As someone with a passion for politics in Liverpool it will come as no surprise that I believe that the best place for Britain is in Europe. Like so many communities across the country left to rot by central government, EU funding and support took our city out of managed decline and gave us the chance to carve out our own destiny on the world stage.
EU funding transformed our cityscape, with Objective One funding behind many of the notable regeneration projects that put Liverpool back on the map. Connecting us with the world, the EU provided the funding we needed to revitalise our airport and public transport networks. As European capital of culture, Liverpool, as we know it best, was given the chance to show off fantastic art and culture projects created by its many talented inhabitants from around the world.
It’s no exaggeration to say that the European social fund has transformed more lives in Liverpool, for the better, than the current government would ever admit to ruining.
When you look at what the EU has done for Liverpool, and so many areas like it, it’s hard to not fall head over heels in love with the vision for Britain as a collaborative partner in the EU that Lib Dem MEP candidates will give you the chance to make a reality on May 23rd.
While the unapologetic Remainer wrappings of the Lib Dem European Parliament election campaign may put off many leave voters, the party actually has a lot more to offer those concerned with the future of the EU and our place in it than would first appear.
Liberal Democrats are reformists at heart. As part of any institution we leave no stone unturned, no clause unread, and no motion un-amended in our pursuit of the best possible policy outcomes. Where inefficiencies in the union’s structure are to be found you can be sure that a Lib Dem MEP will find them. If you think that sending a Lib Dem to Brussels means enforcing the status quo you couldn’t be more wrong.
Beyond stopping Brexit, the Lib Dem manifesto for Europe, despite its rather controversial name, is one in which you’re bound to find something you agree with.
If you’re tempted by the Green Party’s anti-climate change message you’ll be right at home with Lib Dem plans for an ambitious EU-wide action plan on everything from deforestation and biodiversity to green energy. The Liberal Democrats were, after all, the first major political party to call for a zero-carbon Britain. Now they’re rolling that out to a zero-carbon EU by 2050.
If you’re supporting a Leave-aligned party over concerns about Britain’s influence on the world stage then you might be surprised to find that the Lib Dems share many of your concerns. Britain is far better able to exercise global influence by working together with its EU partners than it can alone. Don’t worry, they aren’t calling for an EU army.
While the Remain case is notably shared by the Green Party and Change UK, they aren’t the real home of the liberal values that inspired the case to remain. As a truly authoritarian party at heart, the Greens cannot hope to do the free-spirited liberal ideals of the European Union any real justice. They can’t seem to do their opposition any justice either.
Change UK have certainly changed some things, you have to give them that. Their name, multiple times, their website URL, their logo, and their Twitter handle. Without any real party machinery, it seems unlikely that they can muster up a fiercer fighting force for Britain’s place in Europe than the Lib Dems already offer. After overwhelming local election successes, gaining over 700 seats, the Lib Dems are the party to beat.
Labour’s Brexit stance seems to change bi-weekly, and can’t be relied on to hold up consistently against a light breeze, let alone against the backdrop of a party leader opposing his own members (and cabinet members) on the defining issue of our time.
While this election is framed as referendum 2.0, the reality is that these MEPs could serve full terms. It’s simply not enough to vote for a party on the right side of the Brexit divide, you need to vote for one with a vision for Europe that you believe we can thrive in.
After all, even if Farage’s Brexit party get their way, Europe will still be firmly on our doorstep. It’s always better to get on with the neighbours.