Tag Archives: Richard Howitt

The East of England – Will they elect the regions first Green MEP?

After writing a tactical analysis of the North West looking at the upcoming European elections (The BNP and the tactical battle for the North West) a number of readers have asked what I think might happen in their region. The most popular request came from readers from the East of England. So here it is, a tactical breakdown of the East of England ahead of May’s European elections.

What can I say, I aim to please!

Rupert

Rupert Read – First Green MEP for the East of England?

In 2009 the fine people in the East of England elected 3 Conservative MEPs, 2 UKIP, 1 Lib Dem and one 1 Labour. As with many regions across the UK, The Green Party missed out by just a handful of votes.

Looking ahead to the May 2014 elections, I think it is safe to allocate 5 of the 7 seats. The battle is going to be for the remaining 2.

Although I expect the Tories to drop votes (around a 5% drop) I cannot see them securing less than 2 seats. Equally, I cannot see UKIP’s vote share getting smaller and so I am sure they will return at least 2 MEPs.The same logic is applied to Labour who will return 1 MEP.

The big question for the East then is which party will pick up these remaining two seats?

I am relatively confident that The Green Party will pick up 1 of the remaining 2 seats. Why am I so confident?

Well, Labour (who are expected to do well in the backlash to the coalition) would need to double the Green vote to secure a second seat. In 2009 they picked up 167,000 votes while The Green Party picked up 141,000. Assuming Greens have a bad day (it is assumed by most they will marginally increase their vote) and don’t secure a single additional voter, Labour would need to pick up an additional 113,000 votes to gain that extra seat before The Green Party.

The same logic can be applied to both UKIP and Conservatives – will they secure 3 times the vote count of The Green Party to pick up an additional seat? It seems hard to imagine.

A vote for either Labour or UKIP then is likely to be a wasted vote leaving them stranded well short of the benchmark needed to secure an additional seat.

Assuming The Greens vote holds or grows marginally then, it seems likely they will pick up their first MEP for the region (this would be Rupert Read who tops their list of candidates).

But what about the final seat?

The final seat is much harder to call. It essentially depends which of the coalition partners loses the most votes? On election night the figure to look out for in the East is whether or not the Conservatives triple the Lib Dem count. This may well dictate where the final seat goes.

In summary:

  • Labour – hold very little chance of gaining a seat in the East, but equally their 1 seat looks pretty safe (which I am pleased about as Richard Howitt is in general a good egg).
  • Conservatives – are expected to lose some votes. I personally can’t see them losing more than one seat but some commentators are talking about them dropping to one (with the majority of votes flooding to UKIP).
  • UKIP – are, like with most regions, set for a good night in the East but my money is on them missing out on a third seat by some way.
  • The Green Party – have a very good chance of picking up their first seat in the East. It would take a very small increase in vote share, or a small decrease in Conservative vote share, to finish 4th and secure their first MEP for the region.
  • Lib Dems – as with many regions are going to be fighting tooth and nail to save their one MEP. The sink or swim question though might be not how good Lib Dems are at bailing water from their boats, but how big their holes are compared to the Tories sinking ship!

My advice then is as follows:

  • If you’re considering a Labour vote – lend your vote to The Green Party instead.
  • If you’re a traditional Tory voter – vote Blue to limit the damage.
  • If you’re a traditional Lib Dems voter – vote Yellow and consider a prayer.
  • If you’re a traditional UKIP voter – vote for other parties on their policies that matter to you. Want a referendum? Vote Green. Want to chuck immigrants out, vote Tory etc etc…
  • If you’re traditional Green voter – vote Green to make sure you don’t just miss out like 2009.

The 2009 results can be seen here.

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Filed under EU politics, Politics

Richard Howitt MEP “Whatever Cameron claims, Tory views on LGBT issues are neanderthal and we saw that in yesterday’s vote”

Spot the contentious comment:

The European Parliament “welcomes the reintroduction by the UN General Assembly of sexual orientation as grounds for protection from extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary execution, and welcomes the EU’s efforts to this end

Or

The European Parliament “calls on the Commission to advocate the withdrawal of gender identity from the list of mental and behavioural disorders in the negotiations on the 11th version of the International Classification of Diseases and to seek a non-pathologising reclassification

Or

The European Parliament “reiterates its request that the Commission produce a comprehensive roadmap against homophobia, transphobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, also addressing human rights violations

Spotted anything contentious?

Apparently the 266 MEPs who voted against this amendment to the EU’s human rights report did. This included many UK Conservative, UKIP and BNP MEPs.

Richard Howitt MEP

As a result, the Labour MEP who tabled the amendment, Richard Howitt, commented, “Whatever Cameron claims, Tory views on LGBT issues are neanderthal and we saw that in yesterday’s vote”.

Daniel Hannan, one of the Tory MEPs who voted against the amendment however had another view. He succinctly responded to Howitt’s comments saying, “sexual orientation is none of the EU’s bloody business”.

I have strong reason to believe that some MEPs, such as the inglorious Roger Helmer, who voted against this amendment could be described as homophobic, or at best, ignorant.

Hannan however who represents a slightly more complex consideration which is worth quickly looking at.

Hannan (in his own words) was “virtually the only Conservative, not just to back the scrapping of Section 28 in 2000, but to oppose its introduction in 1988. I supported the equalisation of the age of consent in 1994. I backed civil unions in 2004, and am quite relaxed about upgrading them to marriages”.

A gay rights campaigner? Not quite.

At best you could describe Hannan as indifferent towards issues of sexuality. Hannan in the past has said, “On balance, I suppose I mildly favour the idea [of gay marriage]”. Not excactly a Peter Tatchell.

So why did Hannan vote against this amendment?

He responded to Howitt commenting, “sexual orientation is none of the EU’s bloody business…[I] can be in favour of gay equality while none the less believing that moral questions ought to be decided by each nation through its own democratic mechanisms and procedures”.

Daniel Hannan MEP

The conclusion here is telling. I don’t believe he voted down this motion because he is a homophobe, but simply because he has an alarming placement of priorities.

Hannan believes these sorts of ‘moral issues’ “ought to be decided by each nation”. I disagree with this statement but that’s fine. The problem comes when he decides to vote against an amendment aimed at (among other things) offering protection to LGBT asylum seekers, a life and death issue for many, because of this belief about doing things at a nation state level.

The EU might not be perfect Mr Hannan but you have an obligation as an MEP to use it the best you can. On this occasion you have put politics above people’s safety. That is not OK.

It is important however to not lose sight of the 265 other MEPs (including Mr Farage, Griffin amongst others) who voted against this motion. I cannot, for all that I have tried, find one good reason why any MEP opposed this amendment.

The full text of the amendment reads:

“108a. Commends the Council, the EEAS, the VP/HR, the Commission and the Member States on the reengagement in favour of LGBT people’s human rights in bilateral relations with third countries, in multilateral forums, and through the EIDHR; welcomes there introduction by the UN General Assembly of sexual orientation as grounds for protection from extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary execution, and welcomes the EU’s efforts to this end; calls on the Commission to advocate the withdrawal of gender identity from the list of mental and behavioural disorders in the negotiations on the 11th version of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) and to seek a non-pathologising reclassification; reasserts that the principle of non-discrimination, also embracing grounds of sex and sexual orientation, must not be compromised in the ACP-EU partnership; reiterates its request that the Commission produce a comprehensive road map against homophobia, transphobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, also addressing human rights violations on these grounds in the world; calls on the Member States to grant asylum to people fleeing persecution in countries where LGBT people are criminalised, taking into consideration applicants’ well founded fears of persecution, and relying on their self-identification as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender;”

Did your MEP vote against the amendment? Maybe you would like to write to him/her and ask why? I would love to hear their response!

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Filed under EU politics, Far-right politics, Human rights, Politics, sexuality