Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Will the EU be Labour's secret weapon?

Thus far, it seems everyone has learned the lessons of the last few elections: bringing up Europe is the kiss of death to any serious British election campaign. Staunchly anti-EU broadsheet the Telegraph has no mention of Europe among its key policy areas; the Daily Mail is more het up about foreigners from further afield with duskier skin tones; the Tories are being careful to avoid it after William Hague's disastrous "Ten days to save the pound" rubbish from 2001; Labour aren't keen to bring it up either thanks to the desire to present a united Blair/Brown front; the Lib Dems know that to appeal to the Tory voters they need to make significant gains they need to downplay their pro-EU stance. Plus, all the parties know that, thanks to Blair's decision to grant a referendum on the EU constitution, nothing they say about Brussels in this campaign matters a jot anyway.

This avoidance of the EU issue is good for all parties - but especially for the Tories. They, after all, have the most to lose from the subject being brought to prominance. Labour can simply brush it off with the usual stuff about "five economic tests" and the upcoming referendum; the Tories risk showing their lack of unity on the issue once again, and yet again losing votes to the single-issue likes of UKIP and Veritas - neither of which have, so far in this election, made any impression whatsoever.

However, if Labour are really as worried as they profess about a potential Tory "back door" victory, they could do a lot worse than work out a way to bring up Europe in the final stages of the campaign.

For the majority of the population, it is something about which they neither know nor care enough to pay attention - but the anti-EU brigade is packed with obsessives, sitting alone, constantly rocking backwards and forwards and muttering to themselves about how Brussels wants to rape and murder their way of life (or something). Get this lot running around the place kicking up a fuss, it is the Tory supporters who are most likely to pay attention - and the Tory leadership, as supposedly the only mainstream Eurosceptic party, which will have to rise to the challenge. Then the Conservatives will either have to join in with UKIP and Kilroy's anti-EU chorus, and risk seeming as rabid as the single-issue parties, or to desperately try and sound reasonable, and risk losing Eurosceptic votes in the process.

Labour, meanwhile, will be able to sit back, safe in the knowledge that their supporters are unlikely ever to go near either Veritas or UKIP. It could even prove yet another opportunity to go on about how great Gordon Brown's stewardship of the economy has been, and how the Iron Chancellor will never allow Britain join the euro until it is indisputably in the national interest - using the Blair/Brown split over the EU as a plus point, where recent efforts have aimed to show them as of a single mind on most issues. This, in turn, could allow Labour to spin this election as having been about the EU after all, and use it as a starting point for campaigns in preparation for the UK's EU presidency later this year and the constitutional referedum vote next autumn.

(A European, writing last week, also has a take on the EU and the election.)

11 Comments:

Blogger AlanK said...

Nosemonkey

not sure if that would help labour much, for every 2 tories that voted UKIP in Euro elections, 1 labour voter did so also and in an election when labour will lose votes to all sides, bringing that up would not be much help

4/12/2005 04:03:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Can't say I've heard those figures before - where did you get them from? I honestly can't see Labour voters going for UKIP or Veritas in the sort of numbers that would suggest.

Although there are some definite leftish reasons to oppose the EU (cf. the French socialists organising against the constitution), both UKIP and Veritas are predominantly right wing and neither has managed to create the broad anti-EU coalition which both professed to desire on their founding. Few anti-EU Labourites would support any of the other policies of either party, so I can't see them lending their support to them - especially not in a general election.

4/12/2005 05:39:00 pm  
Anonymous robin said...

Well your blog here just seems to be snide remarks that no doubt think are clever and a hope that sophistry is doing well in politics.The fact that the political establishment are keeping the effects of the EU in purdah from us plebs just shows how wrong it is.And how arrogant peoplr who consider themselves intellectuals are.Typical BBC sort of mindset.

4/12/2005 07:13:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

robin, old son, I'm afraid that once again I have no idea what you're talking about. Or does that count as another snide remark?

Where did your "keeping the effects of the EU in purdah" come from? Considering the post, I'm assuming you mean because it isn't (yet) an election issue. But why should it be when we have a referendum on the thing in a year?

As for "typical BBC mindset", need I remind you that Kilroy was emplyed by the BBC for donkeys' years - does he have a typical BBC mindset? What the hell is a BBC mindset anyway? It's one of the most diverse and biggest media organisations in the world.

Come on - I don't complain about you making your own snide remarks to pretty much every post that features the EU which appears on this blog these days, but when you first cropped up here you said you liked a debate. Rather than making closed, opinionated statements, why not try to come up with alternative interpretations or challenge me on specific issues? It'd (hopefully) be far more interesting for all concerned.

4/12/2005 10:35:00 pm  
Blogger Eddie said...

This is a very intriguing post. I never really thought of this that way. I suppose Labour will be happy to bore the world with discussion of the Tory spending plans for the next few days, but I will be shocked if this whole election passes by without a debate on the EU.

Perhaps then Labour may realise the capital they could gain from it.

Well spotted.

4/12/2005 11:49:00 pm  
Blogger Serf said...

It is a reasonable theory, but it all depends on how ready the Tories are to counter it. They already have an EU policy that is different and Eurosceptic without saying leave.

If they just pile on about how the EU wants our rebate back, and how Chirac is running the show, I think such a move could backfire.

I would concentrate on Blairs red lines, and show how tax policy as an example is gradually being invaded by Brussels.

4/13/2005 04:39:00 pm  
Anonymous robin said...

Nosemonkey,
Long post for something you say you dont understand.
Your web said it was good that the EU was not an election issue.THere is the EU and there is the constitution,both are problem issues.
Kilroy(who you make snide remarks about)is probably not BBC mindset.

BBC mindset of that organisation you so esteem is what they have in their editors.This is that they cannot see that other people have different experiences,observations,analysis,or,-especially-information,than what the BBC staff has.They may even reluctantly hold these views,but will not hold a different view just to appear intellectual.
I have challenged your views and asked you questions.Have`nt you seen them?

4/13/2005 09:08:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Sorry, robin - this will be a snide remark, but that's because I'm knackered and drunk.

Until you learn how properly to express yourself in the language of the country you profess to love so much, I'm afraid I simply cannot work out what point you trying to make.

Where's your evidence for every member of the BBC's tens of thousands-strong staff holding the same opinion?

Where's your evidence for lack of diversity in an organisation which has dedicated radio stations for ethnic minorities, sexual minorities and social minorities; has a major political show presented by two prominant Tories (Andrew Neil and Michael Portillo on This Week); employed the head of an anti-EU party for more than a decade; has invited members of the BNP, Islamic Jihad, the IRA and various other groups generally considered beyond the pale on the air to express their opinons; attempts to bring in spokesmen from all sides of an argument in an attempt to bring balance; which invites spokesmen from parties and organisations it attacks to counter any allegations it makes; and which broadcasts in more languages than either of us have even heard of?

4/13/2005 09:22:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

EU-Serf - any claims the Tories make about renegotiating are nonsense. It's practically impossible. Their only option for many of their proposals is to pull out altogether. While that may appeal to many of the more fervent Eurosceptics, for the majority of the simply vaguely sceptical population this would seem somewhat extreme.

Meanwhile Labour have set themselves up with the ultimate Get Out of Gaol Free card - anything the Tories suggest, Labour can simply counter with - if that's what people feel they can express it in the referendum.

And, let's face it, Labour would be far happier to lose the referendum than the election...

4/13/2005 09:24:00 pm  
Anonymous robin said...

Nosemonkey,
I re-read my last post and it is easy to understand.
BBC bias is a good website and there are other in a like vein.
The BBC has raised my ire because it is institutionally biased about the EU,prisons and crime,freight,the USA,Ulster,metrication,immigration and asylum,Iraq,the enviroment,gay rights,the church,fringe parties of both left and right and the arts.Dont think I always disagree with the viewpoint but I hate their smug sneering which I have to pay for.
Now I have to apologise because iI an not technically that competent on computers so I am slower to post something than you are.There have been times when there is nothing to argue about but your weblog is like a bus-nothing then three come at once.Today for example is four times ive posted.
I had considered taking a break from your weblog for a little while but thought you would miss me too much.

4/14/2005 07:59:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jesus! Is metrication really one of the big issues of the day? I must have been out of the UK too long.

When I went to school we were quite comfortable using metric, but that was a few years ago now.

4/27/2005 05:48:00 pm  

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