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« Hustings Report (6): Perth | Main | DD fails to draw the crowds »

Comments

Tory T

Surely the Tory Party cannot similtaneously proclaim a belief in national self-determination AND sign up to an avowedly Euro-federalist grouping. That's exactly the kind of hypocrisy and doublespeak that gives politics a bad name in the eyes of the public. And the situation is only made worse when access to more money is invoked as a reason to stick with the EPP. Let's be true to our convictions - and those of the British people - on the central issue of who runs this country.

 Ted

I'm not Europhobic - there are plenty of things I like about open markets, freedom of movement. I think the EU enlargement has been a force for good by bolstering democracy and the rule of law - I'm happy to support the development of other European countres through the structural funds. Spain, Greece, Ireland and Portugal are European success stories. Agreements on common standards to permit better flow of goods and services are good things.

I am phobic about the centralising bureaucracy, about European involvement in matters that don't affect cross border commerce. I think the agricultural policy is wrong, I think the Common Fisheries Policy has failed. I do not believe that it is possible to manage the disparate economies of Europe through a common currency or central bank.

I'm sceptical about the need for European Defence Forces, for European Foreign Policy.

TC

Whilst we certainly want to avoid the extremist groups, the EPP isn't exactly an ethically high group, with a convenient blind eye when it comes to fraud for example.

malcolm thomas

The fact is that an EPP Europe is a federal europe, where County Councils and District Councils reporting to London are abolished and relaced by regional governments which report to Brussels. (See this weeks latest attempt by the government to bring in Euro-regions by the back door)

Writing to your MP will be a waste of time, as indeed will electing an MP. The EPP believe in the elimination of the nation state (the flip side of 'ever closer union').......

not to mention Higher minimum wage, more powerful trade unions, more anti-discrimination laws and an enhanced Social Chapter....in other words massively more bureaucracy and disruption to life, employment, freedom of choice, freedom of speech and association.

If some Conservative MEPs wish to cosy up to the endemic corruption and croneyism of the EPP they must be stopped. Who cares that they wish to keep their snouts in the trough a little bit longer? Corruption and power are highly addictive, and in the EU those who try to say 'no' Roger Helmer-style get trampled and abused.

Conservatives believe in democracy, the nation state, the rule of law (no exceptions if you happen to be the EU Head of Commission Mr Barroso) the presumption of innocence, the right to trial by jury, freedom of speech. I could go on. All are threatened by the EPP. This is not a grey choice of minor significance only of interest to techies.

The Press have ensured that no one knows what goes on in Brussels as required by A.Campbell. It does not mean they won't care if and when they do find out. Again I recommend a browse round www.rogerhelmer.com

Rob

Will it be difficult to attract other parties from the EPP or elsewhere to join us? Obviously it will be risky, however we need to take risk for things to change, unless you are currently satisfied with the EU and the direction it is heading. More importantly it is the right thing to do, we should be bolder and true to our principles, staying in the EPP would simply be another cop out, just like the 2005 manifesto.

Rick

I'm sceptical about the need for European Defence Forces, for European Foreign Policy.

European Defence is basically an attempt to create an industrial policy. German defence contractors are not allowed to JV with foreigners, not allowed to export (though they are now supplying 298 Leopard II to Turkey, and 2 Dolphin subs to Israel) so they need some role.

Britain is frightened of having Rolls-Royce move to the US or Canada and following BAe and Smiths - so it is trying to counterbalance the US pull so France does not become the major defence engineering sector in Europe by absorbing HDW into DCN and Alcatel taking over Thales and looking to acquire Rheinmetall or Diehl.

Britain's engineering sector is reduced to the Defence sector and this is consolidating. When this sector is merged, Britain will either be a tail on a US dog or maybe a couple of forelegs on a European donkey.

There is a lot of tub-thumping from people in Britain, but essentially the country is caught in the cogs of some major global machinations

Derek

DC has made pulling out of the EPP-ED a firm commitment. He has not, as far as I am aware given any time-scale for this to happen, but I think he should be pressed on this. DD, when in Winchester last week said that he would commit to leave by the time of the next EU election, so if DCs commitment is worth any more he has to carry it out straight away. If he did this he would certainly cause a row amongst MEPs, but at the next selection hustings we would certainly know who were the true sceptics, and who were merely pretending!

Kevin Davis

I really do not think that a single member of the non politicised electorate could give a stuff whether we are in the EPP or out of the EPP. In fact pulling out of anything European might be seen quite positively.

One of the reasons David Davis is losing this contest so badly is because every sinlge Euro sceptic member of the party I speak to will never forgive him for his behaviour over Maastricht. His apparent heavy handed action as a whip is weighing heavily against him.

Cllr Graham Smith

Surely David Cameron is correct to say that Conservatives should strive to be consistent in their approach to major policy issues?

Christopher North

If nothing else, the number of posts suggests that this question is of more than passing interest!

In fact, the EPP issue is enormously important for one reason above all: it is virtually the only thing a Leader of the Opposition can actually DO. Almost everything else he says is a promise about what he might do as Prime Minister (and you try holding him to pledges made today in the changed circumstances of five years hence): but this is something he can deliver by Christmas.

It is always sensible to judge politicians by their actions rather than their words. Why should we believe any of Davis's Eurosceptic noises when he refuses to do the one thing in fact in his power?

That Cameron has stuck to his guns on this - firmly but politely - is the ultimate rejoinder to the assertion that he doesn't stand for anything. Under him, the Tories would be leading a free enterprise, pro-American, pro-sovereignty bloc - with funds and resources to campaign for those objectives. Under Davis, they'll fight the next Euro-election on the same basis as the last one (their worst share of the vote since 1832): that of saying one thing in Britain, doing another in Brussels.

Daniel Vince-Archer

"Surely David Cameron is correct to say that Conservatives should strive to be consistent in their approach to major policy issues?"

Perhaps if he would practice as he preaches he would be a bit more credible.

James Hellyer

His inconsistency over the immigration policy he and Howard wrote being but one example.

This "break from defeat" is the architect of our last defeat. Some fresh start.

Rick

Perhaps if he would practice as he preaches he would be a bit more credible.

Hardly the motto of the PR Man who prefers "The Medium Is The Message"

Cllr Graham Smith

I agree with David Cameron that Conservatives should strive for greater consistency.

To say that Conservatives are opposed to further European federalism and say "no" to the proposed Constitution, whilst continuing to pour around half-a-million pounds a year into the coffers of the EPP group whose objectives are to increase federalism and implement the European Constitution is simply daft.

Richard Booker

The EPP issue is one of those delightful Tory squabbles where everyone is right, but have ended up on the wrong sides (as opposed to the other sort of Tory squabble, where everyone is wrong and stays in entrenched groups).

Clearly we shouldn't be in the EPP, but we're in it because its the least-worst possibility at the moment. People like Martin Callanan and Roger Helmer are exactly right when they say a more acceptable grouping could be created - but it isn't there at the moment. There's also an issue over whether, on the terms of our joining the EPP, we're locked-in for a minimum period.

Cameron has made a cost-effective tactical move to pledge to leave the EPP even though the EPP is supported by his natural supporters among the MEPs (who are a majority), because its a simple way to hoover up Eurosceptic voters. It's an open question whether he can actually deliver it without disciplinary moves against the MEPs. Is leaving the EPP worth the risk of more Howard Flight-style sackings?

So the gang around Cameron who were running things under Howard and kept us in the EPP are now promising to take us out of the EPP, and aligning themselves with the people who rebelled on the decision to stay in the EPP.

Helmer, as a protest against the fact he was disciplined, is aligning himself with the people ultimately behind the disciplinary process against himself, on a platform which will lead to more Helmer-style disciplinary processes which would have allowed Major to throw out people like Helmer.

DD, who is actually more Eurosceptic than Cameron, has refused to commit to leaving the EPP because he's also committed himself not to have more Howard Flight-style sackings, which is the long-term result of a fight with the dripping wet crew who run the MEPs. (His speech on Europe over the summer sets out principles which are incompatible with the EPP.)

The actual answer is to stay in the EPP for now while (a) quietly building up an alternative grouping; (b) deselecting the pro-EPP bunch among our MEPs. Then, ahead of the next elections to the fatuous Euro-trough, announce we'll leave the EPP for a new grouping and fight on that platform.

Peter

Thank you Richard forsaying what I said on the first message, the problem is how many people on this blog will actually get off their butts at the next selection and do anything about it?

Frimley observer

Peter/Richard - it may be academic now anyway. DC said at the hustings that withdrawal from the EPP would be a matter for the shadow foreign secretary. So it sounds like another 'direction' not 'policy commitment' - ie it won't happen after all.

Richard Booker

Peter - apologies, of course I should have mentioned you'd already said the same as my conclusion. Going round in circles to get back to where you started. How appropriate for a discussion on Europe.

Frimley Observer - that sounds like a big flip flop from DC. I thought DC promised we'd be out of the EPP in a week. As mentioned above I don't think it's possible any way. This might be evidence that surrounding DC with more experienced wiser heads to balance his inexperience is kicking in already.

Rob

Does this mean Cameron is going to leave Fox as shadow foreign secretary? If not it means he has been forced into back tracking by a few out of touch MEPs. This does not bode well for Cameron's leadership or the future of the party!

Al G

Who are these pro-federalist Conservative MEPs? And how can we get rid of them?

ROGER HELMER MEP

Several people have asked how much money Conservative MEPs will lose when we leave EPP group. NONE. We will GAIN well over half a million pounds a year!!!

It is a complete myth that we gain financially from membership. Exactly the opposite is the truth (See "Why Conservative MEPs should not sit with the EPP" on my website at www.rogerhelmer.com).

A second point. Several folk have asked why the decision should not be left to the MEPs themselves. Answer: because our affiliation in the European parliament makes a statement about our general policy stance on the EU, and as David Cameron says, we have to be consistent. We can't tell a good euro-sceptic story in the UK, and then go sit with the federalists in Brussels.

The truth is that in all three major parties, MEPs are partly self-selecting. The selection process starts with an individual putting up his hand and offering to stand. In all major parties, there has been a tendency for those who are most keen on the EU project to offer themselves as MEP candidates. So compared to the party at home, MEPs tend to be much more pro-EU.

They cannot be left to make the vital decision on the EPP by themselves, because if they get it wrong (as they have for the last 13 years), it reflects on the party -- and gives comfort to fringe rejectionist parties like UKIP.

A helpful by-product of Cameron's EPP decision is that euro-luvvies in the Conservative delegation are being flushed out of the closet. They had better be ready for a robust reaction from rank-and-file Party members.

ROGER HELMER MEP

Several people have asked how much money Conservative MEPs will lose when we leave EPP group. NONE. We will GAIN well over half a million pounds a year!!!

It is a complete myth that we gain financially from membership. Exactly the opposite is the truth (See "Why Conservative MEPs should not sit with the EPP" on my website at www.rogerhelmer.com).

A second point. Several folk have asked why the decision should not be left to the MEPs themselves. Answer: because our affiliation in the European parliament makes a statement about our general policy stance on the EU, and as David Cameron says, we have to be consistent. We can't tell a good euro-sceptic story in the UK, and then go sit with the federalists in Brussels.

The truth is that in all three major parties, MEPs are partly self-selecting. The selection process starts with an individual putting up his hand and offering to stand. In all major parties, there has been a tendency for those who are most keen on the EU project to offer themselves as MEP candidates. So compared to the party at home, MEPs tend to be much more pro-EU.

They cannot be left to make the vital decision on the EPP by themselves, because if they get it wrong (as they have for the last 13 years), it reflects on the party -- and gives comfort to fringe rejectionist parties like UKIP.

A helpful by-product of Cameron's EPP decision is that euro-luvvies in the Conservative delegation are being flushed out of the closet. They had better be ready for a robust reaction from rank-and-file Party members.

Carillet

Although the Conservative and Unionist Party MEPs are loyal members of the EPP-ED group in the European Parliament, it will not be until their parent party is able to join the EPP party that the problems of the organizational integration of Conservative and Christian Democratic parties will be completely solved. The internal arguments which have accompanied such operations have often been violent and turbulent. After all, they raise questions which reach deep into the identities of the member parties. Rapprochement to date could not have succeeded without an accompanying programmatic debate. The Christian Democratic identity of the EPP was modernized and its opening-up has also contributed to the cohesion and deepening of the European People’s Party.

The EPP had to face difficult choices, if the reconciliation of Conservatives and Christian Democrats was to be an enduring historical development, it was necessary that the Christian Democrats should also do something to move towards the Conservatives. The internationalisation of politics and the Europeanization of the whole political life and behaviour of the European Union have required that all parties, which want their position and electoral programmes to be taken seriously, should be present at the European level and belong to a European organisation of similar or like-minded parties. The British Conservatives found that there were no partners in other member states outside the EPP with which they could join. In spite of all their different cultural traditions, the continental Christian Democrat parties found natural affiliations with the Conservative parties. They have the same values and represent similar sections of the electorate, and even more so when the very extreme approaches of Thatcherite dogma seemed to have been abandoned.

In addition, the long years of working together with the Conservative parties in the framework of the European Democratic Union has cultivated a noticeable convergence in the programmes and positions between member parties of the European Union of Christian Democrats and EPP, especially concerning questions of European integration and International Relations, but also on the basic issues of economic and social policy. Amongst the British Conservatives, there has been a growing understanding of Christian Democratic thinking and of positions assumed by continental parties with corresponding tradition. ‘I just had only a fleeting understanding of what Christian Democracy was about in 1989; by 1992 I was a fully fledged graduate in the subject and I think we’ve had a more pragmatic approach. I think it has been a valuable experiment for the Christian Democrats’ said Sir Christopher Prout.

Finally, it should not be forgotten that the collapse of the communist regimes in Eastern and Central Europe lent a new appeal to Christian Democracy and for modern Conservatism. The collapse of the Eastern regimes was fed by the success of the politics of European integration and of the social market economy, to which both Christian Democrats and Conservatives subscribed. It was attractive for the Peoples parties of Central and Eastern Europe to turn towards the system of thought and the associations in which the Christian Democrats and Conservatives had organized their European collaboration. Most of these parties had not attached themselves to a Christian Democratic tradition, which was either not available in their countries or only weakly developed. They must in many cases be classified as traditional Conservative parties. They have all been eager to be accepted by the EPP-ED and thus to be recognized by their West European partners. For them, within Europe’s new political landscape, a rigorous distinction between Conservative-motivated and Christian Democrat-inspired solutions seems to be an unjustifiable luxury, and one that is no longer required.

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