Readers may remember that I recently mentioned that I had instigated two personal ‘initiatives’ with a view to taking to task both Cameron and the supposed eurosceptic organisations on ‘matters EU. . For the moment I wish just to deal with the latter of those two.
On Sunday last the following email was sent to Robert Oulds, Bruges Group; Edward Spalton, Campaign for an Indepependant Britain (CIB); Simon Richards, The Freedom Association; Matthew Elliott, Business for Britain; Marc Glendenning, Democracy Movement; Robin Tilbrook, English Democrats; and Rory Broomfield, Better Off Out
It is now apparent that should David Cameron win the forthcoming general election in 2015 with an outright majority a referendum on this country’s membership of the European Union will be held towards the end of 2017.
In any event, it is also obvious that treaty change will be on the agenda during the life of the next parliament which will involve the transfer of more power to the European Union. Regardless of which political party forms the next government of this country, it will also necessitate a referendum under the terms of the European Union Act 2011.
As a private individual it appears to me that the anti-EU movement need to be speaking with one voice so that come the time of any referendum the ‘Out’ campaign should have agreed on a strategy which thus ensures that the campaign will be structured and well planned.
Currently the anti-EU groups seem to be sending out mixed messages; ones which, in turn, then present a similar mixed message to the electorate. It is obvious that if the ‘wrong’ message is presented, it could well alienate those who would support the cessation of this country’s membership of the European Union. It is my opinion that for a referendum to be won by the ‘No side, it will be necessary for certain matters to be decided upon.
First, it is essential that an exit plan be devised and agreed, one capable of reassuring the majority of voters – and business – that the UK’s economic interests are protected, together with access to the Single Market; and that we can thereby leave without any problem to business and without precipitating an economic crisis.
Second, the ‘No’ campaign will have to unify behind that plan – at least, a sufficient number that would convince the Electoral Commission that such a group is the best candidate to run the official “out” campaign, and thereby dictate the tone and conduct of the fight.
Third, it is necessary that alliances are built and a campaigning network created which, when submissions are made to run the “out” campaign, will give substance and credibility to any joint application. Only then would any submission stand a serious chance of securing a successful bid.
If started now it will, I estimate, take the best part of two years to get to that point, as long as those involved work hard.
In view of the foregoing I write to inquire whether you would be prepared to attend an exploratory meeting to discuss a common ground whereby the creation of a grouping of like minds, agreeing to work together, can be formed; and who would then be able to bring about that for which we all wish.
Needless to say, at present there is no venue or date envisaged for such a meeting, although the earlier it can be held the better. Purely as an aside, perhaps it might be possible, if a majority of addressees interested in such a meeting as I suggest are in provisional agreement, one of them with offices in central London might feel able to act as host of such an initial, exploratory, meeting.
I look forward to your response in due course.
With kind regards,
At the time of writing replies are awaited on behalf of the CIB, Democracy Movement and English Democrats.
Robert Oulds, on behalf of the Bruges Group, responded that he would be happy to attend such a meeting.
The following response was received from Simon Richards, The Freedom Association:
Thank you very much for your message.
The Freedom Association, and its Better Off Out campaign, have always co-operated closely with, and had friendly relations with other like-minded anti-EU groups. Once the elections to the European ‘Parliament’ are out of the way, we shall be actively seeking to build on those relationships, in readiness for a possible future EU referendum.
I think that this will be best done through a series of informal meetings involving the principal parties. I don’t think that a formal meeting will work, but please rest assured that we are committed to doing all that we can to try to ensure that the anti-EU case is put as effectively as possible.
All the best,
Likewise the response received from Rory Broomfield, Better Off Our (and it should be remembered that both TFA and BOO are but one think tank – in all but name) was:
Thank you for the email. I’m afraid I don’t feel that a formal meeting would be the most appropriate at this stage. It is in no way certain that there will be a 2017 referendum and, although it would be wrong not to keep up our activity in pushing the agenda, setting up formalised bodies in the way that is being imagined I think is premature.
Representatives of the groups that you mention (and have forwarded this email to) already meet on an informal basis and I see no need to change this at this point.
The email to Matthew Elliott had to be sent to his organisation’s generic email address, being marked for his personal attention, as I was not in possession of a personal address. Today I received the following response, the reply to which was a model of restraint (something for which I am not known).
Thank you for your email, before I forward this to Matthew, please can you give me some more information on your interest in this issue and your involvement in the EU debate to date?
To which my response was:
While a member of the Bruges Group I am a private individual, who runs a political blog (Witterings from Witney), concerned about what I see as the lack of clarity and cohesiveness within the anti-EU organisations, some of whom I consider tend towards a rather ‘tunneled’ vision based on their particular interests.
It is hoped that the foregoing answers your questions; however I have to say that I find it somewhat puzzling that a perfectly innocuous email has been ‘intercepted’ prior to the individual to whom it is addressed receives it.
At the time of writing no further correspondence is available for publication.
When one reads phrases such as: a series of informal meetings involving the principal parties; and Representatives of the groups that you mention (and have forwarded this email to) already meet on an informal basis and I see no need to change this at this point - it really does drive home the fact that I cannot consider myself one of the elite, coupled with the inferred suggestion of just who the hell do I think I am – at which the point the question is returned, ‘in spades’. When one finds that an email has been ‘intercepted’ by an underling and questioned, then one really knows ones place.
It is a fact that the ‘In’ crowd, ie those believing in membership of the European Union, speak with one voice which repeats, ad nauseum, their mantra: the UK has to remain a full member of the EU to have influence; that the UK has to remain a full member of the EU in order to access the single market thus allowing the UK to trade with Europe. In that respect it is obvious that by speaking with one voice the ‘In’ crowd are presenting a unified argument – whatever their own individual reasons may be for so doing.
It does not take more than one brain cell to realise that those who oppose the views of the ‘In’ crowd should also be doing likewise – namely speaking with one voice. So why are those supposedly against the UK’s membership of the European Union not doing just that? Is this because their views are governed by personal ‘agendas’? Is it because their personal ego intervenes – that they are more interested in their careers than the cause for which they should be fighting? Is it because they have thoughts of possibly, at some time in the future, being parachuted into a nice comfortable parliamentary seat? Is it because their views are so grounded in antiquity that they are unable to see the ‘new-grown wood’ for the trees? Is it, in respect of Rory Broomfield, that having been selected as one of the six finalists in the IEA ‘Brexit’ competition he now has views way above his pay-grade? How does he know that which I imagine? Surely he is not following the example of our political class and telling me what I think? Or is it that, in common with politicians, Richards and Broomfield don’t wish to hear the views of a mere individual of the electorate?
In his response Broomfield needs to remember that Cameron has made a pledge that if he is elected with a parliamentary majority there will be a referendum in 2017. We all know that on 25 May 2009, Cameron said in a speech: “A progressive reform agenda demands that we redistribute power from the EU to Britain and from judges to the people. We will therefore hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty”. There were no qualifications or caveats to that pledge. It was unequivocal. Likewise with Cameron’s latest promise: there are no qualifications nor caveats – it is unequivocal. Possibly Broomfield knows something that we don’t?
The question about the future of the United Kingdom is not some game being played purely for the delectation of a small clique whose self-importance and inflated egos seem to be their entire raison-d’être – the danger of losing any forthcoming referendum will result in the anti-EU movement being set back for at least a generation or more. Those of us who care passionately about our country and democracy cannot – and must not – allow that small clique to vie for the position as überführer of the ‘No’ campaign. Coupled with that it must also be realised three of the main parties will fall into line and, for varying reasons, campaign to remain a member of the European Union, ie to retain the status quo; and the media, being part of the establishment, will back them. Neither can we allow the one party against EU membership to dominate the debate, as they are currently attempting to do. It must be recalled that this party, who hammers home the message: ‘Referendum Now’, has no published strategy to exit the European Union and does not even appear to have considered it necessary to even have one.
There is a comprehensive and well-structured exit strategy available – and until an alternative, better suggestion appears (if that is possible) then I can but suggest it would be in the interest of all anti-EU organisations and individuals to get behind it.
For the aforementioned small clique to ignore this strategy – and appear not even prepared to consider it – can only mean that they also have small minds.