The next edition of Anticipations focuses on the Labour Party's relationship with the European Union, and explores the challenges and opportunities it faces in the run-up to the parliamentary elections in May and beyond. London Labour MEP candidate Lucy Anderson lays out what's at stake when Europe next casts its vote.
On 22 May, voters go to the polls around the UK to choose who will represent them in the European Parliament. Despite the continuing rampant Euroscepticism of much of the right-wing press in this country, this is an exciting time for pro-Europeans.
The Labour Party will be fighting these elections on an agenda that emphasises how vital European Union (EU) membership and MEPs are to the country. This is especially true in relation to the future of our industries and economy, as well as protecting and improving rights at work, passenger and consumer rights and environmental standards. Labour is also campaigning crucially for a Social Europe that prioritises sustainable growth, tackling youth unemployment, and securing more and better jobs. Whilst we do need reform to some EU processes and policies through consensus and dialogue, the Tories are putting the future of the country at risk through their dangerous strategy of making unilateral demands for special treatment. Labour would instead seek to maximise our influence in a reformed EU.
The powers of the European Parliament have increased hugely in the last fifteen years, and MEPs draft and shape new laws, amend and approve the EU budget, and decide on key appointments such as the President of the European Commission. There is every chance that after the elections the Socialists and Democrat Group in the European Parliament will be the largest. They will need to stand firm against extremists from Right and Left in order to progress a common agenda. Alliances across party groups may be hard to find but will be very necessary in order to achieve change.
It is clear that young people in the UK are anything but isolationist; they are strongly in favour of the European Union, and what it represents in terms of free movement and social justice. Recent polls commissioned by the Fabians, British Future and other organisations all confirm this. It incredibly important that young voters make their voices heard in these elections. There is evidence that the historical trend for younger people not to vote may be changing. For example, there was a much larger proportional increase in turnout by 18-34 year old voters between 2005 and 2010 general elections than for older voters.
If a similar trend is repeated this year, it could make a big difference to the results.