Opinion: How my life changed forever – 100 days in!

At the start of this year I was a Lib Dem from Yorkshire working and studying in London who according to some journalists was an “unknown” – although I was quite well known in certain Lib Dem circles, especially for my quiches! The resignation of Diana Wallis, as Lib Dem MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber changed all that.

In 2009 I was third on the Lib Dem list for Yorkshire and the Humber. When you are third on a regional list and the election sees only the first candidate being elected, you could be forgiven for thinking that the story is over. I thought that; it turns out that I was very wrong!

Diana’s resignation came as a surprise to me and countless others, but initially I did not think it would result in me becoming an MEP, although I did inform my boss ‘just in case’. But here I am, now 100 days into the job. I got down to work as soon as I could and started to get everything up and running, which is more complicated than one might imagine; staff cannot be hired overnight, parliamentary procedures are numerous and offices do not rent themselves.

It has been a busy few months. I became an MEP in the run up to the local elections, so my top priority was to help Lib Dem colleagues in the region. I spent most of my time campaigning in my ‘home patch’ of Calderdale helping out old friends and new colleagues. Calderdale Liberal Democrats did pretty well; losing two seats and gaining one. I was pleased to see across Yorkshire there was an improvement in local election results on the low of 2011.

I have also spent the last few months getting out and about across the region including visiting a number of businesses, which has given me a valuable insight into the state of the economy. One striking issue is that despite high levels of unemployment in the region, many businesses in the manufacturing and engineering sectors are having trouble recruiting people for skilled roles. We need to address this skills mis-match and I am pleased to hear of examples of how this is happening in the region.

As has been reported widely there has been significant flooding across the region over the last month or so. In particular, there was severe flooding in the Calder Valley on 22 June, which affected 900 properties in Todmorden, Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd. While this remains for the most part a local issue, there is a European dimension in relation to disaster cooperation between EU countries (a proposal I am pushing for in the Parliament) and in relation to home insurance for flood prone areas, which I am working on. I also visited the flood relief centre in Todmorden to see for myself the impact on my hometown and to offer my help to relief efforts.

One of the biggest issues for the Parliament recently has been ACTA, an international agreement on trade and copyright designed to tackle counterfeiting. Like many other MEPs, I was inundated with emails expressing opposition to ACTA and it was heavily debated in the Parliament. I am pleased to confirm that along with fellow Liberal MEPs in the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) group, I voted against ACTA as did a huge majority of MEPs thus rejecting the agreement.

As a keen cyclist, I have also given my support to the campaign to start the 2016 Tour de France in Yorkshire, which is called “back le bid”. Yorkshire would provide a stunning backdrop to the tour and our hills would challenge even the world’s best cyclists.

This is a snippet of my new life as an MEP over the last few months. I hope, working alongside fellow Lib Dems across Yorkshire and the Humber, to play my part in achieving greater success in the months and years ahead.

* Rebecca Taylor is a member of Islington LibDems and the former MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber.

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This entry was posted in Europe / International and Op-eds.
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13 Comments

  • Grammar Police 13th Jul '12 - 3:22pm

    “Membership Development Officer for Streatham Lib Dems”. Isn’t that a different Rebecca Taylor?

  • toryboysnevergrowup 13th Jul '12 - 4:40pm

    “I became an MEP in the run up to the local elections, so my top priority was to help Lib Dem colleagues in the region. I spent most of my time campaigning in my ‘home patch’ of Calderdale helping out old friends and new colleagues. ”

    Could this have somthing to do with you having only been voted for by a small number of LibDem activists rather than the electorate as a whole. With the best will in the world this is not hy we have MEPs.

    PS as much as love Yorkshire and its scenery – I very much doubt that its hill climbs would get anywhere near challenging those in the Alps and the Pyrenees. I’d be surprised if there is anything in Yorkshire above a category 3 climb.

  • Alex Macfie 13th Jul '12 - 4:46pm

    @Geoffrey: Yes, but which Geoffrey Payne are you?
    @toryboysnevergrowup: Lib Dems do not support closed list systems. It was Labour who imposed the system we currently have for electing MEPs in this country.

  • Antony Hook Antony Hook 13th Jul '12 - 6:22pm

    You’ve made a fine start Rebecca. Keep it up!

  • Martin Pierce 14th Jul '12 - 7:50am

    I’m sure it’s very exciting to be an MEP – but what happened here is hardly a model of democracy is it? Maybe we could be reminded as to how many local party members voted for Rebecca Taylor to put her 3rd on the list.

  • Alun Griffiths 14th Jul '12 - 11:42pm

    @toryboy….. Cragg Vale (I think), in Rebecca’s old stamping ground, has the longest continuous incline in the country I am told

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