Thursday, May 21, 2009

On the campaign trail

The European elections are just 2 weeks away and I’ve been out on the campaign trail this week!

Despite current events in Westminster I am finding the reception good on the doorstep. People are angry, and rightly so, but many do understand that this election is about who will represent the people of the East Midlands in the European Parliament and I believe Labour MEPs have an excellent record, one that we can be proud of.

In the last 5 years we have achieved the following:

  1. Taken real action to tackle climate change, putting in place legislation to reduce carbon emissions by 20% by 2020 (from 1990 levels)
  2. Introduced the European arrest warrant to stop criminals escaping across borders. This was actually used to help bring back a suspect in the London bombings from Italy to the UK.
  3. Slashed mobile phone roaming charges on calls and texts across Europe
  4. Put in place equal rights at work for temporary agency workers
  5. Championed new protections at work from cancer-causing chemicals, and violence and abuse.

And if re-elected we will continue working hard to ensure:

  • We overcome the financial crisis, including better regulation of financial markets and investment vehicles
  • New rules to ensure stability and fairness in our banks
  • Stronger rights for consumers, so no matter where in Europe you are buying from, you can be confident the products you buy are of good quality, safe and fully guaranteed.
  • A proper balance between Europe’s economic and social goals.
  • Further health and safety protections against new and emerging risks in the workplace.

This election is about who will be elected to tackle the most important issues of the day: the financial crisis, creating jobs, climate change and security. We can only successfully tackle them through effective cooperation both with our European partners and globally and by instilling our own values of fairness, solidarity and equality into the decision-making process.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A vote for the Tories is a vote for isolation

Today's article on the front page of the Guardian shows just how isolated a British government led by David Cameron would be. It features warnings from European heads of government over Tory policy on Europe

German Chancellor Angela Merkel appeared to threaten to withhold cooperation with the Conservatives saying that she would refuse to extend her hand to a David Cameron government given the Tories' current isolationist stance.

The Swedish Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt weighed in too with a direct warning to Cameron, telling him that that to have influence you cannot be on your own and that you need strong support from others to get your way.

The crux of the matter is this: in an increasingly intertwined global world our sovereignty is neither reduced nor eroded by European cooperation, but rather it is both increased and enhanced. The power to shape our own destiny can only be achieved through Britain playing a positive and proactive role at the centre of a strong Europe. As Gordon Brown pointed out in his much acclaimed speech to the European Parliament in March, it is in our own national interest to be in Europe's mainstream, not its slipstream.

It is abundantly clear that a vote for the Tories is a vote for isolation and a reduction in British influence just at the very time when we need it most in these troubled economic times

Friday, May 8, 2009

A ban on the trade in seal products

That's it - we got there. We voted on Tuesday to amend legislative proposals from the European Commission to ensure a ban on the trade in seal products within the European Union. Despite an attempt by the Liberal Democrat rapporteur to drastically weaken the proposals and require a mere labelling scheme, I'm delighted that Labour MEPs held firm to ensure a complete ban on trade in seal products, with only very limited exceptions for subsistence purposes for Inuit populations.

This law will ensure there is no European market for these products and will put an end to the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of seals every year.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

European Economic Recovery Plan

With just 4 weeks to go now until polling day for the European elections, yesterday the European Parliament gave its final seal of approval to the European Commission's proposed €5 billion economic recovery plan.

The measures approved include a focus on investment in green and renewable energies such as wind power and carbon capture and storage pilot projects to capture CO2 from power stations and store it underground in geological formations.

Specific projects to the value of €500 million have been identified in the UK alone, including electricity interconnectors in the North Sea between Ireland and Wales, integration to the North Sea grid of offshore wind farms, new wind turbines in Scotland and carbon capture and storage projects for coal-fired power plants in England and Scotland.

I voted in support of the plan although I made it clear I would have liked to see much more ambitious proposals with an emphasis on tackling youth unemployment as we need to give the younger generation hope for the future, complementing Chancellor Alistair Darling's announcement in his budget speech that all young people out of work for over a year would be guaranteed either a job or a place in training.