Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Euro elections

Peter Black's blog post has reminded me of the piece I started writing during the Neath count, stuffed in a pocket and forgot:

Labour got their vote out in Neath Port Talbot as they failed to do in their council elections in England, London and Cambridge excepted. It will be interesting to compare the UKIP and Conservative tallies of 2009 and 2014. I suspect they will show some switching from the latter to the former. Labour in Wales seems to have resisted the racist drift to UKIP that was so evident in the English north-east. (That is not to say that UKIP is explicitly racist, but it is the way most people seem to see the party, helped by the coverage given by the BBC.)

It would be easy to blame our failure on Nick Clegg. Certainly, having the deputy PM fronting the election broadcast which went out on Welsh TV did not help, but our literature in Wales featured local faces: Kirsty, our excellent lead candidate Alec Dauncey, campaign director Aled Roberts and round here Peter Black. We could have done with more high-profile figures putting their heads above the parapet. Perhaps they were intimidated by the opinion research figures published by media who have no great love for the Liberal Democrats - virtually a self-fulfilling prophecy.

[Later] There seems to have been an illiberal swing not only in the UK but also across Europe as a whole. In some countries this manifested as a move to ultra-conservative parties, in others it was to socialists, as in Greece. People at the lower end of the income ladder are still not feeling the benefits of the economic upswing which is there in the official figures but not yet felt in people's pay-packets. In the circumstances, the traditional liberal values of fairness and civil liberties take a back seat. I find it significant that although Germany returned one neo-Nazi MEP for the first time, on the whole they are still represented by the established  parties who strongly support the EU. Germany has the soundest economy in the EU and rode out the storm following the 2008 credit crunch.

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