Why we need new energies in UK politics, and why on Thursday you could make it happen
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ANDREA VENZON argues the mainstream anti-Brexit parties have been too timid in their European election manifestos.
When an elected MEP, who was supposed to have been working on our behalf in parliament for the last 20 years, says that he will "come out of semi-retirement" to run for election to the European parliament then we know that our democratic institutions are not being taken seriously. When that same person stands on a platform erected outside the Houses of Parliament in Westminster and addresses a hard-right crowd, saying that they are "in enemy territory" then we know that our democratic institutions are in danger. When that same person's party rides high at more than 30% voting intention in the polls despite not having an election manifesto, nor declaring his funding, then we know that our democracy is broken. It was not designed to work this way.
When an MP is stabbed and shot to death because she held pro-European views by a person shouting "Britain first" and another pro-EU MP is threatened with rape by a far right politician "as a joke" then we know that our democracy is seriously under attack. When other female MPs are forced to move home and hire bodyguards because of threats by extremist then we can be sure that there is something very rotten about what is happening in Britain right now. This can no longer be called a debate, it feels more like a war.
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Brexit rouses strong feelings. I was one of a group of three young Europeans from France, Germany and Italy who were so taken aback by the result of the referendum, so disappointed by it, felt so strongly that it went against everything that we have been building in Europe for the last 70 years that we decided to form a political movement to fight back against it. And we found that we were not alone. Two years after its foundation that movement now counts over 30,000 members in 30 European countries. It is called Volt and it is now a pan-European political party standing 146 candidates for the European Parliament elections in May in eight different countries. Something very potent must be happening in the UK since June 2016 to have generated such a strong response all over Europe.
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I, as President and co-founder of Volt, will be standing as a candidate for the London constituency in the European elections to be the most vocal, most vibrant, most energetic pro-European voice on the ballot paper. The timid pro-European declarations of those who don't even stray from the negative 'Stop Brexit' don't cut it. Others are clear the only thing they really want to do is to start a new political party. At least one party seems content to betray the overwhelming majority of its members and voters who are pro-Europe. So we need Volt to be the clearest, most positive voice for Europe, advancing proposals to actually reform our Union, and fighting to keep the UK as close as possible to to rest of the continent.
We have a plan. I am standing on the platform called the Amsterdam declaration, a common manifesto with all other Volt candidates from all over the EU. In it we promise to strive to democratize the European Union, increase economic opportunities for all and push for a just and sustainable society. And our ideas do actually resonate with British citizens: up in local elections in Greater Manchester, with an independent candidate, we gathered 5% of the vote, more than the tories and the libdems. It is a start, the start of something big.
This week Volt will send a symbolic blue European passport to 300.000 households across London. This is meant as much more than an electioneering leaflet. It is intended as a contract between Volt and its voters to keep the gains of the last 70 years for British citizens, to be a voice for Europe in the UK and a protector of the UK in the EU.
- Andrea Venzon is the VOLT candidate for London in the 2019 European Parliament elections.
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