European election campaign priorities for the Liberal Democrats

It seems inevitable that the elections to the European Parliament will be read as a vote on Brexit. That risks the election campaign being a rehash of the referendum, alienating an electorate frustrated by #BrexitShambles, and putting the emphasis on whether we should be there rather than on what our we are electing people to do.

Instead of this, campaigning on the core of the programme of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) gives Liberal Democrats a chance to shift the debate, adding something new and inviting supporters of Brexit to see things differently.

ALDE’s programme begins with a summary the British electorate would do well to hear:

“In more than 60 years of European integration, the European Union has served us well in achieving peace, stability and prosperity. The EU has promoted and extended to half a billion people the four freedoms: the free movement of people, services, capital and goods across borders. We want the Union to play a key leadership role in tackling today’s and tomorrow’s global challenges.

As such, the ALDE Party believes in a Europe based on the fundamental Liberal principles of liberty, democracy, the rule of law, human rights, tolerance and solidarity. We believe in a fair, free and open society which harnesses the abilities of each and every one of its citizens to participate fully in society, presenting them with the opportunities to fulfil their potential, free from poverty, ignorance, and discrimination.”

The full ALDE manifesto is something to be proud of. The core statements in the political programme strike a powerful chord: a prosperous Europe, sustainable development and peace in the world, renew the EU and building a transparent, democratic and accountable Europe. Nuancing the descriptions a little for a British audience:

  • A prosperous Europe
    Offering proper democratic scrutiny of the Single Market and the work of the EU in adding to the many fair and sustainable international trade deals we already have.
  • Sustainable development and peace in the world
    Acting to tackle climate change, protect the environment and promote sustainable development, so that we build a safe and just society in a more peaceful and stable world.
  • Renew the European Union
    We all stand to gain from deepening and enriching the EU, but we need to show the British people that this isn’t a threat. We do this best by talking about it openly.
  • Transparent, democratic and accountable Europe
    Being clear about doing centrally only what needs to be done there, and showing that the EU is about pushing power to the local, celebrating the diversity of the communities, regions and nations of Europe and protecting fundamental rights, civil liberties and the rule of law.

The ALDE programme ends:

“We are therefore united in our mission to renew Europe into a place that people can be proud of again. Change is necessary. We must fight for reform, and not let our cooperation be destroyed. No single country can respond to climate change, international terrorism and ensure that globalisation delivers for everyone. Only if we choose to address Europe’s flaws and reform it, the EU will again be a driving force for new jobs, security and prosperity, a renewed Europe.”

In stark contrast, a headline in this week’s New European says that “Nigel Farage REFUSES to publish a Brexit Party manifesto until after EU elections”.

This article originally appeared on Liberal Democrat Voice

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *