Saturday, 19 April 2014

50 days to go | Article for LabourList

Article for LabourList published with 50 days to go until the European elections.

Like European election teams in other regions, here in the East Midlands we have been clocking up the miles. From our cities to market towns, from the coalfields to the Peak District, from the East Coast and across our rolling countryside, we have criss-crossed our region and found Labour activists in determined mood. Determined to win this May and unrelenting in the campaign to get Ed Miliband into Downing Street.

On the doorsteps we have heard stories of anger and despair:  families hit by the Bedroom Tax and young people struggling to find decent work. Parents talk of the uncertainty and angst of trying to make ends meet on zero hours contracts. Families recount their anger about rising energy bills.

These stories define the dreadful Tory-Lib Dem Government. Tackling the cost of living crisis is central to our campaign for May’s European elections. To secure a better future here we need to see fairness and growth in Europe.

That is why the approach to Europe from the Tories and UKIP is so irresponsible. As people worry about making ends meet on zero hours contracts and with high levels of youth joblessness, this is not the time to be putting thousands of jobs at risk. But that is what UKIP and the Tories are doing.

People worry about a race to the bottom on wages, skills and workplace rights. The Tories and UKIP want to weaken rights at work. Labour will defend our employment rights and make the case for stronger protection and dignity in the workplace. The truth about UKIP is that their policies would hurt Britain, putting jobs at risk and deepening the cost of living crisis for families across the country.

The dividing lines are stark in this May’s elections and they are a fight for what we believe in.

The message from the countless doorstep conversations we are having is clear. On Europe, people want real leadership and for the EU to be working for them. Our position – recognising the pragmatic benefits of EU membership for jobs and business, a referendum lock and a clear set of EU reform priorities – is chiming with the public mood.

People have no truck with Cameron’s weakness on Europe. The electorate can sniff out a divided party a mile off. You don’t need to be a Westminster insider to confirm that Cameron’s Europe policy is all about party management.

In 50 days’ time there is a clear choice. Labour is serious and determined about EU reform, focussed on protecting jobs and employment rights and putting in place measures to help families and tackle the cost of living crisis.

We are talking about the issues that matter. Our job now over these next few weeks is to take this message into every community in every region of the country.

In 50 days’ time we need a set of results which demonstrate how Ed Miliband’s One Nation Labour is winning back peoples’ trust and confidence in all parts of the country. With just 50 days to go you can help us win. Help us win so we have more Labour MEPs standing up for our communities in Brussels: tackling the cost of living crisis, defending rights at work and protecting jobs.

This article first appeared on LabourList, 2 April 2014.

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