I know you signed yourself “Mike” but that’s probably a bit familiar for now. I might get more comfortable with it later on in this letter but for now I think I ought to use your full title of Conservative Representative for Hove and Portslade. Just so everyone knows who you are.
Thank you so much for writing to me for my opinion, not once, but three times! It’s nice to know that in these times of necessary austerity there’s still a bit of spare cash around for headed House of Commons paper with your photo on. Do you get a prize if you use it all up?
Since you are so persistent I thought I’d do you the honour of a reply though I find the questions asked rather simple. In fact, as you are about to find out, I have more comments than could even be fitted overleaf from your simple questions. Perhaps I should have used the overleaf of all three letters I received?
So firstly. It’s nice to know you are in favour of an in / out referendum on the EU in 2017. I fear, however, you may be jumping the gun a bit, a point to which I’ll return later. I do wonder, however, given the proposed date how the good people of Portslade are supposed to make up their minds how they’d vote in it? We are, after all, talking about a totally hypothetical referendum in four years time. Crystal ball? Tea leaves? Perhaps Jeremy Hunt could shake some water in a mysterious way and we could all drink it and get super hero powers that allowed us to see in to the future?
Even if the referendum was tomorrow though there is nowhere near enough information supplied for me, or anyone else who isn’t an MP with a party whip to stick to, to decide. Perhaps you thought it was better to send a simple letter three times than an informative one once. Or perhaps – cynical I know but bear with me – the letter sent gives you the very best chance to receive or even spin the statistics you crave.
Before I could decide such a thing I’d need to seek out a lot more information. What would be the affect be on trade agreements? Would all parties explain copiously that the European Court of Human Rights was bound by the Council of Europe and not the EU? Would I need a visa to see my dad in France? How would the farce that is port and airport immigration deal with even slower lines of people they suddenly have to check more thoroughly? Should I believe UKIP when they say there will be 29 million Bulgarians and Romanians heading here to steal my job, live on benefits and be generally smelly? And is there any chance you could explain why it is that, when discussing Europe, the right reverts to protectionism and the left to defending trade?
I fear that you will actually receive very few replies. Portslade being a working class area – but more working than shirking – most of its residents will be far too busy trying to make ends meet under your austerity regime or struggling with the shortage of Junior School places and the frankly appalling local secondary school to answer hypothetical questions about something no-one understands properly. And any who suddenly find themselves living on one of Portslade’s many estates with an extra bedroom are probably saving all three of your letters to burn for heat when the winter comes round.
But, Mike (see, I said I’d get there), I think the real point is this. Democracy in this country is driven by general elections rather than referenda. As you rightly point out you don’t have a majority. It is my unending hope that come 2015, you, your hopeless Chancellor and your frankly backwards Education Secretary, not to mention Call Me Dave, will be voted back to the obscurity you enjoyed in the thirteen years leading up to 2010.
Hope this helps!
*real name used on printed copy to be posted this morning.