You sometimes get the impression that those of us who wish to be out of the EU are the fringe of the fringe, it's certainly an impression which is put forward by the media, even if subliminally. You'd think that anti-EU sentiment is the preserve of some sort of bizarre little Englander set, in the minority nationally and at total odds with the population of Europe.
I've never accepted the former, this is why successive governments have never given us a referendum on the subject, they're scared that a vote for getting us out would be carried. They'll give some excuse about how referenda are not British, whilst then abandoning other British institutions to the EU. I've heard people say that it is too complicated for us to understand, this unsurprisingly from a LibDem member who also tried to persuade me that referenda were undemocratic, as people could be persuaded by the antis to vote against our continued membership. Funnily enough I've never heard the argument against being that support for our membership was so overwhelming that you might as well hold a referendum on whether we send murderers to prison.
We're conditioned to believe that if we want to leave the EU, we're out of step with opinion across the continent, and when all else fails, we'll just be labelled racists.
I was encouraged with a conversation that I had with a French woman very recently where we discussed membership of the EU.
'Don't.' She spat. 'Don't talk to me of the EU. It disgusts me.' I was a little taken aback, after all, are we not to believe that mainland Europe kneels weeping tears of joy and gratitude in-front of the blue flag with the yellow stars? I thought she was going to give the old reformer line of it being a wonderful organisation which is hampered by poor administration. Not a bit of it.
She went on to explain to me that she was European, in the same way that a Bolivian is South American or a Malaysian is Asian, it certainly wasn't her nationality though. 'I am French.' She stated simply. 'European is not my nationality.'
She went on to tell me how she missed the Franc and desperately wanted it back, how she felt that any control over her economy had been given away. She told me about how the French tricolor is the most beautiful flag in the world, and how upset she was at it being supplanted by the EUro flag at every turn, a flag she has no emotional link or loyalty to.
She told about how she wanted her country back. Not, she was at pains to add, from the Algerians or West Africans, but from those who have stolen it away from the people of France irrespective of ethnicity. She commented that she didn't hate Germany or England, why should she? But she was French. She said 'I am human, but it doesn't mean I hate elephants and tigers.'
'There are many of us' she said with a sigh. 'But they will not let us be heard. We grow in number. I think we are the majority, but it is the farmers and the city resident liberals who elect the politicians, the farmers have been bought and the Parisiens hate the rest of France, they think they are France.'
This may not be representative, but I wonder how many people in Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Poland and everywhere else think this, and how poorly they are represented in government.
Then I look at Libya, Syria, Yemen and fear the worst.