Bending the facts, MacShane style

EUROPE minister Denis MacShane turned history on its head over the weekend as he attacked Douglas Carswell, the Tory candidate for Harwich, who has reiterated his belief that he would rather the UK quit the European Union instead of being incorporated into a Brussels superstate.

EUROPE minister Denis MacShane turned history on its head over the weekend as he attacked Douglas Carswell, the Tory candidate for Harwich, who has reiterated his belief that he would rather the UK quit the European Union instead of being incorporated into a Brussels superstate.

Mr MacShane hit out: "Calls for an independent Britain outside the EU constitute language never before heard from a major British party aspiring to govern Britain."

Totally wrong - the Labour Party election manifesto of 1983 called for Britain to quit the then European Economic Community. Labour was hysterically anti-Europe until Neil Kinnock - who went on to make a nice living out of being a European Commissioner, with Lady Kinnock still collecting a Euro MP's salary - steered Labour towards European involvement as the Tories headed in the opposite direction.

Back to Mr Carswell. He may be out of synch with Michael Howard and the rest of the Shadow Cabinet, but he's probably more in tune with grassroots Tory thinking than Mr Howard dare admit.


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In the unlikely event of Britain voting `yes' in next year's referendum to sign up to the proposed European constitution, the Conservatives could fracture. The party's slogan "In Europe, not run by Europe" is so illogical that it would not stand the test of British participation in the Constitution, especially if the Government was emboldened to seek membership of the euro.

But there will only be a `yes' vote if Tony Blair and Denis MacShane - should they really believe Britain should be a full and active partner in a politically cohesive European Union - go on the offensive instead of whimpering in the background so the voters can't hear them.

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Meanwhile, the THE proposed European Constitution may be unpopular with British voters but it is unlikely to feature high on the election radar. But that's not stopping

the Suffolk and North East Essex branch of Britain in Europe shames the Government by getting ready to campaign for a `yes' vote in the constitution referendum - and it's chosen from holding a public meeting in the Bury St Edmunds constituency during the General Election hustings to get into gear.

Britain in Europe is stuffed full of high ranking pro-European Tories such as Sir Edward Heath, Kenneth Clarke and Ian Taylor who work alongside Baroness (Shirley) Williams and Lord (Neil Kinnock) to extol the virtues of full British participation in the future of the European Union.

So in to StowmarkeStowmarket t's Cedars Hotel on April 7 will go David Stephen, Director of the European Movement, will urgeing histhe happy band of Europhiles to prepare for the referendum campaign on whether the UK should ratify the constitutions.

The region's leading European supporters Andrew Duff (Liberal Democrat Euro MP) and John Gummer (Tory MP for Suffolk Coastal) have been invited as members prepare to revive the framework organisation Suffolk in Europe which will be responsible for delivering a "yes" vote in the county.

Local groups will be set-up, consisting of political activists and representatives of trades unions, churches, and women's and youth organisations. Anyone interested in helping should e-mail David Houseley at david@pilgrimbooks.com with their details.

AS Europe gets ever more involved in our lives, it's a great pity that that great British institution the boat train seems to have finally bittern the dust.

Over the years, those icons of the steam age the Orient tt Golden Arrow to Dover and the Irish Mail to Stranraer have been withdrawn and the new One timetable has seen the death knell of the specialiased services to Harwich International.

In the post war years, when West Germany had tens of thousands of national servicemen within its borders, the ferry crossing from the Hook of Holland to Harwich was a quick and convenient way to get home.

From Harwich, the boat train would pull into Colchester to pick up servicemen based at the garrison before starting the night haul across the UK to Peterborough, Nottinham, Sheffield, Manchester, Preston, Carlisle and Glasgow. The return journey through the day connected with the night ferry across the North Sea

Gradually, that journey was truncated, firstly termingating at Manchester, then Nottingham, and finally being reduced to a diesel service from Cambridge. Even that vestigate of our railway heritage has disappeared, with a merely shuttle service twice a day linking Ipswich with Harwich.

The London trains have also gone, passengers for the Hook of Holland, Germany and Denmark ferries being forced on to a local stopping service.

We may be heading for political integration with our European neighbours, but it seems cheap flights and greater use of cars have spelled the end of the boat train.

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