LibLink: Edward McMillan-Scott: Proud to have served our region in Europe

Yorkshire RoseIn a valedictory article for the Yorkshire Post, outgoing Liberal Democrat MEP talked about his time in the Parliament, reviewed the election results and looked forward to the challenges this Parliament will face. Although people across Europe might have thought they had a free hit in the elections to punish their governments, their choices could affect their daily lives.

He started by looking back at his 30 years of service:

It has been a great privilege to serve this region for 30 years, to have played a role in encouraging democracy and human rights across the ex-Soviet Bloc during the reunification of the continent and to have been an actor in the development of the EU’s other great achievement – the Single Market.

I set up the “1992 Club” in Yorkshire, the first initiative to prepare businesses for the challenges and opportunities of the Single Market which opened that year, and which today has 500 million consumers.

And then found that it wasn’t just the Liberal Democrats who had had a bad result in Yorkshire:

This was always going to be a difficult election for the Lib Dems. Taking tough choices in government to fix the economy and sticking by our principles on Europe was never going to be a massive vote winner, but it was the right thing – and the principled thing – to do; even Tony Blair now “agrees with Nick” and urges Labour to follow suit.

Neither the Lib Dems nor the Tories have ever come close to challenging Labour’s domination in their Yorkshire heartlands – Doncaster, Rotherham or Wakefield. Ukip topped the poll in all of them – and gained Council seats in Rotherham, where Lib Dems never made progress even in the good years. It’s a slap in the face for Ed Miliband who faces a serious Ukip challenge on his own doorstep.

And the Liberal Democrats didn’t do as badly as some thought:

Despite all the hype, Lib Dems also topped the poll in Leeds North West and came within spitting distance of Labour in Bradford East and Hull West & Hessle. We held our seats elsewhere and in Hull gained a seat from Labour for the first time in six years.

And about that free hit? What’s at stake?

I brought Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall to Brussels to launch his Fish Fight against discarding good fish to a continental audience. As a result of a strong campaign the European Parliament has voted to end discards and it is only the detail that is now being worked out.

In farming, the notoriously wasteful and unfair Common Agricultural Policy will be looked at again in the coming Parliament. I have been urging, including in these pages, a rebalancing of EU subsidies. Brussels pays out 100 times to farmers, often very rich ones, what it disburses to the most deprived, through food banks for example.

When Ukip’s three new Yorkshire and the Humber MEPs arrive in Brussels they will find that it is not just home to the EU. There too are some 3,000 journalists, a huge diplomatic corps, Nato and lobbyists.

The Yorkshire Post has already warned that the MEPs must prove their effectiveness in office and that this will determine Ukip’s fortunes at the next election. I suspect that the incoming European Parliament will be subject to scrutiny as never before, and rightly so.

You can read the whole article here.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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4 Comments

  • Richard Fagence 6th Jun '14 - 8:37pm

    I an frankly astonished to find that nobody has had the common courtesy to say ‘Thank you, Edward, for a job well done and for the prominence achieved for your region in Europe.’ I am but a lowly toiler in the vineyards of the South East, but I know the people of Yorkshire and the Humber well (I am married to one of them) and I am surprised that none of them is doing what I am doing now.

  • Tony Dawson 7th Jun '14 - 7:19am

    I met Edward at a meeting in Bradford organised for Benazir Bhutto, where we both gave a speech. I thought at the time (he was then a Conservative MEP) “what an incredibly nice man” so I was far from surprised when he joined the Lib Dems. But being a nice man ,when your party has no serious ‘cutting edge’ with the voters, was never going to be enough. 🙁

  • Peter Andrews 8th Jun '14 - 12:11am

    Edward McMillan-Scott has worked very hard campaigning for Lib Dems across his region since he joined the Lib Dems and I for one and very sorry that we could not manage to get him re-elected so he could continue his excellent work as an MEP

  • Jonathan Pile 8th Jun '14 - 7:10am

    Edward has been a great MEP and for my part I requested his election leaflet on my own bat and delivered the colour anti Tory and anti ukip colour leaflet throughout my ward . He deserved more support.

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