Richard North says of Iain Dale 'He's not a europhiliac, but he's a mild eurosceptic', while responding to Dale's suggestion that the Conservatives should adopt the Lib Dem policy of an In/Out Referendum on the EU.
The full quote is Yesterday it was suggested in his column by Iain Dale, who is not a europhiliac but a reasonably mild eurosceptic, which means he does not go as far as I do in his views on the subject.
Not so, Richard (Actually Helen, Richard's co-author wrote the post) - that is, if Iain Dale's denial written in the comments of my typepad blog are to be believed. HERE. I had queried Iain Dale's EU credentials, and received this speedy and vehement response.
So off the ball as to be risible. Anyone who knows me knows I am as Eurosceptic as they come. I would repatriate as many powers as possible, vote against the European Constitution and would NEVER EVER vote to join the Euro.
Enough for you? Enough to get a retraction?!
Posted by: Iain Dale | October 03, 2007 at 09:33 PM -
I particularly notice his use of the word 'possible'. That is maybe the weakness in the Richard North kind of position. North's politics is based on principle, sometimes even when that inhibits possbility. Possibility and purity don't often reconcile, but at least North gives us the principles which we are then seeking the possibility to implement.
Dale's principles are sometimes hard to see as his emphasis is almost always on today's possibilities, so it's nice to see them expressed directly occasionally, as they were on my blog in October.
Dale's suggestion of adopting the Lib Dem referendum policy for an in/out decision is being misread. People are surprised to find a idea of stark principle on Iain Dale's Blog, when he is normally concerned only with the day's play - the gossip from the heart of Westminster - where principle usually seems to be a long way distant. I think he actually means it, and not just as a play for Useful Kind of Idiot Party voters.
What many (like me blogging on typepad) didn't and don't realise is how strongly Iain Dale's views are held. We tend to see him as a political Des O'Connor all laid back, trying to keep his face in front of the cameras, and his blog one up on Guido. Well, it appears he isn't. There is fire in the belly.
As for Dale's idea, I think it could prove to be a good one in time.
The EU in/out? issue should, however be the second part of a referendum question.
Before any referendum is held, the Conservatives should first specify the relationship with the EU they believe to be achieveable, and negotiate to get it.
Whatever the result of those negotiations, the resulting offer by the EU should be made the subject of a referendum,as follows -
Do you A. want Britain to continue as an EU member on the terms offered by the EU, or B. would you prefer Britain to withdraw from the EU completely, and operate as a free independent country once more?
Individual Conservative MPs could be allowed to support A or B depending on their viewpoints, but the voters' decision should be final.
If voters decide to remain in the EU, the same process could be gone through again after a suitable period of time had elapsed.
If the Party were to make this approach to the EU clear, as of 'soon', they could build their platform to win the next election with the subject of Europe put to bed. It would combine principle with possibility nicely.
Many would vote for that.
Helen at Eureferendum clearly feels that the above scenario is unlikely to occur. I prefer to continue with the positive thinking approach. Why write Cameron off as a continuation of past Tory failure? He could yet please us all by offering a coherent and credible policy on the EU, which includes a referendum along lines that Helen and Richard would approve.