Posts Tagged ‘eurosceptics’

C’mon Ed, back an in/out EU referendum for the day of the next election and destroy the Tories

30/09/2013, 07:00:54 AM

by Anthony Bonneville

Europe remains the Tories’ Achilles heel. Polling conducted by YouGov for Labour Uncut reveals that 1 in 5 2010 Tory voters have defected, with 60% switching to UKIP.

These figures will worry an already jittery Conservative party. No matter what David Cameron seems to do, no matter how much he genuflects before the altar of Euroscepticism, it’s never enough. Core support keeps leaching out to the right.

As I’ve set out in my chapter in Labour Uncut’s recent book, “Labour’s manifesto uncut: how to win in 2015 and why,” this peculiar spectacle presents an enormous opportunity for Labour.

On Tuesday evening, the night before David Cameron gives his leader’s speech, Ed Miliband should set aside his widely aired reservations and announce that Labour now backs a straight in/out EU referendum for May 7th 2015.

Such an intervention would transform the political landscape. All that has happened so far this parliament would be rendered instantly irrelevant.

On the pro-European side, a broad coalition would be assembled bringing together unions, business organisations and civil society groups, a true example of One Nation politics. Labour and Lib Dems would stand united on the most important issue of the next general election.

It would force quiet pro-Europeans (distant cousins of the quiet bat people) to come out and say it loud: “We need to stay in Europe!”

For Labour, which has had a difficult recent relationship with business, this would be a rare chance to redraw the dividing lines of political debate.

Labour would be the party standing with business. The Tories would be left making the difficult case that business people did not know what was good for their own firms. For those who recall the damage done to Labour’s 2010 election campaign by the letter from businessmen criticising the party’s national insurance policy, the irony would be rich.


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Sunday Review: the EU phantom menace

20/01/2013, 08:00:22 AM

by Anthony Painter

In the space of three years, the prime minister has moved Britain from the EU’s cautious awkward customer to the self-destructively preposterous. Let’s be clear, this has absolutely nothing to do with some irresistible popular clamour for a referendum on our membership of the EU. It is entirely self-inflicted. Realpolitik has been ditched in favour of pusillanimous capitulation. This whole thing is about the neuroses of the Conservative party. This is not leadership; it is fear – of a phantom menace.

In fact, there are three phantoms that appear in this whole sorry saga. The first is a speech – a phantom speech. It’s has been long in the gestation and from the unconfirmed sightings that have been reported, it is an utterly vacuous statement of the bleeding obvious about jobs, growth, competitiveness, and the democratic deficit .

So the EU has to change. We are very lucky to have this pointed out – who knew? Douglas Alexander had it absolutely right in his speech at Chatham House this week when he argued:

So significant are the potential consequences of this speech that it is tempting, indeed reassuring, to presume a degree of strategic thought or high public purpose in its preparation. The truth, I fear, is both more prosaic and more worrying. This speech is about politics much more than it is about policy. And its origins lie in weakness, not in strength.

The second phantom, is the monstrous ghoul that is the federal super-state waiting to sink its teeth into these poor defenceless northern European islanders. This is the one that has Tory eurosceptics waking up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night. Their problem though, if you look at the argument in its elements, is more with the “state” element than anything else. Tory eurosceptics believe the alternative to EU regulation is no regulation. On this, like so much else they are entirely wrong.

Regulation would in fact just carry over, as we would still need to access the European markets. To gain access to the EU on a free trade basis, anything we imported or produced for the domestic market would have to be EU regulation compliant. And why would business want two regulatory standards?

Even if we decided not to trade freely with the EU, then we would still need to ensure clean beaches, toys without toxic chemicals, workplace safety, fisheries that weren’t over fished, proper information for consumers, farming subsidies, and fresh water standards. A world without regulation of the eurosceptic’s dreams is an apparition. Even if it could be achieved it wouldn’t last the first scandal over food poisoning, cod shortages, lead poisoning, horsemeat in burgers, or horrific increase in deaths in the workplace.


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Last week’s commons defeat will force the government to address its EU strategy void

06/11/2012, 07:00:19 AM

by Mark Stockwell

The Labour leadership has no doubt spent much of the past week slapping each other heartily on the back. Bliss is it to defeat the government on the floor of the house; to do so by outflanking them on the EU budget is very heaven.

They should enjoy this tactical victory while they can. They were aided by a lackadaisical Conservative whipping operation, and abetted by a worryingly large group of chronic malcontents on the Tory backbenches. Labour will have to work harder in the long term to persuade voters that Ed Miliband and Douglas Alexander’s new-found Eurosceptic fervour would not evaporate the moment the ministerial Eurostar pulled out of St Pancras international.

Clearly, though, it is the government which faces the more pressing strategic issues.

David Cameron’s political instinct (not necessarily the same as his personal inclination) is to try as far as possible to avoid talking about Europe for fear of the “toxic” effect on the Conservative brand. This is understandable. Cameron and George Osborne cut their political teeth in the Maastricht era and that thoroughly miserable experience can’t have failed to be formative.

(I suspect this also partly explains why Labour’s own coterie of former special advisers had so little hesitation in siding with the Tory rebels. There is something of Pavlov’s dog in the way in which both sides have behaved.)

One of the benefits of coalition from Cameron’s point of view was, as Andrew Lilico has suggested at ConservativeHome, that this evasion could be sustained by a block of Lib Dem votes, acting as a counter-weight to backbench rebellions from the Tory right. Wednesday’s vote has shown that this cannot be relied on.


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