Monday, 26 May 2014

Andrew Duff Says Lib Dems Will Stay Faithful To European Vocation While Drawing Lessons From Campaign

Reacting to his defeat as Liberal Democrat Member of the European Parliament for the East of England, in a message to his party, Andrew Duff says:

'This was the most polarised of the seven campaigns in which I have stood as a candidate for the European Parliament.

'The financial and economic crisis has had serious social consequences, especially for the young unemployed, which took their toll on the popularity of the UK coalition government, but especially that of the junior partner, the Liberal Democrats. Campaigning on the doorsteps, fear of immigration, although inflated in exaggeration of the facts, was palpable. The European Union is not given credit for the benefits of European integration in terms of jobs, trade and security. National political parties, in particular, have failed for too many years to understand, explain or justify the continuing need for a deeper Europe.

'Nick Clegg's tactic of challenging Nigel Farage was absolutely right. It is unfortunate that neither the Labour not Tory party joined the Lib Dem battle against UKIP's simplistic nationalism.

'While the 'party of In' was a good starting point for the Lib Dem campaign, I regret we were unable to develop sufficiently the idea that there is a better Europe to come, and that the status quo is not a serious option. We should have done more to expose the fact that Mr Cameron's famous 'renegotiation' in advance of an In/Out referendum in 2017 is essentially spurious. The Tories have no agreed idea on what they hope to achieve in this exercise, other than to blunt the populist appeal of UKIP - still less have they a chance of getting Britain's EU partners to accept a package which calls into question the fundamentals of the European Union.

'Over the next years, the Liberal Democrats need to develop their ideas for a reformed EU, centred on building a popular consensus behind stronger democratic government at the European level whose main political goals will be to grow a sustainable economy which delivers the digital agenda and secures green energy. We also need to re-connect the idea that our security as a nation rests on European solidarity.'

Mr Duff added:

'I want to thank my team of fellow candidates and every Lib Dem activist who worked fantastically hard throughout this long and tough campaign.

'It has been a great honour to serve as Lib Dem MEP for the East of England for 15 years. In congratulating those candidates who were successful yesterday, I know that the Lib Dems will remain faithful to our vision of Britain as a modern, tolerant and progressive European place. We will be back.'