You can kip but UK must not

May 18, 2013 6:13 PM
By George Smid - Corby

George Smid 2Nigel Farage loves figures: 3 million Bulgarians were going to move to Eastleigh just at the time of the Eastleigh by-election (Total population slightly over 7 million) … 29 million Bulgarians and Romanians were going to move to Britain just at the time of County Council Elections (Romanian population circa 19 million) … UK pays 40 million per day to the EU (That is £14.6 billion per year, the actual net contribution UK was €4,7 billion - that is under £4 billion)[1] … and so it goes.

It is so easy to say 'NO' and define yourself in the negative. Easy but powerful - look at the momentous changes in Eastern Europe in 1989-1990. There was no coherent strategy, no coherent policy, no obvious 'way forward'. The only uniting element was the rejection of communism. As soon as that had been achieved it transpired that everybody imagined 'the day after' very differently from the next person. Proof that a 'no campaign' can carry the day. It does not last though because saying NO is easy but not enough. (See already emerging disappointing voices from UKIP[2])

From that point of view Nick Clegg's reminder that the Lib Dems believe "there should be a referendum on Europe when the rules change, when new things are being asked of the UK within the EU"[3] was a smart move - if you remove the substance from the NO campaign you can win the battle.

Is then the promise of a referendum enough? Cameron is trying it and not winning. Just accommodating the wish of a NO campaign is not enough. There must be policies in place and the Tory party is lacking coherent policies on anything at the moment. The Labour party does not even show any awareness that some of their traditional votes have defected to UKIP. So it would be quite interesting to see how UKIP repositions the political landscape. And reposition it will. My guess is that Tories will move to the right and Labour to the left to secure their 'core vote'. What an opportunity for the Lib Dems to claim the middle ground! Go for it Nick!

But even that is not enough. UKIP is winning because they have a very strong emotional message: they found a bogyman. Have you lost a job? That is because of EU. Is your salary falling behind the cost of living? That is because of EU. Overcrowded schools/hospitals/housing in your area? That is because of EU. Loss of competitiveness? That is because of EU. Hair loss? That is because of EU. (I made the last on up.)

Europe is presented as an emotional issue now. Which is a pity. If you listen to the Radio 4 "What has the EU done for people living in the UK?" (Tuesday 14 May) you realise that all the issues discussed are not typically 'European'; these issues are not caused, linked or specific to Europe or indeed to the UK membership in the EU: jobs, immigration, great recession, public services - they will not go away if the UK 'leaves Europe' and their solution is global, not local.

But logic never won a day in a fight with emotions. The Lib Dems also need to find a strong emotional message: "Out of EU, out of jobs", "Rolls Royce Bankrolled by EU" (£216 million develop toTrent XWB engine[4]), "Farmers do it in EU", EU4U … And we have to fight for it.

U-KIP East Midlands MEP Roger Helmer and team hard at work in the European Parliament again…

UKIP MEP Roger Helmer in the Euro Parliament

Nigel Farage loves figures. How about this one for MEP Attendance in European Parliament: UKIP Average: 39.5%, Lib Dem Average: 74.2%. Obviously if you are UKIP, you can kip, but for the rest of us to give up now is not an option. One thing is to declare withdrawal from the EU as your political aim. Another is to resign UK national interest - and that from a party who claims to fight for UK interest! UKIP's poor attendance record reduces the influence of Britain in the European Union and harms our ability to fight for Britain's national interest. UKIP is not fighting for UK "independence"; UKIP is fighting for UK "irrelevance".