We wanted to provide our commentary on the EU election campaign leaflets of the main party contenders but that’s difficult because we haven’t received most of them. Nick, living in the Prime Minister’s constituency, hasn’t received the Tory leaflet; he did get the LibDem’s flyer but binned it immediately – fortunately he was able to find an on-line copy; only Labour’s one was posted through his letter box, none of the others have been (so far?). No canvasser from any party has knocked at his door to hand him theirs or to discuss it. Google hasn’t located copies of most of them either although the Greens have uploaded local versions for many other constituencies.
If other voters have received the Tory leaflet they will have been invited to check whether their MP has betrayed the PM by not supporting her version of a transition/implementation deal (its not an actual Brexit agreement). Perhaps that’s why Nick didn’t get it, his MP might be accused of many failings but he’s pretty sure she supports her own deal.
Labour’s leaflet is 75% about parochial politics (sorry, UK politics) as if this is an election for a change of government in Westminster – why would that be? The only EU-related policy mentioned is to keep a close relationship on workers’ rights and environmental standards, and perhaps a ‘people’s vote’ if absolutely necessary (Corbyn’s not keen but most of his MPs are). As we explained in Questions and Some Answers our country has punishingly-hard standards on CO2 emissions and is about on track to achieve them, whilst most of our ‘partners’ are just big on talk. We don’t need Brussels to set British workers’ rights, voters can throw out our own governments if they won’t do what we want but we can’t do the same with the EU’s rule makers.
The LibDems are at least clear where they stand – Stop Brexit! (see below) They suggest this will make us more prosperous, be better for the environment and allow EU citizens to look after our health and our children’s education (which party wants to stop qualified workers from doing that?) We have examined in other posts the EU’s record on prosperity and global warming (Themes-7: Economics-1 and Themes-8: Economics-2, Q &A again and Ideology).
Apparently there is a Brexit Party leaflet but we could only find ‘modified’ images like the one below (which looks like a LibDem response). We probably don’t need to read it to know what its policy is – Brexit!
Despite the lack of election canvassing material might voter turnout be higher than at the last EU Parliament election in 2014? Then turnout was 43% (36% in the UK, see http://www.ukpolitical.info/european-parliament-election-turnout.htm), we think it might be more this month. The Brexit Party is less than four months old but is way ahead in the polls (not always reliable of course) which suggests apathy may not be the winner this time.
Here are some election questions (for the European Parliament of course) and some snippets from or about the parties’ manifestos, as far as we can find them (or declarations if not):
When asked, “Is it a good thing that the nation is part of the EU”, France came bottom of the pile on 51 per cent. At the top, quelle surprise, Germany on 71 per cent.
It seems that the Tories have been unable to put together a manifesto because of infighting and dismal local election results. They do offer a website, which fails to mention the Prime Minister’s central goal of an independent trading policy. We can interpret that as softening up the party for a sort-of customs union with Labour. The official literature urges voters to support the Prime Minister so she can pass her so-called Withdrawal Agreement. The Conservative Party’s argument is that every other party either wants to stop Brexit or put forward an unrealistic version of it.
From the party manifesto, Labour has an “alternative plan” for Brexit, based on much closer co-operation with Europe than the Conservatives have put forward. Labour wants ‘alignment’ with the single market, a guarantee that Britain would match EU workers’ rights and standards (as the UK does now) and the protection of peace in Northern Ireland. They will argue for a second referendum only if Labour can’t win support for its alternative plan, or if the government tries to leave the EU without a deal and if they can’t get and win a general election.
A special edition of the Liberal-Democrats manifesto says, ‘Bollocks to Brexit’. Other versions have the more polite ‘Stop Brexit’. The pro-EU party wants to hold a second referendum where Remain is on the ballot paper. They also pledge to defend freedom of movement, allowing Brits to continue to live, work and travel across the EU without the need for burdensome paperwork. the party wants to focus on climate change, health and education “instead of letting Brexit consume the next decade”.
The Brexit Party, a single-issue party set up by Nigel Farage recently, appears to have few, if any, non-Brexit policies and is relying instead on a “pledge card” with four bullet points. If Brexit Party MEPs are elected, they will be given a “major role” in talks with the EU to stop a “dodgy” softer Brexit deal being carved up between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn.
UKIP opposes a second referendum and instead wants a unilateral and unconditional withdrawal from the EU. Brexit should happen as quickly as possible and UKIP MEPs will vote against all EU legislation if they take their seats.
The Green Party wants Britain to remain in the EU and hold a second referendum (which they assume Remain will win). They will mobilise a positive, pro-European movement. The manifesto states: “The Green Party has a comprehensive plan to put some joy back into our politics – to get us out of the Brexit mess, to stop climate change before it is too late and to rebuild our communities.” If we look at the EU’s record rather than its rhetoric we can tell that the Greens haven’t noticed it’s b******s (to borrow a term from their bedfellows).
The new Change UK party, which formed in February from Tory and Labour defectors, has five key themes in its ‘Charter’ and the first is about Brexit. The party would commit the UK to remain in the EU by campaigning for a second referendum on Brexit, and “making the positive case for Britain in Europe” (again they assume that Remain would win). The party would seek to block any Brexit deal that is put to MPs unless it has been approved in a ‘People’s Vote’. They haven’t captured public enthusiasm anything like the Brexit Party has in a similar time frame.
The Scottish nationalist party backs Remain. The party says voters in Scotland should back it to “send a message that we will not accept a Brexit process that silences Scotland, treats our Parliament and Government with contempt and fails to represent the interests of people in Scotland. Scotland’s future belongs in Europe.” More Scots voted for Brexit in the 2016 Referendum (on almost the lowest regional turnout) than for the SNP at the last Holyrood election.
The Welsh nationalist party, Paid Cymru, wants a ‘final say’ referendum where it would argue to remain in the EU. It would then make the case for Wales to become independent and be a member of the EU in its own right. They don’t seem to have noticed how much the EU disapproves of separatism.
As we write, YouGov polling research has the Tories at just 10 per cent, behind the Liberal Democrats on 15 per cent and the Greens on 11 per cent. The poll indicates that Labour is also haemorrhaging support to Nigel Farage’s new party, with its vote share down five points to 16 per cent. The Brexit Party is up four points on 34 per cent while ChangeUK is on 5 per cent.
We (authors Nick and Dave) support Brexit but don’t feel we could vote for either of the two main parties, which don’t seem to represent us on this issue. We might like to vote for Dan Hannan, number 1 on the Tory Party list but we might get No. 2 as well – what does he/she stand for? If we chose the Brexit Party we’d be opting for Nigel first, then for other unknowns who we think would at least be Brexit supporters. Quel choix!