One of the myths of some commentators is that politicians and parties should not “bang on” about the EU because electors are not interested. It is true that if you ask people if the EU is one of their main issues, or if they want to hear about the EU, the large majority will say they have other matters which they think are more important. Those matters are often jobs, immigration and energy prices.
That is why, of course, political parties who want to meet the wishes of the people do have to “bang on” about the EU. The feature of migration which most worries people presently is the open border with the rest of the EU. Many want the government to stop benefit tourists coming here from elsewhere in the EU. Others want to stop workers moving here to undercut wage rates or take jobs from local people. There has to be an EU/UK policy answer to the worries about jobs and migration.
The same is true of housing policy. As someone wisely said in a posting here, maybe the UK has a migration problem more than a housing problem. As we have been inviting in an additional 250,000 people a year during much of Labour’s time in office, that means we have to build a new city the size of Southampton every year to accommodate them. We have not been building anything like enough houses to keep up with the large numbers of new arrivals. This means they have to face poor quality housing, living too many in the same property, whilst house prices generally are driven up by the extra demand.
People rightly want cheaper energy. They want to know the lights will stay on. Labour not only put through UK legislation that means dearer energy ahead, but also signed us up to EU directives and regulations which force us to close cheaper fossil fuel power stations and rely much more on expensive and unreliable wind energy. To solve the problem legally we need a new policy in the EU as well as at home.
The commentators also say that the Conservatives have to keep quiet about the EU because the party is split on it. This is no longer true. The Conservative party as a united whole voted against Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon, and the associated large transfers of powers to the EU under those Treaties. The Conservatives have been long united in opposition to the UK joining the Euro, and are the one major party which says never to joining the Euro.
Being in government with the Lib Dems has not changed these views. We still think the Nice Amsterdam and Lisbon Treaties were wrong. We either want a new relationship which gets rid of the large powers the EU holds, or a vote to leave. Conservatives want to tackle people’s worries about jobs, migration, homes and energy prices. All these now have a large made in Brussels element we have to change. The commentators are wrong to churn out their silly soundbites that people are not interested in the EU and the Conservatives have to keep off the subject.