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Drawing the line

Posted by Richard Monday, April 11, 2005

Behind the scenes, a fascinating general election drama is playing out, to which the media are totally oblivious.

Conservative candidates, nervously eyeing their UKIP rivals, are wondering how far they can go in expressing their Eurosceptic credentials, in the hope that they will be given a clear run.

Enough of the more dutiful (and less secure) candidates have been contacting "them up there" with requests for guidance that the party machine has been moved to issue a stern directive in an attempt to hold the line.

In uncompromising terms, the missive tells candidates:

Here is our line on Europe. You must stick to it. It is our policy and we know that these words strike a chord with the electorate. There is no need to "improve" on it. It is robust, clear, tested, defendable and right. Stick to it.*
The missive then goes on to set out policy, telling candidates that: "People face a clear choice: powers brought back from Brussels and no euro with the Conservatives, or more powers surrendered to Brussels under Mr Blair and the Liberal Democrats."

"Conservatives," it continues, "believe in a Europe of nation states, not a country called Europe. We will set a date for a referendum on the European Constitution as soon as we are elected, we will hold it within six months, and we will campaign actively for a 'no' vote."

"We will bring back powers from Brussels, including control of our employment laws and fishing grounds. We will negotiate with our European partners for a 'live and let live' Europe of co-operating nation states. We will not join the euro."

This is actually further than the manifesto, but the message is clear: that's as far as you go chuck… you will not say anything more.

*our emphasis.