2019-05-24 Euro-elections

Yesterday, the UK took part in the elections to the European Parliament. That doesn’t mean that every voter took part, of course, and although I am writing this before the voting finishes, my guess is that the turnout will be much lower than at a General Election. That’s not particularly surprising, seeing as we were never expecting to have these elections, and if we do leave the EU by the end of October as the Government intends, then the MEPs elected yesterday will have very little time in office anyway.

The result won’t be published until Sunday evening, but the polls predict that Farage’s Brexit Party will get the most votes, then Labour and the Lib Dems, with the Tories struggling in at fourth or fifth. I very much hope that enough people in our Region will have voted Labour to ensure that Alex Mayer is re-elected, because she has done a phenomenal job as our MEP, and we need someone experienced in Brussels who we can trust – even if it is just for the last few months.

Most people who do vote will not have voted for a person, but in order to make a point. There are still many Ipswich residents who want us to leave the EU with or without a deal and many will have voted for Farage’s party. I believe it is a mistake to support this man. Nigel Farage is a banker and professional politician who wants to dismantle the NHS, doesn’t believe in rights for working people, and has deliberately stirred up antagonism between people from different backgrounds. If our country is going to succeed in the future, the 52% who voted Leave and the 48% who voted Remain have got to be able to live and work together again. Farage will deepen division and misunderstanding, and prevent us from uniting to solve our real problems.

Meanwhile, the Conservative Party is in melt-down. As I write this, Theresa May is still Prime Minister. My guess is that she will last long enough to welcome Donald Trump to London, and then she’ll resign at the end of that week. But whoever takes over, they won’t be elected by Conservative Party members straight away. A government which has so far been virtually incapable of governing will become entirely incapable – when our Country faces one of its greatest ever challenges.

You might not think so from the media coverage, but what happens to the Conservative Party is not the most important thing in the world. What happens to the UK is what counts. My fear is that we will end up crashing out of the EU without a deal and losing trade, businesses and jobs as a result. More than ever, I believe we need to give the people the chance to think again about Brexit. 

In Parliament only the Conservatives have enough MPs to make a decision, and they are fatally split – Parliament tried taking control but the MP numbers just don’t stack up. If we had a General Election we might get a Government that could actually govern – and do it in the interests of everybody – but with their popularity at an all-time low I don’t think the Tories will hold another General Election until they have to.

It’s not just Brexit that needs sorting. Our country is now more divided than ever, particularly between those who are struggling on low wages, and those who have more money than they need. Most people in poverty are actually in work – but with low wages, zero hours and lack of job-security it rings hollow when the government talks about high levels of employment. We want people to have meaningful jobs, and we also need them to be paid meaningful wages. We need a government that will make our society fairer and bring back dignity for all working people.

The most important issue of all is Climate Change. If as a nation we decide, after several years outside the European Union, that actually we want to re-join, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t do so. But if we trash the planet there is no Planet B. 

Our democratic system has not served the country well over the past few years. People need to focus on what really matters. If the voters elect MPs who care about fairness and health and education and our environment at the next General Election, then we can rebuild our society. If the candidates who stand for division and hatred are the ones who get elected, we’ll just end up with more bickering and back-stabbing.