Monday, 4 November 2013

200 days to go | These elections matter

Today is 200 days until voters go to the polls for the 2014 European Parliament elections.

These elections matter. We need to elect more Labour MEPs across the UK to fight for a better deal for our regions and the UK in these difficult times. Labour MEPs, led by Glenis Willmott, have done an excellent job since 2009. The European Parliamentary Labour Party was reduced in number at the 2009 elections – we lost a third of our MEPs – but has not been reduced in its impact in Brussels.

Labour MEPs have led the campaign for a European Youth Guarantee to tackle the youth jobs crisis and give hope to young people across the EU. Our MEPs have been making the argument for a progressive and fairer Europe, built on jobs and growth.

As we move towards next May’s elections we need to be setting out the progressive case for Britain’s future in a reformed Europe. We will not be arguing to defend the status quo in Europe. We accept the EU needs to change, in response to the global challenges we face today but also to better reflect our values and priorities.

The European Parliament elections next May have an important political context for Labour. We should not overlook this. It makes these European elections arguably more important than some previous electoral cycles in Europe and it means we have to win well next year.

Momentum matters in politics. The European elections next May will be held less than a year before the 2015 General Election. The European elections are a key milestone on the journey towards 2015.

These are the first set of European elections Labour has fought as the national opposition party since 1994. That is a political generation ago. We all know what tends to happen to the vote share of the governing party(ies) at European elections. We saw our vote decline at each cycle of European elections after 1997; in 1999, 2004 and 2009. We have to make sure next year’s elections inflict real and lasting damage on the Conservatives and Lib Dems poll numbers, and that we take on UKIP. It is crucial that we challenge UKIP’s arguments at every opportunity.

The results of these elections will, for a period of time, help set the political landscape. This will be at an important time in the electoral cycle. It is crucial that Labour does well on 22 May 2014. The results will be the subject of comment pieces and political punditry as we approach next summer and the final party conference before 2015.

We need to win next May and win well. To make sure we do well next May we have to set out and win the progressive argument for Europe.

It is also important we make clear the direct link between the argument on Europe and the everyday concerns of people in our communities. Ed Miliband is setting the agenda on the living standards debate and that has to be central to the campaign next May.

Our organisation will be key to securing a good set of results next May. Thanks to Ian McNichol and his team we have parliamentary candidates selected in key battleground seats and organisers in place. This is a real advantage and 2014 has to be treated as an important dress rehearsal and test for this organisational capability. This is particularly the case for refining our GOTV operations and postal vote campaigning.

We need to be working hard across the country between now and next May. Campaign teams and European candidates are already hard at work because these elections matter. These are not just ‘another’ set of European elections. I know we can do well next May. We can strengthen our voice in Europe by electing more Labour MEPs across the country. The campaign can be a real boost on our route map towards 2015.

With 200 days to go, let’s get to it.

Twitter @Rory_Palmer

East Midlands European Candidates:
Rory Palmer; Linda Woodings; Glenis Willmott MEP;
Nicki Brooks; Khalid Hadadi.