Selections for Euro elections underway

With Euro elections looking increasingly likely on 23rd May, Lib Dems have been busy preparing. Party members are currently voting to select their party list candidates in the Euro regions, and in spite of the condensed time frame there is no shortage of candidates. For example, in London 24 people have put in nominations for eight places.

How did we get to this position so quickly? Well, the party starting preparing last October, anticipating that the Prime Minister would not gain support for her deal.

Other parties seem to have been caught on the hop.

Labour emailed members last week seeking candidates, and one Labour MP said:

With a snap election, the problem is often one of properly vetting people – as we found out in 2017.

Which suggests that they are starting the approval process from scratch.

The Conservatives have only just called for nominations with a deadline of 24th April.

One Tory MEP is quoted as saying:

We will be absolutely annihilated. We are probably looking at about half the current number of MEPs. It is going to cost all of us to stand again as the party has very little money for it at the moment.

Many of us are asking: what’s the point? Everybody is going to have to make up their mind soon whether it is worth taking part.

We think it is really worth taking part and will use the election to campaign for a People’s Vote.

Tom Brake, who is our Brexit spokesperson, said:

The Tories have made an absolute dog’s dinner of Brexit and instead of working to give people the final say, Corbyn seems to have joined the Tories at the table.

We have been fighting tooth and nail not just to keep the UK in the EU, but for the UK to be a leader in the EU. Just imagine what we could achieve if Brexit was stopped, not least using the billions earmarked for Brexit to instead regenerate the towns, cities and communities in the greatest need.

Our candidates will soon be selected and we are raring to go to the polls with a clear offer; every Liberal Democrat elected is another voice fighting for our country’s place in the European Union.

* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames and is a member of Federal Conference Committee.

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23 Comments

  • Great, but how much will be wasted under the voting system. If ourselves and Change working togeher get upwards of 20% then under the Euro voting system we can get extra seats against working indidually against each other, because we would be higher up the rtunning order, probably third palce in most regions. Therefore in the larger seats such as the South East Lib Dem/Change could get two instead of competing for one. I am presuming Change are selecting casndidates as well.

  • Kay Kirkham 10th Apr '19 - 4:54pm

    It would be fatal to fight the Euro elections on a straight Remain ticket without explaining how we see the future of Europe and the UK in it. I still cringe when I recall how Nick Clegg, when asked what Europe would look like in ten years time said ‘ much the same as it does now’.

    How about Remain, Reform and Rebuild as a slogan? Remain is obvious. Reform is both within the EU and also within the UK political system. Rebuild is about healing the wounds caused by the referendum and the subsequent mess created by the Tories.

  • In 2014 nationally we achieved 6.7% and in the 2017 general election we achieved 7.9%. In 2009 we achieved 13.3% while in the locals we achieved 28% (and 23% in the 2010 general election).

    Recently I saw Heidi Allen on TV say that Change UK will be putting up candidates. This could mean that we will end up with one or no MEPs after the election.

    In Eastern region in 2009 with 13.8% of the vote we had one MEP and Labour with 10.5% also had one, so depending on how the voting system works both of us could end up with no MEPs. Therefore I wonder is the Federal Party considering having joint lists with Change UK?

  • David Warren 10th Apr '19 - 5:50pm

    I would rather we did a deal with the Green Party than Change UK.

  • Martin Land 10th Apr '19 - 6:22pm

    A deal with the Devil would be better.

  • Nonconformistradical 10th Apr '19 - 6:51pm

    @Michael BG
    “Therefore I wonder is the Federal Party considering having joint lists with Change UK?”

    But will Change UK be registered as a politcal party in time for close of nominations for the European elections?

    Electoral Commission says the process takes around six weeks. Nominations close 24 April (SW region) or 25 April (other regions) – see https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/find-information-by-subject/political-parties-campaigning-and-donations/political-party-registration. Change UK didn’t as far as we know apply for registration until late March.

    And noting from the OP’s link to the Guardian article about Tory nomination process having a closing date for nominations on 24 April – (a) will they manage to field any candidates in SW region and (b) they’re going to have a rather busy 24 hours elsewhere!

  • Alex Macfie 10th Apr '19 - 8:22pm

    A slogan like “Remain, Reform and Rebuild” sounds too general and all-things-to-all-people. We need to be specific about what we would do as liberals to shape EU law and policy, and contrast it with the records of Tory and UKIP MEPs (and their respective allies from other countries) in particular. For there are political, ideological distinctions between the European Parliamentary party groups and their different visions of Europe. In order to do well, we need to give people reason to vote for specifically Lib Dem MEPs, which means talking up the political differences between ALDE and ECR and the rest of them.
    Yes, Clegg’s “much the same as it does now” comment was a big mistake, but then, so was debating with Farage. There is absolutely no point in us engaging with hardline Brexiters in a Euro election campaign; as 2014 showed, all it does is validate and publicise them. They don’t debate reasonably, and we are not after their votes. For that matter, having our Westminster leader lead the campaign was a big error as well. We were in coalition with the Tories at Westminster, but in rival groups in the European Parliament (a “Coalition-free Zone), and we should have emphasised the independence of our MEPs from what was happening in Westminster by attacking the Tories and their allies. For the Tories, as for UKIP, our strategy needs to be “attack and don’t engage”.

  • Katharine Pindar 10th Apr '19 - 9:37pm

    It’s good that we are way ahead of the big parties in planning for the EU elections, and I have already voted for five of the plentiful would-be candidates in our North-West region. But, like Michael BG, I was disturbed to hear of Change UK’s intention to put up candidates. I heard that they would even try for 700 candidates, and obviously if they succeeded in fielding many it would, as Michael said, be likely to seriously harm our party’s chances. Though, as Nonconformistradical suggests, they may not have time to do so, I would urge Federal Board to seek joint lists with Change UK. They may actually be relieved to have such a request. since it is hard to see how they could field large numbers of realistic candidates within so brief a timescale.

  • Good to be organised for this operation, but what about preparation for campaigning ?
    We must do more than call for another referendum; we must show why we think that the advantages of remain outweigh the disadvantages, why it’s better for our place in the world and how we can confidently be a big leader in the EU, changing it for the better.
    I also hope the party is just about ready to give us the hard information and key emotional messages that we can use in the campaign. Leavers have been preparing their case over the past few months. They are now using a report just issued by Global Britain, where Ewen Stewart, a right-wing director, has put forward an understandable well-argued economic case for leaving. Already people in my area are using this to give out facts, which I suspect are very selective and distort the truth, but are extremely convincing to the general public.
    Does the party have someone who can give us the information needed to argue against his case ? Party spin and simple slogans will not be enough.

  • “will Change UK be registered as a political party in time for close of nominations for the European elections?”

    They’d better be. If a bona fide application to register was “timed out” by bureaucracy, it would just be one more reason for everybody to lose faith in UK democracy.

  • Nick Collins 11th Apr '19 - 2:58pm

    Excellent letter from Tony Greaves in today’s “Guardian”. I do hope that the leaders of the LibDems, Greens and Change UK are getting together in the way that he suggests. If ever there was a time for inter-party co-operation surely that time is now.

  • Peter Watson 11th Apr '19 - 4:01pm

    I wonder if any of the Change UK MPs are contemplating standing as candidates to become MEPs.
    I’m not sure which gives them greater job security, but I doubt that many would survive a general election that could occur any time between now and 2022 but if we remain in the EU they’ could have a job until 2024.

  • Nonconformistradical 11th Apr '19 - 4:20pm

    @David Allen
    “If a bona fide application to register was “timed out” by bureaucracy, it would just be one more reason for everybody to lose faith in UK democracy.”

    The Electoral Commission is making its position perfectly clear. At https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/find-information-by-subject/political-parties-campaigning-and-donations/political-party-registration
    it now states:-
    “On 10 April 2019 an order came into force that the European Parliamentary elections will take place in the UK on 23 May 2019. The close of nominations will be 4pm on Wednesday 24 April 2019 in the South West electoral region and 4pm on Thursday 25 April 2019 in all other regions.

    We must assess all registration applications against legal tests. Due to the very short time until close of nominations, we will not decide applications made now in time for the poll. If you have a current application with us, we will provide you with a decision as soon as possible. However, we cannot guarantee that it will be prior to close of nominations.

    If a party is not registered with us then candidates may not use that party’s name or identity marks on ballot papers. However, individual candidates do not need to stand on behalf of a political party in order to contest the election – those candidates can use the word “Independent” to identify themselves on ballot papers.”

    If an organisation does not give the Electoral Commission adequate time to assess their application that is hardly the fault of the Electoral Commission. If the Commission skimped on the procedure and registered an organisation which turned out subsequently shouldn’t have been registered in the first place that wouldn’t be satisfactory either.

    The members of TIG must have known the date of the European Parliament elections. Perhaps they spent too long with other people dealing with bureaucracy and didn’t have a clue what they should be doing. It was reported on 5 March that they were talking to the Electoral Commission e.g. https://inews.co.uk/news/politics/independent-group-electoral-commission-new-political-party/ – and I’d be surprised if the Commission hadn’t given them the timescale involved. And the procedure is all online anyway. Perhaps they just aren’t well enough organised…?

  • @ Nonconformistradical

    Thank you for the information. I hadn’t considered that Change UK would not be registered in time. I remember it being reported that they had been in discussions with the Electoral Commission in March and then on 29th March it was reported that they had applied. If they are not registered in time then there is no need for joint lists.

  • There are quite a lot of arguments against joint lists.

    Technical reasons.

    1. It is difficult to do – you would have to register a joint description with the EC and I don’t know whether there is enough time to do that.

    2. You would have to order the lists. And it is more than possible that one party could just miss out on an MEP in one region and not pick one up in another region. This would be difficult negotiations – and difficult to do fairly! Also it would be difficult to gauge TIG’s support. The TIG opinion poll rating in the last 2 months has ranged from 1% (Survation – England and Wales only) to 18%.

    3. It is debatable whether a joint list would see any more MEPs elected combined. There is clearly one scenario where it would which is where it pushes the combination above the de facto threshold to get one elected in a region. And we suffered from that last time. For example, we missed out in the South West (6 seats) getting 10.7% whereas the Greens got 11.1% and an MEP. It is highly unlikely that a combination would get 2 MEPs so there is the question of how you share that MEP out fairly across all the regions. But equally in the South East we got 1 seat on 8% of the vote – Labour got 14.7% but still just 1 seat – so a significant boost in vote can mean no more seats. In Wales (4 seats) Labour got 28%, Plaid got 15% and they both got 1 seat each.

    Strategic reason:

    1. The media will view it through the prism of the joint percentage that the Remain parties get – Lib Dems, TIG and Greens and SNP against those that the leave parties get – UKIP and the Brexit Party. It is likely that there will be people who would vote for us who wouldn’t vote for the TIGs and vice versa. Even with a joint description people might well say “what is this funny Lib Dem – Change UK description”

    A tribal reason:

    1. Even with the TIGs standing we are close to winning a MEP in every region. We are doing 2%-3% better in polling for the European Parliament than for Westminster which puts us on 10%-15% with potentially a boost following the locals if we do well. That would see us with an MEP in virtually every region. In 2009 we got an MEP in every region (except Wales and NI) on 14%. This would be important for regional organisation and morale and increased media coverage.

  • Paul Barker 12th Apr '19 - 7:02pm

    In relation to joint lists, we need to be thinking strategically & for the Long Term. We only have a single example of an All British Electoral Alliance, from 1981 & that saw Politics transformed in a few Months. The SDP-Liberal Alliance gained an extra 15% in 3 Months, if we could repeat that performance it would see The New Alliance on around 25%, probably equal with Labour. Is that not a Prize worth taking risks for ?
    I would argue that a Pact would help us even in Elections where Change & The Greens aren’t standing – in effect it would be a “Reccomendation” to Centrist/Green Voters to vote Libdem. Given that we are only standing in just half The Local Seats, we need all the help we can get.
    Obviously I don’t know if any Talks are going on, they would have to be kept very secret, but if they are happening, can I make an appeal for some urgency ? Britain is at a turning point & we can choose to be relevant or not.

  • Michael 1

    You are correct, it seems a joint description would have to be registered with the Electoral Commission. They state, “If you are standing on behalf of two or more parties, you may use a joint description as registered with the Commission”. I can’t imagine it being possible to register a joint description until both parties are registered.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 14th Apr '19 - 4:55pm

    Am utterly outraged that our party and TIG, cannot join as Change UK-the Independent group and Liberal Democrats, new politics my aunt whatsit!!!!!!

    We need a Shirley and Roy , outstanding they were , mps today, ours, TIG, very good, but come on, tribal the lot, on the EU, and electioneering…..a real mistake when this country needs unity.

  • Laurence Cox 14th Apr '19 - 5:58pm

    @Kay Kirkham @Alex Macfie

    We already have a manifesto that we are fighting the euro-elections on; it is the ALDE manifesto, agreed last October:

    https://www.aldeparty.eu/political-programme-and-european-elections-manifestos

    Don’t seek to reinvent the wheel.

  • Nonconformistradical 14th Apr '19 - 6:01pm

    @Lorenzo Cherin
    “Am utterly outraged that our party and TIG, cannot join as Change UK-the Independent group and Liberal Democrats, new politics my aunt whatsit!!!!!!”

    Are you suggesting that political parties should not have to register with the Electoral Commission? Would you like to go back to the days when it was possible for an independent candidate to put something such as Literal Democrat or Conversative in the description on the ballot paper – with the intention of confusing voters?

    Once TIG is registered as a political party then it will be possible to field candidates under some kind of combined description. Perhaps they should have got on with it earlier – possibly if they had done so they might by now be registered.

    Although I recall that when they first announced their party name as Change UK the petition organisation Change.org said they would be seeking legal advice over the choice of name. I do not know what has happened over that but I can see it as a possible obstacle to getting TIG registered quickly – especially as it is an issue of possible confusion between two different organisations.

    https://www.politicshome.com/news/uk/political-parties/news/102901/independent-group-facing-legal-challenge-over-change-uk

  • Alex Macfie 14th Apr '19 - 9:34pm

    Laurence Cox: Having a manifesto is one thing, making reference to it in the campaign is another. I know we are fighting on the ALDE manifesto, but in 2014 our campaign did not refer to it at all, and nor did it refer to the ALDE candidate for President of the European Commission, Guy Verhofstadt. Nor did we feature our MEPs prominently, or campaign on their records. Instead we had Clegg, our Westminster leader, leading the campaign, thus associating us with the Coalition when we should have been emphasising the independence of our MEPs from it. The issue is not whether we have a manifesto, but whether we talk about it.

  • Nonconformistradical 15th Apr '19 - 3:11pm

    The Electoral Commission website now shows Change UK as registered – as “Change UK – The Independent Group”

    http://search.electoralcommission.org.uk/English/Registrations/PP9077

    Interesting given the commission’s stated 6-week timescale for completing the process…. this seems to have taken rather less than 3 weeks.

  • David Allen 15th Apr '19 - 6:00pm

    Yes, joint lists would be a nightmare. The practical answer is to stand only a Lib Dem list in Regions A, B, C; only a TIG list in Regions D, E, F; only a Green list in Regions G, H.

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