Euro and GLA elections June 2004
This newsletter is the first after my successful re-election for 5 more years to serve the people of London and the Conservative Party in the European Parliament. I want to thank all the party activists who made this possible for me and I will do so personally as I meet you over the coming years. It was a long and tiring campaign which given the pessimistic opinion poll in the Evening Standard giving us 22% and UKIP 20% on Monday before election super Thursday gave rise to an extremely uncertain last week for me as the number 3 candidate! Although we sadly lost the 4th seat and I send my commiserations to Syed Kamall, we can take some small consolation that we beat Labour into 2nd place with a 2% swing in our favour which we did not achieve in 1999 and was a better performance than Steve Norris managed in the Mayoral vote. Furthermore this was in spite of a greatly increased turn-out at 37.30% which should have worked against us as opposed to the derisory 24% in 1999.
I want to thank all the other MEP candidate team members and outgoing MEPs Richard Balfe and Ian Twinn who will be missed as loyal and hard-working members of the UK Conservative delegation and I wish them well in their new lives. Nationally we returned 27 MEPs including 2 in Scotland to our slight surprise and we won the Ulster Unionist seat which was also in doubt, making for the largest UK delegation of 28. I also congratulate all the 8 re-elected London Assembly members in particular the newly elected Bob Blackman for doing so well in winning Harrow and Brent and beating Lord Harris the Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Authority. Commiserations also go to Peter Forrest in Enfield and Haringey so narrowly defeated as a result of haemorrhage of Tory votes to UKIP, as well as commiserations to Eric Ollerenshaw who lost his seat and is now replaced as leader by Bob Neill.
The party will need to reflect deeply on the meaning of these elections, how they were conducted and whether the European campaign was given enough support and profile. We must draw lessons from the success of UKIP at 12.34% of the vote in London. Certainly PR invites the electorate to experiment with minor parties and send protests to the mainstream parties on single issues such as Britain's relations with the EU and the handling by the government of immigration and asylum policy, issues which we can no longer ignore.
I remain Foreign Affairs spokesman and Joint Deputy Chief whip for the time being and before the election was active as author of a resolution of the Parliament condemning the massacre of Christians in Nigeria, in part orchestrated by Islamist groups from outside. I also spoke in the Ottawa Antipersonnel Mine Convention debate, the outcome of the Annan Plan referendum in Cyprus and the 3rd Generation Trade Agreement with Pakistan. All of which are posted to my website. I co-authored a cross-party Written Declaration on the children who are victims of the fall-out from
the Chernobyl reactor in Ukraine and Belarus.
I made my debut on Czech TV who filmed me during the campaign and I was written-up in a Czech political review as they compared and contrasted the European elections in both countries and they seemed mostly fascinated by our direct door-stepping canvassing approach- unheard of in their country! I appeared on a new London based Christian TV cable channel called Revelation TV which were interested in my work on EU funding to the Palestinian Authority and defence of Christian rights in countries ranging from Egypt to Pakistan. I debated the demerits of the EU Constitution on the BBC Parliament Channel and did the Adam Bolton Show on Sky and Catalan TV explaining our distinct Tory European message.
Future Direction of Europe
Tony Blair has now signed the Constitutional Treaty before submitting it to the Westminster Parliament for approval which he will hope to whip through at least the Commons to improve a "Yes" vote outcome in the Referendum. We hope this will occur before the General Election not to confuse the issues and not make the General a debate about Europe which damaged us in 2001. How he proposes to win such a debate is a complete mystery given the size of the polls against him and the power of UKIP support. We will promote a message of "No" to the Constitution but "Yes" to EU membership on a renegotiated basis of repatriating the CFP, reform of the CAP, a 25% reduction in bureaucracy and red-tape from the Commission, and enhanced blocking powers to national parliaments as well as staying-out of the Euro. These will be our red lines in future Prime Minister Michael Howard's live and let live Europe which is undoubtedly the right path for Britain. The new Parliament will be a different legislature with more national diversity of 25 states, more Eurosceptic parties and a challenging environment to work in. I am excited by this and looking
forward to reporting back to you over the next 5 years.