Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Columnist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Columnist

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID TAYLOR-GOOBY

LAST week I helped organise an "Any Questions" through St Cuthbert's Church in Peterlee for the European candidates.

Similar meetings are being organised all over the region, and I felt it was a bit like the "Town Hall" meetings which take place in American primaries when people can actually discuss issues with the aspiring candidates.

Because the Euro-constituencies are so large most people do not know the candidates, so these meetings are a good opportunity to see who they are.

I hope they lead to a more thoughtful politics where people weigh up the arguments before they vote.

We had a good debate. Various themes emerged. The position of Ukip is clear, and easily understandable. They want to leave Europe. Other policies seem to be based on hope rather than fact.

They assume we will be able to negotiate trade deals. There is no evidence for this. But as I have said before, their appeal is to gut feeling and emotion, to people who do not like being governed by people far away who do not bother about them. Rather like the Scottish Nationalists.

The policies are vague but the feelings are strong.

The Conservatives are less clear. They claim to want to remain in Europe, but they seldom say anything good about it. Their campaign is predominantly negative, the big selling point being that they will actually deliver a referendum.

The Greens, Liberals and Labour are all pro-Europe. I feel that the Liberals are a bit naive about how good Europe is, when some aspects of it obviously aren't.

There is a strong logic to the Greens' position. Green parties are stronger in Europe than they are here, so there is much more likelihood of implementing Green policies if they operate on a European stage. In fact, the Greens are making a valuable contribution to the debate. …

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