I am going to tell the next people who tell me that voting UKIP splits the eurosceptic vote where they can shove Slick Dave's 'eurosceptic credentials'.
Because today, he is holding court in Brussels at a conference on 'reforming the EU' with a load of people who knit their own knickers. Like the head of Greenpeace.
Why so sceptical, Trix?
Well. Because I have been hearing the same line from the Tories ever since I was born, and yet we're still in the EU, and they now make an estimated* 80% of our laws.
Let's have a look through their past manifestos, shall we?
1983: Opposing Brussels bureacracy
Meanwhile, with the help of Conservatives in the European Parliament, we shall continue to try to shift the Community's spending priorities away from agriculture and towards industrial, regional and other policies which help Britain more.
We shall continue both to oppose petty acts of Brussels bureaucracy and to seek the removal of unnecessary restrictions on the free movement of goods and services between member states, with proper safeguards to guarantee fair competition.
1987: Safeguarding national interests
This Government has taken Britain from the sidelines into the mainstream of Europe. But being good Europeans does not prevent us from standing up for British interests. The agreement we negotiated on the Community Budget has saved Britain £4,500 million since 1984.
We will continue to work for strict controls on the Community Budget.
Shame the Tory MEPs vote through the Budget each year, eh? Now estimated to cost us £12bn a year.
1992: Reform of EU finances
We have played a decisive part in the development of the Community over the past decade. It was a British initiative which launched the Single Market programme and our insistence which reformed the Community's finances. Britain has promoted co-operation on foreign policy and in combating terrorism. Britain has also persuaded our partners to welcome new countries who apply for Community membership.
The Maastricht Treaty was a success both for Britain and for the rest of Europe. British proposals helped to shape the key provisions of the Treaty including those strengthening the enforcement of Community law defence, subsidiarity and law and order. But Britain refused to accept the damaging Social Chapter proposed by other Europeans, and it was excluded from the Maastricht treaty.
We will work to strengthen the Western European Union as the European pillar of NATO. We will press for a European reaction force.
Which has contributed towards
The total size of its armed forces has shrunk from 305,800 in 1990 to 195,900 today, leaving it No. 28 in the world, behind Eritrea and Burma. This downsizing has reduced the entire British army (107,000 soldiers) to almost half the size of the U.S. Marine Corps (175,000). Storied regiments such as the Black Watch and the Royal Scots, with histories stretching back centuries, have been eliminated.
From the Los Angeles Times, 28th Feb 2007.
1997: Flexible Europe and 'In Europe, not run by Europe I'
The government has a positive vision for the European Union as a partnership of nations. We want to be in Europe but not run by Europe. We have much to gain from our membership of the European Union - in trade, in co-operation between governments, and in preserving European peace. We benefit from the huge trade opportunities that have opened up since Britain led the way in developing Europe's single market. We want to see the rest of Europe follow the same deregulated, enterprise policies that have transformed our economic prospects in Britain...
We will argue for a flexible Europe which fully accommodates the interests and aspirations of all its member states and where any new proposals have to be open to all and agreed by all. We will not accept other changes to the Treaty that would further centralise decision-making, reduce national sovereignty, or remove our right to permanent opt-outs.
2001: In Europe, not run by Europe II
The guiding principle of Conservative policy towards the European Union is to be in Europe, but not run by Europe. We will lead a debate in Europe about its future, promoting our own clear and positive vision.
The European Union has, with the prospect of enlargement, reached a fork in the road. Down one route lies a fully integrated superstate with nation states and the national veto disappearing. The Government is taking us down this route.
The alternative is a Europe of nations coming together in different combinations for different purposes and to differing extents. In other words, a network Europe. If Britain leads the debate, we can make this alternative a reality.
We will insist on a Treaty 'flexibility' provision, so that outside the areas of the single market and core elements of an open, free-trading and competitive EU, countries need only participate in new legislative actions at a European level if they see this as in their national interest.
At the same time, we are willing to support the principle of 'reinforced co-operation' in Europe, under which small groups of countries can become more closely integrated if they wish to do so, providing it does not damage Britain's national interest.
The next Conservative Government will keep the pound. We will maintain our national veto on European legislation. Giving up either would put our ability to govern ourselves at risk. We will not ratify the Nice Treaty but will renegotiate it so that Britain does not lose its veto.
We also propose to amend our domestic law to include 'reserved powers'. This will prevent EU law from overriding the will of Parliament in areas which Parliament never intended to transfer to the EU.
This policy will be reinforced with a determination to veto further transfers of power from Westminster to Brussels. Should any future Government wish to surrender any more of Parliament's rights and power to Brussels they should be required to secure approval for such a transfer in a referendum.
We intend to press for the single market to be completed and for competition laws to be stronger so that British businesses which play by the rules are not undercut by other companies that do not.
We will also press for Europe to tackle fraud and maladministration as a matter of priority. If the EU reduced waste and abandoned ill-considered programmes, it could make significant reductions in the overall size of the European budget.
2005: Repatriation of power
Conservatives support the cause of reform in Europe and we will co-operate with all those who wish to see the EU evolve in a more flexible, liberal and decentralised direction. We oppose the EU Constitution and would give the British people the chance to reject its provisions in a referendum within six months of the General Election. We also oppose giving up the valuable freedom which control of our own currency gives us. We will not join the Euro.
In a reformed Europe, the restrictive employment laws of the Social Chapter will have to give way to more flexible working. We will ensure that Britain once again leads the fight for a deregulated Europe by negotiating the restoration of our opt-out from the Social Chapter.
The common policies on agriculture and fisheries are unsustainable, damaging to free trade and conservation, and waste huge sums of money. The CAP needs further and deeper reform. And, because fisheries would be better administered at the national level, we will negotiate to restore national and local control over British fishing grounds. We are determined to ensure national control in this area.
We will also build on the success of enlargement, making Europe more diverse by working to bring in more nations, including Turkey.
It's all looking rather samey to me. Since 1979 there have been talks of reforming this, reforming that...let's make the CAP work, let's get back rights over our territorial waters, let's not integrate anymore, social model isn't working, enlargement is good, single market is good, but we want control of our borders (which doesn't work with the first two..)
So what do we have here. Basically, given these manifesto promises and the state Britain is in within the EU, we have three possibilities of what has happened:
1)British Conservatives say one thing in the UK and vote quite differently in Brussels. On harmonising the tax base for businesses, for example.
2)The EU is unreformable and will continue to forge 'ever closer union' because that was the aim of it in the first place, and they won't let a country which essentially ignores European politics to stand in their way.
3) Both of the above.
I'm opting for the latter.
So, today, we have David Cameron and his band on Knicker Knitters talking about what the Conservatives would do if they were in power.
And basically, it's the same as the last 24 years: claiming to be able to reform the unreformable, more broken promises and Britain getting further and further into the EU quicksand, with the chances of escaping in one piece looking less and less likely.
That's why I'll be voting UKIP. They don't bullshit. If Slick Dave wants to action those policies he's talking about, such as deregulation, removal of articles 136-145 of the Treaty, ending poverty and embracing free trade, then he's going to have to have a policy of withdrawing from the EU. Because until he does, he's just spouting nonsense.
*According to an ongoing German study