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European Elections: Runners and Riders in the West Midlands

European Elections: Runners and Riders in the West Midlands

🕔07.Aug 2013

The 2014 European elections will be the most important to date. Across Europe it will be the first opportunity for EU citizens to give verdict on the grand European project to battle the collapsing Eurozone. The next European parliament will also “elect” the next commission president. Domestically, with discontent in government over the EU rumbling on after recent rebellions, Nigel Farage has also promised to cause a political earthquake, boasts that even a UKIP victory could be on the cards and signalling the arrival of a new political force in British politics.

Due to the nature of the European election PR procedure only the top two candidates, at most three, stand any viable chance of election to the European Parliament in the West Midlands. Of the current 6 seats allocated to the Midlands the Conservatives and UKIP have 2 a piece, where as Labour and the Liberal Democrats have 1 each (in May 2014 the region will gain a seat). However, if UKIP performs anywhere near as well as it expects, the shape of the British representation at the European Parliament could be dramatically different

Conservative


Former engineer and consultant Malcolm Harbour is standing down at the 2014 elections, but sitting MEPs Bradbourn and McIntyre should still be somewhat anxious about their seats in light of the Conservatives ongoing struggle with the ‘other’ party.

The Tories boasted 28% of the vote in the Midlands in 2009. It can only be expected with mid term blues, general dissatisfaction from activists and the sore issue of Europe dogging the Parliamentary party that the Conservatives share of the vote will head south, and dramatically so. Former councillor McIntyre, who was appointed to the seat, will need to throw the kitchen sink at UKIP for even a slim chance at keeping her seat – even Bradbourn should expect a fight for his seat.

  • BRADBOURN OBE MEP Philip Charles (sitting)
  • McINTYRE MEP Anthea (sitting)
  • DALTON Daniel
  • BURNETT Michael
  • BUCKLE Sharon Isobel (Sibby)
  • PRICE David
  • SAMES Dan

Labour


Co-founder of Stonewall and Labour’s only sitting MEP for the West Midlands Michael Cashman will also step down ahead of the 2014 elections. He leaves a list of very familiar sounding names; former MEP Neena Gill , mayoral hopeful Siôn Simon and former Stourbridge MP Lynda Waltho top the list. For all three it offers a road back into mainstream politics.

Gill was outsted by the rise of UKIP in 2009 and topping the list is likely to return her to the European Parliament. For former MP Simon and founder of Labour Uncut, this is a chance to return to frontline politics. Having given up his seat in Parliament to pursue the possibility of mayoralty in Birmingham and establishing a popular campaigning forum in Labour Uncut, few in the party could say that Simon hasn’t earned his place second in the West Midlands’ list. Waltho has a fight on her hands if she hopes to gain a seat: if she could secure the votes, it would be a remarkable achievement.

Having been beaten into 3 place in the last European elections by UKIP, following the local performance, Labour could now expect to benefit from a divide in the right of centre vote and gain 2 seats.

  • GILL, Neena
  • SIMON, Siôn
  • WALTHO, Lynda
  • KHAN, Ansar Ali
  • HAMER, Olwen
  • ETHAPEMI, Tony
  • EDWARDS, Claire

Liberal Democrats


The Liberal Democrats are performing poorly in both opinion polls and the voting booth: UKIP beat them into fourth position at the local elections. Rather than a collapse in the vote, it seems the Lib Dems have been stripped to their core support, losing those on the fringes of Labour due to the association with the Conservatives in government.

Farmer and seasoned campaigner Bennion will need to show metal in order to ensure he maintains his seat. The odds are against Jonathon Webber, Director of International Trade at Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and the party’s regional chair, gaining the Lib Dems a second seat in the Midlands. His odds may be slim, but having the chair of the regional party on the frontline may help check local disaffection for the national parties woes.

  • BENNION, Phil
  • WEBBER, Jonathan
  • TINKER, Christine
  • KHAN, Ayoub
  • BEARDER, Tim
  • CORBIN, Joanna
  • FARMER, Neville

UKIP


The European elections undoubtedly offer a huge opportunity for UKIP – the candidates are to be announced at the end of the week (stay tuned for updates). Sitting MEP Mike Nattrass is unlikely to feature once more in UKIP’s selections for the 2014 contest. Unless Nikki Sinclaire, now of the ‘We Demand a Referendum Party’, and UKIP have an unlikely reconciliation, she will likely be dropped as the second candidate. This leaves selection open for Farage favourites former boxer Winston McKenzie, Rotherham by election candidate Jane Collins or media friendly Alexandra Swann.

If Farage & Co maintain their momentum, and put in a performance similar to local elections, they should be confident of maintaining 2 MEPs in the Midlands and crucially, in the European PR electoral system (D’Hondt method), their 21% share of the vote. However, it isn’t unthinkable, that in their territory of European issues, UKIP could see their portion of the vote rise significantly and grab 3 of the seats on offer in the West Midlands.

An earthquake ahead?


UKIP have the momentum, even with ongoing embarrassments. Politicians on occasion do indulge in hyperbolic statements (heavens no) but Farage could cause an earthquake in British politics. If UKIP position the election as a proxy referendum on Europe, and themselves as the only viable as a ‘no’ choice on the ballot paper, they could make significant gains. Here in the Midlands, UKIP could win 3 of the seats. If this was mirrored nationally, UKIP would be the largest British party in the European Parliament. The question is 9 months out of the election, what can the main parties do to counter this momentum?

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