.

On the one hand, they tell us that the electorate is not that interested in the EU. On the other, they aver that voters will never support us if we advocate withdrawal. Which is it?

I equate conservative eurosceptics with empire loyalists. It is a pity we still have so many of them. History eventually consigned the latter to the dustbin. I hope it will perform the same last rites over the former


I am saying that:

(a) most people are not interested, in that they allow other policies to determine how they vote;

(b) of the swing-voters who are interested in Europe, the majority would rather stay in (i.e. maintain the status quo), so there is a real danger that they will vote for someone else in the face of a rabidly Eurosceptic policy.

Most Eurosceptic voters are already voting Conservative or UKIP; the UKIP votes aren't worth having if you lose more of those vital swing voters in your efforts to bring the UKIP supporters back.

I'm only trying to help - I want more healthy competition at the next election.

Alex - I note what you say. However, the swing voters you mention are, self-evidently, a minority. Those who are "interested" in the EU are a sub-group of those. On the assumption that you are correct with your proportions, the ones who wish to stay in are a smaller group still. They should not be allowed to dictate Tory EU policy.

I agree with you that healthy competition and, indeed, a real choice is needed at the next election. We don't have that yet because the main parties all profess to be pro-EU to a greater or lesser degree.

The real problem which you touch upon in passing is that the Conservatives are perceived to be obsessed with Europe. Not so. Our real problem is that we have allowed the negligible Federast group within the party to have too much influence for too long.

Britain will leave the EU at some stage. That is a certainty. The only issue is - how much more damage are we willing to accept whilst we prevaricate?

I suppose it depends whether you want to be elected again. It seems that you are content to stick to your (non-winning) 30% core vote. So be it. But remember that it is withering away.

You may be a swing voter but if you are going to determine your vote on the EU alone then you are going to swing between the Labour and LibDems and we will have to do without you.

Most eurosceptics are not voting Cons or UKIP at present both the Labour and LibDems have eurosceptic voters but they are even less represented in their party leaderships than they are in ours. There is competition. What there is not is an ecnomocially right-wing, pro-EU party, which is what you seem to be seeking. That is because it cannot exist (except with unusually large amounts of hypocrisy), being a contradiction in terms.

Alistair Forsyth wrote "I equate conservative eurosceptics with empire loyalists". What a pathetic smear!

In fact it is the Europhiles who are the Empire Loyalists - loyal to the imperialist, undemocratic EU empire. Eurosceptics oppose the EU on democratic and libertarian grounds. History will hopefully consign the EU to the dustbin of history along with other empires that shared its euro-nationalist ideology - the Third Reich and Soviet Union.

It seems to me that Labour are an economically right-wing, pro-EU party. It's just that they're not very good on the issue of competence.

All I am suggesting is that you should be an economically right-wing party that shuts up about the EU to avoid losing votes.

Why go to the trouble of placing a stinking turd on the plate of delicious cakes that you want people to eat? It's madness.

In fact it is the Europhiles who are the Empire Loyalists - loyal to the imperialist, undemocratic EU empire

Too true. It is - in short - an Evil Empire.

Isn't it about time that the EU replaced its current signature tune - the Beethoven/Schiller 'Ode an die Freude' with Darth Vader's sinister 'Imperial March'?

If copyright problems arise, the Nazi 'Horst Wessel Lied' would make a worthy substitute.

Alex @ 18:18

"Labour are an economically right wing, pro eu party."

Not right wing economically on my understanding of right wing economics. Tax at its highest level for decades, millions drawn into the benefits system, huge increases in government spending, massive increases in borrowing (much hidden off balance sheet - with the connivance of ONS). Just old fashioned socialism so far as I'm concerned.

As someone who loathes the EU, at the back of my mind there is a nagging doubt that our leaving it will not solve anything.It will till be the elephant in the bedroom. It would be better to concentrate on destroying the whole edifice. How do we achieve this? To misquote, Margaret Thatcher, "Where there is harmony, may we bring discord. Where there is truth, may we bring error, Where there is faith,, may we bring doubt. And where there is hope, may we bring despair."

The first thing to do is to split Germany from France. The Germans loath the CAP- we back them on the CAP, we encourage Belgium to split. We give subtle support to Catalan separatists. We seek ancient disputes in Europe and subtly bring them to the fore. For instance, the Ialian/Austrian border is not finally settled as indeed in the Italian/Slovenian border.

In the depths of the foreign office, there are secret treaties, secret pacts both before and after the establishment of the EUSSR. We leak them to anti-establishment journalists in the aggrieved country. It would be very useful to concentrate in creating disputes between the original six founder nations

We seek to cripple to budget. We feed the EU incorrect data. We refuse to pay fines, we opt out of the Fishing Policy, we say one thing and do the other. We approve schemes that are unworkable anyway. We generously use our veto. We expose corruption at the Commission level.

When the Euro is under pressure, we sell Euros fast and in quanitites sufficient to drop its prices even further. When it is strong, we buy Euros to make it uncompetitve in international trade.

Where the appointment of the President of the Commisison, we ensure that any one of ability is vetoed and appount a Grade One Numpty (actually they seem to have done that this time)

In international matters we advocate that Cueta and Mellilia be returned to Morocco,

We publically challenge the accepted norm of "ever closer union"

Our staff in the EU are exactly that. They report back to London on anything that is to our advantage. Indeed if they are in a position to to do any damage,i.e. send confidential CDs to, well anywhere will do

Empires never last- play our cards correctly the EU will break up in 15 years

Now is not the time to rethink Europe policy, it would create an almighty row, put people off and enable Labour to regain the initiative.

Alex makes a good point which we would do well to listen to, though I believe his analysis of other issues is flawed. We know two things.
A) Europe is a complete turn-off for voters.
B) Most people, whilst disgruntled with the E.U, believe that full withdrawal would be an economic disaster. Of course, it wouldn't, but this is the ingrained view, and it's unlikely to be overturned by one party in one election campaign.
Take these two as facts, and a Tory party campaigning aggressively on a withdrawalist platform looks loony, obsessed with a fringe issue, out of touch with the people, and willing to contemplate economic hardship/unemployment(not for the first time..) for a misguided patriotic wet dream. In other words, we become UKIP.

I think we should campaign on the issues which matter to people. Yes we can take full advantage of taking the toughest stance of Europe of any of the main parties. Yes we should hold the Government to account when they try to give more powers away. But no we should not campaign to withdraw, not when we are just starting to regain the public's trust on the economy.

Winning the argument for a looser relationship based largely on free trade (a European Economic Community) will require careful framing of the issue.

I’m not so convinced it is possible to win this argument, as the EU seems determined to pursue ever deeper integration into the EU super-state, taking over powers that rightly belong to the nation state. I fear we might end up with the choice between ever closer union, or to get out. It is obvious in such a scenario what choice we should take in order to regain our sovereignty. And of course it would have been good to have won those 30 or so extra seats we could have won if it were not for UKIP.

I understand opinion surveys show most voters are broadly EU-sceptic while not wanting to withdraw. Perhaps with effective leadership (which Mr Cameron surely can provide) they could be persuaded of the importance of regaining our freedom as an independent sovereign nation. Even if not, surely we can set out a tougher policy on the EU without over-focusing on it (‘banging on about Europe all the time’) and losing the proper focus David Cameron has put on issues that most concern voters.

I just don't understand some groups of people in our party! We have to ignore the xenophobic and isolationist spectrum we have. They seem so focused on their own agenda they don't seem to realise every time they pop up to speak their minds the public get sick of what they hear and turn off the party, we come across as amateurs.

The EU has always been a sore point in my view of the party and every time a eurosceptic Tory comes on TV it just sounds like a lot of white noise like a kid continuously mumbling "EU bad bad bad bad bad bad"

If we voted for In, would you agree to shut up about Europe forever, or would you demand another referendum every time you thought power was "going to Brussels?"

If the former, I'm in full support.

No, passing leftie. We'd follow the example of our masters in Brussels and demand further referenda until we got the right answer.

No, passing leftie. We'd follow the example of our masters in Brussels and demand further referenda until we got the right answer.


It certainly sounds like you have some experience of being manipulated by the gnomes of Brussels.

Passing Leftie, I think that must be the first time I've ever agreed with you!

Well, you're both wrong Sally and Passing.

The EU has always been a sore point in my view of the party

So why not clear off and join your fellow-travellers in the Lib Dems?

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