By Fiona Grahame
Scotland goes to the polls on Thursday May 23rd to elect 6 MEPs to (not?) sit in the European Parliament. Despite the nonsense of this it is important to vote to let politicians know what you as an individual feel. Indeed in Orkney many people will already have voted by post. You have one vote which is added to all the other votes for that party cast in Scotland.
Scottish National Party (SNP
The SNP is hoping to do better than they did in 2014 where they got 2 MEPs. Their main slogan is ‘Stop Brexit’. It is not particularly clear how that would be achieved in a vote to the European Parliament where Scotland elects 6 MEPs out of a UK total of 73 with the SNP aiming to get 3 of them. They have highlighted the problems which the ending of free movement will have especially on our public services.
Local MSP Maree Todd, SNP, a qualified pharmacist said:
“Thursday’s vote is a chance to stop Brexit in its tracks – and to protect the NHS in Orkney. Brexit poses a major risk to medicine supplies and is already making it harder to attract vital medical staff to Orkney. And we already know that Donald Trump wants to use a post-Brexit trade deal to rip up the rulebook and open our NHS to American drug firms. That would mean higher prices for medicine and a worse deal for patients.”
The new Brexit party hopes to hoover up the support of the Leave voters and has high hopes of doing well across the UK except in Northern Ireland where they are not standing. (Northern Ireland will also be using a different voting system: 1,2,3….). The Brexit Party goes by the slogan “Change Politics for Good”.
Extremely short on policies (they have none) their leader is Nigel Farage. Their leaflet in Orkney helpfully featured EU candidates for everywhere except Scotland. The leaflet states:
“We need to change politics for good. Let’s put the principles of Trust, Honesty and Integrity at the heart of our democracy. This is about more than Brexit, it’s about what kind of country we are.”
The Labour party once such a dominant force in Scotland is struggling to get a clear message out. Confusion still exists over their stance on membership of the EU. Not helped by sending out leaflets in Welsh to addresses in the Highlands and Islands their campaign leaflet is mostly about issues which have nothing to do with the EU Parliament.
Keeping with ‘For the many, not the few’ Labour states:
“Labour has a credible plan for a close relationship with the EU and to protect workers’ rights. If we can’t get changes to the Tories bad deal or a general election, Labour backs the option for a public vote “
Theresa May announced on Tuesday 21st of May that she would put the final decision to the electorate through a vote if her Brexit deal was passed by MPs in the House of Commons.
The Conservatives in Scotland have given up on the EU and any pretense of fighting the elections and are instead focusing their campaign on attacking Nicola Sturgeon, SNP leader and First Minister of Scotland. ‘Make Nicola Sturgeon Listen’ dominates their election material. In fact extraordinarily for an election leaflet it names ‘Sturgeon’ 13 times someone who is not even a candidate in these elections. It appears the party even has a name change and is now ‘Ruth Davidson’s Scottish Conservative Team’. UK wide it looks like the Conservatives will have a disastrous election and with campaign material like this it would be no surprise.
Also devoid of any policies, touring Peterhead Fishmarket, Banff and Buchan MP David Duguid, reiterated the huge advantages leaving the EU will have for the Fishing Industry.
“The SNP, Liberal Democrats and others are openly campaigning to reverse the democratic outcome of the 2016 referendum.One million Scots – and a majority here in Banff and Buchan – voted to leave the EU. But the ‘Sea of Opportunity’ for our fishing industry could be lost if pro-EU parties have their way. The Scottish Conservatives are the only major party at this election which believes we must respect the referendum result. It is time to come together and deliver a sensible Brexit.”
The Conservatives have , of course, negotiated the deal the Fishing Industry has got from the EU since they came to power in 2010.
The Greens across the whole of Europe are hoping to do well with the Climate Change Emergency the major issue for many voters. In 2014 they narrowly missed out on getting an MEP in Scotland and they hope to change that this year. Their campaign slogan ‘Choose Hope Over Hate’ seeks to take Remain votes and those who fear a resurgence of the Right. They also want to ‘Stop Brexit’ but the tone is more positive than the other parties.
“The Greens believe in a just and welcoming Scotland. We will always defend freedom of movement and the benefits of immigration has brought to our communities.”
The Liberal Democrats are hoping to scoop up Remain voters in England but will find this much harder to do in both Scotland and Wales where SNP, Greens and Plaid Cymru are all firmly Remain parties. In 2014 they did poorly and didn’t get any MEPs in Scotland. Repeated attempts to call themselves the largest Remain party fail miserably both in Scotland and the UK where the SNP is the third largest party in the House of Commons . There are only 12 LibDem MPS to the SNPs 35. They also want to ‘Stop Brexit’. Although by far the dominant party in both Orkney and Shetland as the votes are counted for Scotland as a whole it does not look promising for them.
‘Say Yes to Europe and Yes to the UK’ – like the Conservatives they have linked their campaign to one on Scottish Independence with wanting to remain in the EU and also remaining in the UK.
“With the UK at the heart of a modernised European Union, we can improve lives in every part of the country. Together we can stand up to Donald Trump and China, as well as big corporates like Amazon and Google”
Change UK was the party that formed from MPs in the Tories and Labour who were unhappy with the way their parties were dealing with Brexit and left. They are for a People’s Vote and to Remain. Unfortunately their lead candidate in Scotland didn’t remain and he departed for the Liberal Democrats. Like the Brexit party they consider politics in Britain to be broken and refer to themselves as a ‘movement’. With ‘It’s Time for Change’ they have set up their own Charter for Remain:
“Where our broken main parties offer you division, we are united. Where they focus on internal arguments, our vision for Britain’s future is clear. Where they put their own narrow political interest first, we will always put the country first.”
UKIP are not figuring at all in these elections even though Scotland did elect 1 UKIP MEP in 2014. Completely drowned out by the Brexit Party and fraught with internal divisions they will struggle to get support on the day in Scotland. They want to ‘Make Brexit Happen’.
“Brexit is being betrayed and we need to stop asking the European Union how we can leave and start telling them how we will leave. That means no second referendum and instead repealing the 1972 European Communities Act.”
There are also two Independent Candidates standing: Gordon Edgar and Ken Parke
“Anyone can ask questions,” said Mr. Wonka. “It’s the answers that count.” Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl
Click on this link to access the full list of candidates for Scotland in the EU Parliament Elections.