Thursday, November 8, 2012

My MEP Candidate Hustings Speech

Below is my speech given to the London Liberal Democrat Hustings for MEP candidates on Sunday 4 November.

My message to the voters of London would be twofold. Firstly, the European Union is important to our country’s prospects and well-being. There is a lot of negativity about the EU and I expect you have found, as I have, that on the doorstep, the EU is rarely mentioned and it’s importance is little understood. I would explain the benefits in simple language. Trade – investment – growth – business – jobs.

Secondly, the Liberal Democrats are the only major pro-European party. We have seen yet again this week how the Conservatives are more interested in fighting each other and that Labour change their position, when they have one, on a weekly basis. Only the Liberal Democrats put the UK at the heart of Europe and would put the UK’s interest first. I want this message on the streets of London. From Enfield to Sutton, from Hillingdon to Havering, when it comes to Europe, the Liberal Democrats are on your side.

So why me? What have I got to offer?
  • Eighteen years experience of working in London in both the public and private sectors
  • Ten years experience of living in London although I am currently a commuter
  • Vast experience of leading, organising and participating in teams – in both political and non-political activities
  • Parliamentary candidate at the last general election getting one of the highest Lib Dem increases in Kent
  • Fifteen years experience of being in positions of helping the public through my employment history – helping, advising and dealing with people from all backgrounds
  • Academic qualifications in European history, politics and law
  • A regular writer and campaigner using Twitter, Facebook, blogs and media
  • A genuine love for our city and its people and the enthusiasm to conduct a good campaign across the city to get our message out.
 And what is my vision for Europe?

If elected as an MEP, I would see my role in both promoting London within Europe, and promoting Europe within London.

I want Londoners to recognise the opportunities there are across the continent for our people to visit and learn and for businesses to expand.

We often hear about people from Europe coming to the UK, usually in a negative sense, but we never hear about people from the UK going to live and work in other countries. Those that do find it a worthwhile experience.

As MEP I would aim to visit as many schools in London as I can, to encourage the study of languages and encourage our younger people to give serious consideration to other parts of the EU. Once people see things for themselves, once they get away from what the Daily Mail is telling them, I have found that people are enthused by Europe and the different cultures and experiences on offer.

And I would promote London as a place for world businesses to invest. The Olympics was a chance, which has so far been missed, to promote, not Boris, but instead our wonderful city as a home for business. I want to welcome world companies here, to invest, and develop.

As for the EU itself, I would campaign for the extension of democracy. I want to see an elected President – which I feel was a chance the EU missed. You may remember Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern were considered for the job. If the candidates campaigned across all 27 states, that would increase knowledge and legitimacy of the EU’s process. I would also like to see our Commissioners elected instead of being a consolation prize for failed politicians.

And, yes, an in-out referendum. I think this continual dithering and speculation is harmful to our interests in Europe. While we argue with each other, the other EU governments are getting on with things. Let’s have the referendum, let’s win it, and then we can commit ourselves towards campaigning for the type of EU we want to see.

Those are my policies in simple language. An active positive pro-EU campaign, jobs and business for Londoners, a city to advertise to the world, an EU which is streamlined and democratic and something of which we can be proud to be a leading member.

If you select me as your candidate, those are the principles I would be working hard for – select me and I will not let you down!

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