Which pro-European party should we vote for in the South West in the European elections? – a personal view/3
I have explained why people who supported the Independents in the local elections should vote for a pro-European party. But why vote for a party, not an Independent candidate, and which should we vote for?
We can’t vote for an Independent because the voting system is based on party lists for the whole South West region. There isn’t a good Independent candidate anyway.
I don’t think we should vote for Labour because it isn’t a clearly pro-European party, even if it isn’t a clearly pro-Brexit party either – that’s a simplification we don’t need. There are good pro-Europeans among the Labour candidates in the South West, and we will need the support of many Labour MPs to end Brexit. A Labour vote is vastly better than a Tory or Brexit Party vote, but it clearly isn’t the best option.
The pro-European options in the SW are the Liberal Democrats, the Greens and Change UK. From the point of view of ending Brexit, supporting remaining in the EU and supporting a confirmatory vote on any Brexit deal, these are all equally good options.
How to choose between them? Some advocate ‘tactical voting’. I am a fan of tactical voting when it matters. I would probably vote tactically for whichever candidate is best-placed to defeat the Brexit Party in the Peterborough by-election.
However in the European elections, two things matter. One is to get the maximum number of combined votes for the pro-European parties. For this purpose, it doesn’t matter if you vote Lib Dem, Green or CHUK, your vote will still count.
The other is to get the maximum number of pro-European MEPs elected. This is trickier to decide. In 2014, the Greens got an MEP in the SW, the Lib Dems didn’t. The Greens say this means they’re ahead. The Lib Dems made bigger advances in the local elections; they say they’re ahead. CHUK don’t have a track record.
As someone who has studied the voting system, I’d say it is quite possible that both the Greens and LDs can win seats; I don’t know about CHUK. There is a site which claims to show that it would be better to vote tactically for the LDs, but since it doesn’t explain its evidence and assumptions for recommending this, I treat it with caution.
Therefore I don’t think there is a clear tactical basis for preferring LDs or Greens. I’d say, vote for whichever party is closest to your beliefs. LDs, Greens, CHUK and many Labour supporters have marched together to stay in the EU. Let’s vote together, too, and not support any party using these elections to try to steal a march on their fellow European supporters.
Who should dissatisfied Leave voters blame for the Brexit mess? The first of three posts on the European elections – please share
This is the first of three posts about the European elections on May 23rd, written in a purely personal capacity. They will be about: (1) Who should dissatisfied Leave voters blame? (2) Why Independent supporters should vote for a pro-European party. (3) Which party should you vote for? Is there a case for tactical voting?
WHO SHOULD DISSATISFIED LEAVE VOTERS BLAME?
Over half of East Devon voters supported Leave in 2016 (although 46 per cent did not). Now that Brexit has turned into a shambles, it’s no wonder that people who voted Leave are angry. You vote for something – the Government and MPs should make it happen, yes?
Yet Brexit was never going to be simple. As someone said recently, you’re unpicking 45 years of integration. You’re unpicking the foundations of our economy – millions of British jobs depend on Europe. You’re unpicking our society – making people from other countries who live in the UK feel insecure, so that many (including doctors and nurses) have left. You’re unpicking the Northern Ireland peace process – stirring up new violence in that country.
The first people who should be blamed are Brexit leaders like Boris Johnson who said it would be easy. It was never going to be easy. They lied when they said it would be. They knew about the economy. They knew about Ireland. But they ploughed on. Theresa May has made a huge mess of it, but Leavers like Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg set up this impossible situation in the first place.
Does Nigel Farage actually have any answers, rather than simple slogans?
Nigel Farage is now posing as the answer. But he was always egging on the Tories into more and more extreme positions. He helped create this mess. Now he has set up a new ‘Brexit Party’. One of its candidates in the South West thinks it’s all right to talk about raping women MPs.
If you’re thinking of voting for Farage, just ask yourself: Has he got an answer to how we get out of the Brexit mess? We know it’s complex – has he really explained how he will do it? Unless you honestly think that there is a thought-out solution there, not just the same kind of simple slogans that got us into this mess in the first place, steer clear of the Brexit Party.
I have written to @neil_parish to represent the 7,000 of his constituents who have signed the petition to #RevokeArticle50. We are the people, too. Listen to our voices of common sense.
I am writing to represent nearly seven thousand of your constituents who have signed the petition on the Government website to revoke the Article 50 notification to exit the EU. This is the largest number who have ever signed any petition. Across Devon, over 100,000 people have supported it, and nationally the total is now 4.8 million.
I know you have taken the position that the 2016 result means that you have to support Brexit, and you have backed Theresa May’s deal. But that deal, which no one likes, has now clearly failed. Mrs May is reported to be prepared to back a No Deal Brexit, but I am sure you know that this could mean: shortages of medicines; failures of food supply chains in Devon; lambs slaughtered because they can’t be exported to Europe; a severe shock to our national economy; and violence in Northern Ireland, with Devon police sent to the province to help maintain order.
Since we have only a fortnight to prevent this self-inflicted disaster, I urge you to support a policy of ‘Revoke and Rethink’. Revoke the Article 50 notification to the EU, and give everyone time to reflect on the mess that the current Brexit proposals have caused. If in due course, a Government produces a coherent new proposal for Brexit, and can negotiate that with the EU, we can put it to the people and negotiate it with the EU.
For now, however, it is time to call a halt to this national humiliation. We, the thousands of your constituents who have signed the ‘revoke’ petition, are part of ‘the people’ too. Please listen to our voices of common sense and help ensure that our country comes safely through the impending crisis.
County Council leader rightly lashes out at Government’s miserable funding offer to SW – but Devon Tories’ failure to speak out over Brexit has allowed May to take them for granted.
All credit to John Hart for his forthright comments on the insulting offer to the region. But it’s difficult not to say I told you so – I and other opposition councillors have been urging him to speak out for the last two years, but time and again – even last month – he and his Cabinet have (like Theresa May) put Tory party unity before the interests of Devon.
What John says now is right – but it is too little and too late, unless coupled with real pressure on Devon Tory MPs to stop the looming Brexit disaster.
Tory MP complains that Government isn’t giving Brexit bribes to South West MPs – because the region voted Conservative!
The Government has announced its bribes to towns in order to persuade MPs, mainly Labour, to vote for its miserable Brexit deal. Although it claims to have used a “need-based formula,” the South West is to receive the second-lowest allocation of cash (£33 million) despite being among England’s most deprived regions. Coincidentally, it also has very few Labour MPs — and Sheryll Murray, the Tory MP for South East Cornwall, appears to have spotted the discrepancy. “The fact this money appears to be directly routed to Labour-voting areas smacks of pork-barrel politics, and the public will know that,” Murray complains to The Times. “It would be a crying shame if Conservative-voting communities were being disadvantaged because of the way they voted.”
Devon’s food supply, NHS, farming, etc. are dangerously exposed to No Deal Brexit – the County Council must tell Theresa May on Thursday to stop this irresponsible course of action
There are mounting fears that if Theresa May allows a ‘No Deal’ Brexit to happen on 29th March, Devon will suffer serious harm including:
- shortages of imported foods, especially as Devon is near the end of many supply lines
- escalating staff shortages in the NHS and social care as European nurses and care workers are deterred from coming to take up jobs
- shortage of workers in the tourism and hospitality sectors – and care workers migrating to these jobs because of higher pay
- thousands of tons of animal feed blocked from coming in through Plymouth
- lamb exports to Europe prevented by Brexit red tape
- exporting businesses unprepared for the extra bureaucracy
- more business failures over the next year or so (Brexit has already been implicated in the Flybe, Barden, Ambrosia and Appledore crises).
After Devon County Council leader John Hart said in January that the council ‘hadn’t got a clue yet‘ about planning for a ‘No Deal’ Brexit, its chief executive was appointed by the Government – with barely 6 weeks to go before the UK crashed out of the EU – to coordinate local government responses in the South West. But whatever councils do at this late stage, they can only mitigate, not prevent, the likely harms.
Even if No Deal is averted, Brexit has already led to an economic slowdown and job losses, as well as discrimination against Europeans living in Devon. Exit on the terms agreed by May will be less bad than No Deal, but far worse than the bespoke membership of the EU which the UK currently has. When County Councillors consider the situation on Thursday, they have a duty to tell May to take urgent steps to prevent No Deal – and allow the public to vote on whether they want her Brexit or her remain in the EU.
At yesterday’s DCC Cabinet meeting, Leader John Hart answered three questions I had put in writing about estimated risks from Theresa May’s Brexit and No Deal, about help to businesses for No Deal, and emergency planning for disruption to fuel, food and medical supplies in Devon as a result of No Deal.
Cllr Hart did not answer any of my questions. When I asked when he would answer them, he said ‘We haven’t got a clue yet’ about what is going to happen, and that there would be a meeting next week, with just 10 weeks left to when the UK will crash out of the EU with No Deal if no change is made.
It can be seen that there are no protections in place to protect Devon from the effects of a No Deal. Economy Cabinet member Cllr Rufus Gilbert said ‘we can’t plan for a hypothetical’. Yet No Deal is the default scenario for 29th March.
This is why Devon and Dorset MPs like Ben Bradshaw, Sarah Wollaston and Oliver Letwin are absolutely right to try to block No Deal. I told Cabinet it was irresponsible of them not to support these moves.