Parliamentary sketch – A storm of meteorologists in my teacup
Yes, it’s true that the post EU election parties of my Party colleagues didn’t go on late into the night!
A sobering outcome, anticipated by most.
Congratulations of course to the successful candidates. We must all hope they do the right thing for our communities and the country when they arrive at the institution in Brussels (& Strasbourg) they want to abolish.
Overall though, once again it was the ‘stay at home’ voters who I suspect had the greatest impact. Just 36% turnout in Cornwall alone. 6% down on last time. Would the outcome have been different if double that number had voted? We can speculate.
Inevitably the panic button has been pushed. Not by my Party colleagues but by the media, keen to write their own post-election news stories; this one being an unseemly bloodletting leading to the deposing of Party Leader and DPM, Nick Clegg.
For days my phone has been red hot. Not from my colleagues engaged in a conspiracy to overthrow anyone, but with frantic calls from the media anxious to fill the dots in a story it seemed they’d already written! I couldn’t see a storm in this tea cup for all the meteorologists anxious to forensically detect even the slightest sign of it
Now, as most already know, I’m not exactly renowned for my obsequiousness towards the Party Leadership, but even I can see how counterproductive knee jerk panicking would be.
I’m sure that in the weeks and months ahead we must have a calm and rational reflection on all aspects of how we handled these recent elections. If any of my colleagues are so desperate for the oxygen of publicity that they want to occupy TV studios to demand resignations, that’s likely to be a reflection on them than on anything else.
I was critical of our message before the elections. Promoting yourself as ‘Pro-European’ may seem principled and brave but it’s a completely misunderstood concept. Though most people don’t articulate it, they assume that the corollary of ‘Pro-European’ is ‘Anti-British’!
In fact the Liberal Democrats are first and foremost the ‘Pro-British’ Party. It’s in Britain’s interests to stand tall, to be fully engaged and to show international leadership by being involved in and shaping the EU and the UN, etc., not to retreat behind the barricades with the little Englanders.
As readers of my column know, I don’t think we need MEPs. As we’ve got more MPs than is necessary, we should just pack off 73 of them to Brussels once a month and ask them to account for themselves in our Parliament when they get back! Job done. Money saved. And we’d have representatives the public know and could hold to account.
Then there’s things I just don’t understand about this election. But I’ll try…
People have put at the top of the poll a Party which wants to break up the NHS, shift money from education and health to defence and tax poorer people more. Some of those who voted for a Party high on anti-immigration rhetoric are the first to complain to me when their young Thai wife is barred from the UK, or would cry foul if their army of cheap foreign labour was sent home before they got the harvest in.
I know that Political Parties which play on fear and prejudice generally prosper more than those which try to appeal to our better instincts, but I live in hope that simple claims which may resonate with a fearful public will find sensible and rational solution when faced with the realities of a complex world.
You can contact Andrew George by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. His constituency office can be contacted at Trewella, 18 Mennaye Road, Penzance, Cornwall, TR18 4NG. Telephone: 01736 360020.
Andrew George MP
Kernow a’n West ha Syllan
West Cornwall and the Scillies
Constituency of St Ives
Tel: 01736 360020
Fax: 01736 332866
27th May 2014