It should not be a secret as to how we can win public trust on the European Union. In fact, it should be something we commit to doing so more often. What I am talking about is the not-so-secret way of winning the debate on the EU. The way we do it? Simple, we talk about it. Not what you expected, is it? You expected a detailed plan devised to bring down Nigel Farage and his band of Eurosceptic troops whilst Nick Clegg would seemingly be crowned “King of the Eurostate”. Well ok, you probably didn’t expect that either but to take things on a more serious route it is extremely worrying that there is such a lack of dialogue inside and outside of the Liberal Democrat party on the EU. It is as if we don’t even believe our own arguments. We are in a very good position. We are not a party that suffers with huge splits on many issues, particularly on the EU. The Conservative Party have the most obvious splits with many backbenchers calling for absolute withdrawal of Britain’s membership of the EU whilst Tory frontbenchers fly the flag of the EU (although the media would like you to think otherwise based upon a pointless veto). The Labour Party, especially under the Blair’s leadership at the height of New Labour, are seen to be a predominantly pro-EU party. However, there are still Eurosceptic voices present within the Socialist and more traditional strands of the Labour party. Finally, we have our party. We stand firmly as a party that openly believes in stronger ties with the European Union. However, that is how we leave it. We simply leave ourselves to be known as the party that loves the EU. What we should really regarded as is that we are the party that fights for the EU and stands up for it under the scrutiny of the media and the public.
It is no wonder that with such soft support towards the EU that petitions on the Government’s e-petitions website are popping up almost every day with thousands adding their support to withdrawing British membership. This simply is not good enough. I mean, there are signs of an EU inspired spirit of sorts inside some prominent Lib Dem figures. When the issue is raised they do perfectly well of playing a very safe Europhile card to warn off the ‘sceptics. However, we are not using our knowledge and passion for the EU to the best of our abilities. One thing the Euroscpetics do very well at (which UKIP members have almost mastered) is being able to drop any political issue or incident at the doorstep of Brussels. This is a tactic we should reverse and employ ourselves. When they say jobs, we give them 3 million reasons as to why the EU has provided the UK with so many jobs. When they say crime, we tell them of how EU nations stand united in tackling continent spanning crimes. When they tell us about Education and Opportunity we tell them about the Erasmus scheme allowing students to travel to EU countries and experiences other cultures whilst also expanding knowledge. Those are just three reasons alone. But if you take the time you can find a benefit the EU brings to almost any area of UK society.
All I hope now is that the party is getting the message. The unpossible is becoming the possible and the Eurosceptic parties are slowly winning the argument with the public which is not just dangerous, but it also threatens our very own membership and relations with the EU. The party must assert itself more and not be so fearful of praising the EU as it has slowly become somewhat of a taboo subject. Its a fight we never thought we would have to fight, but too long have we and others been complacement. We well and truly let our guard down. Not again. Not on our watch.