On April 13th United ALDE Individual Members will elect their new country coordinators. Here we are the presentation of the two candidates: David Talbot and Kevin Mc Namara
Brexit represents the most significant threat to face the United Kingdom in 70 years. It risks damaging the economy as trade deals collapse, bringing the NHS to its knees as its many overseas staff leave having been made to feel unwelcome by the treatment they receive from hardcore Brexit supporters and the right-wing press and, most significantly of all, destroying the UK as we know it. The current hard Brexit supporting government clings to power thanks to the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party but it is almost impossible to see a solution to what will become a border between the EU and a potentially economically hostile third country that meets the requirements of all sides in the Northern Ireland peace process, the UK and EU. While attention focuses on the Ireland border problem, equally contentious and harmful to the livelihoods of those it affects, is the border between Gibraltar and Spain. Resolving these issues, presents an opportunity for ALDE and its IMs to develop a stronger relationship with the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland, both over this, and going forwards promoting a strong relationship between liberal democratic actors such as APNI, the Liberal Party of Gibraltar, the Liberal Democrats, and ALDE (and IMs).
This situation is made all the worse by the total lack of effective opposition in the Westminster parliament, the leader of the opposition is supporting a hard Brexit despite his party and voters being remain supporters and even the EU-loving Liberal Democrats say they recognise the results of the referendum which it is becoming increasing clear was subject to considerable external, and illegal influences. ALDE and its IMs have a key role to play in seeking to drive the ongoing shift in public opinion, influencing policy at the national level through our links with the Liberal Democrats, providing support to their campaign to give voters a chance to Exit from Brexit, and creating links with third-party campaigning organisations, such as Best for Britain, to maximise our chances of success.
While Brexit is unquestionably regrettable it, and the populist drift in the UK, is easily understood when you consider the impacts of austerity on communities around the country. Areas, many rural or relying on traditional industry, with the highest proportions of low-skilled work and poorest educational results have been hardest hit by this discredited policy. Despite saying they are creating an economy that works for everyone it does not feel that way too many. What is needed is to really make it happen, promoting truly liberal and democratic policies which really do work for everyone.
At the same time, it is absolutely critical we engage the millennials and Generation Z in politics, and convince them it something they can make a difference to, not just something which is done to them. To this end, we can improve the way we engage on social media and using other digital channels – by engaging people online using policy forums, consultations, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook polls, and exploring other channels that are used by the younger generations. We would seek to involve people who are able to do this, and grow ALDE IMs in the UK from a passive membership towards becoming a movement.
Even as we move towards Brexit, we would still expect British ALDE IMs to be able to input into the policy platform that ALDE stands on in the 2019 European elections – for opportunities to be made for this to happen, either through policy forums here in the UK or through policy consultations.
If elected, as the Country Coordinators for UK IMs we would have five priorities:
1) Stop Brexit!
2) Create opportunities for members to be involved in policy-making, campaigning and consulting on what involvement in ALDE looks like beyond Brexit (if we are unsuccessful in overturning it).
3) Work to ensure the IMs understand their place in European liberalism and how they can make the most of the opportunities that creates.
4) Find ways of engaging with 18-30 year olds and getting them interested in politics.
5) Strengthen the relationship between ALDE, its IMs, the Liberal Democrats, the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland, and the Liberal Party of Gibraltar – one of friendship, political kinship and shared interests and history