Euro Election 2019: Candidates & Policies

(Title Image: BBC Wales)

How the voting system works

European elections in the UK use the D’Hondt method. It’s the same method used to elect regional list members in the Senedd.

In short, all votes a party receives are divided by however many seats they’ve won plus one. Whichever party is ahead after this calculation wins a seat (which is added to their total number of seats won), with the process continuing until all seats in a region are filled (in Wales’ case four seats). Whichever candidate is placed first on the party’s list is elected first and so on.

In practice, this means each MEP elected in Wales needs to secure around 15% of the vote – though the threshold could be higher or lower depending on the distribution of the vote and how many parties stand.

While the vote in the UK is taking place on Thursday (23rd May), the results won’t be announced until Sunday (26th May) at the earliest.

Here’s how things went in 2014:

I get the sense that map will look very different next Monday.

The Candidates, Parties & Policies

The parties are listed in alphabetical order, with their European Parliament political group in brackets. Candidates are listed in the order by which they would be elected. Incumbent MEPs are in italics.

Nigel Farage Brexit Party (EFDD)

Candidates: 1. Nathan Gill 2. James Wells 3. Gethin James 4. Julie Price

Key Policies

  • No official policies, but opposes a second referendum on Brexit and supports leaving the EU without a deal (aka. “No Deal Brexit”)
  • Nigel Farage.

They’re guaranteed at least one seat. If they attract as many disgruntled Brexiteer Tories and Labour supporters as they’re expected to I can easily see them winning 35%+ of the vote in Wales, which would probably be enough for two seats. Nigel Farage. They should finish top across the UK as they’re the obvious choice for everyone who voted Leave in 2016 and the Tories haven’t put in any effort – meaning there’s no competition. Nathan Gill is thoroughly useless, but he’ll be going back to Brussels. And Nigel Farage.

Change UK (EPP)

Candidates: 1. Jon Owen Jones 2. June Davies 3. Matthew Paul 4. Sally Stephenson

Key Policies

  • Supports a second referendum on Brexit (aka. “People’s Vote”).
  • Supports continued free movement.
  • Set a target to be carbon-neutral by 2045.
  • The UK should remain a full decision maker within the European Medicines Agency.
  • Supports UK participation and influence in multilateral organisations like the EU, NATO and UN in order to address tax avoidance, climate change and internet safety.

At heart, Change UK doesn’t want anything to change. They’re largely competing on the same turf as the more established Lib Dems but have arrogantly come to the conclusion they’re somehow the vanguard of Remain; as I said the other day the feud between the two parties resembles two hipsters arguing over who liked something first. A strong performance could, ironically, lead to success for the Brexit Party (by dividing the Remain vote) and all signs are Change UK is going to be strangled at birth.

Conservatives (ECR)

Candidates: 1. Dan Boucher 2. Craig Lawton 3. Fay Jones 4. Tomos Davies

Key Policies

  • No official policies, but opposes a second referendum on Brexit; presumably supports leaving the EU under the terms of Theresa May’s negotiated withdrawal agreement (though many within the party disagree).

“Dead woman walking!” There’s been absolutely nothing from the Tories, who appear to be haemorrhaging support to the Brexit Party. I don’t think they’ll do quite as badly as the polls suggest but they’re in for a rough ride and we could well have a new Prime Minister by the end of the summer. Another period of chaos looms for Broken Britain.

Greens (G-EFA)

Candidates: 1. Anthony Slaughter 2. Ian Chandler 3. Ceri Davies 4. Duncan Rees

Key Policies

  • Supports a second referendum on Brexit (aka. “People’s Vote”).
  • Introduce an EU-wide carbon budget, carbon tax and frequent flyer levy and work towards the whole EU being carbon-neutral by 2030.
  • Change EU procurement rules so only companies with transparent tax policies can receive EU funds.
  • An EU-wide Green New Deal.
  • All EU member states should take a fair share of refugees and the Greens would also campaign for the introduction of humanitarian visas in order for refugees to have safe routes to sanctuary.

I honestly don’t know why the Greens are standing in Wales and this is probably 2-5% of the vote that could’ve otherwise have gone to the lead G-EFA party (Plaid Cymru). There may be cause for optimism based on recent polling, which suggests the Greens could be heading for perhaps their best ever performance in a national-level election in Wales. However, history points towards this proving to be another expensive mistake for the Greens – both in terms of finances and the fracturing of the Remain vote.

Labour (S&D)

Candidates: 1. Jacqueline Jones 2.Matthew Dorrance 3.Mary Wimbury 4.Mark Whitcutt

Key Policies

  • The official party line is that they’ll only support a second referendum if the Withdrawal Agreement can’t be changed and there’s no subsequent UK General Election.
  • Supports a customs union with the EU and single market alignment; maintain access to the European Arrests Warrant system.
  • Change EU procurement and competition laws to benefit green investment and close tax avoidance loopholes.
  • EU citizens in the UK should have “full citizens’ rights” and vice versa.
  • Maintain EU environmental, health & safety and agricultural standards.

Despite their confusing campaign message, you would expect Labour to be guaranteed at least one MEP in Wales due to their ingrained support – though indications are that support is going to fall to record low levels. Fingers will point towards Corbyn should Labour flop, but it’s not as if this has ever been a high priority election for the party as they keep their eyes firmly set on a possible early UK General Election.

Liberal Democrats (ALDE)

Candidates: 1. Sam Bennett 2. Donna Latek 3. Alistair Cameron 4.Andrew Parkhurst

Key Policies

  • Supports a second referendum on Brexit (aka. “People’s Vote”).
  • EU citizens who’ve lived in the UK for five years or more should continue to have freedom of movement rights.
  • Supports “deeper” pan-EU cooperation on defence, environmental policy and foreign policy.
  • All EU states should adopt the Istanbul Convention on violence against women and children.
  • Won’t allow fisheries policy to be traded away for other policy areas.

The Lib Dems have never won a European Parliament seat in Wales and this election doesn’t look like being any different – despite a reported large jump in their polling figures. As I keep saying, all that will do is block Remain-supporting MEPs from being elected despite the Lib Dem’s staple dodgy bar graphs making an appearance on social media. It looks like they’ll do relatively well in metropolitan England having cited the rise in populism as an “attack on liberal values”. But tribalism will always trump common sense and the Lib Dems’ historical hostility towards Plaid will probably hand the Brexit Party a second seat.

Plaid Cymru (G-EFA)

Candidates: 1. Jill Evans 2. Carmen Smith 3. Patrick McGuinness 4. Ioan Bellin

Key Policies

  • Supports a second referendum on Brexit (aka. “People’s Vote”).
  • A five-year £5billion EU transformation fund to tackle social and regional inequality.
  • Continued access to the Erasmus+ student exchange programme and European railcard system.
  • Establishing a Welsh Migration Advisory Service and work on a pan-EU migration policy based on solidarity.
  • (Unofficial) If Brexit happens without a second referendum, Wales should seek to hold a referendum on independence.

Plaid seems to be taking this election relatively seriously and as long as people actually turn out to vote (particularly in their heartlands), Plaid should retain their seat – but they’re unlikely to do much better than that despite the ramping. They’ve put their ball very firmly in the “Remain/People’s Vote” court and will hope they’ll be seen as the party for Welsh Remainers to back – but as I keep saying, it’s a crowded field.

UKIP (ENF)

Candidates*: 1. Kris Hicks 2. Keith Edwards 3. Thomas Harrison

*UKIP’s fourth-placed candidate, Robert McNeil-Wilson, withdrew.

Key Policies

  • Opposes a second referendum on Brexit.
  • Supports leaving the EU without a deal (aka. “No Deal Brexit”).
  • Will vote against all EU legislation for however long the UK remains in the EU.
  • Will offer the EU a choice between tariff-free trade or WTO rules.
  • Offer reciprocal rights for EU and UK citizens.

If you’re still considering voting UKIP after what they’ve been up to over the last few months, take a look at yourselves. The headline policies are standard copy-and-paste UKIP fare; scratch the surface though you’ll find something nastier. They’ll probably secure ~5% of the vote or such but will struggle to win seats as the Brexit Party usurps their position as the main party of Leave. Another nail in the coffin?

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