Alexander Deane is a Barrister. A former chief of staff to David Cameron MP in the UK, he currently works for the Liberal Party in Australia.
The Conservative Party has been riven for two generations by a single issue – Europe.
Whilst in the current climate it may seem to have dropped from the forefront of the agenda, it has by no means “gone away” – it affects the Cameron leadership profoundly (indeed, in the shape of the unfulfilled promise to leave the EPP, it can be said to have led to it).
What is the Conservative Party’s policy on Europe? I’m a committed Conservative with an avid interest in policy, and I don’t know. I bet you don’t either.
One of the best things the Cameron leadership has done thus far was the creation of the six policy groups. They grant the party’s thinkers space and time to develop policies and ideas and are seen as a serious attempt to contribute to the national social life. Policies need to be born of conviction and considered analysis, not snatched at late in the game for electoral advantage – the impression that the latter course was being taken enormously harmed the electoral prospects of both Hague and Howard.
A policy group should be established to consider our country’s future relationship with the EU.
There should be no limits placed on its thinking. If, contrary to experience thus far, our involvement with this domineering institution can be made to work to our advantage, good. If not, we should be prepared to leave.
Pragmatically, this policy would allow David breathing space on this issue. It would also be seen as something for the right wing rank and file, of which I’m one. And it really may help the party’s stance on the issue that still troubles us so much.
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