Europe is a numbers game

People are writing to this site complaining that I have reported the true figures for the European election results. You cannot get away from the fact that the main party established to propose immediate withdrawal from the EU only polled 17% of the votes. We know it has never won a seat and is unlikely to ever win a seat in a first past the post election to Westminster, so we know it can never deliver its promise of withdrawal. That requires the votes of at least 323 MPs. Now, two elections on, we know it cannot command anything like half of those voting in a PR election where people are meant to vote as they think and feel. Without overwhelming numbers it is not going to get its way.

Some write in to complain about my viewpoint. Often they are people who voted Yes in 1975, the last time the British people were offered a referendum on Europe. I voted “No” on that occasion. I voted “No” because I did not believe all those politicians and business leaders who told us we were voting for trade and friendship – things I do want. I read the Treaty. It seemed to me we were voting for a journey towards political union, inviting too much legislation, bossiness and expenditure along the way. I have not been surprised by what has happened next.

As a democract, I have felt obliged to accept the verdict of the British people in that referendum. I have also demanded referenda on Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon, all Treaties which the Conservatives have opposed. I have interpreted the vote in 1975 as a vote for a “common market”, and have always since spoken in favour of remaining part of some such arrangement, whilst condemning the many moves to federal government and centralised power in other fields.

The Eurosceptic movement needs to unite to fight the European leviathan. Treating each European election as another opportunity to send a mesage to other Eurosceptics gives great comfort to the federalists. They are in a minority in the country, but they have enjoyed solid majorities in Westminster for the last twelve years. Are Eurosceptics ready to do anything about this yet? Or do they wish to remain fragmented and without the numbers to start to change things for the better?

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57 Comments

  1. Stuart Fairney
    Posted June 9, 2009 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    JR I am unclear what point you are trying to make here, you seem to be saying “No major party supports EU withdrawl therefore minor parties who do want to withdraw cannot achieve a majority in the house of commons, therefore it’s not possibly the will of the people”

    But as I am sure you would concede, just because the major parties do not support something, does not mean to say it is not the will of the people.

    Indeed, it is precisely because there are no major Westminster parties supporting withdrawl, that further moves on unification (and indeed continued membership) absolutely should be subject to a referendum like our continental friends get, and if you want to shoot UKIP’s fox and pick up a handy number of votes, simply promise one (and unlike Labour, actually keep your word of course)

    • Waramess
      Posted June 9, 2009 at 8:36 am | Permalink

      I unreservedly agree with this post.

      What I cannot see is the difference between the Eurosceptics position and the UKIP position. Both want out of the federal process and both want to continue with trade and other links.

      Is the difference wide enough for a fag paper to slip between or are you talking about party political semantics because if you are, you are losing an awful lot of votes to semantics

      • David Logan
        Posted June 9, 2009 at 9:34 am | Permalink

        I also totally agree with this article. It is admirably succinct and explains one of the reasons that those Tories who “lent” their votes to UKIP made a major mistake. It is simply fantasy politics. The difference is that UKIP think we can withdraw from Europe and still get the benefits of the free market. They are wrong. The associated countries of the EU only get access if they comply with all European laws-laws they have no imput in making at all. Britain, even under Labour, is a brake on those laws. Removing the brake is not the answer. Creating a coherent, powerful block in the Parliament which supports the single market and rules needed to put it into effect but opposes further integration for the sake of it is the way forward. UKIP would only be relevant to that if they accepted the inevitable in which event why would they exist?

        • adam
          Posted June 9, 2009 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

          just what is free about the EU market

    • Dr Bernard Juby
      Posted June 9, 2009 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

      To my undying shame I voted YES to the Common Market because I was fool enough to believe Ted Heath’s lies when he stated that there would be no loss of sovereignty and a common market was all we would get! My wife, who had read between the lines, voted NO. Look at us now!
      I was once heavily involved in lobbying Brussells & Strasbourg for the cause of small businesses. We even had EYSME – the European Year of Small and Medium sized Enterprises. It came, it made great promises and it went – yet we are still waiting for it enact the proposals one of which was, “If you don’t positively discriminate in favour of small businesses you actively discriminate against them!”
      The Enarch’s o9f Brussells have a mind-set that is rigid and can only see itself as making new laws. My arguments that actually producing laws that would benefit all and yet would help small businesses from the choking cloy of red-tape was akin to taliking to a brick wall. They simply could not grasp the concept. I would have got more response by talking to the trees.
      Now, at last, removing us from the sphere of the odious E.P.P. with its federalising ways and new healthily Eurosceptic views we may at last have a true Opposition at the “parliament”.
      I wonder whether the low turnouts reflect the fact that, when they get the chance, voters say “NO” and without a box which states, “None of the above” this is there way of showing it?

  2. Mike Stallard
    Posted June 9, 2009 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    Because nobody seems to be listening to what the other side is saying, your excellent advice: ‘The Eurosceptic movement needs to unite to fight the European leviathan.’ is not being taken, despite the enormous number of people in the UK who really want to do something positive about the EU.
    I have just been on the UKIP site, and also on the BNP site. Both have some interesting points to make. Both are very much against, for instance, unlimited immigration. And, surely, if people from all over the world treat this country as some sort of milch cow, then, at some point, we are going to find that the milk has run out? Or is that racist?
    Apparently the BNP had a seal broken on one of their ballot boxes. the returning officer allowed it to go through. So?
    Then, what about Libertas? It says it is in favour of a democratic Europe. Doesn’t everyone believe that? So where is the publicity?
    These things are simply never discussed by the idle BBC.
    UKIP and the BNP are so often juxtaposed just as if they were the same party. This, I imagine, is because they are both “right wing”. (BNP is actually a left wing party).
    We, the punters, do not really know much about the EU. And that is exactly how the founders wanted it. The payment is that we just allow the UK politicians, who we elected, to be hoodwinked into signing away their (and our) power to Brussels.
    We vaguely feel that this is not right. But we still like being part of Europe and feel that this makes good economic sense.
    So where is the leadership?

    • james harries
      Posted June 9, 2009 at 9:18 am | Permalink

      Libertas was a very strange pantomime horse. Here in France it was led by an aristocratic populist protectionist, Philippe de Villiers, who only admitted the protectionism in his concession e mail.
      Deservedly they only got 4-5% of the vote. The socialists did even worse than Brown.

    • Stuart Fairney
      Posted June 9, 2009 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      “BNP is actually a left wing party”

      Indeed it is, well said. Those who throw around the label fascist seldom understand what they mean by it. Incidentally was it just me who saw the irony of supposedly anti-fascist demonstarors in Manchester trying to physically prevent Griffin* from getting in the building?

      Way to go lads, show your committment to democracy by trying to stop it when you don’t like the results

      * and please no suggestions I am a crypto BNP supporter, My good lady is an immigrant to the UK and so the BNP may want to repatriate her. Then again….

  3. APL
    Posted June 9, 2009 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    JR: “…so we know it can never deliver its promise of withdrawal.”

    My dispute with you is that, I assume from party loyalty, you present what I consider to be a misleading evaluation of Tory policy toward the EU.

    You suggest we can renegotiate our terms with the EU when experience and the evidence of our own eyes tells us that the EU is unwilling to permit such a thing. Look at the EU treatment of Ireland any time the republic has voted against ratifying a treaty, it has been forced, and is now being forced again to vote twice to get the treaty the EU desires. One the treaty is ratified, it is never put to the vote again.

    France rejected the original treaty of Lisbon and now Lisbon is back but oddly, the French will be denied a vote on the revised treaty.

    The British who are notoriously EUrosceptic, have only had one referendum which a large number of people, myself included were too young to vote and the terms of that treaty presented to the British people have turned out with hindsight to have been based on a deception.

    Every other treaty presented to the crown by the EU, the British political establishment has gone to extraordinary length to avoid asking the opinion of the British public.

    Thatcher tried to renegotiate, it was a herculean task, ten years later, with out so much as a ‘by your leave’ the British Prime minister just gave it all back. Yes, I know he was a Labour Prime minister, but he was part of the political establishment.

    The Tories forced Maastricht through, with honorable exceptions the Tory MPs supported the government.

    In the same way the EU forces a new vote each time a treaty is rejected, why do we not get a annual debate in the Commons on the treaty of Rome? Why must we accept a ratchet in favor of the EU commission?

    I am off topic a little, but from my perspective as someone who has waited thirty years for a say on the European Union, it doesn’t go down well when a man who I have much respect for, dithers and disassembles on what I consider to be the principle issue for my children and I. So if I write in intemperate terms occasionally, it is through disillusionment and disappointment.

    You cannot renegotiate with the EU, they do not wish to negotiate they have much of what they want already, willingly given to them by the very British politicians who are supposed to hold the interests of British people first.

    Renegotiation implies a willingness to give on both sides, there is no willingness to give up anything it has achieved by the EU, and to be honest there is not much willingness to give up much of what I want from the EU either. I want self determination for the UK that is incompatible with the EU wish of ‘ever closer union’.

    Regards

    Reply: Eurosceptics need to know who are their friends, and concetrate their fire on the federalists who have been in power for too long. I have been trying to find a way back to self government with trade and friendship with Europe for the last two decades. Until all who who want more self government unite and fight together, we will not have the votes where it matters. Winning matters- being right but out of power does not help get us what we want.

    • APL
      Posted June 9, 2009 at 8:26 am | Permalink

      JR: “Winning matters- being right but out of power does not help get us what we want.”

      But the Tory party needs to be trustworthy, construting tortuious phrasology as Hague did the other day does not encourage those of us who once trusted the Tory party and have found that trust misplaced, to lend our trust again.

      I suppose, in that regard, people like Heath, Clarke and Rifkin have done a good job! They have made the Tory party untrustworthy.

    • Waramess
      Posted June 9, 2009 at 8:49 am | Permalink

      You are of course right John and I suppose you now know how the electorate feel with all the main parties wanting to stay in Europe.

      We see as our friends those who want to get out of Europe.

      This poster is absolutely right as you well know (but will not admit): Europe will never, ever allow a renegotiation of the powers it has already aquired and to live in the hope that it might is to live on complete denial

    • Deborah
      Posted June 9, 2009 at 9:15 am | Permalink

      “Winning matters- being right but out of power does not help get us what we want”
      But – for the voter – winning is pointless if the power is not then used address the problem.
      Until there is evidence that the Tories will act on behalf of the eurosceptics, rather then just go through the motions, voters will continue to be drawn to UKIP.
      The phrase “we will not let it rest” is inadequate.

  4. Colin D.
    Posted June 9, 2009 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    To quote your blog: “Federalists…are a minority in the country, but they have enjoyed solid majorities in Westminster..”
    What you are saying is that democracy in this country is so degraded that our MPs can refuse to reflect the will of their electorate. This attitude STILL prevails in the Conservative party as evidenced by
    (1) the fact that you, as a Eurosceptic, are not on the front bench
    (2) failure to give an absolute commitment on a Lisbon referendum, whether all countries have been dragooned into signing or not

  5. Mick Anderson
    Posted June 9, 2009 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    The referendum on the Common Market was so long ago that roughly have of the electorate (myself included) have never had a chance to vote on the matter.

    We were all too young at the time!

  6. jean baker
    Posted June 9, 2009 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    John,

    Thank you for (another) crystal clear explanation; your views are shared by everyone I know.

    Talking of Parliament, any news on the appointment of a new speaker ?

    Re[ply: We have hustings meetinsg next week which I will report on.

  7. Simon D
    Posted June 9, 2009 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    My take on Europe is as follows:

    1. A majority of the British public opposes the project for an EU super-state and would like to follow Norway and Switzerland by limiting matters to a viable trading relationship with the EU.
    2. In 1975 we voted only for an economic union. The political and media class said nothing to the public about super-states.
    3. In the early 1980s the Labour party opposed the EU but for some reason changed its mind – the public therefore has no longer any political choice.
    4. At the next election either the Conservatives or the Labour party will win outright or the Liberal Democrats will hold the balance in a hung parliament. UKIP will not win a single seat.
    5. Whatever the result, the political and media classes, strongly supported by the business lobby, will therefore ensure that basically, the UK will continue to support the EU super-state project. The British public is well locked-down and no amount of grumbling and muttering will bring about any change.
    6. Any chance of implosion will come from outside the UK.
    7. The EU project will fail, if at all, because it may not be able to withstand economic meltdown on a massive scale. At the moment the jury is out on whether the dire economic state of some EU members will be the cause of political change.

    Meanwhile for those in the comfort zone of a well-paid job in Brussels it is business as usual.

    • adam
      Posted June 9, 2009 at 10:10 am | Permalink

      The EU will cause civil war because the two camps are fundamentally divided, only democracy can serve as a mediator and the EU refuses to accept democracy.
      It is intent on imposing left wing totalitarian, collectivist, communitarian, statism.

      • Adrian Peirson
        Posted June 9, 2009 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

        But isn’t communism about spreading wealth about, I could do with some of that, and someone has rto be in control otherwise there would be anarchy.
        and left wing has got to be better than right wing, wasn’t Adolf Right wing.
        Surely you believe in helping poor people don’t you, and you can’t be in favour of Adolf Hitler can you ?.

        I’m only joking, I’m just playing with words like the left wing totalitarian, collectivist, communitarian, statists in the EU, whitehall and Westminster do to get us to do what they want.

    • DBC Reed
      Posted June 9, 2009 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      We did indeed vote for an economic union only .(Not me guv I voted against) The wording on the referendum ballot slip was “Do you think the Uk should stay in the European Community (Common Market)?”
      So there you go :we only ever agreed to a trading area.We were previous to this in EFTA (the European Free Trade Area) which seemed to work quite well.The first organisation in the UK to campaign seriously for a United Europe was Sir Oswald Mosley’s Union Movement.

  8. Andy
    Posted June 9, 2009 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Quite right.

    If only there were a main stream party whos leader would make the party policy absolutely clear (including what they will do if Lisbon is ratified) that the “Eurosceptic movement” could all rally around.

    I don’t often get the feeling of party-blinkers from you, but this time – definitely.

    Your complaint here seems to me to have a simple answer: get your own party to define its policy clearly. I voted UKIP in the Euro election, if I had any feeling that the Tory party had a firm (and complete) policy on Europe, I would have voted Tory.

    Reply: I do not have on party blinkers. I am just pointing out that after 12 years of Eurosceptic squablling we have a federalist government and much more power has been given away. Now bad for a Eurosceptic country!

    • Waramess
      Posted June 9, 2009 at 9:20 am | Permalink

      So, the parties have all grown so remote from the electorate that they are willing to ignore the wishes of the people.

      This is not of course the whole story; the fact is that the politicians have become so arrogant they don’t consider the wishes of the electorate to be relevant; they think the British people are stupid and cannot be trusted to vote in the right way.

      We will never be released from this absurd system until MP’s stop seeing as their duty the need to follow the party line.

      You are right; we have indeed achieved the distinction of becoming a Euro sceptic nation ruled by a federalist Europe, and maybe there is nothing we can do about it.

      The UKIP vote shows that we haven’t yet given up hope

  9. Alan
    Posted June 9, 2009 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    I voted ‘yes’ in 1975 and I have never regretted it. The country has become much richer partly as a result of our membership of the EU.

    There is a natural brake on the power that the EU can gain, just because the individual nations will not allow too much interference; you are seeing that effect in France, the Netherlands, Ireland, the UK, and indeed other countries. Just what is too much interference will probably change with time.

    I think UKIP is just a populist protest campaign. Every time they are asked what they are going to do instead of being in the EU they wave their hands and imply that they will easily renegotiate trade agreements from a position of strength. In fact they would be re-negotiating with people who would not particularly want the trouble of negotiating with them and UKIP would be in a position of weakness, where the other side could get what it wants just by threatening not to continue negotiating. But UKIP will continue to have a following because there are always people who want to protest about some aspects of any government’s actions.

    The real shame is that these are the people that we are now partly dependent on to ensure that the UK gets the best out of our EU membership, when their main objective is to prevent the EU working. The 15 UKIP and BNP MEPs are not likely to achieve much for the UK. Our interests will not be well represented and our influence will be less than what a country of our size should have.

    I wish I felt more confident that the Conservative MEPs would work effectively to make sure that EU policies benefit the UK, counteracting the influence of UKIP and BNP. Their first step of separating themselves from one of the most powerful parties doesn’t look promising. Standing on the sidelines making critical comments isn’t usually a good way of getting your policies adopted. It is fun to have the luxury of criticising, but to achieve what you want you have to get involved.

    • adam
      Posted June 9, 2009 at 10:21 am | Permalink

      Yea, the wealth of Bulgaria and Romania is just pouring into Britain right now. Im feeling richer. praise the EU

      • Alan
        Posted June 9, 2009 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

        These countries will be markets for our goods. Their people would have worked here cheaply if we had allowed them. You are right to praise the EU for bringing this about.

    • Lola
      Posted June 9, 2009 at 10:56 am | Permalink

      What’s the weather like on your planet?

      • Alan
        Posted June 9, 2009 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

        Not too bad, actually, here in Surrey. Bit of rain, but the sun gets through. Just like the EU – not all good, but in the main we are all doing well.

    • Stuart Fairney
      Posted June 9, 2009 at 11:31 am | Permalink

      “There is a natural brake on the power that the EU can gain, just because the individual nations will not allow too much interference”

      Are you being ironic?

      • Alan
        Posted June 9, 2009 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

        No, I am not being ironic. The nations are limiting what the EU can do.

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted June 9, 2009 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      I am not sure about your natural brake on the countries myself. We, in England, have our own common law and the presumption of innocence. We have a jury system. We have habeas corpus. We believe in government by a constitutional monarch. We trust our Police and Armed Forces. We are not, and have never really been, part of Europe.
      The Japanese are not part of China.
      Already we are getting rid of the things listed above very quickly. Why not go the whole hog and become slaves?

      • Alan
        Posted June 9, 2009 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

        We still have the common law, the presumption of innocence, juries. We still have the Queen and Parliament. We have a reliable police and military. We are part of Europe.

        Britons never never never will be slaves.

        • Stuart Fairney
          Posted June 9, 2009 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

          Common law? rely on it when the Yanks want to extradite you

          Presumption of innocence? Not if you are rendered outside of the UK. You know, that thing that doesn’t happen, whoops it does

          Juries? try being accused of fraud or terror offences, or maybe of a trivial offence not worth a jury’s time

          Parliament? Are you serious

          Reliable police? Defend your home from yobs or make a political statement the government does not approve of, see how relaible they are. (further complaints re police removed – ed)

          Military? The ones who surrendered to the Iranian revolutionary guards, or whose victory parade out of Basra involved scuttling out under cover of darkness (Note: I respect these guys seriously for doing what I could not and would not do, but they are given an impossible task with inadequate resources)

          Listen closely my friend, you will hear the clanking of the shackles

    • Adrian Peirson
      Posted June 13, 2009 at 4:38 am | Permalink

      What’s to Negotiate with other countries, they either want our goods or they don’t.
      We either want theirs or we don’t.
      We didn’t need an organisation costing 100billion Per year 100 yrs ago to trade with Europem and the world, why do we need it now.
      we don’t that 100billion is simply how the Elites, fleece and enslave we the Proles through taxation.
      We don’t need the EU, it is a cancer.

  10. Robert K. Oxford
    Posted June 9, 2009 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    Well, yes, up to a point.
    The reason I suspect that people voted Ukip was because it was the cleanest message of rejection against the Federal juggernaut. There is little else in the dull and pompous Ukip manifesto that would hold much appeal beyond the local golf club. The Tories have failed, in my view, to articulate a clear line on Europe, perhaps because they still bear the scars from the 1990s. They should take heart, however, because if 17% of the electorate are prepared to swallow hard and put a tick by Mr Farage’s name it is clear that anti-Brussels sentiment is running very high.

    • SJB
      Posted June 9, 2009 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

      Yet 150,000 fewer people voted UKIP than in the 2004 European Election (2.65m v 2.5m). I know the turnout was down but wouldn’t UKIP voters be more motivated?
      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/hi/vote2004/euro_uk/html/front.stm
      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/hi/elections/euro/09/html/ukregion_999999.stm

      I understand why disenchanted Labour voters did not turn out but I find it curious why UKIP’s support did not rise. After all, the EU Constitution and the Lisbon Treaty have been in the news almost weekly over recent years. Some contributors frequently claim that there is a huge demand for a referendum – yet when given an opportunity to register dissent only 34% of the electorate can be bothered to walk the 10 mins or so to the polling station and of those only around 25% vote for anti-EU parties.

  11. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted June 9, 2009 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    I voted NO in 1975. Since then consecutive governments, both Conservative and Labour, have given away the powers with which they were temporarily entrusted to an unelected anti-democratic organisation. Indeed your own party removed the best prime minister we have had since the war because she was too Eurosceptic. Therefore you should not be surprised if people don’t trust your party to do anything other than continue down the federalist road despite what you say. Actions speak louder than words and the evidence is there for all to see. Continually disparaging the voters for voting for parties such as UKIP and not embracing them is a sign to me that you have little determination to stop this juggernaut.

  12. backofanenvelope
    Posted June 9, 2009 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    I voted in 1975 and I voted yes. Because what was on offer was the Common Market.

    The trouble for you Mr Redwood is that a Redwood-UKIP alliance could be possible but not a Conservative-UKIP one.

    I think UKIP’s primary aim is unachievable and much prefer William Hague’s “In but no further in” policy. If that had been the policy then there would not have been a Lisbon treaty. Unfortunately in 2009, it would mean rewinding things and as someone has pointed out – the EU will not allow that.

  13. Simon_c
    Posted June 9, 2009 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    Personally, the biggest problem with not having a referendum on Lisbon is that we were promised one in the last election, so Europe became a non-issue. “Don’t worry about Europe and the coming constitution treaty, it will all be debated and discussed in a referendum later”

    Only it wasn’t. So we were denied the ability to influence it at election time, and denied a referendum. Even though I’m broadly in favour of Europe as it stands right now, I still think the way it has been done is the hight of dishonesty.

  14. DominicJ
    Posted June 9, 2009 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    “The Eurosceptic movement needs to unite to fight the European leviathan. Treating each European election as another opportunity to send a mesage to other Eurosceptics gives great comfort to the federalists.”

    Lead us, and we will follow, wether thats into UKIP, the Libertarians or the Plananistas.
    But you must lead for us to follow, and you cannot lead from where you are.

  15. Andrew S
    Posted June 9, 2009 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    My view is that a vote for UKIP in the european election puts down a marker for the Conservatives to respond with firm committment to re-establish the primacy of Westminster government over EU. That means EU law no longer to override UK law. No ID cards, no european regions in UK. The bottom line being prepared to withdraw completely if UK does not get the renegotiation required.

    Maybe lots of people who voted UKIP are now waiting to see the Conservative leadership response. Who is offered a front bench role, who is left on the back benches. Which euro enthusiasts are left in place on the shadow front bench. Which ones are cleared out. And how is the EU policy commitment re post Lisbon scenario, firmed up. It needs to be firmed up now, so Conservatives can be held to account later.

  16. Robin Lawrence
    Posted June 9, 2009 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    But, the numbers don’t matter when a party’s leaders take a less than sceptical, ‘reform the EU from within’ approach, surely?

    Even if the Conservative Party held 100% of this country’s EP seats, the EU would still lumber on, taking care to further disadvantage the UK as a punishment, perhaps.

    Which indicates an even greater irrelevance than that which you rightly ascribe to UKIP-at-Westminster.

    So what’s the plan? An anti-federal party with an EU-appeasing leadership? One does wonder…

    This is at the heart of the matter: the lack of connection, everywhere, between most politicians and their electorate.

    Cameron owns the Referendum turbo button. He needs to press it.

  17. Ken Adams
    Posted June 9, 2009 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    The problem I have with the concept of the Conservatives actually doing something about the continual drain of power from Westminster to Brussels and from Parliament to the Executive, is that they have had an opportunity to do so in the past and have failed to do so. In fact Conservative administrations have passed just as much power to Brussels as Labour, the red lines and the lines in the sand are meaningless in the face of a concerted pressure towards ever closer union, all they would achieve- if anything- is a delay in the process and not a complete change in direction.

    When the Conservative leadership strongly support totally removing all references to closer union and demand a restitution of powers and back that with the threat of withdrawal, I will start to believe the party is EUsceptic. Until then I will continue to believe that it is the Conservatives who are dividing the EUscptic vote, when some members of the party give that impression that they are offering party policy when they disappointedly are not.

  18. Robert Eve
    Posted June 9, 2009 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    I dream of the UK leaving the EU.

    However it is only a dream.

    Now Barruso wants a second term – need I say more?

  19. SJB
    Posted June 9, 2009 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    As you point out, under FPTP there are unlikely to be any UKIP MPs. Under PR, in contrast, UKIP might have obtained a significant number of MPs – possibly enough to be partners in a coalition government.

    Based on what happened at the last General Election, it seems probable that most of UKIP’s recent voters will choose another party in the General Election. (UKIP share of the vote fell from 16.1% in the 2004 European Election to 2.2% in the 2005 General Election.)
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/hi/vote2004/euro_uk/html/front.stm
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/vote2005/html/scoreboard.stm

    But, of course, that means UKIP supporters may have to rely on Tory MPs being prepared to go against a three-line whip (e.g. if the ‘renegotiations’ matter is unfavourable or not put to the people in a referendum). Some MPs did rebel over Maastricht, but John Major’s government (majority of 18 at the time) prevailed in the end.

  20. Freeborn John
    Posted June 9, 2009 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    If Gordon Brown holds a referendum now on the Lisbon Treaty i will promise to vote for him at the next election. I am sure that millions of others would too.

    If the very limited EU re-negotiation aims you blogged about recently (essentially just restoring the social and employment Maastricht opt-outs while accepting everything in the treaties of Amsterdam and Nice) are the limit of Tory ambition i fail to see what is the point of voting Conservative.

    • APL
      Posted June 10, 2009 at 7:13 am | Permalink

      Freeborn John: “If Gordon Brown holds a referendum now on the Lisbon Treaty i will promise to vote for him at the next election. ”

      Careful! Remember there is a lot hanging on the phrasing of and the question itself.

  21. Ian C
    Posted June 9, 2009 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    I agree with what you have said.

    The reality is that Europe has benefits. These have not been managed to our (or anyone else’s excpet the bureaucrats) benefit.

    Can you now persuade Cameron that the right electoral position for the Tories is to offer a referendum on Britain’s future relationship with Europe regardless of whether Brown has hung on long enough to allow ratification of Lisbon?

    That will return the UKIP vote to the Tory party, in the main (many ex-Labour skeptics too) at the General Election (I am still betting on the autumn).

  22. [[NAME EDITED]]
    Posted June 9, 2009 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    Cameron could capture most of the UKIP votes quite simply if he wanted to, so he obviously doesn’t want to.

  23. R.Rowan
    Posted June 9, 2009 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    From “Politics home” I hope this is not so “David Cameron is thought to be secretly hoping that the Lisbon treaty will be ratified before he becomes Prime Minister, saving him from holding a referendum as promised”.

  24. Mike Paterson
    Posted June 9, 2009 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    I’m sorry, JR, this simply will not do. A Eurosceptic alliance would be a great idea, the only problem being that the Conservative Party (as distinct from Conservative voters) is not and never has been particularly Eurosceptic. Remind me who took us in. Remind me who signed the Treaties of Rome and Maastricht. Please let me know when David Cameron promises and keeps his promise to provide a referendum “come what may”. Remind me who actually gave us the opportunity of the 1975 referendum. Oh, that was Labour. Oh dear. The very raison d’etre of UKIP is that the Conservatives have never done their duty on the EU. And nor will they. You, Dan Hannan and co are voices in the wilderness. When faced with the choice of voting for a patriots or traitors, what’s a person to do?

  25. Socrates
    Posted June 9, 2009 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    John – I am not clear quite what you are saying here. Whilst you are sound on Europe it is by no means clear that all your fellow Conservative candidates are quite as trustworthy. Certainly those of us with any experience of the party, and I had about twenty five years up to and including the NUEC, know that there is a very serious fifth column of pro europeans hoping that no one remembers their past record. I can think of at least one former Young Conservative National Chairman, currently holding a very high position in the party, whose previous europhile credentials would make Kenneth Clarke look like a card carrying Eurosceptic!
    Perhaps I am wrong and he has been on a trip to Damascus and seen the light but I doubt it.
    The real problem is that it is very difficult to be sure that you can trust a Conservative candidate.
    Until the party has firm unequivocal policies on Europe rather than the current weasel words, there will always be an Opportunity for UKIP. There should be no need for UKIP there should be the Tory Party!

    • APL
      Posted June 9, 2009 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

      Socrates: ” .. currently holding a very high position in the party, whose previous europhile credentials would make Kenneth Clarke look like a card carrying Eurosceptic!”

      Well exactly.

      How to account for Cameron’s reluctance to come out as anti European Union.

      1. He is a raving EUrophile. But making EUrophobic noises to keep the Anti EU wing of the Tory party in the water as the temperature rises.

      2. There are people in the party who are raving EUrophiles and known to be more loyal to the EU project than they are to the UK or the Tory party.

      Such is Kenneth Clarke, he is prepared to work with a socialist like Blair rather than a Eurosceptic Troy leadership such as Hague was thought to be.

      3. Both of the above. I think the most likely scenario.

      Reply: David Cameron is no Europhile. He has just removed Conservative MEPs from a federalist grouping, set out the case for a Eurosceptic opposition in Brussels, and reaffirmed his wish to see a referendum on Lisbon denied by Lib/Labs.

  26. Colin Adkins
    Posted June 9, 2009 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    I, not as eleagantly as many of your other contributors, commented on your last EU posting. Explaining why I had voted UKIP. I hope you can see now how badly the Consrvative vote is being hindered by the mistrust of Camerons intentions on this issue.
    If he cares he really needs to come out fighting, the BBC can be dealt with by sound argument.

  27. Alan Wheatley
    Posted June 9, 2009 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    Europe is a numbers game:
    “Now, two elections on, we know it [UKIP] cannot command anything like half of those voting in a PR election where people are meant to vote as they think and feel. Without overwhelming numbers it is not going to get its way.”

    Winners and losers in the European elections:
    “The headline for the EU as a whole is a big win by the centre right. I take no joy from that. The so called centre right, the continental winners, are all parties that want more European laws, regulations and centralised power. They all want to do things that will make Europe less prosperous and less free. I am just glad my party today is fully detached from them.”

    Please tell us, JR, what makes you think that a Conservative majority on the EU in the UK counts for anything in the EU as a minority position.

  28. RPC
    Posted June 10, 2009 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    I object to my vote for UKIP being interpreted by the Conservatives as a “protest vote.” It was not. It was a principled vote.

    Are all MPs now so accustomed to being whipped through the lobbies for reasons of party expediency as opposed to individual conscience that they no longer recognise principles when they see them?

    You appear to be asking those who vote for UKIP to consider the splintering effect this has on the Eurosceptic vote and then to conclude that a vote for the Conservative Party is more effective.

    Sorry, but no. The end does NOT justify the means. David Cameron still has not satisfactorily (in my opinion) answered the question concerning what a governing Conservative Party would do if Ireland ratify the Lisbon Treaty before the next G.E.

    And so what if UKIP never win a seat in Westminster? At least we know what they stand for – withdrawal from the anti-democratic juggernaut known as the E.U. – and it is for that reason I and many others voted for them in the E.U. elections and will vote for them at the next General Election unless Cameron commits to de-ratification (or whatever the correct terminology is) of the EU Constitution, cynically renamed The Lisbon Treaty.

  29. Publius
    Posted June 15, 2009 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    Has Ken Clark now answered for Tory policy on the Lisbon Treaty when he said yesterday that if it is ratified by Ireland we will accept it?

    Does not the Lisbon Treaty commit signatories to strive for “ever-closer union”? How is this compatible with less union and more independence?

    The Lisbon Treaty makes Westminster politics an irrelevance — no more that parish-pump talking-heads, setting themselves up to line their pockets like the Kinnocks.

    I am starting to feel betrayed by Mr Cameron on this. Vague promises to talk to “our European partners” about maybe getting a little bit of sovereignty back if they deign to grant it just will not do.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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