Eurosceptic splits again


             The Barnsley by election might have been a good time for the Eurosceptics to come out and show their strength. After all, the Lib Dems  were not very popular, a Labour victory was always likely, but the cause of  the by election was not a helpful one for the defending party. In a by election more people might be persuaded to say what they really think. Apparently they really think federalist Labour is best for Barnsley.

           As always the Eurosceptic splits were on show. This time UKIP edged into the lead amongst the Eurosceptics, but only managed 12.2% of the vote. The total Eurosceptic votes was 22.7%, plus 6% going to the BNP.

          Once again those who say the electorate are ready to take strong action on the EU are wrong. The Eurosceptics could not  even reach one third between them, let alone a winning margin. We get the governments we vote for.


  1. APL
    March 4, 2011

    JR: “As always the Eurosceptic splits were on show …. ”

    Truthspeak translator: “The Tories really need everyone to vote for them else the game is up and we’ll have to reflect our grass roots opinion instead of the next of vipers and trators in CCO.”

    1. Stuart Fairney
      March 5, 2011

      I have to agree. Mr Redwood’s worst post of the year, partisan and dead wrong.

      And let’s not forget that around two-thirds of electors knew the charade was pointless and would change nothing.

      If UKIP could persuade ten credible tories to jump ship then maybe they could shift the political centre of gravity, but as it is, the “change the tories from within” strategy is an utter failure and the suposed Eurosceptics in the conservative party will achive nothing in this parliamant, not the next when Labour again win, and thus another wasted decade. By then it may all be too late if it’s not already.

      Reply: All of you are missing the point – I am describing the truth to you, which is that a disunited Eurosceptic movement is not having the impact it needs or wants. I am not defending the status quo, but nor do I see an easy answer.

      1. APL
        March 6, 2011

        JR: “All of you are missing the point ..”

        No you are missing the point. The truth is, presenting the Tory party as an EUrosceptic party is dishonest, suggesting it can be changed from within – exactly when will we see the results of that strategy? – is at best misguided and at worst a deliberate ruse to neuter EUrosceptics who have stayed in the party in the hope that change would be in their idealogical direction.

        Such a strategy cannot succeed while the Party machine is controlled by the Party itself rather than the membership.

        The Tory party has been infiltrated and is being used as an instrument to undermine organized anti European Union sentiment. I am afraid that is the truth.

        I first started voting in 1979 and I can tell you now, the Tory party today is further to the left than ever.

        Reply: By being in the Conservative party as a Eurosceptic we made a big impact on keeping the pound, persuaded the Conservative party to oppose and vote against Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon and pressed for a reassertion of Uk sovereignty. We have won some things, but I am the first to agree there is much more we need to win.

        1. Boudicca
          March 6, 2011

          We have Sir James Goldsmith (RIP) to thank for the fact that the UK stayed outside the Euro.

          Reply: Not just him. I seem to remember resigning from the Cabinet to defend the pound and helping force the offer of a referendum.

  2. lifelogic
    March 4, 2011

    This was in a labour constituency where the electorate are perhaps less likely to vote on the EU issue and more on the politics of envy. Anyway they are obliged to vote on a huge basket of issues so it is not reasonable to assume that the labour vote are pro EU. I would guess that over 50% are probably against the EU and against more immigration and more taxes too but still vote labour for other reasons.

    Perhaps just to protest or mistakenly in the belief that Labour are best for the poor as they (like the current Tories) over tax the rich and push them away.

    On the Welsh referendum – moving power to Wales and Scotland affects the English greatly so why do only the Welsh have a say. This is not democracy it is using devolution to subvert democracy by taking little bites when certain sections of voters will agree to it. Only ask the areas you think will agree and catch them at the right time – if they say no ask again, rephrase the question or just bribe them with taxpayers money. The same at the EU strategy.

    1. Andrew Shakespeare
      March 4, 2011

      When Brussels controls so much, does it really make a difference whether laws are made in London or Cardiff?

      1. Stuart Fairney
        March 5, 2011

        Only in the sense that if you think the Westminster politicians are dim, hopeless, inexperienced buffoons for the most part, you should see the quality (or in fact, the lack thereof) in the Welsh assembly. One of them, a former party leader, was my old geography teacher and even at 12 I knew a dunderhead when I saw one.

    2. sjb
      March 4, 2011

      There is no obligation “to vote on a huge basket of issues” – for instance, Dr Richard Taylor won the constituency of Wyre Forest, as an Independent, after campaigning on the single issue of saving the local hospital. Martin Bell also won as an Independent, standing on an “anti-corruption” ticket, if memory serves.

      1. lifelogic
        March 6, 2011

        On local issues felt very strongly it can just about work but not on national ones. But one MP can do virtually nothing anyway.

  3. Sue
    March 4, 2011

    ……and the conservatives did really well, didn’t they?

  4. Nick
    March 4, 2011

    We get the governments we vote for.

    So that’s why the Lib Dems and Tories are reneging on the manifesto promises about right to recall.

    We don’t get the governments we vote for, because you go off and do what you want, ignore the electorate, and then its another round of “We promise to do X, vote for us”.

    1. Andrew Shakespeare
      March 4, 2011

      And that’s merely the start of what the Tories have reneged upon. As voters, we have no guarantee that the people we vote for will do anything they promise, and no protection if they don’t. In fact, the one thing we can be certain of is that they WILL break their promises. We can merely hope they don’t do it too frequently or egregiously.

      It was a low turnout in Barnsley yesterday. One wonders how many disillusioned voters, having voted for Cameron last May, couldn’t see the point of doing so again. Speaking personally (although I don’t live in Barnsley), I voted Conservative last time. In a future by-election, I might or might not vote UKIP, but I will not — absolutely, categorically will not — give Cameron a second chance to shaft me.

      1. Mr Ecks
        March 7, 2011


        (Conservatives -ed) got my vote once because I hate Labour. Never again.

  5. Ian B
    March 4, 2011

    Doesn’t it depend on the constituency? Isn’t this a labour (i.e. pro-EU) stronghold?

    I’m sorry to have to say this John, but the biggest problem we have in this country is the Tory party. If I were a transnationalist statist and there were no Tory party, I would invent one to act as a spoiler. Over and over again, it acts to defuse conservative and classical liberal opposition by pretending to be an anti-left party, and it isn’t. So people who are anti-EU feel obliged to vote for it, or be blamed for denying it electoral success by voting for a minor party like UKIP; and then it gets into power and does little which is conservative or classical liberal. Most obviously, anti-EU voters vote for it, then it does not offer any referendum on EU membership.

    What, precisely, do you expect voters opposed to transnational progressivism to do, Mr Redwood? Who exactly are we supposed to vote for in our current system? We are supposed to keep voting for a pro-EU party because it makes a few vague noises about not being quite so pro-EU as the other party?

    There is a time limit on this thing. The EU becomes more the federal nation it has always intended to be with every passing day. There will come a point when we cannot leave. When we have no sovereignty left; when our armed forces are replaced by an EU force, and as more and more children grow up through an indoctrinational education system to believe they are “EU citizens” not “British citizens”.

    And you want us to keep voting for that? What sense is there in an anti-EU person using their solitary vote to vote for more EU?

    1. APL
      March 4, 2011

      IanB: “but the biggest problem we have in this country is the Tory party. ”


      IanB: “Who exactly are we supposed to vote for in our current system?

      Redwood knows what the score is, he still goes on and on about changing the Tory party from within, that tack has been a HUGE success!

      Last count Redwood a supposedly Eurosceptic outside the Cabinet, Cameron, Clarke et al in the Cabinet. And the European Union legislative ratchet goes up another tooth.

      Sooner or later you have to start wondering if Redwood is part of the problem.

  6. Mike Stallard
    March 4, 2011

    I am proud to be English.
    Other people are too.
    The BNP are proud to be English, but they are racist.
    The EDL are proud to be English, but as yet they are without decent leadership. As yet.
    Both of these parties are unthinkable as our government unless and until AV comes in.

    So why do the BBC keep confusing these two execrable parties with UKIP which is quite electable, quite sensible and RIGHT?
    And why don’t the so called Conservatives get on with becoming truly European and cherry picking the Orders from Brussels?

    1. APL
      March 4, 2011

      Mike Stallard: “So why do the BBC keep confusing these two execrable parties with UKIP ..”

      The BBC *IS* part of the problem. It’s a collective of international Socialists paid for by extortion.

      Oh! and the ‘Tory’ party refuse to do anything about it.

  7. WitteringWitney
    March 4, 2011

    Really Mr. R, you entering the world of spin too?

    The Coalition get 12.4% and UKIP gets 12.2%.

    Your 22.7% figure presumably includes UKIP and Conservative percentages? Conservatives Eurosceptic? Pull the other one, do.

    @Nick makes an extremely valid point which probably is the reason for the low turnout – there is no difference between Lib/Lab/Con and in any event it is only a by-election.

  8. Curmudgeon
    March 4, 2011

    As it was a rock-solid Labour seat you can’t really draw the inference that a combined UKIP/Tory vote share of 22.7% shows little interest in Euroscepticism. They’d probably vote for a scabby dog with a red rosette.

    But if the Tories want to garner more votes amongst Eurosceptic voters they need to take a much more robust line towards the EU. They could start by throwing out the absurd ECJ insurance equality judgment.

    1. lifelogic
      March 4, 2011

      “They could start by throwing out the absurd ECJ insurance equality judgment.”

      Yes what it the party line on this EU insurance absurdity?

      1. APL
        March 6, 2011

        Lifelogic: “Yes what it the party line on this EU insurance absurdity?”

        Much huffing and puffing about this or that, then implement the policy in its entirety.

      2. Boudicca
        March 6, 2011

        Roll over. The same as every other ludicrous judgment which the tame EU courts (ECJ and ECHR) come up with.

  9. sm
    March 4, 2011

    UKIP will probably make a lot more ground in European elections.

    The Labour candidate also looked personally impressive. If we cant rely on manifestos maybe we just have to chance it with good individual MP’s regardless of the badge.It kind of makes sense in a crazy way.

    1. D K McGregor
      March 5, 2011

      It’s a thought , isn’t it . Imagine if we voted for MPs on their personal merit and integrity , what could be achieved then? Party politics does seem to let us all down and offers too much to small groups of fanatics.

  10. Paul H
    March 4, 2011

    People keep digging up the point about both parties (so no coalition compromise issue) reneging on the manifesto commitment to introduce MP recall, but I don’t recall (pun intended) you commenting on this anywhere. Are you keeping schtum because you think it is a bad idea that should never have been promised in the first place? For what it is worth, that would not be a good reason to ignore the fact of another broken Cameron promise.

    Reply: I haven’t commented because I have not seen or heard of how they plan to progress this.

    1. APL
      March 6, 2011

      JR: “I have not seen or heard of how they plan to progress this.”

      Breaking News: Prominent right wing Tory kept in loop by Left wing party top brass.

  11. alan jutson
    March 4, 2011

    Sorry John, but both the Lib Dems and Conservatives got what they deserved, because they have lost the plot completely in trying to explain what they are doing, and why.

    Your lot are still promising cuts, cuts, cuts, and this is what the electorate believe is happening. Not a word (other than from yourself) that expenditure is actually rising, and that cuts in personel could all be from natural wastage, if planned properly.

    Had a conversation today with a retired Insurance Broker (so one would expect him to be reasonably aware as to what is going on in the world), we talked about politics amongst many other subjects, he said we absolutely must have cuts to get out of the financial mess we are in, and related the Countrys finances to a household budget (as most of us do), I agreed, but asked if he was aware that Government spending was going to rise for the next five years. He looked at me as if I was mad, did not believe me, and said surely not, I must have that wrong, because if that was the case it would be crazy.

    The Labour story whilst all smoke and mirrors, is working, and your lot are up a creek without a paddle, drifting around, going with the flow as it ebbs and flows, first one way, then another, seemingly not really knowing which direction to travel.

    Unless your lot get their act together and fast, Labour will be getting in again (now only four years away) then heaven help us all, as Bankruptcy looms!..

  12. JimF
    March 4, 2011

    Easy to see that the “Sheffield” and “Brown” factors which moved Laborites to the LibDems in the GE have moved back to Labour.
    Honest Conservatives who thought they might have elected a proper Conservative Gov when most of your bloggers already knew the awful truth voted UKIP.

    That leaves us with an Ed in power next, Libdems decimated towards Labour and Conservatives split with UKIP and the heavies. Unless you guys get heavier yourselves.

  13. Eric Arthur Blair
    March 4, 2011

    Here’s another spin on it – UKIP humiliated the Conservatives and this will happen increasingly unless the supposedly eurosceptic Conservatives deliver what UKIP are promising to..?

    It is a shame, as a genuine conservative eurosceptic in the Conservative Party that sometimes, some of your post contributors are forced to associate you with the ongoing treachery as you are one of just a handful who are true to their word and their manifesto pledges.

    But unless the Conservative Party gives the people what we want in this Parliament, UKIP’s ascendency will be unstoppable and your party will never have a majority again.

    Don’t blame the voters – blame David Cameron and William Hague.

  14. Mark
    March 4, 2011

    The result was not a ringing endorsement of Parliament (just 36.5% turnout), or the Labour party, which despite having a personable candidate of obvious integrity scored its lowest share of the vote since 1982 if we exclude the 2010 election that was influenced by the already known expenses claims of the then MP. It punished the Tories for running a low key campaign and failing to even appoint a candidate until the last minute – something which allowed UKIP to sweep up votes with their smart local woman. It crucified the Lib Dem vote, which had previously held a consistent second largest share for many years. Even the more-Labour-than Labour independent increased his vote and share, and the BNP vote was up on 2005.

    I don’t think we can draw meaningful conclusions about Eurosceptic voting in this sort of constituency where the Labour vote predominates regardless of Labour policy or lack of it. Protest votes went to the fringes in all directions – most notably by staying at home.

    1. sjb
      March 5, 2011

      A survey (n=508) of the Barnsley Central electorate found most of those who voted LibDem in the 2010 general election intended to vote Labour in the by-election. But what may surprise readers, bearing in mind that the LibDems are the most pro-European party, is that 11% stated they would vote UKIP in the by-election.

  15. Duyfken
    March 4, 2011

    Those who voted Conservative should surely not be classified so easily as eurosceptic. Rather we might see them as followers of their Party leader who has proclaimed himself as a liberal Conservative. So it is really only UKIP which represents the significant eurosceptic vote. Even that may be overstating it because it could be that some erstwhile Conservative voters see UKIP as the only available alternative to liberal Conservatism.

    What appears to be sought by many of those with right-of-centre leaning is not liberal Conservatism, nor even conservative Conservatism, but just plain Conservatism, and the Conservative party is not providing that. The EU is but one issue; there are numerous others.

  16. Javelin
    March 4, 2011

    I don’t see Europe as the only malaise. The EU removes responsibilty at the cost of freedom, but so does political correctness, health and safety, lack of discipline at school. The problem is if you criticise the anti- democratic EU you run the risk of sounding undemocratic because we went into the Eu on a referendum 40 years ago.

    The trick is to focus on freedom, democracy and responsibility and those who believe in those principles will see the failings in the EU and be more resolved on the issue.

  17. Kevin Marshall
    March 4, 2011

    If this was a by-election for the European Partliament and the constituency was traditionally evenly split (or eurosceptic), then it would be fair comment to say that this was a vote against euroscepticism.
    However, this is Barnsley, one of the most Labour constituencies in the country. Not even the fact that their previous MP was jailed for expenses fraud was enough to dent the Labour vote. In fact Labour’s share of the vote increased.
    The biggest issue on people’s minds is the cutting of the deficit. This was always going to be a vote loser. Labour, after causing much of the structural deficit through wasteful expenditure; then failing to have the courage to take the tough, unpopular, decisions. Now they gain votes by decrying any attempt to raise taxes or reduce expenditure.
    Anyone who really cares about about the future of this country should firmly put Labour in their place. Labour need some years in the wilderness to understand the differance between the real world of public service and the public relations world of massaging the opinion polls.

  18. rose
    March 4, 2011

    There seems to be a news blackout on UKIP coming second for the first time in a bye election. But what else would one expect? Has anyone else seen who the candidate was and what they were like? How different was the BBC’s treatment of the Liberals when they were on the up!

  19. Mark
    March 4, 2011

    Perhaps it is the BBC editing, but I can find no trace that James Hockney stood as a Eurosceptic Conservative:

    Do we know whether he is in fact a Europhile or not?

    1. sjb
      March 5, 2011

      His election leaflet stated: “Never to Britain joining the Euro”

  20. zorro
    March 4, 2011

    The good people of Barnsley would vote for Gaddafi if he turned up with a red rosette, or even if the Labour Party proposed voting to join in the Martian Union…..As it is their candidate was a reasonably well turned out former soldier, the Conservative one was not….Their was only ever one winner.
    The Eurosceptic (sic) Conservative Party performed poorly and the Lib Dems even worse. By elections are for giving the ruling party a bloody nose, not to express displeasure at the European Union.
    If the Eurosceptic (sic) Conservative Party want the public to make a decision on the EU, all they have to do is grant a referendum and then we will know the strength of feeling. Well, we know it already and that is why they dare not hold a referendum…..Perhaps you can persuade ‘cast iron’ Dave to hold one?
    How many of the ‘Eurosceptic Conservative Party’ MPs (over 300+) vote with you in a Eurosceptic fashion when the vote comes?
    ‘Once again those who say the electorate are ready to take strong action on the EU are wrong.’ – John, they were never asked the question on the EU issue during the by election and it’s silly to juxtapose this issue with a by election in Barnsley.
    Until, the Conservative Party in Parliament shows it is Eurosceptic (of course, it isn’t) there is no hope. Anyone who voted Conservative is slowly seeing the promises evaporate…they are now getting flaky on Immigration…… ‘Physician, heal thyself’


    Reply: A number of bloggers say the Conservative candidate was not Eurosceptic. That makes the Eurosceptic vote even more derisory.
    There is no point in getting mad with me – I have never said my method of getting a referendum from within the Conservative party will work by a specified deadline, merely pointed out the obvious that the other route of backing UKIP clearly has not worked. My method has helped win Eurosceptic concessions from governments which people backing parties that do not win seats cannot achieve – e.g. opt out from Euro, original opt out from EU common borders, lower increase in EU budget this year etc. People in the UK by a majority vote for more EU and that’s what they get. I still think Eurosceptics have to unite to fight, but I see no immediate prospect of them doing so.

    1. Brian Tomkinson
      March 5, 2011

      You still think that “Eurosceptics have to unite to fight”.
      I think by this you mean they all should vote Conservative. Unfortunately many of us have realised that the leadership of your party is not Eurosceptic but quite the opposite. How do we then unite? I repeat that if you believe this is so important then I see no point in your remaining a Conservative MP unless you can replace the current leadership, which I fear is less likely than you winning the national lottery. What can you do to inspire that Eurosceptic unity?

      Reply: I cannot do that, as contributors to this site make clear with their many criticisms of me. I doubt anyone can, so Eurosceptics will continue to wrangle and fail to marhsall all the votes that might be out there.

    2. simple soul
      March 5, 2011

      Facts are stubborn things and we are now faced with the reality that UKIP is here to stay. Perhaps the electoral pact proposed by UKIP for the last general election should be looked at again.

      Reply: I do not think the current leadership of the Conservative party has any wish to do a deal with UKIP, and I doubt the new leadership of UKIP has any intention of proposing one either.

      1. simple soul
        March 5, 2011

        Yes, indeed, two more stubborn facts. You are right to be so gloomy a messenger, but thanks for an honest answer.

        I would like to look at the new political landscape more indirectly, by focusing on the change in Lib Dem prospects. What has kept the Lib Dems afloat since the war has been the periodic need for the protest vote to go somewhere. Their days as the party of the protest vote and all-purpose opposition mentality are now over. Their role as the party of gay rights and anti-apartheid is history. In the nature of things, the baton now passes to whichever fringe party can present itself as a focus for discontent. At present, of the three fringe parties, the Greens are much the weakest electorally, while the BNP have probably peaked or possibly been superseded by the EDL. This leaves UKIP as best positioned to mobilise the discontent of motorway man in the context of unemployment and high prices.

        Let us always bear in mind the potential for a new political landscape, shaped by the ending of a postwar system of only three official parties. Orpington came back again eventually to the Conservatives, but UKIP voters could stay away.

    3. zorro
      March 5, 2011

      I don’t think anyone is getting mad with you, or really blaming you – in this respect, you are one of the good guys.


    4. Tim
      March 6, 2011

      Mr Redwood. Is this not the crux of the matter. EU membership is a cross party issue that cannot be attributed to traditional left/ right divisions. UKIP is criticised for being a single issue party so it adapted to support a broad range of policies in a broadly libertarian philosophy to try to maintain cross party support.

      So either UKIP succeeds or the party in power must recognize that the central issue of who governs us is necessarily not a party matter and can only be settled by giving the electorate a referendum.

  21. Freeborn John
    March 4, 2011

    Past Performance is no guarantee of Future Results.

    However cast-iron Cameron’s statement on Al-Jazera last week that he does not want to hold a referendum on EU membership because he believes membership to be in Britain’s interest is a guarantee that any euro-Sceptic who votes Tory is wasting their vote. The quickest way out of the EU involves getting Cameron out of Downing Street as quickly as possible. A heavy Tory defeat in 2015 is the most likely way to get a real EU-sceptic to replace him. Sooner or the later the penny must drop that you can’t win elections without a more robust EU policy.

  22. Bernard Otway
    March 4, 2011

    Dear dear dear John,
    Liebour core voters think the EU is the noise American kids on tv shows make when confronted by the fact that their parents have sex,except they elongate it to eeeuuu,I have more confidence in them knowing about their appendages than something serious,especially if it involves robbing the better off to give them benefits,they even probably resent Geoff Boycott
    now he is wealthy,and if they had known 40 years ago that cricket would be the instrument
    would retrospectively arrange for him to have a quadruple fracture of one leg,so he could still be poor like them.IFFF however you could show them that the EEEUUU had actually forced the closure of the coalmines they would hate it with a passion and then vote anti,but don’t expect liebour to be against the eu it is part of the international Socialist nirvana.
    I am actually shocked that only but a few of the elected actually get ANGRY about this,all they are interested in is their back pockets.we need someone like a british equivalent of
    Warren Buffett to enter politics and if whichever party ignores him ,then he spends his OWN money on an advertising Blitz costing a couple of billion to Shame the whole political class by telling the Truth,especially about the EEEUUU.By the way last year 200,000 Brits emmigrated down under goodness knows how many else went to other destinations,another 10 years of such numbers and the demographics change completely
    if we lose 2 million or more of our finest and replace them with Immigrants a lot of whom won’t even speak English How do you politicians persuade them to vote for you.
    The lunatics are in charge increasingly of the asylum.

    1. alan jutson
      March 6, 2011


      You echo my my thoughts for many years.

      Those with money, are leaving.

      Those who have little, are arriving to what they think is the land of opportunity.

      The other noticeable thing now we have had immigration for many years, is that those who are arriving ,who do get a job and work hard, usually send money home, then when they eventually retire, some then return home themselves, with all, or any wealth that they have created and built up.

      Had the good fortune to attend a pre retirement course run by the NHS a couple of months ago (not in the NHS myself) surprised, very surprised at how many people were returning to their country of origin, taking of course their UK Pension with them (and the NHS is one of the best), on which I guess the tax they will pay will not be in the UK.
      Most of them had already purchased their new home in their old country, so ever more money exported over the years.

      Just out of interest John, do any government figures exist on this sort of wealth export. Not against it, good luck to them, but this must have some impact on our economy, tax planning, revenue etc, and given that it will probably grow it must be a factor in any calculations.

  23. Adam Collyer
    March 4, 2011

    “UKIP edged into the lead amongst the Eurosceptics”?

    The Tories only managed around two thirds as many votes as UKIP – assuming that you were counting the Tories as Eurosceptic.

    The Conservative Party is not Eurosceptic. I suspect, indeed, that Euroscepticism is stronger in the Labour Party than it is in the Tory Party.

    Most of the measures taking Britain further into the EU Federation have been rammed through by Tory governments, not Labour ones. Yes, there are honourable Eurosceptics in the Tory Party, such as yourself, but they are ignored and even actively suppressed by the party leadership. Hence the fact that you yourself, despite your ministerial experience, are languishing on the backbenches.

  24. Brian Tomkinson
    March 4, 2011

    I can’t agree with your assertion that the Eurosceptic vote was 22.7%. The Conservative Party can no longer be considered a Eurosceptic party. You need to accept that you have been conned by your leader if you think it is. He is as wedded to the EU as Major, Blair, and Heath. Clegg, Clarke and the LibDems are Eurofanatics. When Cameron stated recently: ” I don’t believe an In/Out referendum is right, because I don’t believe that leaving the European Union would be in Britain’s interests” even you must have realised that now he has the power he longed for any pretence at Euroscepticism has been jettisoned. He knows that he can rely on the lobby fodder in the Conservative party to toe his party line and regrettably your views are clearly of no interest to him.
    If Euro scepticism is important to you then I don’t see any point in your remaining in the Conservative Party. Your talents are wasted anyway and could be better employed outside the Conservative Party.

  25. PeeJay
    March 5, 2011

    The use of the word Eurosceptic seems rather liberal in this entry.

  26. Jon Burgess
    March 5, 2011

    The Barnsley Central election had a very low turnout – only about 36.5% according to the Guardian. So this means over 60% of eligible voters didn’t bother to vote. This is the most important aspect of this election, but it is ignored by the media. Who is to say how this 60%+ would vote? Perhaps they are your missing Eurosceptic voters Mr Redwood? Perhaps they don’t bother voting because whatever they vote for gives them the same thing? Maybe they can’t bring themselves to vote for the BNP, and see UKIP as a bunch of no hopers. I don’t know, but why don’t you and your fellow anti-EU MPs go and try to find out?

  27. A.Sedgwick
    March 5, 2011

    Your usual forensic approach has deserted you on this piece in my view. I agree that we get the government we vote for and I was dismayed at the level of support for UKIP last May, yet it was enough to prevent Cameron having a clear majority. What has become obvious to many more since the election is that Cameron is an EU supporter, which explains his refusal to hold a referendum knowing he would both have to declare his allegiance and a vote against would be favourite, which would put him in an impossible situation – political career over. He has hijacked the Conservative Party with the acquiescence of its members but from this result it would seem that more voters are realising the only option is UKIP, rather similar to the rise of the ScotNats.
    Seeing this result as anything but a positive for UKIP and a massive negative for Cameron and Clegg is wishful thinking.

  28. Denis Cooper
    March 5, 2011

    Three conclusions from this by-election, in decreasing order of certainty:

    1. The coalition parties have failed to drive home to the public that we’re in a very dangerous economic and financial position, with the continuing possibility that the government itself will become insolvent unless its spending is curbed – in which case it would be forced into much more indiscriminate, emergency, cuts – that LABOUR IS TO BLAME FOR THIS, and that even if Labour had won the election it would have been forced to follow a similar course to the coalition.

    As the coalition parties were previously the main opposition parties, their failure to educate the public over the ten months since the election can be regarded as an extension of their failure to do so during the year before the election.

    2. If AV is rejected in the referendum then Cameron may come to regret opposing it, as it seems quite likely that neither of the coalition parties will have a chance to participate in the next government unless they can support each other at the 2015 general election.

    Which would be easy with AV, but much more difficult if it became necessary to persuade party members to accept either that there would be single “coalition” candidates across the country, or that each party would stand down in favour of the other in constituencies where neither could beat Labour separately but could hope do so if the anti-Labour votes were concentrated on a single candidate.

    3. UKIP may now be close to having enough support to win seats in some particularly favourable constituencies, provided only that enough people believed that UKIP had enough support to do that rather than seeing UKIP as a “fringe” party and the UKIP candidate as a “no hope” candidate and a vote for him as a “wasted” vote – which of course is why the Tories must keep propagating that line, despite the obvious fact that their own candidate has just been pushed into third place by a UKIP candidate.

    On the other hand the UKIP candidate pushed the Tory candidate into fourth position in the Hartlepool by-election back in 2004:,_2004

    but that didn’t seem to have any significant impact on the general perception of UKIP.

  29. norman
    March 5, 2011

    Agree with most of the comments here already.

    There are eurosceptics in the Tory Party, and as a whole the Party is the most ‘eurosceptic’ (although it is still pro-EU). It’s like saying Labour is the most right wing Party between the Labour Party and Socialist Workers Party. Yes, that’s true, but it’s not what any of us would call a right wing Party and no right thinking conservative would vote Labour.

    As has been said time and time again, if you want to unify the Eurosceptic vote, offer a referendum on the EU. UKIP would disappear overnight and you’d garner every single person who votes for them. Probably most of the membership as well.

    Nothing against JR as I know he has tried to get this held at the same time as the derided AV referendum but the very fact that the Conservative Party allows the Eurosceptic vote to drain away to UKIP by not having a referendum speaks volumes.

  30. Neil Craig
    March 5, 2011

    The Barnsley Labour voters are not voting europhile they are voting Labour. When Labour, in the 1980s, was for immediately coming out of the EU, even without a referendum, Barnsley voted for them.

    Of votes which can be changed the Conservatives should take as much note of this as the Pseudoliberals. The voters have indeed voted for “what they really think” and they think they prefer UKIP to Cameron. This should give pause to anybody on the “right” considering opposing the AV vote. These UKIP supporters are not, at least not all of them, going to loyally line up for Cameron next time. Under FPTP if the “right” vote doesn’t coalesce under 1 party (and on present trends the party could be UKIP not the Tories) Labour could win a subsequent election on1/3rd of the vote.

    Barnsley has shown the problem with simply arguing that all eurosceptics should rally round one party. It is increasingly unlikely that that party can be the Conservatives.

    UKIP represent the same grass roots rising that the Tea Party does in America. There, because primaries give the grassroots the ability to choose candidates the Tea Party have proven a boon to the Republicans. In Britain, because parties are rigidly controlled, the Conservatives, by excluding them, made such people into opponents. The choice now is between a system with AV where 4 major parties exist (assuming the LDs survive) with a natural pro-market alliance of 2 of them or FPTP and the eventual replacement of the Tories.

  31. rose
    March 5, 2011

    I agree with you Mr R that people get the government they vote for: but how to educate them so that they realize what it is they are voting for, and what should be preoccupying them above all else? The daftest of all are the dons – who used to get two votes!

  32. Derek Buxton
    March 5, 2011

    Much as I admire most of your posts, this is not one of your best. You suggest that the anti EU vote did not turn out, which is true up to a point but no further. Cameron used this argument when he did not get an outright majority, and he was wrong as well. The point is that all governments from Heath onwards deliberately do not tell the People what the EU is doing to our Country. Cameron pretended to be EUrosceptic to pinch the leadership and his first words after were “we don’t do Europe, so don’t mention it”, and his candidates did as they were told. They avoided any mention of the EU, just as he always speaks of Europe not the EU. This is lying by any definition, it is in any case OUR Country not his.

  33. BobE
    March 5, 2011

    The only sensible option now is UKIP. The Conservatives are definately not eurosceptic. Everybody needs to go with UKIP. In 2015 time will be running out.
    BobE, Region 6, EUSSR

  34. Norman Dee
    March 5, 2011

    You get the government you vote for ? so who voted for this government ? I think a lot of people voted for a party that was eurosceptic, did we get one ? I don’t think so. Had Cameron kept the referendum promise you would probably be sitting in sole power now. But that promise was a lie before it was uttered, Cameron knew he would never have to honour it, and we are left with a hodge podge of politics in which nothing is actually being cut, and the Lib Dems are getting their way on Europe and the referendum we CAN have. Why are you still in office ? you have accumulated enough money and pension credits, from your so called point of view this government is not going the way you want, either financially or politically, so cross the floor to UKIP or get out. Or start making some more noise, at least we know where Bill Cash and Douglas Carswell et al stand, where are you ? Playing safe thats where.

    Reply: i suggest you read my posts and my speeches in the House where I regularly make the case for more independent decision making in the UK.

  35. Bazman
    March 5, 2011

    Dan Jarvis (Lab) 14,724
    Jane Collins (UKIP) 2,953James
    Hockney (Con) 1,999
    Enis Dalton (BNP) 1,463

    It was a close race. Labour sold the working man down the line with their pro middle class immigration policies, so must be doing something right. Disaffected BNP or disaffected Tories? My head is spinning John.

  36. Lindsay McDougall
    March 5, 2011

    You are looking at this result in the wrong way. The UKIP vote was more or less equal to the sum of the Conservative and LibDem votes. You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

    The way I hope it pans out is that UKIP continue to do well in by-elections and become the largest party in the MEP elections of 2014. Somewhere along the way, probably in 2013 or so, you will stick your head above the parapet and force a major change in Conservative European policy.

    We only need the LibDems on board until the budgets of 2011 and 2012 have been enacted. Then we can get rid of them begin a purge of the Conservative candidates.

    If in 2015 a UKIP candidate stands against Ken Clarke, who will you want to win?

    Reply: An unlikely scenario. The UKIP strategy has failed over the last ten years to get a single MP elected or to change the Conservatives to the strong anti EU position it favours.

  37. adam
    March 5, 2011


    and the Labour guy has been in Afghanistan, which wins him 50% of the vote by default

  38. BobE
    March 6, 2011

    The coalition has been dealt a major by-election blow as the Liberal Democrats finished sixth place and the Tories were overtaken by the UK Independence Party (Ukip). In a humiliating result for Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg in Barnsley Central, his party finished behind not only Labour and the Conservatives but also Ukip, the British National Party and a local independent.
    There was also embarrassment for Prime Minister David Cameron as the Tories saw their vote share slump dramatically and the anti-Brussels Ukip beat them into third.

  39. Tim Hedges
    March 6, 2011

    With respect, I think you have misread this. As you say, Labour were always going to win. UKIP did so well because no one any more thinks of the Conservatives as a Eurosceptic party. It’s not that UKIP supporters need to vote Conservative – what would be the point with Cameron giving in to Europe at every opportunity? It is that Conservative sceptics, like yourself, need to open their eyes and support UKIP.

  40. Stephen Gash
    March 7, 2011

    Frankly, nobody knows where the Tories stand on the EU. Certainly, they are not EU-sceptic.

    Again, certainly, the people of Barnsley did NOT vote foe a federalist Labout Party. This by-election was more about hammering the Lib Dems, and the result showed exctly that, just as the Walkden North by-election result did.

    The turnout was abysmal, as it was in the Welsh Assembly referendum, yet nobody in the political classes is concerned about this.

    The EU-sceptics more often than not fail to say what they would do if we were not in the EU. It isn’t enough to just point out that the EU is making the decisions and squandering money. Home politicians are unbeatable at wasting money, as the recent frenzied scrapping of Nimrod has shown. The USA has a desert full of mothballed aeroplanes to be re-serviced in an emergancy. Why the Harriers could not have been treated similarly in Ascension Island or similar, is a sound question.

    EU-sceptics must say how they would have done things differently, what the savings would be and how such action would fit internationally.

    Also, it is fair to say that England is arguably the most EU-sceptic country in the EU and also gave the Tories a landslide victory. It is not the fault of the English that Scotland voted Labour and caused the need for a coalition government.

    However, England’s needs are wilfully neglected by the Tories. Indeed it is only England that is being sold off to service the debt and to make local council savings.

    UKIP allegedly has now come out and said an English Parliament is part of their future manifesto. If UKIP actually started saying how England would benefit and prosper from being out of the EU, it would take both Tory and Labour votes.

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