It’s been over a month since the local and European elections in the UK and an opportune time to reflect on the results and how this bodes for Labour’s success in the general election in less than a year’s time.
I was privileged to be one of the MEP candidates for the London region for Labour and spent the past year campaigning with the London Labour across the region. The memories of meeting with party members and talking to voters across the capital is one’s I will never forget. Whilst campaigning with Labour party members, I was frequently asked my predictions for which party would win the Euro elections in the UK overall. It became clearer to me, especially during the short campaign where I worked full time on the campaign during the last month that Labour would have good results in London but that UKIP would beat us nationally and so I stated as such. The media coverage that was given to Nigel Farage and the euro-scepticism that was in the air all boosted his campaign. Turnout was disappointingly low at 36%. Labour did exceptionally well in London and we had good results in the West Midlands, North West and North East. However it was a disappointment that we did not pick up more than one seat in the largest region in the South East, East of England, East Midlands or Wales. Gaining these seats would have ensured Labour’s win in both the Euro and local elections last month and given a strong boost for the campaign next year.
The European parliament has an opportunity going forward to strengthen its legitimacy and develop more openness and transparency in how its primary institutions the European Council and Commission operate. Labour MEP’s will need to work hard to counter the Eurosceptic groups in the parliament and reach out to its constituents about the work they do and how it makes a difference to ordinary people’s lives. This will certainly be easier in London where Labour now has half the MEP’s.
Labour’s results were the best since 1971 and in order to win next year, the target seats in London should get the necessary support from the London Labour party and its local activists, as it’s here that we are most likely to gain the seats needed to have Ed Miliband as our prime minister next year. Labour had 37% of the vote in London, gained 203 new councillors, controls 20 out of the 32 London boroughs and is now in control of the Local Government Association for the first time in a decade. In Barking and Dagenham, where I re-stood as a councillor, even I was a little surprised that we took all 51 seats of the council again, as we did in 2010. We have been a strong campaigning force and realised after winning in 2010, that there was no room for complacency. We kept our Labour doorstep sessions every two weeks, which allowed us to keep that connection with our voters, hear their concerns and deal with them over the past four years, which gave the Barking Labour party a credible record of listening and acting on the priorities that mattered to our residents.
Labour needs to talk about the issues that will resonate with people including, jibs, growth and wage freezes. They also need to tackle the difficult issues such as immigration, but in the grounding that diversity is a source of our strength to us as a nation and with solutions to tackle the Labour makes effects of increased pressures on housing and school places. Labour can win just after one term out of power, if we keep working hard on the doorstep and show that we take a real interest into finding sustainable solutions that will make a real difference to people’s lives.
In my experience, we can fight the far right by showing that it brings false solutions and that Labour’s economic and social policies deliver results. Read my article about how we tackle the rise of the far right on the Fabian society review here.
I reported in November that former French president Nicholas Sarkozy would be questioned by a judge in Bordeaux over bribery allegations. The charge is that Sarkozy – affectionately known as “Mr Bling” – accepted more than half a million pounds from Liliane Bettencourt to help fund his 2007 presidential campaign and promised Bettencourt tax breaks in return. He has now been placed under formal investigation by a judge read the full story here.
I was delighted when last month the Party of European Socialist’s (PES), Deputy Secretary General, Marije Laffeber invited me to speak to this year’s PES activists forum in Budapest from the 8th to the 10th of March. I spoke at the workshop on the topic “An alternative message to the far right”. To read my report about how the forum went click here.
Last week I was invited as a guest speaker at the Tottenham GC meeting, to speak about how I successfully won my council seat from the BNP London Regional Coordinator, Robert Bailey to become the youngest woman on the council. I also spoke about the rise of the far right across Europe.
I was asked a number of questions ranging from how we engaged with BME communities, what I thought about David Cameron’s speech on Europe to what we could do to tackle the far right in Eastern Europe.
At the end of the meeting I was so pleased that members said that they felt inspired to go and reconnect with their local community, based on our success in Barking. It’s only by closly connecting with our electorate that a Labour government will be able to take control in 2015.
Last week I wrote an article for Left Foot forward about why nationalist political parties like the UK’s BNP and France’s Front National party would be rubbing their hands in glee. Their positions are set to be potentially strengthened by gaining monies of €400,000 for 2012, funded by the European Parliament. Monies are set to be allocated over the next two weeks. Read the article here.
The far right party in France, le Front National, held its party conference over the weekend. Read my article about what happened on left foot forward. #france #frontnational #marinelepen #jeanmarielepen