On Sunday all of the Lib Dem Euro candidates gathered at Friends House in Euston for a members meeting. There was a good atmosphere and it was great to have a more relaxed (not in public view) chat with some of the other candidates.
For the hustings I was up first, my speech is given below. I’d love to know what you thought if you were there, or what you think now you’ve read it.
In China, 89% members of the cabinet are engineers and scientists.
In the UK cabinet, 31% have a scientific background. And without the Lib Dems, that figure would drop to 16%.
What I want to talk about today is how I believe that science, technology and engineering can be the key to Britain’s growth. I want to talk about the potential that this European election presents.
I want to talk about how I believe that an MEP can build jobs.
Build the country.
I want to talk about how I think my background as a scientist will allow me to work for London in Europe.
When I decided to run as a Lib Dem candidate for Europe, I did it because I think we can make real change. I’ve always been a pro-European, but friends tell truth to friends, and there are areas where we need to shout out about.
Britain has centuries of technological innovation, but this is being eroded by the fact that when we innovate, the ideas don’t generate the growth here. China, India, Brazil. These are likely to be our competitors, and they are being allowed to poach our ideas.
The only way we can meet this challenge is through Europe. I believe that we can protect our innovations and our scientists better with real and robust patent protections.
And I know that protecting patents may sound quite dull. It may not sound like the sort of thing you would normally expect from a candidate on this stage. But it is precisely because I believe in the need to protect Britain’s innovations and Britain’s inventors that I believe we need to work in Europe and with Europe to help Britain.
Another huge challenge we face is global warming. Britain is leading the world in developing more efficient alternative sources of power. From wind farms to solar panels, we are punching above our weight. Our scientific innovations are leading the world.
But we can’t do this alone.
What worries me most about the Tory’s backing out of Europe, is that we lose our place at the table to talk about the need for pan-European action on the environment.
Cameron’s cheap political foot-stamping doesn’t help our carbon footprint.
As a Lib Dem MEP, I’d campaign tirelessly to ensure that Britain’s voice gets heard and we get the Lib Dem approach: practical, progressive and principled.
But I’d also campaign for you.
Many of you will have seen me knocking on the doors in your constituencies, your target wards. Pushing for a Lib Dem presence on councils, and pushing for our message to be heard at every level of government.
Because I don’t think the campaign for Europe can be separated from the campaign for each and every council in London. I really don’t. I think we have to embrace the reality that Europe only works in practice by being underpinned by principles of local actions and practical policies.
I’ll work with you to make sure that the council campaigns go hand in hand with the European campaigns.
After all, we can’t forget the role Europe plays in creating jobs and growth for every ward in London. And I don’t think we should forget. We should be shouting London’s praises across the continent!
But, rather than campaigning in councils and in Europe for the growth London is crying out for, we get something completely different from the Tories. We don’t get a cohesive plan or a collective vision. We get Ken Clarke made a trade envoy as a retirement plan.
That’s not building London.
That’s not taking jobs seriously.
That’s not the message we need.
We need a message in Europe that we’re open for business. And I don’t think we get that from sitting at the corner of the stage in a sulk, which as far as I can tell seems to be the Conservative message.
In fairness, I understand the difficulty. I understand that UKIP are breathing down Cameron’s throat, and he can’t point out that Europe accounts for the vast majority of our exports.
It’s hard for him to mention that in August, we exported 11.2 billion pounds worth of goods and services to Europe.
Luckily, as Lib Dems, we can mention it. We need to mention it.
As Lib Dems, we need to say that Europe is here to stay and here for us. We need to work in Europe to help London work.
As a scientist, as a Lib Dem, as a campaigner, as a Londoner, I am asking for your vote so that I can fight in Europe for the growth, the policies and the jobs that we need.