Is it terribly disappointing to hear that I didn't tune in to your historic speech this morning? I just couldn't bear it, after the interviews and articles and speculation. So much of it had already been fed to us over the past few weeks, there didn't seem much point. And besides, you weren't really making it for me, were you? (Heck, most of us realised a long time ago that despite all that talk of "national interest" and "giving the British people a choice", you really were only speaking to your own party and UKIP today).
Don't get me wrong - a discussion about the EU and our role within it is important, but right now your call for one seems neither genuine nor necessary. And crude attempts at blackmail won't help our standing at all.
I heard you speak last Monday on the Today programme, about why and when you'd be calling for a referendum and that was enough for me. You see, though I listened really carefully, I was left feeling very confused as to what your position really was. Thank goodness for Nick Robinson; two minutes and he'd cut through all that sophistry. He said that what YOU were really saying was that you've ruled out an in/out referendum for the UK and the EU for the present. In fact he was right, because now I see the date you've given for it taking place is... 2017.
Hang on though, that would only happen IF you won the next general election without the Lib Dems. I see what you're doing there - a little bit sneaky, Dave. Surely people should see your full term before they decide to vote for you? After all, surely you want to be judged on getting down the National Debt, reducing the deficit, bringing overseas business here to get the economy moving and making the UK a fairer better place for all, don't you?
Anyway, back to the IFs. IF the Conservatives won the next general election, IF you can persuade the other EU countries, particularly Germany, that they need or want treaty change, IF Britain can get what it wants in negotiations and IF you can win a referendum, then there WILL be a referendum. This would suggest that what you are really saying is :
'We'll have a referendum in 2017, possibly, but only in certain circumstances.'
Which anyone with half a brain would see as probably not happening, as there are just too may IFs, aren't there? And why I couldn't be bothered to tune in at 8.00 am this morning. It all felt a bit too much like trying to work out which cup the ball was under for 50p on the High Street. And to be brutal, you've made lots of promises in the last two years and broken them, so why should having a proper referendum and grown up debate (which I suspect you'll promise with all your heart) be any different?
If I'm honest, I don't understand why you gave the speech at all. It seems like you have a very unpleasant party spat on your hands, rather than something the rest of the country cares about. Couldn't you have sorted it out at Party headquarters? Then you could have focussed on areas of REAL national interest, such as those 200,000 extra children who will be forced into poverty as a result of your changes to tax credits and benefits. Or the damage to social cohesion that your new bedroom tax will bring. (Has Lord Freud really got EIGHT bedrooms? Nice to know he understands the problem).
If these issues don't interest you, how about you address the inequality of your austerity measures? Are you aware that of the £18.9 billion worth of cuts announced in the Coalition's emergency Budget of 2010, £13.2 billion, or 70% is coming from women's incomes? Or that, in 17 NHS hospitals, due to cuts there are now dangerously low levels of nursing staff? Or that for the sixth month in a row, Government borrowing has increased? Now these problems are of interest to us all, not just your party Eurosceptics. And if you want a real referendum to hear the nation's voice, try calling one on the top down reorganisation of our NHS you're engineering. That would be more useful right now.
Best wishes, etc"