Malcolm Bruce: Britain needs Lib Dem MEPs

malcolm-bruce-2Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Malcolm Bruce went on the Sunday Politics today to highlight the work that Liberal Democrat MEPs did in terms of working with others for reform across Europe. He said that Liberal Democrat MEPs were the hardest working of all British MEPs, a fact backed up by actual evidence, as revealed on Lib Dem Voice by Giles Goodall last month.

The European Parliament takes decisions that affect us and the people who are working hardest to ensure that British national interests are defended in Europe have been Liberal Democrats so (losing them) would be disappointing not just for the Liberal Democrats but for Britain.

He did very well in an interview where Andrew Neil was determined to try to trip him up by throwing historic Liberal Democrat statements about the positives of joining the Euro, for example. Refreshingly, Malcolm said that our 2004 manifesto was wrong to be so positive about it. Neil seemed to have forgotten, though, that it was Malcolm who made sure that we didn’t say we’d join it from the beginning.  Malcolm also  pointed out that if the eurozone had obeyed its own rules, it would not have got into the trouble it has seen in recent years. He did say, though, that it could be possible that in several decades time, the circumstances might be right for us to join the Euro – but not for the foreseeable future. 

He added that there are people who were worried that other parties would take us out of the EU:

Liberal Democrats are a party that are clear, we want to stay in, we’ll work for reform, we’ll work with other people and we’ll do it effectively and our message to people is if you lose the Liberal Democrats, Britain’s position and influence in Europe will be weakened.

Confronted with the latest polls, he said that we were campaigning very strongly on the ground. That is certainly true as I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much Liberal Democrat campaigning activity for a European election.

The programme also featured a particularly vacuous segment following Nick Clegg around for a day in the Cotswolds. It could have been following any leader, to be honest. Ok, I might have giggled at the sight of Lib Dems pointing at a road – “a Lib Dem leaflet brought to life” said reporter Adam Fleming but the piece was all froth and nothing much of any importance. Fleming chose to question Nick Clegg on a challenge by Graham Watson MEP over whether prunes were a laxative. Actually, there was a bit more to it than that, as this Telegraph report shows.  Nick simply pointed out how pivotal Graham  Watson was, taking a pioneering role in making sure that criminals can be brought to justice when they flee to Europe. The only other substantive issue that was touched upon was the leaking of letters from Lib Dems opposing Tory plans for mandatory jail sentences for those convicted of knife crime. Nick said that those who leaked the letters were silly and doing so did not help anyone who, like him, was concerned about knife crime.





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

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  • Charles Rothwell 4th May '14 - 2:15pm

    I think is an absolute tragedy that we here in Yorkshire and the Humber are almost certain to lose one of the most talented and hard-working MEPs there is who has consistently worked tirelessly for the benefit of the region for many years, Edward Macmillan-Scott. Do not forget also that this region also had the “distinction” of electing one of two BNP MEPs the last time around; Andrew Brons (who has subsequently split from Griffin (as always happens on the extreme right, even going back to the days of Moseley and William Joyce) who now heads some outfit called the “BDP” (and who, of course, has not the faintest prayer against the UKIP tide which is coming). All in all, do I think New Labour’s introduction of the Party List Voting System for the Euro-elections was a huge step forward in advancing respect for, and involvement in, a nation-wide democratic political process? As with City deregulation, London mayoral elections and, of course, the really big one, Scottish devolution, I think a number of the 1990s clever New Labour people must at times really wonder and we all need to consider if they would not have been better just going to work for “the stinking rich” they so admired full-time outside of politics instead?

  • Alex Macfie 4th May '14 - 3:33pm

    Yes, we need Lib Dem MEPs, but not to defend “British national interests”. That is the job of the UK representatives in the Council. The reason we need Lib Dem MEPs is to promote Liberal values in the EU, working alongside other Liberal MEPs in the ALDE group. Yes, MEPs represent their constituencies, but this is not the same as the nation state. And the British people are not a homogeneous interest group in terms of EU policy, any more than they are for UK domestic policy.

  • Yorkshire Guidon 4th May '14 - 4:29pm

    Live by the sword, die by the sword. In the same way the Lib Dems used the last EP elections as a referendum on the Brown government and the one before that on the Iraq war, so the opposition parties are using this May’s elections as a referendum on the coalition government. Sadly the electorate have got used to voting in EP elections on anything other the effectiveness of their MEPs. And the Lib Dems have to take some blame for that.

  • Malcolm was excellent on The Sunday Politics. He should have been in a senior position like this much sooner and I think it’s a travesty that some of our most skilled and capable politicians – Ming, Alan Beith, Charlie K, Paddy etc haven’t been the ones in Government. Their experience is overwhelming and they’d have added real gravitas

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