This is a sometimes 'cheesey' blog about British and American politics and anything else which tickles my fancy!

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Can Labour capitalise on Tory EU division?

The return of 'Europe' as a problem for the Conservative Party should provide Labour with a few good opportunities to score some political goals.

Tory policy on the issue is a complete mess. First, they want to have a referendum and now they don't. Instead they want to repatriate certain powers from Europe which have already been given away. The idea that the rest of Europe will let them is fanciful.

The Europe 'issue' has dogged every Tory leader for the last thirty years, but with Cameron doing so well in the polls and a General Election just around the corner I doubt there will be any Conservative Eurosceptic willing to put their neck above the parapet and criticise their leadership's policy.

It's up to Labour then to really tug at those divisions. We need to stress the positive benefits of EU membership on issues like climate change, highlight the Tory cracks and warn people which EU powers the Tories would like to repatriate, most of which concern the European Social Chapter and a whole raft of social measures and workers' rights like paternity leave. I don't think it would go down well with the electorate if they knew that Mr Cameron was, in effect, saying he wanted to get rid of these.

We should also remember that UKIP won't give up on its bonkers crusade to get us out of Europe. In a few Tory marginals it is likely to put real pressure on Tory candidates. If we can find ways of driving a bigger wedge between the Tories and UKIP, we might just force Cameron to adopt an even more irrational policy on Europe.

Finally, we should continue to push for a strong EU Presidency (preferably with Tony Blair in the role) that can act as a counterweight to a future Conservative Government's Euroscepticism and make life difficult for David Cameron.

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