The Tory fightback is starting. In fact it’s the second Paterson ‘we must quit the EU’ speech to date. The first one to the AGM assembly of Chartered Surveyors was reported only in The Shropshire Star. This latest effort has been picked up far and wide, and is getting more attention than Theresa May’s nudge in the ‘let’s quit’ direction. Backed by Lord Ashcroft, Paterson is firing the Conservative Party’s and his own desperate shot for survival. He’s now getting backing from Murdoch which is why the speech got media the second time around.
Behind the text of the speech, you can see other agendas apart from signing up for Article 50 after the election. Here is an attempt to offer voters something to halt the UKIP surge, which is in danger of overwhelming the main parties total. Farage has asked no more Conservative MPs to defect before Christmas. Has he had a request from Head Office (Murdoch) to slow down the Tory collapse? If he’s serious about winning power, he should be taking every defector going. The high cabal that controls politics doesn’t want a collapse of the big parties and their replacement with a single new powerful party. They want a nice muddle that they can manipulate to advantage. Farage has been getting the backing of The Sun, and he’s keen to keep that. The ‘cool it’ message has been heard and received, it appears. The shock of losing Rochester to UKIP has sent the political system scurrying.
The Paterson speech is a bid for votes, and beyond that is a bid to UKIP to form a coalition or an electoral pact. Will it work?
I am not so sure voters will be interested in even listening. Paterson has a few followers left on the right, but as an enthusiastic backer of fracking, he is setting himself up against serious opposition in 120 ‘safe’ Tory seats where there are highly active anti-fracking groups. The other Party that’s growing quickly is The Green Party, which is highly pro-EU. If Paterson persists in pushing for gas-drilling across 65% of Britain, he won’t get the support he’s hoping for, and the Green surge will persist only to add to the effects of UKIP.
UKIP has realised that Immigration is the great vote winner with appeal across all sections of the electorate. No one trusts a lone politician offering some future offer of a pull-out from the EU, however well-intended it may be. People trust the herd, and by joining and voting UKIP, they feel they are putting up two fingers to the Tories, Labour and Lib Dem who’ve brought the mess about. They sense that they can build powerful political opposition to open-ended immigration by dropping former identities and herding into one group. Appealing to the rational with let’s quit the EU isn’t half as powerful as come and the join the herd message from Farage – the ‘Peoples’ Army’.
Farage has called a halt to defections while the Conservatives desperately try to look beyond the Cameron/Clegg collapse and rebuild. Paterson is too compromised a figure to win many voters back at this late stage. However a Conservative rump might possibly be able to form a coalition with UKIP and SNP to form a government later, based on a commitment to sign Article 50. That at least makes sense. A referendum will be easily rigged and achieve little.
The first of the right wing parties to realise that the key to winning enough votes will be Green issues, swing away from supporting GMOs, gas-drilling and bee-killing farm sprays, offer all that and an EU exit under Article 50, and the way would open up to drive for a majority in Parliament. Paterson’s boxed himself in already over Green issues, which will be his Achilles heel. Farage could yet do green, if he could drop Roger Helmer’s corporate sell-out over energy. But if Farage allows Murdoch to call the shots and doesn’t go for it right now, grabbing all the defections he can get, he’s in danger of losing the momentum which is causing the Tories to cough. Here’s Paterson spluttering, which means Lord Ashcroft’s bid to get rid of Cameron and launch Paterson’s bid for the Conservative leadership. It’s a pretty desperate attempt, but it might work in pulling potential defectors back onside for a week or two. The problem is Cameron won’t be interested in the slightest.
From my own point of view, Paterson is pushing the fracking agenda which is a far more direct threat to our lives and health than the bureaucracy in Brussels. That is where he will be opposed locally at the election, as will over a hundred other Conservative MPs, where fracking opposition is growing. He will be shocked by the number of his former supporters willing to vote against him. It would be funny to see this great push for national leadership and expenditure of capital frustrated in his own Constituency which he takes entirely for granted (The people of Dudleston are not real people, he said recently to a Constituent). The political system is broken. It will take more than a belated sales pitch to persuade people to believe there is any potential good remaining in Westminster.
Here is the electoral picture from Rochester and Strood. This is the Tory problem – From The Telegraph ‘Reckless was only able to convince about 40 per cent of his 2010 Conservative supporters to back his new party. But crucially, he offset this by pulling in over a third of 2010 Labour supporters, a similar portion of 2010 Liberal Democrats, and a large number of former non-voters.’ UKIP have broken out of the old party system. Paterson is still stuck inside it.
Here is Richard North’s attempt at rallying the Tory troops.
Richard North, 24/11/2014
The essence of speech is that, instead of pussy-footing around, Cameron should cut to the chase and commit to invoking Article 50 the moment a Conservative government takes office after the election. With an electoral mandate, there is no need for a referendum.
Negotiations on a exit settlement should then proceed, using the “Norway option” as the base, involving joining EFTA and adopting the EEA agreement. Additionally, the entire EU body of law should be repatriated, to ensure legislative continuity, allowing for selective repeal and amendment as appropriate and necessary.
The loss of influence in leaving the EU is more than made up for by the restoration of our standing in international organisations such as Codex, UNECE, OECD, and many others, where we would be negotiating in our own right, determining standards which, under WTO rules, the EU is obliged to adopt.
In this, there would be no “fax democracy” as such. We would be sending laws down to Brussels – not the other way around.
The issue of “freedom of movement” is dealt with by dropping out of the ECHR and the EU treaties, so that we would only be obliged to grant freedom to workers, and not their dependents unless we chose to do so – plus restoring the ability to deport illegal immigrants.
Also, there would be continued measures to address “push” and “pull” factors, making the UK unattractive for unskilled migrants seeking low-paid work
However, Paterson reminds us that it took 40 years to progress to this stage of integration and we are not going to resolve all the issues in one stage. For the longer term, therefore, he argues that we would need to progress from the EEA to ensure a genuine Europe-wide Single Market, working on a truly intergovernmental basis.
One possible alternative, he suggests, is to strengthen the regional UNECE, so that it can administer the Single Market as an economic project rather than a political construct. Using that body, we would be able to negotiating directly across the board, cutting out the EU as the middle man, and substantially enhance the transparency of the system.
With a more durable European solution in place, we would be better able to promote our economic interests and we would also be able to take a lead in revitalising international trade. Free from the EU, says Paterson, we would have real influence on shaping the global regulatory models where true power lies.
The UK would have a key role in building transparency with enormous benefits to tackling organised crime, such as human trafficking, addressing issues of migration constructively.
In conclusion, Paterson adds, the Eurozone has already embarked upon a path that we can never follow. We are simply recognising that reality. We must either be fully committed to “Le Projet” or we must build an entirely new relationship.
The British people must be allowed to make that decision. Article 50 is the best method of making this happen. By this means we would forge ahead and resume our rightful place as a global leader. With our own independent status, working closely with our many allies, we would massively increase our influence.
As Churchill said, “We have our own dream and our own task. We are with Europe but not of it. We are linked but not comprised. We are interested and associated but not absorbed”. He was right then and he is right now. Get this message across and the UK has a spectacular future as a flourishing world power.