Sunday, November 03, 2013
Engaging with Constituents and Rationalising EU Referendum Policy
Haven't visited my blog for weeks. Not been enough time. But have called in tonight to report on my emerging campaign for re-election as MP for Montgomeryshire in 2015. Not going to change practice much, but we do have to develop a different mindset. No point in standing without having a fair crack at winning. But in general, I'm going to stick by the rules that got me this far! Now it seems that I'm bookies favorite to win. In 2010, Mrs D risked a small wager on me and got odds of 8/1. I was told that at one stage a bookie offered 15/1. If I'd seen that I'd have bet on myself. I think its allowed. Anyway, I'm told it would be about 1/3 now. That's some turnaround. I should add that I dont think bookies have a clue about what Montgomeryshire thinks. What I do know is that its been Lib Dem (in its various forms) since 1880 - except for one blip in 1979, when the Conservatives won it, only to lose it to an unknown outsider in the Thatcher landslide of 1983! A cursory glance at history squeezes all complacency out of our thinking. Anyway, my strategy is to leave the actual campaigning to my team, which luckily, the super-efficient Simon Baynes has agreed to help me with. I'm just going to carry on engaging with my constituents, doing my job, setting aside all negative comment about my opponents. In fact, I don't really intend to discuss them at all. And at the heart of my strategy is 'the community meeting'. Old fashioned I know - but trust me. Arranged the first at Berriew on Friday. Between 50-60 came along and raised enough issues to keep my office going for days. Had to call a halt after near 90 minutes. Plenty more issues after the bell. One of my constituents wanted to know my opinion on UK membership of the EU. Didn't have a definitive answer. This is what I said - which is really the point of this post! I have always been Eurosceptic, and as a young man campaigned for 'out' in 1995. But its not rational to say 'In' or 'Out' at this stage. What I can say is that my approach is driven by two factors. Firstly, the EU interferes too much in what should be the role of the individual state - which is why the Prime Minister will try to reform the relationship. And secondly, the people of the UK want a referendum on whether to remain part of the EU or not. This is what I reckon the people want, and this is what a future Conservative Gov't would give them. About a year ago, the Prime Minister announced that were he to be elected as leader of a Conservative Gov't, he would begin reform process in 2015, and hold a referendum in 2017. I'm happy with that. I was happy with that even without the Private Members Bill currently being debated in the House of Commons. Its just not rational to say I want 'Out' without knowing what 'In' would be. I know this cuts no ice with some of my colleagues, who have tabled an amendment to the Wharton Private Mmembers Bill demanding that an In/Out referendum be held before any attempt to reform and while we are still governed by a Coalition Gov't, one part of which will have none of it. This seems most unwise to me. And Nigel Farage has stirred things up a bit by promising not to put up a UKIP candidate against anyone who supports the Adam Alfriye amendment. Tempting! By this stage I think my constituent was uterly mesmerised. Thank the Lord she didn't raise the issue during the meeting, which reinforced the old dictum 'All politics is local'. Anyway I thought it was a great success, and will be planning my second 'community meeting' tomorrow.