Pro-Europeans received a good kicking last night, this YEM President has had enough. It’s high time we kick back against these damned xenophobes!
Good day fellow pro-Europeans! Unless you have been living under a rock the last 24 hours, you will be painfully aware of the results of the European Parliament election results. If you want the full details, head on over to http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/events/vote2014 . Disclaimer: It does not make for light reading.
In short, UKIP won, the battle between Labour and Conservative looking like a storm in a teacup by comparison. The Liberal Democrats have been all but ousted as a force on the European stage, and voter turnout remains at around an abysmal third. If that wasn’t bad enough, where the BNP have failed, Islamophobes in France and neo-nazis in Greece have pulled success out of the bag.
But let’s be honest, how much of this was a surprise? We know what we as pro-Europeans have been up against. So long as we have a media distorted in favour of the outrageous, we’re going to be fighting with one hand tied behind our back. So long as the mainstream parties show a complete lack of decisive leadership, people are going to look elsewhere for their idols. Rather than lament the banal and smackingly obvious questions as to why these results happened, or how they happened, I thought it would be a better use of my writing time and your reading time to give some ideas of where we go from here.
We must remember that these results are not the end of the world.
Unfortunately EP elections have always been used more to criticise the incumbent government than to choose MEPs. UKIP still has no representation in Westminster and lacks overall control of any council. All of the mainstream parties can be relied upon to be pro-European to some extent, as can the business world, as can young people.
We need to grow the YEM.
If the YEM attracts more members, and spreads its message further across more people of all ages, then we stand a chance at bringing Europhiles fully out of the woodwork. The message is simple, if young people do not vote for what they value, a demographic that will be dead in the next two decades will carry a large part of the blame for stripping it all away from us
We need to engage more proactively with the mainstream media.
Because we have a media driven by profit and viewing figures rather than a legitimate desire to inform and educate, we’ve been suffering a lot. We all need to play these people at their own game. Let’s get out there and into people’s faces. Let’s be a little bit controversial. If the Jeunes Européens in Isère can pull off a ‘Europe is Sexy’ campaign (http://www.midilibre.fr/2014/05/05/europe-is-sexy-la-tres-curieuse-campagne-des-jeunes-europeens-de-l-isere,856775.php article in French) then why can’t we Brits be equally provocative?
We need to make the right arguments.
Debate and discussion in pro-European circles has always revolved around the need to provide reasoned arguments. More than ever, this is being shown to be completely the wrong tack. If anyone looks into facts and figures, we will always win. But it is not facts and figures that wins hearts and minds in the fast-paced environment of a debate against a Eurosceptic and it isn’t what pulls in the headlines (unless they’re fabricated and utterly ridiculous apparently: e.g. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2252675/Were-way-Britain-In-year-29-million-Romanians-Bulgarians-right-settle-Britain-claim-benefits-And-gipsy-community-hardly-wait-here.html ). Nick of #NickVsNigel fame will be all too aware of this, we should be too. Let’s go out there and make the emotional case for Europe. Why are the nationalists scaring us and why does the prospect of European integration make us hopeful and optimistic?
We have a lot to do, and we must be resilient and remain positive. European Integration is not finished, so neither are we! Though it is complete cliché to do so, I’m going to sign off with a Churchill quote which feels apt for the occasion:
“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
YEM UK President