A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Tories are obsessed by Europe, the voters are not

I have a feeling that with the increasing focus on calling for an EU referendum the Tories - with William Hague as Shadow Foreign Secretary - are about to make the same strategic mistake they did in 1997-2001 by over emphasising Europe.

No one disputes that a majority of voters are Euro-sceptic to varying degrees.

But unlike Tory MPs and activists, they aren't obsessive about it. In most cases it probably won't determine the way they vote in the next General Election - issues that have a more immediate personal impact like the economy, schools, crime and hospitals will.

The higher the profile the Tories give Europe the more they look like a strange bunch of obsessives, and the more they turn most people off politics by focusing on arcane matters like who has which red line, and which country gets which votes under QMV, rather than bread-and-butter issues.

They know this isn't an election winning strategy, they've tried it before, but they are making the same mistake again.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, I think you are too pessimistic about voters. British voters are never going to love Europe - this cartoon http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/Jzec2.jpg perhaps tells you why.

But voters are also hard headed and know that our economic prosperity is bound up with Europe. And, as you suggest, they are also quite good at detecting obsessives and regarding them as beyond the pale.

11:26 am, October 19, 2007

Blogger Ewan Watt said...

True - it's not an electoral winning strategy. However, I don't think they're putting as much weight on the European issue as they have in the past.

I think it's simple. 75% of people want a referendum. The Tories would be stupid to ignore this. I wouldn't call that "obsessive", merely wise political strategy.

12:13 pm, October 19, 2007

Anonymous jdc said...

I'm with Ewan, I think Cameron's been very cunning by focusing on our 'broken promise' of a referendum rather than on the content of the thing itself. If you really want to force the Tories into talking about Europe, have the referendum!

1:27 pm, October 19, 2007

Anonymous Ian G said...

I think jdc is right.

I don't think that people believe that this treaty is much different from the constitution, so they think we're breaking our promise.

Considering there are a number of vocal Labour MPs also saying that, I wouldn't blame them.

3:27 pm, October 19, 2007

Blogger Merseymike said...

The mistake was promising a referendum in the first place.

11:23 pm, October 21, 2007

Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

Ewan and JDC are bang on the money. Gordy stealing tory/lib dem policies trying to paint them as our own, his no start general election, the growing finacial crisis, Kelly's murder/suicide, plus the story circulating in Scumday Mail highlighting the feud between Blair and Brown have all helped turn the public away from us. Cameron can play to public opinon using the EU debacle as the stick to beat Brown (and there by us) with.

11:13 am, October 23, 2007


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