A provocative question about Europe

Over on his blog Iain Sharpe has wondered about the European views of Liberal Democrat members:

Are the Lib Dems really pro-European?

Lib Dem attitudes towards Europe reminds me of G.K. Chesterton’s The man who was Thursday. In this novel, the members of an anarchist cell are one-by-one revealed to be undercover policemen. In a similar way, Lib Dem activists, often portrayed in the media as starry-eyed pro-Europeans, are more often than not undercover Eurosceptics. Time and again I let slip in conversation to a Lib Dem colleague that I don’t quite share the party’s zeal for the European project only to be told that neither do they.

Genuine Euro-enthusiasts seem to me relatively thin on the ground in the Lib Dems.

The last Liberal Democrat Voice survey of party members to ask about Europe found:

The Lib Dems are traditionally identified as the most pro-European of all the parties, so it’s interesting to see the different views among our sample of party members here. Although the single most popular answer (with 48%) is the most pro-integration response, not many fewer (37%) believe that the UK’s position within the EU should remain the status quo, with no further push towards ever closer union. In total, 14% believe the UK is already in too deep, though full withdrawal is advocated by just 2% of Lib Dem members.

There are two ways of looking at the figures. On the one hand, a massive 85% of party members back the UK’s membership of the European Union. On the other hand, however, a bare majority of the party membership, 51%, believes the UK should resist any moves towards closer ties.

What’s your view on where opinions rest in the Liberal Democrats?

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