by Stuart Clark |
Monday’s results across Europe were pretty much as expected, if not more severe in places than expected. Some hopes were dashed, and some dreams came true – but that’s what elections are for.
They point to a general dissatisfaction with established politics which has continually failed to engage with and protect citizens across Europe in any meaningful way.
The bad news:
Division and polarisation continues to grow between those seek and offer a European vision and those who seek and offer nationalist one. Voter turnout is just over 50% across Europe which means half its citizens still do not feel they have a reason or need to vote. There are also some serious incidents of EU citizens being denied their vote in the UK which need to be investigated urgently.
The good news:
Although turnout still low, it’s a big improvement on the 2014. Voters are feeling more engaged and there is a strong feeling that reform and improvement is vital. The rise in far-right extremists and the Brexit vote in the UK shocked many. And although we see an increase in nationalist vote, this, in many places is more about a positive nationalist agenda rather than simply scapegoating sections of society.
Summary of mainland Britain results:
UKIP was always difficult to manage, containing disaffected conservatives and far right extremists and electing some unpleasant individuals to the EP in 2014. Once the referendum result was announced, supporters left, and the party swung to the extreme. Nigel Farage took the UKs unexpected participation in these elections as a chance to perform a simple takeover of their supporters leaving behind the most undesirable elements of UKIP leadership and support. He had help from those keen to see the breakup of the European Union. But let’s be clear these Brexit Party MEPs will be easier to engage with, but stronger opponents than were the UKIP MEPs. Brexit Party also took many voters from the Conservatives and some from Labour. Temporarily.
The Labour and Conservative brands both lost considerable support for the simple reason they were trying to retain supporters from both sections of a divided society. Both showed miserable leadership and were bound to fail.
Change UK have had the most difficult birth as a party, but we must not underestimate the role they have played in the outcome of this election. The founding members decision to leave their parties and form an Independent group within parliament was the catalyst for supporters to leave the two main parties, and for a time, Change UK, LibDems and Greens were all hovering around 10%. But they were always scrambling to keep up with events and local elections in England (where they were unable to participate) together with their lack of established membership meant that Remain supporters coalesced around either the LibDems or the Greens which is understandable considering the pressure that voters felt under.
LibDems and the Greens have both had a great election result and should be able to continue that path if they can work out how to collaborate, together, and with others on a national front.
The Conservatives are in a dire state, and it currently looks like Michael Gove is probably the best placed to deal with the difficult situation they have got themselves in. But first he will have to see off Boris Johnson who is the most popular with membership but ultimately unreliable and not so popular with the parliamentary party. He would be a disaster.
The Labour Party will be able to get back some of their supporters if the leadership finally come down off the fence, but it is unclear if they can do their under the current leadership.
And Northern Ireland?
The Alliance party have made historic progress. Their anti-Brexit stance have given them their first seat in the European Parliament and together with the sectarian Sinn Fein and DUP means there will be 3 women MEPs being sent to Brussels from the Province.
Brexit Impasse – what next?
Most contenders for the leadership of the Conservative party are now supporting a No-Deal Brexit, even though they know it would be costly and not in the countries best interest. It is also undeliverable as certain members of the parliamentary would put country before party and bring the government down if it looked like we would leave without a deal. This means that the next Prime Minister will have to somehow follow a similar path to that of Theresa May whilst at the same time making it seem like a clear new direction. Tricky one huh.
National Unity Committee:
One possible course of action could be to create a National Unity Committee with key members of UK and European Parliament from all parties. A committee of 12, hosted by the Prime Minister charged with finding a solution. The Committee should be televised like most parliamentary committees, so the public can see the process.
Save Our Country! Electoral Pact:
LibDems, Greens, Change UK, Plaid Cymru and the SNP should form an Electoral Pact to stand single pro-remain, pro-reform candidates at the next General Election. Candidates should be chosen from members from all parties through hustings. The first stage is for the local teams of each party to meet and discuss this proposal, so we are not left in a situation that often happens where candidates are chosen according to current opinion polls and existing PPCs are expected to stand aside. A situation that often causes disagreement. Parties should keep their own identity but agree key Pact Policies that they can campaign on. A Prospective Leader and deputy Leader of the pact should be chosen to give the campaign clear leadership. This should all be done before party conferences in September.
UK Parliamentary Group – Federal Alliance: Hosted by Federalist Party
The current situation in the Parliament is absurd, private groupings are being formed within the main parties, often structured around personalities and organised in WhatsApp groups.
Once there is a majority in Parliament for Electoral Reform the two main parties will break apart, but it will still be necessary for them to keep their independence but while forming coalition groups.
We should begin this process now – the Federalist Party would be happy to facilitate this as member organisation within Parliament that UK Parties, or members of UK Parties can join to work with Federalist and Electoral reform movements on matters or electoral and constitutional reform.
An Opportunity not to be missed!
The New European Parliamentary session will contain over 500 MEPS keen to the European Union to have a successful future. The electorate have told us it needs reform. Let us not waste this opportunity. All new MEPs have been elected by citizens so all have a mandate. It is our right and our duty to engage with them all!
Stuart Clark, Editor, UK
Stuart Clark is currently, board member and Nominations officer for the Federalist Party
He was leader of the UK section of the European Federalist Party 2013-2016. He is active with Alliance Europa, and also the Federal Union in UK. As well as promoting Federalism, Stuart also campaigns for constitutional reform and electoral reform. He stood for Council Election in Lambeth in 2018. Stuart works for a global ticketing company and is based in London and Cornwall.