Vote for Labour Values in the European Election

This is the full transcript of John’s hustings speech in Reading on Monday 20 May 2019. It followed a presentation from the moderator on opinion polling for the European Elections. The event was organised by Berkshire in Europe. 


Thank you chair, I take it you want me to use this infernal thing for the purposes of broadcast. Yeah ok, I tend to be a bit loud with a microphone so I’ll try not to be.

Ok first of all, thanks for that introduction. It’s always nice to come back to Reading University where I served as a member of the council of this institution for 11 years. It also great to see so many liberal democrats in Reading here we haven’t seen so many liberal democrats in Reading since they went coalition with the Tories on Reading borough council. That lasted 12 months. And they now have, is it one councillor? Something like that. Anyway, never mind.

I’m going to talk first of all about the values and the manifesto that the party of European Socialists, the Socialist and Democrats group, the second largest group in the European parliament and the Labour party are standing on in this election because we may be there for five minute, we may be there until the 31st of October. I take personal offence to that by the way, as it’s my birthday. We may be there until the end of 2020 or we may be there for the next five years so I think you need to consider the values of the candidates, you need to consider the values of the parties when you vote in this election. And you don’t want to mess with anything tactical with the D’hondt system because frankly it does not work.

Anyway, first of all tax justice. Tax justice is the most important question of the age. It’s one that can only be addressed through the European Parliament. It is absolutely key to the future because one of the factors that created Brexit in the first place is the feeling of the guy who comes to fix your plumbing and works as a self-employed businessman and can’t avoid paying corporation tax. That he is paying more corporation tax potentially in a year than Amazon, of Facebook or someone like that who can move themselves between jurisdictions. It is absolutely key that that is tackled, because we need a new settlement between people, corporations and government, that was wrecked in this country in the 1980s by Margaret Thatcher and has never been truly redressed.

The second most urgent problem and by far the most urgent problem for the whole planet is climate action. The greens are sincere about this. Absolutely we work with them in the parliament, but it is the work of one of the second largest groups that pulls the centre of the parliament towards climate action. And we want to move towards a zero carbon economy by 2050.

The third question I think you need to be looking at is a question of data and automation because that is going to affect the future of the economy and everything that is done in it. And I hope that the European parliament is ahead of the game on this but generally legislators aren’t, they are usually running to catch up. And unless we get to grips with that we’ll continue a situation where the next industrial revolution, the next major technological change will do exactly the same as all those other technological changes, they will make a few people massively wealthy and they will diminish the prospects of many others at the bottom end of the scale. So that needs to be just also.

And finally we need to manage migration, and by that I mean, I don’t mean migration within the European Union. I mean migration to the European Union. Because that’s going to be driven by climate change too and potentially by conflict. And we either have that in an organised and legal way, or we continue with migration crises. And that’s something we have to get to grips with together.

Catherine, (Bearder MEP) where were we on the 23rd of March? (She says, “I don’t know, Strasbourg”) No, we were both on Eurostar on the way to the peoples vote march, the third peoples vote march. And this is what I mean about elections potentially shattering alliances. And you need to consider this also. Because if you want to make a statement about ‘Brexit is bad’, then you know, vote with your heart. vote for the Liberal Democrats of whatever.

Because the fact is if you want to stop Brexit, then you need to think about it seriously, and you need to vote with your values. Because the fact of the matter is, there are 203 members of the Labour party in the House of Commons who have already voted for a public vote. There are 15 MEPs from the Labour party standing at this election who are in favour of a public vote. There is 88% of the Labour party membership that’s in favour of the public vote. And you know those graphs, that he showed earlier. if you cast Labour as a Brexit party (it isn’t) you will have a Brexit majority the day after these elections and I suggest that Vince Cable and Catherine are going to be wriggling around to try to explain that. When the fact of the matter is, you would not even be having these elections if it wasn’t for the work of the Socialists and Democrats with the parliament. Because I’ll tell you something else, the leader of the ALDE group in the parliament wants Britain out. And he said so, and I can find the quotes for you if you really want me to but he said it at the Brussels plenary round about the 4th of April. So I suggest that you bear it in mind when you vote, that you vote for what you believe in. that you vote for the policies that you believe in, and the change that you want to see in the European union to make it a European union for people as well as a European Union for profit.

Thanks for listening.

Vote Labour on 23 May.