European political parties

Søren Winther Lundby, campaigner for European political parties (picture Nyt Europa)

There’s a new initiative to try and create European political parties. This one comes from Denmark, and the aim is to establish a notion of individual membership at the European level. There are articles about it on EUobserver.com here and here, and my Comment piece explaining my disagreement with the strategy can be read here.

It’s one thing to disagree with an initiative – and it is a fine initiative – but is another thing to propose an alternative. That alternative is what this blog posting is about.

I can imagine the reaction of the people in the Brussels offices of the three political groups receiving these letters and 20 euros asking for membership. Such a hassle. How can it make sense to try and organise people at the European level when they are already organised nationally? This is one of those things that can better be done at a lower level.

If a letter and 20 euros comes in to the Liberal or Socialist groups from someone in the UK, I hope they will say go and join the Liberal Democrats or Labour respectively, and join the pro-European group within that party, too. There is the Liberal Democrat European Group and the Labour Movement for Europe which do valuable educational and campaigning work within their own parties and among their own supporters. Join them.

I would say the same about joining the Conservative Group for Europe, for Tories, except that I find it harder to imagine that many members of the British Conservative party will be writing to Brussels asking for more party politics. Their MEPs have fought and lost a rearguard action over membership of the EPP-ED: the next election will be fought under a different banner. (You can read about this here.)

Although, thinking about it a bit more, maybe there will be scope for the EPP group to set up a British chapter, for British Tories in “exile”. Twenty euros to stay morally in the European political mainstream might turn out to be good value.

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