On May 28, we published to our members a list of fifteen progressive parliamentary candidates standing in the UK general election on June 8 whom we would like to publicly endorse for the last few days of the campaign. Every DiEM25 member, including non-UK members, had a vote in this, and the results are now in!
The list is:
Mhairi Black (SNP, Paisley and Renfrewshire South), Kelly-Marie Blundell (Liberal Democrat, Lewes), Nick Clegg(Liberal Democrat, Sheffield Hallam), Patrick Harvie, co-convenor of the Scottish Green Party, Kelvin Hopkins(Labour, Luton North), Louise Irvine (National Health Action Party, South West Surrey), Clive Lewis (Labour, Norwich South), Rebecca Long Bailey (Labour, Salford and Eccles), Caroline Lucas (Green, Brighton Pavilion and an Advisory Panel member of DiEM25), John McDonnell (Labour, Hayes and Harlington and an Advisory Panel member of DiEM25), Lisa Nandy (Labour, Wigan), Sophie Walker (Womens’ Equality Party, Shipley), Hywel Williams (Plaid Cymru, Arfon), Toni Giugliano (SNP, Edinburgh West), Matt Kerr (Labour & Co-operative, Glasgow South West)
(More information on each candidate)
DiEM25 and the UK general election
DiEM25 was formed to build a Progressive International across Europe. The UK, especially since Brexit prevailed in last year’s referendum, is a major battleground for European democracy. The way Brexit is handled will be crucial for the future of Britain but also for European peoples far and wide. DiEM25 could not be absent from this election campaign.
DiEM25’s own position on what should happen once Brexit won the June 2016 referendum is already on record. Following an internal two-stage vote that took place November 2016, DiEM25 members from across Europe opted for the following position:
We support negotiations between the UK and the EU leading to an interim EEA-EFTA UK-EU arrangement (i.e. Norway/Swiss-like) to come into force two years after Article 50’s activation and, subsequently, to a long-term agreement viz. the UK-EU relationship to be approved by the next Parliament (to be elected after Article 50’s activation).
More recently, once Prime Minister Theresa May called an election in search of a mandate for what we consider an ill-fated Brexit negotiation with the EU, DiEM25 UK members decided to demonstrate in practice DiEM25’s progressive, inclusive, transnational politics by identifying candidates across the UK that come close to DiEM25’s progressive agenda for Britain and Europe. Our members have been active in selecting candidates that DiEM25 ought to support in different constituencies with a view not only to improve their chances of being elected but also to give an example of what DiEM25’s commitment to PRINCIPLED VOTING means.
Once DiEM25 UK members put together their recommended list of candidates, the complete list was put to an internal vote. Every DiEM25 member, from across Europe, had a vote in this. This is DiEM25’s weapon against the logic of Brexit, of the UK’s isolation from the rest of Europe: Every DiEM25 member, English, Welsh, Scottish, Irish, French, Greek etc., gets to vote on our favourite UK parliamentary candidates. It is our way of illustrating the formation of a European demos that rejects both a one-size fits-all attitude for Europe and isolationism.
The list of candidates that DiEM25 endorses for the 8th June 2017 UK general election includes candidates from the Labour Party (6); the Liberal Democrats (2); the Scottish National Party (2); Plaid Cymru (1); the Greens (1); the Scottish Greens (1); the National Health Action Party (1) and the Women’s Equality Party (1).
The fact that DiEM25 endorses even Liberal Democrats (like former Prime Minister Nick Clegg, whose connivance with David Cameron’s and George Osborne’s class war against poorer Brits was inexcusable and remains unforgiven) reflects Britain’s first-past-the-post electoral system. A proportional system would have, naturally, yielded a different set of recommendations. But, when progressive politicians, even if flawed in a variety of ways; e.g. Nick Clegg), are pitted against hard, xenophobic Brexiteers, it is within the realm of our PRINCIPLED VOTING philosophy to support them. Of course, we need to draw the line somewhere. For example, the failure of a substantial body of dissent against toxic, nationalist Brexiteering to rise within the Conservative party makes it impossible for DiEM25 members to endorse Tory candidates. Our members have, nevertheless, singled out three Tories for their resistance to the Brexit juggernaut: Anna Soubry for her dissent to hard Brexit; Kenneth Clarke who, despite his uncritical support for the EU establishment, has been a courageous adversary to the isolationism of Brexiteers; and Baroness Warsi for upholding basic values of decency in the House of Lords debates.
Background to the internal DiEM25 vote
The list was discussed and then ratified by our movement based on policies advocated by each candidate measured against DiEM25’s political values and beliefs. Our goal is a politics that is fair, democratic and non-polarising; not limited by party tribes, political sect or faction, or the hopelessly constrained binary opposition of the referendum. As a cross-party movement the DiEM25 UK list supports candidates from a variety of parties which share a progressive agenda. (Regrettably, although Conservative candidates were considered, the current regressive programme of the Conservative Party and the lack of vocal dissent did not allow us to include any.)
DiEM25 wants a harmonious and strong relationship established between the UK and EU notwithstanding the result of the 2016 referendum. ‘Brexit’ and the latter are not mutually exclusive: exiting the EU must not wilfully destroy the irreversible social, political and economic ties we have with the union. This is an unprecedentedly complex and risky period for the UK.
In their recent presidential elections, DiEM25 France compiled an endorsed list of candidates, employing DiEM25’s European New Deal as their guiding philosophy. While drawing inspiration from this text, DiEM25 seeks to address the UK’s specific democratic and transparency deficits and their prospects outside the Eurozone, a wealthy country with a poorly representative electoral system and an overly influential, weakly regulated and opaque financial sector. See the full document entitled ‘Principled Not Tactical’.
When the list went out for voting to all DiEM25 members, our UK Provisional National Committee received several complaints about the potential endorsement of candidate Nick Clegg. DiEM25’s goals are to set in motion a progressive and collaborative politics. In this context of isolation and polarisation, we are convinced that collaboration is the key term. To trigger change on the international level we should be inclusive of political factions across the nation. Our decision to include Nick Clegg in our selection of candidates was based on our belief that to pave the way for the European New Deal also requires collaboration between progressive political traditions; social and liberal democratic, Leavers and Remainers alike. Nick Clegg’s singular experience of European politics among other things, qualify him to make a contribution to the broad coalition of democrats and progressives that DiEM25 seeks. As a movement, we are here to pick and choose the policies and beliefs that unite us rather than divide us.
We welcome everyone to join our movement whose objective is to put the demos back into our democracy – something that we can only achieve at home if Europe is democratised as a whole.
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