A Euro Hustings

Vicky Ford explaining a point

Vicky Ford explaining a point

Monday morning I started to blog about last Thursday evening, when I went to the East of England Rural Hustings at the NFU Regional Office, jointly hosted by the NFU and the Country Landowners Association (CLA) and then got rather side-tracked into writing about Suffolk County Council’s Farm Strategy.

What I was meant to blog about was the debate that took place between the candidates and the responses to the audience’s questions.

Each of the main parties put up a candidate or in the case of the Greens a speaker in the form of my fellow Suffolk County Councillor Andrew Stringer. In fact Suffolk was rather well represented as my old sparring partner Labour’s Suffolk County Council opposition Leader Sandy Martin, who is number 3 on Labour’s slate, represented them. For the Liberals they put up their one MEP Andrew Duff, UKIP was represented by their MEP Stuart Agnew and for the Conservatives was Vicky Ford one of our leading MEP. So a reasonable heavy weight panel and they were faced with an articulate and knowledgeable group of Farmers.

In many ways the debate settled into party lines. Andrew Stringer did his best but Greens do rather annoy hard headed farmers with their ‘agri’ peace and love messages when essentially farmers are more focused on crop yields. Sandy Martin held his own and made some reasonable points only slightly stumped when faced with more technical questions about the chemical controls emanating from Brussels. But the main battle was between the existing MEPs who clearly have spent their euro parliamentary careers in this sort of company and know how to weave their way through the industry specific issues and make their points about Europe and the European Parliament.

And in some ways the themes on the night are the nub of the European question. On the one hand you have the ‘isn’t Europe great’ from the Liberals. Then there is the Europe is the root of all the ills in our wonderful country from UKIP and the if only we could control our own farm policy, UK farming would soak high about the clouds, but behind me there were distinct mumblings and less than polite words about Whitehall and DEFRA’s track record. As I have blogged before it is in this UKIP message that that if only we could run things ourselves all would be right with the world, that I disagree, it is too simplistic a view and sadly not quite borne out by the realities of life.

From Vicky Ford came her usual whirlwind performance and a clear message that of course Europe is far from perfect, far from where we want it to be, but with a referendum looming we can, and will negotiate a different relationship, for our membership is too important for the federalists in Europe to risk our exit and we will forge a different relationship that only the Conservatives will then put to the people in a referendum to ‘lance’ this question once and for all.


Tomorrow is poll day and as I usually do suggest at this time whatever your politics, whatever your views on Europe please do go and vote. It is a hard won right to live in a democracy and one we should respect by the simple act of voting.

About askcolinnoble
I'm a Conservative politician-lite, I dabble a bit in Party Politics with my main focus of working hard and being a strong voice for my community making sure local government delivers quality services and fellow residents get value for money for their hard earned money they pay in Council tax | Where this Gravatar appears and I am expressing my views or liking something I do so in a personal capacity and does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of Suffolk County Council, Forest Heath District Council, the Conservative Party or come to think of it anyone else | But having said the above at an election time and to stay legal anything I write is promoted by Lance Stanbury on behalf of Colin Noble, both at West Suffolk Conservative Association, Unit 8, Swan Lane Business Park, Exning, Newmarket, Suffolk CB8 7FN

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