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.


David Thomas said...

1307Found your blog re UKIP interesting. I am Eurosceptic mostly because I don’t like being told what to do by faceless autocrats in Brussels. We should be governed by MP’s who I can approach if I am not happy. In my case Roger Williams. I am disappointed that David Cameron did not announce a referendum before the end of this parliament. Possibly an argument in his favour is that it is not possible to negotiate better terms in the time available, but is that not part of the problem? Nearly three years? A Prime Minister offering a referendum after a Westminster election that he might well lose is a very false promise. His promise may well be out of his control.
For that reason I have decided to vote for the first time in an election, for a party other that the Conservatives. I will vote for UKIP in the forthcoming European election. I hope that a vote by 50% of the British people for UKIP will in itself be a “ referendum ” possibly the only one we will get. It will also send a significant message to Europe that as far as Britain is concerned they have taken political union to a stage that is unacceptable to us. A big rethink of the direction of the European Union is needed, it should be an economic union and not medal in National Politics. The British People should take the decision to allow free migration to our shores or not. A Westminster Parliament over which I have some input via my vote must only be allowed to take political decisions that affect my Country.
If a 50% vote for UKIP is ignored by French, German and other European governments and they refuse to let us renegotiate this current political union, signed by Tony Blair in the Lisbon treaty, then they must surly realise that any referendum in Brittan will lead to a vote to come out. The very fact that France is saying no to negotiations is a valid reason for withdrawal.
Will I be voting for UKIP in the Westminster elections? Not on your life. To me a vote in the European elections is worthless. However a vote in the Westminster election is a matter of life or death, a Conservative government or if Miliand and labour a national disaster.

Bill Smith said...

Genuine question - as I understand it there is no procedure to renegotiate as DC portrays it. Section 50 decrees that the state involved has to give notice that they are leaving the EU and at that point negotiations can start. This is not what DC's referendum offers. Please advise.