As next year it will be thirty five years since the referendum on staying in the EU it might be instructive to look at some of the leaflets of that era to see how accurate we Eurorealists were in our predictions. I did not retain the lying documents produced by the government and 'Britain in Europe' but I do have a copy of the 'No' leaflet published by the National Referendum Campaign, which I helped to deliver, and also the policy statement by 'Operation Out' printed in 1977.
It is no surprise that reading these publications reveals just how right we were then and how fundamental were the questions we raised which the Europhiles ignored and have never answered since. One paragraph from the 'No' leaflet deserves to be quoted in full: "Before we joined the Common Market the Government forecast that we should enjoy a rapid rise in our living standards, a trade surplus with the Common Market, better productivity, higher investment, more employment and faster industrial growth. In every case the opposite is happening, according to the Government's figures".
In addition it pointed out that before the referendum in Norway, the pro-Marketeers predicted that, if Norway voted No, that country would suffer the same imaginary evils with which they now threaten us but that none of those predictions came true. As we look back over the last four decades we can see that where we were in error was in underestimating the detrimental effects of the British people voting Yes.
The leaflet also raised the absolutely fundamental question of whether or not we remain free to rule ourselves in our own way. As it pointed out "under the Treaty of Rome, policies are being decided, rules made, laws enacted and taxes raised, not by our own Parliament elected by the British people, but by the Common Market, often by unelected Commissioners in Brussels. As this system tightens, and it will, our right, by our votes, to change policies and laws in Britain will steadily dwindle. Unlike British laws, those of the Common Market, which will take precedence over our own laws, can only be changed if all the other member states agree." As we contemplate the diktats that now impose the will of Brussels bureaucrats upon a once free nation one can only stand amazed at our own moderation!
Further headings in the leaflet illustrate just how correct Eurorealists were in their warnings about the future. There are 'Taxes to keep prices up', which states that British taxpayers will soon be paying many hundreds of millions of pounds a year to Brussels, 'Agriculture', which warns of higher food prices and prophetically 'they also have their eyes on British fishing grounds', 'Commonwealth links', which points out how we will drift further and further away from our historic allies and finally, and most significant 'Britain a mere province of Europe', which asserts that the real aim is to make Britain a mere province of a single state whose laws would be binding on us and which could not be overturned by a parliament elected by the British people.
Finally the leaflet offered the sensible alternative of remaining in EFTA (which would probably have remained intact if we had not torpedoed it by leaving), retaining our freedom to use our oil and coal reserves without interference, and escaping from rule by Brussels. As it said 'If you want a rich and secure future for the British peoples, a free and democratic society, living in friendship with all nations - but governing ourselves; Vote No'.
Looking at the 'Operation Out' leaflet it obviously did not anticipate the fall of communism but in so many areas it can be seen as prescient, as it warns of a catastrophic loss of sovereignty, an adverse balance of trade with Europe, the undermining of our defences, rises in the cost of food and the final creation of a European Federation.
On the other side of the argument it is difficult to remember all the promises made by the Europhiles, although I do recall that arrogant and pompous idiot Roy Jenkins telling us that wine would be cheaper, as if that was important when the fate of the nation was involved, but there can be no doubt that they proved to be totally false. If only the people had listened in the 1970s we would have been free of this incubus for a generation. We can only hope that eventually the truth of what we have been saying for decades will become so self evident that the electorate will finally draw the correct conclusions and force withdrawal from the EU.