I am a completely dedicated withdrawalist when it comes to the European Union. I want Britain out of the EU sooner rather than later, and if that means the subsidy junkies in Scotland, or elsewhere in the UK, decide to break up the Union and beg off what remains of the EU then so be it and good riddance.
But for years the problem has been that Eurosceptics, despite hard evidence, have never understood that the EU comes quite a way down peoples' list of priorities. In most elections even quite hardcore Eurosceptics will not vote solely on the EU question, which is why single issue parties have failed, be that the Referendum Party or UK Independence Party.
The crux of the problem is that if you state that obvious fact to a typical UKIP member you get an instant lecture as to why the EU is the root of everything bad in this country today. Yes, we no longer rule ourselves, but just ranting on and on without listening to people is exactly what we accuse the EU of. I lost count of the number of sympathetic people I took to UKIP meetings who were put off with what they saw as obsessive, often eccentric behaviour. Like it or not in 21st century Britain sounding like Little Englanders turns people off. They want a party that speaks to them on a whole range of issues, not just the EU.
If we look at the announcement today that Sir Andrew Green's e-petition, about restricting immigration, gained the required 100,000 signatures in a week, compared to the year it took the petition on EU membership to reach 100,000, I think it proves the point nicely. People are much more agitated about immigration than the EU. I do believe that the majority of people would be happy to see immigration restricted and for Britain to leave the EU, but they see immigration as the more immediate problem, rightly or wrongly.
What Andrew Green's e-petition also highlights is that political correctness may have changed the way we talk about immigration, restricting our free speech on the issue by branding those opposed to immigration as racists, but it hasn't changed peoples' deeply held beliefs and concerns. More evidence that political correctness could ultimately drive decent people, with genuine concerns, into the arms of manipulative extremist parties.
More than ever the Coalition has proved the need for a political party that represents the views of the decent majority. A party a bit like the Tory Party used to be. Until then there are millions of us in this country who feel, and indeed are, disenfranchised.
I'm starting to sound like Peter Hitchens now so I'm off!