Socialist Worker

Euro elections round up: Lib Dem austerity mongers make big wins in elections

Issue No. 2656

Lib Dem deputy leader Jo Swinson

Lib Dem deputy leader Jo Swinson (Pic: Wikimedia/Creative Commons)

The Lib Dems saw one of the biggest gains of the night—taking 18.6 percent of the vote and coming second.

It mounted a campaign solely focused on getting a second referendum on EU membership and stopping Brexit.

The Lib Dems’ election manifesto declared, “We can stop Brexit through a People’s Vote.

“We can stay as a leading force in the European Union, shaping its future with our MEPs sitting at the decision table.”

The party won a total of 15 seats—a huge gain from 2014’s results which saw their share reduced to one seat.

It performed well in areas that voted for Remain—and in areas where support for Labour fell most dramatically. In London, it won three seats with 27 percent of the vote. Is this the return of the Liberal Democrats?

Some are clearly worried about its success.

Change UK leader Heidi Allen suggested before counting began that the two parties could merge.

And Chuka Umunna has called for a pact between the groups not to field competing candidates in a general election. Allen didn’t rule this out.

The Lib Dems claim that Brexit threatens the NHS, public services and jobs.

It wasn’t Brexit that caused the bedroom tax, public sector pay freeze, healthcare privatisation or welfare cuts.

It was the Lib Dems who, in coalition with the Tories, were responsible for overseeing five years of punishing austerity.

Greens gain with Brexit focus

The Green Party was quick to declare a “green wave”. The party won over 2 million votes, the highest number for 30 years and netted seven seats, up from three.

It won several high profile seats. Sitting South West MEP Molly Scott Cato won 35.1 percent—an increase of 15.8 percent.

Former Lord Mayor of Sheffield Magid Magid won a seat for the Greens in the Yorkshire and Humber region. It is likely their result was boosted by action by Extinction Rebellion and the global school climate strikes.

But the Greens haven’t visibly been part of these movements on a national scale. And instead of emphasising its climate credentials, the party focused on fighting Brexit.

One of its main campaigning points was winning a second referendum.

Environmental protection was third down on its list—but framed in terms of stopping Brexit.

It said that “an extreme Brexit puts many of the environmental protection laws we currently have at risk”.

SNP nails saltire to EU mast

The Scottish National Party (SNP) swept to victory and scored its best European elections result ever in Scotland.

It won 38 percent of the vote. It now has three seats after a campaign unambiguously based on fighting Brexit.

Scottish Labour was wiped out after it failed to win a single seat—it lost over 200,000 votes and finished in fifth place.

Announcing the election bid leader Nicola Sturgeon said that “Labour is a pro-Brexit party, just as the Tories are a pro-Brexit party”.

Sturgeon fought to pull in voters who don’t support Scottish independence but wanted to support a Remain?backing party.

“Whatever your view on independence, this election is an opportunity to make Scotland’s voice heard,” she said.

Unless Scottish Labour starts to back independence from Britain, its political crisis is likely to deepen.

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