While not a devout Labour supporter, it was rather encouraging to listen to one of the Party’s leading candidates for the leadership this week stress the importance of engaging with Europe and reconnecting the party with its MEPs in the European Parliament
In a post on his leadership campaign website
posted before he headed to Brussels to meet with them himself, David Miliband, the former Foreign Secretary reminded his supporters that “it is important that we listen and engage on Europe. British engagement can see us lead a strong, outward-looking, European Union, supporting an agenda of economic reform and social justice at home and hard-headed internationalism abroad.
“With a strong EU we can achieve more on climate change, international crime or on energy security,” he continues, “we don’t want the British PM to be sitting in the corridor at the forthcoming European Council while the other heads of Government, all of whom occupy places in the centre of European politics, make the real decisions and invite him in afterwards for the toast.”
Wise words. Mr Miliband
, who out of the five leadership candidates has the most political experience, the most reliable electoral majority and the required profile on the European and International stage, also advised the Labour Party to heed the former Conservative Cabinet Minister and EU Commissioner, Lord (Chris) Patten
’s comments on the Conservative Party’s place within European politics.
In an interview with BBC Parliament programme the Record: Europe
, Lord Patten predicted that David Cameron will eventually see the error of his ways and rejoin the mainstream centre right group in the European Parliament, something he described as the “sensible thing to do
”, and an eventuality that Tory MEPs in Brussels have outright dismissed
Whether the Tories move back to the centre of politics in Europe is ultimately a matter for them, but for Mr Miliband, he envisages a big future role for his party’s Brussels representatives if he became leader.
“I want to bring European matters closer to our politics at home. These issues require real political leadership, and a strong voice in Brussels inside Labour’s Shadow Cabinet team. That’s why I believe the Leader of Labour’s MEPs should sit in our Shadow Cabinet team,” he writes.
“It is an important and significant step that sends a signal to our colleagues in the European Parliament that we are serious about their work, and their role within the party.
While he already has a following in Brussels, and indeed his name was touted for the newly-created position of High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
, Mr Miliband’s words and actions towards his party’s MEPs emits a strong message that under his leadership the party would continue in his predecessor Gordon Brown’s footsteps of working hand in hand with the EU.
Mr Miliband is up against his brother Ed
(pictured above left), Andy Burnham
, Ed Balls
and Diane Abbott
in the Labour leadership race, the result of which will not be known until the Party’s conference in September. But it seems his move has found himself some new supporters with MEPs Derek Vaughan
and Mary Honeyball
declaring their support for his candidature via Twitter...