The Conservative Party and Europe
by Ben Patterson
£ 20 GBP / 25 EURO
Published in December 2011
Order online from Turpin Distribution Services: http://ebiz.turpin-distribution.com/products/214145-the-conservative-party-and-europe.aspx
or by phone on +44 (0) 1767 604 951
“He writes... from the standpoint of a fair-minded participant and of someone whose views, like mine, represented the mainstream majority of the Conservative Party." KEN CLARKE
In this history of Conservative policy towards Europe since the 1940s, Ben Patterson, a lifelong party activist and former MEP located in the Ted Heath-Ken Clarke tradition, looks in a balanced way at how and why the “party of Europe”, which led Britain into the Community under Heath, has become one ever more influenced by Eurosceptic sentiment.
The author draws on more than five decades of experience - starting as a tutor on the Common Market at Swinton Conservative College in the early 1960s - to provide an account which looks not just at the high politics but also the deeper currents of change among the party rank-and-file.
Patterson explores the complex relationship between the Conservative Party and what started out as the Common Market and has ended up as today’s European Union. He describes a relationship with the embryonic Community that was from the start ambivalent – Churchill famously called for a “United States of Europe”; but the counter-pull of Empire and alliance with America were strong in the post-war period – but ultimately led to Macmillan applying to join the EEC. Edward Heath faced down residual anti-Common Market sentiment in his own party and the country at large, leading Britain to membership in 1973, a result convincingly confirmed by referendum in 1975. The party’s relationship with Europe was frequently abrasive under Margaret Thatcher, but support for Britain’s actively engaged membership remained strong within Tory ranks, buoyed by Thatcher’s success on the British rebate and the progress to the single market, much favoured by all strands of opinion in the party. Over the last two decades, however, there has been a steady erosion of the old mainstream centrist pro-Europeanism of the party as Euroscepticism has moved from the disruptive fringe, which so undermined the Major premiership, to influence ever more sections of party opinion. In the process relations with what would otherwise be allied centre-right parties in Europe have become frayed and Britain a more peripheral player in the formulation of EU policy. A featre of the book is that the domestic debate is also put in the context of wider European politics, with a special section on the relationship between British Conservatism and continental Christian Democracy.
The author: Ben Patterson has been engaged in party policy on Europe as a tutor, a European official and a three-term member of the European Parliament. He remains an active member of the party.
Foreword, by Ken Clarke MP
1. The Churchill Legacy
2. The Macmillan Application
3. Finding a Role
4. Preparing the Ground
5. Membership and Referendum
6. Direct Elections
7. The Years of “Maggie’s Money”
8. Towards the Single Market
9. Bruges and After
10. ERM and EMU
11. The Battle for Maastricht
12. Into the Cold
13. No Longer the Party of Europe
14. The Constitutional Treaty
15. The Road to Recovery
16. 1945 – 2010: An Analysis
17. Conservative European Policy and the Future
Appendix 1: Conservatism and Christian Democracy
Appendix 2: Chronology of Man Events
Appendix 3: Tables