Ann Reeder, Somerset based candidate in the six strong Labour team for the South West and Gibraltar in the European Elections on 22 May, was pleased to speak at a hustings organized by the Midwest European Communities Association in Yeovil. M-ECA is committed to safeguarding equal rights for migrant workers in Somerset, North Somerset, West Dorset, East Devon and West Wiltshire.
The M-ECA European politic show featured reps from Labour, Conservative, Lib Dem and UKIP, but not the Greens (clearly a single issue party). Opening with the European Anthem and slides depicting iconic sites from around the European Union, the participants and panelists (including, rather tentatively, the UKIP representatives) stood for the final movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony ‘Ode to Joy’ (or Freedom).
“Stressing the importance of the EU to Britain and our place in the world”
Welcoming the inspirational opening that reminded us that the early intentions of the nascent European Community was to help European economies recover from the devastation of World War Two and build the peace, Ann stressed the importance of the EU to Britain and our place in the world. Strategic and economic as well as cultural benefits flow from our place in Europe. Ann congratulated M-ECA on the support that is provided to migrant workers, and acknowledged the debt of the UK to migrant labour and the free movement of labour and people that derives from membership of the EU. There are millions of Brits living in other parts of the EU for work, study or retirement.
“Diversity is a strength of our multicultural globalised society”
Ann condemned the scaremongering of other parties that sowed fear and threatened our community cohesion. Diversity is a strength of our multicultural globalised society, but we need to tackle the causes of unease and alienation from politics – creating jobs, generating growth, building houses. Labour MEPs have been campaigning against austerity politics that exclude people and produce inequality; they are campaigning for jobs, workers’ and consumers’ rights, and to protect the environment and community cohesion.
In conclusion, Ann thanked M-ECA for organising the hustings and participants for their questions, and concluded by reminding the audience that Labour supports Britain’s place in Europe, whilst promoting reforms that would make the EU work better for ordinary people.