In 2001 I gave to the Conservatives what was, I believe, the biggest donation they had ever received and I continue to remain a regular supporter. Yet I shall vote UKIP in the European elections on 4 June and I have just given them a decent donation.
Why? The answer is simple. The European Union (the EU) is a disaster, even worse than the recession because the recession will end some time but the EU may not.
I want the voters, in the European elections, to send a clear message to the leading parties that they really do mind intensely about the massive harm our membership is doing to us.
The parties ought to know that already, from recent polls (of which more later), but they do not.
Labour loves the EU. On Wednesday Gordon Brown spoke of a Europe of peace and unity which would rank among the finest achievements of human history.
The Conservatives, though perhaps more eurosceptic than Labour, just wish no one would talk about the EU so that they can win the general election in peace.
This country has not been successfully invaded since William the Conqueror in 1066, yet most of our laws are now made in Brussels by unelected commissioners, who impoverish the people of the EU, while making fortunes for themselves. At the same time the Hungarians threaten that five million unemployed migrants will head West unless we bail them out. How much do they want? About £160 billion!
What is wrong with the EU and why is it so important? Above all – cost – it is astronomic. The chief difficulty for those who want to draw attention to it is that the figures are so awful that people think they cannot be true.
The well known economist Patrick Minford and the merchant banker Ian Milne put the cost at about £1,000 per annum for every man, woman, child and baby in this country.
Others think it is far more. Let us stick with £1,000 i.e. £4,000 for a typical family of four which, if it has only one breadwinner, has to live on an average of about £17,000 a year after tax.
How can this conceivably be worth it? What are the colossal benefits which could justify the enormous cost even in normal times, let alone in the worst recession for a very long time?
Remarkably the answer is that we get nothing we could not get by normal agreements and cooperation with the other members or with the EU itself. Ask a Europhile what the advantages are. You will get general waffle as an answer. Insist on specifics
Other serious problems with the EU include the fact that it is in massive demographic decline (too many old people), it is so fraudulent that the whole commission had to resign in 1999 and so incompetent that its accounts have not had a successful audit for 14 years.
Second only to cost, however, is the staggering number of regulations which make life a misery for business and indeed for individuals. Listen to an Aberdeen fisherman “In thirty years at sea I have never caught a whale, destroyed a dolphin, killed a seal or dumped nuclear waste, but I have been forced by the EU to dump hundreds of tons of edible dead fish in the name of ‘euro conservation CFP [Common Fisheries Policy] style”.
The situation is completely unacceptable. In 2005 the so called Constitutional Treaty, which would have taken even more powers from our own parliament to Brussels, was signed by all the member states, and Tony Blair promised the people a referendum on whether the UK should ratify it.
The French and the Dutch, however, threw it out and, as it could not come into force without unanimity, Blair used that as an excuse to avoid a referendum he expected to lose.
Then virtually the same treaty, now called the Lisbon Treaty, was signed and, on the ludicrous excuse that the promise of a referendum did not apply because it was a different treaty, the new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, rammed ratification through parliament without a referendum.
The Irish, however, voted No, but a combination of threats and bribes may cause them to vote again, the ‘right’ way.
The Czechs, whose government has just fallen, may yet save us, but do not count on it.
It is true that in 2007 David Cameron wrote “Today I will give this cast-iron guarantee: if I become PM a Conservative government will hold a referendum on any EU treaty that emerges from these negotiations….”
But my doubts about his commitment to doing anything effective were increased this week when I was told that he had got 70 Conservative MPs together and told them the EU issue did not matter.
This may or may not be true but it fits in with what a great many people believe to be his attitude.
Furthermore he forbade two eurosceptic MPs from speaking at a eurosceptic fringe meeting at the party conference when I was there last year.
He simply must stick to the commitment he gave. If he comes to power when the treaty is not yet law the referendum will be on whether to withdraw our ratification.
If it is already law, the referendum will be on whether the people accept it. If they do not accept it, Cameron will have a mandate for a massive renegotiation of the whole of our relationship with the EU.
Despite what some Conservative strategists think, the polls indicate very strong public support for dealing with the huge burdens that the EU imposes on us.
YouGov recently found that taking powers back from the EU was the second most popular thing a new Conservative could do (dealing with immigration was No 1), whilst even the BBC last week found in an opinion poll that 55% of the public support wholesale withdrawal from the EU.
It seems clear enough that a much tougher stance over Europe would actually increase, not reduce, the Conservative vote. There is another thing: It is the right thing to do.
In a way it is sad that I felt it necessary to desert the Tories for the European elections but with the views I hold, I had no choice. I shall of course vote Conservative in the local elections on the same day.