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8Never openly hostile, the UK public has long been uncertain about membership of the European Union. Andrew Hawkins asks if the entente with our closest neighbours will ever be truly cordiale
CAN BRITAIN EVER LEARN TO LOVE EUROPE?
Britain benefits overall from membership of the EU
In 1975, the UK and Ireland voted on whether to remain in what was then called the ‘Common Market’. What would be the result if such a vote were held today? Many assume a majority No vote, but it is not quite that simple. majority No vote, but it is not quite that simple.
GRAPH B GRAPH B
Britain should leave the EU but maintain close trading links
In the 1975 poll, 67.2 per cent voted to remain in, while 32.8 per cent opted to withdraw. Orkney, Shetland and Northern Ireland were the only areas of the UK where most voted No. Rather brilliantly, Harold Wilson had pledged in his 1974 election manifesto to renegotiate the terms of Britain’s membership and then hold a referendum. By so membership and then hold a referendum. By so
Britain should remain a full member of the EU
5% don’t know
4% don’t know
8 | 8 | 8 September 2011 | Total Politics
5% don’t know
doing, he claimed that the deal Edward Heath had agreed in 1973 was disadvantageous, while at the same time avoiding breaking ranks with the political consensus that membership of the European Economic Community would be in the UK’s national interest. Were renegotiation as easy today (which it is not), the same ruse could work.
As with the 2011 AV referendum, polls in the months running up to the 1975 vote were pointing to a different outcome. A year before the 1975 referendum, the No vote was 17 per cent ahead, although this had narrowed to 8 per cent by February of that year, largely due to that promise of renegotiation. After the renegotiation, the Yes vote powered ahead with a lead over the No vote of some 34 per cent by the end of May.
Opinion in Britain towards EU membership bears many similarities to 40 years ago. There’s the same age gradient: in 1966 Gallup found support for joining the Common Market running at 74 per cent among 21 to 34-year-olds, 69 per cent among 35 to 54-year-olds, and just 58 per cent among those aged 55-plus. In 2011, YouGov cent among those aged 55-plus. In 2011, YouGov found 61 per cent of over-60s would vote to leave the EU, compared to 53 per cent of 40 to 59-year-olds, 40 per cent of 25 to 39-year-olds, and just 36 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds.
Then there’s the pattern of opinion along the social spectrum. In 1966, wealthier income groups were most likely to support membership, and this is unchanged.
The most important similarity, though, is that while people want to ‘renegotiate’ Britain’s member-
In 1966, wealthier income groups were most likely to support EU membership. This is unchanged ship terms, whatever that means, to vote to withdraw from the EU is seen as too big a step to take.
In 2009, ComRes asked a battery of questions about EU membership ahead of the European parliamentary elections. Responses revealed a public that wanted to have its say over the terms of Britain’s engagement with the EU far more than wanting to vote to leave. That’s hardly surprising; having been promised in Labour’s 2005 election manifesto a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, and having seen other member states hold one, the public is eager to have its say. See graphs A, B, and C.
More powerful still is the sense that Britain has had a raw deal from the EU, irrespective of the howls of anguish at the UK’s rebate: fully 51 per cent disagree that Britain benefits overall from EU membership in terms of jobs and trade. The European Commission figures are worse. In the latest ‘Eurobarometer’ wave 60 per cent of Britons agreed that, “taking everything into account, the UK has not benefited from being a member of the EU”.
But when it comes to the crunch, the public is very queasy about voting for withdrawal, which is very queasy about voting for withdrawal, which is why the eurozone crisis could prove so important. why the eurozone crisis could prove so important.
The genius of Wilson’s approach was that it The genius of Wilson’s approach was that it tapped into the British psyche, which thinks of it tapped into the British psyche, which thinks of it-
self as the same-but-different. It’s unthinkable, self as the same-but-different. It’s unthinkable,
for example, that any British foreign minis for example, that any British foreign minis-
ter would get away with repeating what ter would get away with repeating what
Joschka Fischer (German foreign minis Joschka Fischer (German foreign minis-
ter) said in 1998: “Transforming the ter) said in 1998: “Transforming the
European Union into a single state European Union into a single state with one army, one constitution with one army, one constitution and one foreign policy is the and one foreign policy is the critical challenge of the age.” critical challenge of the age.”
Yet voters do not see themselves as being in the themselves as being in the same mould as Norway, which same mould as Norway, which rejected EU membership rejected EU membership in both 1972 and 1994. in both 1972 and 1994. The significance of the Eurozone crisis is that it could Eurozone crisis is that it could allow for precisely the sort allow for precisely the sort of relationship that most Euro of relationship that most European politicians have, until recently, pean politicians have, until recently, thought undesirable and impossible. thought undesirable and impossible. Back in 2007 there was revived discus Back in 2007 there was revived discussion that a multi-speed Europe could be sion that a multi-speed Europe could be possible. This has been a taboo subject because possible. This has been a taboo subject because the constitution was supposed to have conclusively the constitution was supposed to have conclusively put paid to such a notion. But the eurozone crisis put paid to such a notion. But the eurozone crisis has highlighted the fact that some member states has highlighted the fact that some member states can afford to remain in the euro, some want to but cannot afford to, and some do not ever wish to join.
Where political zeal for the European project for decades prevented the acceptance of anything other than single membership status, it’s the economic reality that is removing that bulwark. For the UK government, and especially for the Conservative Party, this could be very good news indeed. The Tories were never in imminent danger of tearing themselves apart over Europe, given the political imperative of reducing Britain’s national debt, but grumbling discomfort remains. However, if David Cameron can present voters with a ‘renegotiated’ relationship with the EU, while keeping his European counterparts happy, he might just hit the political sweet spot. Andrew Hawkins is chairman of ComRes
BLOGGER WRITES...LAURENCEDURNANSAYSITWOULDBEWRONGTOBLOCK TV COVERAGE OF POLITICS
While Rupert Murdoch’s jacket is back from the dry cleaners, stains left by authorities in the wake of a foam pie attack will be harder to shift than shaving cream. In revoking (then later returning) the parliamentary pass of a BBC producer for filming the aftermath, bureaucrats have demonstrated funda mental problems with the way Parliament presents itself.
Actions by foxhunting activists and Fathers4Justice have also seen Auntie castigated for broadcasting protests. But restrictions on TV coverage ‘protect the dignity of Parliament’ as though it were a 1920s débutante rather than the seat of a living democracy.
Rules ban the use of footage for ‘entertainment’, but noone who works in Westminster would deny the appeal of “the arena that sets the heart beating a little faster”. Since Sylvia Heal won the Mid Staf fordshire by-election in 1990, all new members have watched, covet ously, TV proceedings of Parliament long before their posteriors touched green leather.
It’s strange that voices bemoaning disinterest in Parliament can be found in the chorus against change. Doubt less, some imagine that SW1A would be given the Big Brother treatment: “This is Davina! You are live on BBC Parliament. Please do not swear!”
Even as a global audience of millions tuned in to watch Tom Watson MP grill the Murdochs, there were no interview points in Portcullis House. In complement to the Gothic architecture of Central Lobby, members would be well served to be filmed in a modern, ‘normal’ of fice building – perhaps not unlike viewers’ own.
The sober scrutiny of legislation can go hand-in-hand with a fulsome treatment by broadcasters of our political culture. Parliament is a majestic stage, but our view of it is currently obstructed. Laurence Durnan is editor of politicalscrapbook.net
Total Politics | September 2011 | 9
THE DEPUTY PM
Chris Bowers, Nick Clegg’s biographer, charts the rise and fall of the Lib Dem leader and highlights the battle he faces with his party
It’s a tad odd that, when a TV programme called TheApprentice is at its zenith, few are talking about apprenticeships in politics. And yet, the guy with the second-most important job in government effectively bypassed the training for high office that most
40 | September 2011 | Total Politics politicians, in some shape or form, go through.
The point is made powerfully by Nick Clegg’s old mentor, Leon Brittan, who, as a European commissioner, helped the 27-year-old Clegg into his first proper job. “It’s quite something to be flung in to be deputy prime minister,” admits
Brittan. “My first job in government was minister of state at the Home Office, and I crawled my way up from there. So to be thrown in at the deep end, and also having to lead a party that, at best, is unsure about this whole thing – it’s not easy.”
To a certain extent, there’s always a lack of government experience when power shifts after a long period of one party having been in government. Neither Tony Blair nor David Cameron had any ministerial experience when they first became prime minister, but at least they came from parties that were used to being in power, with ex-ministerial grandees happy to help with the behind-the-scenes apprenticeship. Government for them wasn’t an unknown quantity.
Being in government was new territory for Clegg and his party. If the ‘first 100 days’ is more than a journalistic cliché trotted out to justify the first review of a new administration, and really as crucial
Being a nice guy isn’t the cornerstone of an effective political career. The question now is whether Clegg can use the time and muscle he currently has to make a difference to British political life, and for him and his party to take the credit for it as some believe it to be, then Clegg and the Liberal Democrats’ inexperience robbed them of the chance to hit the ground running. In fact, the first 100 days were a disaster for the junior coalition party. It had to contend with a toxic combination of attaining government unexpectedly, playing second fiddle to a party it felt less in tune with than the other big party, and facing a serious economic crisis, while lacking back-up from the civil service.
As such, any assessment of Clegg’s overall performance as DPM is very difficult. Fifteen months into a five-year assignment, he’s spent much of his time to date trying to steady the ship after a rise and fall that was preposterous in its extremes. This country is known for putting its heroes – especially sporting ones – on a pedestal and then shooting them down, and Clegg’s case is a magnification of that. “I think it’s been one of the most extraordinary rises and falls that any of us have seen,” comments Isabel Oakeshott, political editor of the SundayTimes. “From a position where no one was taking him seriously as the leader of the third party, to then go stellar with the debates and the ‘Clegg-mania’, and then a few months later, absolutely rock bottom.”
Clegg has two big attributes that have bought him the time to steady his ship. The first is the absence of any alternative leader within the Lib Dems. If he fell under a bus, the obvious successor would be Chris Huhne – or would have been if Huhne’s ex-wife hadn’t jeopardised his career prospects by suggesting he might have asked someone else to take three penalty points for a speeding offence (an allegation Huhne vehemently denies). Huhne is now sufficiently damaged that Clegg even felt able to make a joke at his expense: “Whatever people think or say about Chris Huhne,” Clegg told a lunchtime gathering of journalists earlier this summer, “I really don’t know any politician better at getting his points across.” With Vince Cable and Simon Hughes both thought to be beyond the point of being anything more than caretaker leaders, and the standard bearer of the next generation, Tim Farron, still too wet behind the ears, Clegg’s position seems fairly secure. For now.
The second attribute is that he is known universally as a nice guy. Of course, there are enough people willing to curse him for things he’s done so far in government, but it’s hard to find anyone who’s dealt with him on a personal level who has a bad word to say about him. Even David Blunkett, who dragged himself up from his working-class Sheffield background to become home secretary – and thus ought to find the born-with-a-silverspoon Clegg anathema – has described his fellow Sheffield MP as “a very nice guy”. Okay, so he thinks Clegg “doesn’t get it” when it comes to representing Sheffield, but having married a woman whose parents deliver election literature for Clegg, Blunkett has learned to enjoy the Clegg personality. There were even signs in the media after the May 2011 elections, during which the vilification of Clegg resulted in a hammering for the Lib Dems, that the leading political correspondents felt a good sort like Clegg deserved a less vicious ride.
While it clearly helps, being a nice guy isn’t the cornerstone of an effective political career. And the question now is whether he can use the time and muscle he currently has to make a difference to British political life, and for him and his party to take the credit for it. He has a strong sense of what he understands by a fairer society (education is the bedrock, with civil liberties, human rights and an end to discrimination high up the priority list), but he may need to be associated with a single issue before he can permeate the British consciousness and get the electorate voting for him again.
In politics, you have to take people with you. There’s evidence that what Clegg and Cable achieved during the tuition fees debate is highly significant for further education, yet all the headlines were made by the higher education sector, with buzzwords such as “£9,000”, “a lifetime of debt” and “broken promises/ U-turns”.
That is symptomatic of the battle Clegg has within his own party. In an era when everyone is congregating in the middle ground, he has to carve out a niche for his party that makes sense nationally. His quest to make the Lib Dems the party of “liberalism without massive state involvement” is a brave one, but having a lot of ex-Labour sympathisers left over from the Liberal/ SDP merger in his party, is turning it into a rocky ride.
Many sceptical Lib Dems believe that Clegg’s anti-statism credo is too trusting of the private sector – even if anti-statism was at the centre of Jo Grimond’s liberalism in the 1950s and 1960s. They feel that Clegg’s willingness to trust Andrew Lansley’s health reforms was not a symptom of inexperience but the sign of a leader who is too right wing for his party.
If the coalition runs its course, Clegg has another three and a half years to establish himself as a benign figure of government. He needs to be more than the refreshing voice of opposition that enchanted so many during the TV debates, but, which many now believe, was a pot of unreachable gold at the end of a rainbow. ■ Chris Bowers is the author of NickClegg: TheBiography(Biteback, £17.99)
Total Politics | September 2011 | 41
38 | September 2011 | Total Politics
Amber Elliott follows the former head of the GLC as he sets off on the campaign trail to regain his place as Mayor of London. Photos by Suki Dhanda
S c a r f f
Livingstone is not underplaying the importance of next year’s mayoral election. “It’s a simple choice between good and evil – I don’t think it’s been so clear since the great struggle between Churchill and Hitler.”
Labour’s candidate for Mayor of London is sitting in a pie-and-mash shop in Shepherd’s Bush Market. A small crowd of residents has gathered, and one local blogger is asking why they should vote for him.
“The people that don’t vote for me will be weighed in the balance, come Judgement Day. The Archangel Gabriel will say, ‘You didn’t vote for Ken Livingstone in 2012. Oh dear, burn forever. Your skin flayed for all eternity...’”
He pauses: “I’ll come round with a serious
People are strongly pro-me or anti-me, or strongly pro or anti-Boris. This must be the election with the smallest group of ‘undecideds’ and floating voters for 40 years pitch nearer the time.” He croaks his signature laugh and moves on to the next question.
Livingstone is having fun. It’s almost a year since he was selected as Labour’s candidate for the mayoralty, and he’s halfway through visiting every London borough on his ‘Ken4London’ tour. In two days, across Lambeth and Hammersmith, he’s visited a school, two construction sites, a bus, a market, a bike shop, a newsagents and a pie-and-mash café.
This is his third mayoral campaign. Boris Johnson ended Livingstone’s eight-year reign in City Hall in 2008, beating him by 139,772 first and second-preference votes.
So, what are his chances this time round – standing against a candidate he lost to, on behalf of a party in opposition?
He wants to stress that he’s physically ready for the fight. Taking a break on Clapham High Street, 66-year-old Livingstone orders a snack: “I’ll have a hot chocolate if they’ve got it, and the most disgustingly creamy cake you can find.
“I’ve got a low cholesterol level,” he explains. “My body chemistry is one of the reasons I’m able to run – my doctor says I’ve got the same heart profile as an Olympic runner. I can’t run like a champion athlete, but I can cope with a lot of stress.”
Later, donning a pair of protective goggles to enter a building site, he adds proudly: “And I still don’t need glasses.”
How are his teeth? “Oh, they’re shit. That’s the weakness,” Livingstone cackles.
“Fearless Ken,” Val Shawcross, his deputy mayoral candidate, remarks, as Labour’s mayoral hope crosses the road, ignoring a red light.
Total Politics | September 2011 | 39
Ali s a
C o n n a n
Regulars Letters 4 Diary 6 Andy Bell of 5 News Polling 8 Can Britain ever learn to love Europe? Blogger writes 9 Political Scrapbook’s Laurence Durnan on why political satire should have free reign The idea 10 Ben Howlett offers a new Conservatism Data 11 Debate 12 DECC minister Greg Barker, and Joan Walley MP debate the government’s green credentials Point of order 13 Gordon Henderson MP Events 14 Ministerial profile 16 Northern Ireland minister Hugo Swire MP of the month 18 Chris Bryant MP
Total Campaigns (Public) access all areas 20 The new breed of political campaigners George Pascoe-Watson on... 21 The Lib Dems looking for rewards Campaign doctor 22 A truly political science 24 The brave new world of neuromarketing It doesn’t pay to be personal 26 Jason Stanford explains how few have mastered the art of negative campaigning
Features Defence procurement 28 Featuring interviews with armed forces minister Nick Harvey and shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy plus analysis from RUSI Constitutional reform 32 Why Conor Burns MP, PPS to Hugo Swire, can’t back his government’s policy
COVER STORY FRANCIS MAUDE PAGE 48 The Cabinet Office minister is the man leading a quiet revolution. He talks to Iain Dale about ranging across government, David Cameron’s leadership style and heading his “funny department”
Becoming a celebrity 34 How to make a politician into a star Nick Clegg 36 The extraordinary journey of the deputy prime minister Ken Livingstone 38 Can the maverick regain the London mayoralty? He speaks to Amber Elliott MEPs survey 42 Baroness Ashton’s struggle for respect in the European Parliament Boundary changes 44 How they are creating disquiet within the main parties
Total History 1911 Parliament Act 54 We looks back at one of the most dramatic periods in British political history Where are they now? 56 The history of one object 57 Memorabilia 57 Steve Rotheram MP They were also MPs 58 AP Herbert
Total Life Book reviews 60 Brought to book 61 Jamie Reed MP My old book 61 Dan Jarvis MP Latitude 62 Caroline Crampton reviews the debates at the Suffolk music festival Top 10 spouses 65 Lunch with... 66 Michael Crick
Total Politics | September 2011 | 3