There was a new Ipsos MORI poll reported today while I was at work and then at a Council meeting. The party ratings are:
Conservative 38% (down 1%)
Labour 21% (down 4%)
Lib Dem 19% (no change)
There is still a large “others” figure following the Euro elections and I have not yet seen a breakdown of that 22%.
Almost lost in the news of the Speaker election yesterday was the announcement that the Conservatives in the European Parliament have successfully formed a new grouping. It will be the fourth largest group in the Parliament with 55 MEPs from eight countries.
In forming the new group David Cameron has fulfilled one of his campaign pledges despite many commentators predicting that he would back-track or fail to find enough palatable allies. As it stands the new Conservatives and Reformists Group is a model of moderation and rationality by European standards and comprises the following members:
British Conservatives 26
Polish Law & Justice Party 15
Czech Civic Democratic Party 9
Dutch Christian Union 1
Latvian National Independence Movement 1
Hungarian Democratic Forum 1
Belgium Lijst Dedecker 1
Finish Centre Party 1
I understand that there are at least two more significant groups of MEPs that are being courted and may join in the next few months. According to Conservative Home the new group has already received an application to join from Waldemar Tomaszewski an MEP from the Polish minority in Lithuania.
The new Conservatives and Reformists Group have all signed up to the following declaration:
“CONSCIOUS OF THE URGENT NEED TO REFORM THE EU ON THE BASIS OF EUROREALISM, OPENNESS, ACCOUNTABILITY AND DEMOCRACY, IN A WAY THAT RESPECTS THE SOVEREIGNTY OF OUR NATIONS AND CONCENTRATES ON ECONOMIC RECOVERY, GROWTH AND COMPETITIVENESS, THE EUROPEAN CONSERVATIVES AND REFORMISTS GROUP SHARES THE FOLLOWING PRINCIPLES:
1. Free enterprise, free and fair trade and competition, minimal regulation, lower taxation, and small government as the ultimate catalysts for individual freedom and personal and national prosperity.
2. Freedom of the individual, more personal responsibility and greater democratic accountability.
3. Sustainable, clean energy supply with an emphasis on energy security.
4. The importance of the family as the bedrock of society.
5. The sovereign integrity of the nation state, opposition to EU federalism and a renewed respect for true subsidiarity.
6. The overriding value of the transatlantic security relationship in a revitalised NATO, and support for young democracies across Europe.
7. Effectively controlled immigration and an end to abuse of asylum procedures.
8. Efficient and modern public services and sensitivity to the needs of both rural and urban communities.
9. An end to waste and excessive bureaucracy and a commitment to greater transparency and probity in the EU institutions and use of EU funds.
10. Respect and equitable treatment for all EU countries, new and old, large and small.”
There have been the predictable attacks from the Lib Dem and Labour parties and one or two Europhile Conservatives. These completely ignore some of the bizarre partners that they cohabit with e.g. Labour’s former Communist allies in the Socialist Group and the Lib Dem allies in the Latvia First Party who have a rabidly homophobic platform. Former Conservative MEP critics like Caroline Jackson were also very content to sit with Mussolini’s grand-daughter in the European People’s Party.
I am delighted with the new grouping, which at last means that my party is supporting in Europe the policies it espouses in the United Kingdom. It could never be right to be so closely affiliated to the EPP whose federalist policies were anathema to most British Conservatives. It also means that Roger Helmer and Dan Hannan, who were expelled by the EPP, can now be leading players in a new, united and euro-sceptic grouping.