Tag Archives: european elections

Is Labour managing expectations? Or will 7th June really be that bloody?

‘Labour prepares for a hammering at the ballot box,’ shouts The Independent headline.

As the paper notes, this will be the first time in 16 years that the English county council elections have not taken place on the same day as the general election – that could spell trouble for Labour if ‘differential turnout’ comes into play, with Labour supporters sitting on their hands (or protest voting) while motivated opposition party supporters hot-foot it in their droves to the polling stations.

“All parties lower expectations ahead of mid-term elections, but even the other parties admit Labour is bound to …

Posted in Europe / International, Local government and News | Also tagged | 9 Comments

Opinion: Hannan Lifts Channel Fog – but there’s much more to be done

Daniel Hannan, a Tory MEP in the South-east of England, has done a favour for everyone who cares about British public engagement in European politics.

I do not mean that in a back-handed way, and only a churlish person would deny that his response to Gordon Brown in Strasbourg last week was astoundingly well delivered political oratory. (You can watch it here on YouTube). I hope I have the chance to debate with Daniel Hannan on the hustings in our region.

The benefit of his speech was to draw attention to the European Parliament. The last mainstream news story I recall about the European Parliament was the December vote on the Working Time Directive. Editors concentrated on “rebellion” against Gordon Brown rather than the Directive’s effects, the arguments for and against it, or what prospect it had of coming into force in Britain. I cannot remember the last reported European Parliament news story before that, and I expect most readers will agree that 2-3 times per year is a fair estimate of how often main news outlets report on the Parliament.

Indifference and ignorance of European Parliamentary politics is an absurdity that will bemuse future citizens looking back at our present. You would not think from the paucity of serious news attention that 70% of legislation is decided at a federal European level.

Many party members’ opinions about our MEPs tend to rely on little knowledge, or even curiosity, about legislative records.

I try to my match my predecessor Chris Huhne in helping every local by-election in the South East Euro Region (email [email protected]) but that is not all being an MEP is about. Liberal Democrats should know that, for example, Graham Watson was behind the European Arrest Warrant so criminals cannot avoid justice, that Chris Davies is leading legislation for Carbon Capture technology, and that we have just passed a law to slash mobile phone roaming charges from this summer.

When you next hear about the Duke of Westminster and other agricultural oligarchs receiving £300,000 in CAP subsidies you should know that the Commission proposed a limit in these payments but Labour vetoed it in the Council of Ministers, and that the Conservative record includes opposing protection against homophobia in Europe.

A functioning democracy needs people to know what is being decided in their name. Here are just 5 ways – there are, of course, many more possibilities – we can alleviate this crisis of politics and identity:

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Also tagged | 2 Comments

A look back at the polls: February 2009

We tend not to be too poll-obsessed here at LDV – of course we look at them, as do all other politico-geeks, but viewed in isolation no one poll will tell you very much beyond what you want to read into it. Looked at over a reasonable time-span and, if there are enough polls, you can see some trends.

Here, in chronological order, are the results of the seven polls published in February:

Tories 40%, Labour 28%, Lib Dems 22% – ICM/S. Telegraph (8th Feb 2009)
Tories 42%, Labour 28%, Lib Dems 18% – Populus/Times (10th Feb)
Tories 41%, Labour 25%, Lib Dems 22% – ComRes/S. Independent (15th Feb)
Tories 44%, Labour 32%, Lib Dems 14% – YouGov/S. Times (15th Feb)
Tories 48%, Labour 28%, Lib Dems 17% – Mori/unpublished (17th Nov)
Tories 42%, Labour 30%, Lib Dems 18% – ICM/Guardian (24th Nov)
Tories 41%, Labour 31%, Lib Dems 15% – YouGov/Telegraph (27th Nov)

Which gives us an average rating for the parties in February as follows, compared with January’s averages:

Tories 43% (n/c), Labour 29% (-3%), Lib Dems 18% (+2%)

What to make of this month’s polls, which paradoxically convey both stability and fluctuation? The Tories seem to be relatively stable, in the low 40s% – except for Mori which elevates them to 48%, touching the heights of New Labour before its landslide. Labour appear relatively stable, hovering just at or below 30% – except for ComRes which relegates them to 25%, only a margin of error’s breadth ahead of the Lib Dems. And the Lib Dems seem to be relatively stable in the 17-22% range – except for YouGov which sees the party stuck firmly at a pretty paltry 14-15%.

All this statistical noise is, of course, ironed out by our monthly average, which sees Labour ceding ground to the Lib Dems. Indeed, it seems a lifetime ago, but just back in December Labour’s poll average was 35%: they have dropped 6% in the space of just a few weeks, with the spoils evenly shared between the Lib Dems and Tories.

Such has been Labour’s decline that it has prompted a brief effervescence of speculation that Gordon Brown might be tempted to resign if he thought it would assist his party’s fortunes. This prompted ICM to ask the question on behalf of The Guardian: ‘Putting aside your own political party preference for a moment do you think Labour will do better at the next general election with Gordon Brown in charge, or with another leader?’

Posted in Op-eds and Polls | Also tagged , , , , , , and | 5 Comments

Jonathan Fryer’s Diary of a Euro-candidate

Saturday
Most of the day is spent at the Keynes Forum Policy Conference at LSE, at which one of the sessions is specifically about the European elections, or at least the interlinked campaign themes of the economy and the environment. Both Sharon Bowles (South East) and Fiona Hall (North East) are MEPs who know their briefs intimately, which is reassuring and underlines the value of electing people willing to specialise in specific fields. But through conversations during coffee breaks it becomes clear to me that local activists are really thirsting for simply-worded, bite-sized Euro-items they can just slot into their Focuses. …

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How would you make the positive case for Europe?

The countdown to elections to the European Parliament – to be held in tandem with local government elections on 10th June – is now on. Last week, here on LDV, the Lib Dems’ vice-chair of our Euro election campaign, Willie Rennie, staked out the internationalist, liberal principles around which he said the party should fight the elections, and contrasted it with ‘lethargic Labour’ and ‘isolationist Tories’.

And, over the weekend, two Lib Dem bloggers also elaborated their own views of Europe, the EU and what the Lib Dems should be saying. James Graham at Quaequam Blog! noted the …

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , and | 11 Comments

YouGov Euro poll: Lib Dems at 15%

Today’s Telegraph publishes the result of a YouGov opinion showing the current state of public voting intentions for this June’s elections to the European Parliament. The figures in brackets are changes from actual 2004 result:

Con 35% (+8)
Lab 29% (+6)
LD 15% (n/c)
UKIP 9% (-7)
Grn 5% (-1)
BNP 4% (-1)
Nats 4% (+2)

All opinion polls come with health warnings, and LDV flags them up loud-and-clear. This is all the more so for Euro polls because (i) we don’t have any other pollsters’ surveys to compare these figures to, and (ii) the general record of opinion polls for predicting Euro and local election national …

Posted in Europe / International, News and Polls | 12 Comments

Opinion: How the Liberal Democrats should fight the European elections

European cooperation was initially designed to avoid another world war but because this has been so successful only a few on the extremes believe there is any prospect of war between western European countries today. It’s not a danger that most British people think is realistic. Although Lib Dems will highlight this major achievement in the European Elections in June it is unlikely to shift a significant number of votes in our favour.

The European Union has also made significant improvements to the lives of people which is something we will highlight in our communications. Yet people rarely …

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Also tagged | 18 Comments

Opinion: Why I am so passionately pro-European

In thinking about why I am so passionately pro-European and so keen to see the Lib-Dems play an increasingly important role I first reflected on how hard it is in the UK, even in 2008, to ‘come out’ as pro-European. The cloying effect of the anti-EU media, combined with still lukewarm (at best) UK government attitudes – “We are supportive of the EU so long as it does what we want” – makes it difficult to overcome the braying, usually inaccurate, stance of UKIP and other ‘Eurosceptics’.

So why be positive about the EU? Well, in my case, it may be in part because I was born in Llanllwchaiarn, a small village just outside Newtown in Powys, Wales. The Montgomeryshire constituency has, of course, a very noble history as a strong Liberal seat. However, because of the often sneering approach to Wales and things Welsh in the 1950s and ’60s I joined Plaid Cymru and campaigned for Welsh independence, not really hopeful it would happen but to strike a blow for disregarded non-mainstream people of the UK. Wales had been conquered by England a very long time ago, and then began a process of neglect and sidelining (despite the fact that the laws of Hywel Dda predated English similar laws and Wales had an extremely rich linguistic and cultural tradition, though struggled economically and had to rely on non-Welsh investors and entrepreneurs).

So, what has this to do with the EU?

From the 1960s, and a time spent in Italy, I began to appreciate that there are different ways of thinking, of doing and being, rather than just those of the UK. I strongly supported Ted Heath in what was an heroic and boldly successful application to join the EU. His was an important vision, one suspects crafted as a consequence of Heath being part of the relief of German concentration camps.

The real triumph was, though, that small nations, ethnic groups and other unconsidered minorities could gain influence within the EU and have their voice heard. Of course, there are probably valid complaints that the ‘big’ EU states have undue power but I believe that not only Wales but, more relevantly, the ALDE group in the European Parliament that UK Lib Dems so strongly influence do ‘punch above their weight’. This opportunity to promote different ideas, to join like-minded groups and individuals from other states, and to seek and then cement common values, is something unique to the EU.

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Also tagged | 13 Comments
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