EU Council – Turkish Membership

Mr Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab): If we are giving impetus to association agreements with Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, where does that leave Turkey? What assessment has the Prime Minister made of the reports that Germany and France may be revising their attitude to Turkish membership of or association with the European Union? Surely Turkey should be a greater priority, given its crucial role as a gateway between Europe and Asia and between the Christian and Muslim worlds.

The Prime Minister: We should take the two cases separately. We are in accession negotiations with Turkey and another chapter has just opened in relation to its membership of the EU, which I support. Ukraine and the other Eastern Partnership countries are a different matter. They are obviously under an enormous amount of pressure to join a trade area dominated by Russia. We want to say to those countries that if they want to have a relationship with Europe and to trade with it, they can. This is an opportunity to say to countries such as Ukraine that they must continue to make progress with governance and justice if they want to have that relationship. That is an important part of the EU’s relationship with those eastern countries. I therefore think that the two cases are slightly different.

We need to up our game


Especially given we were fighting county councils which were natural Tory or Lib Dem territory, Labour had some good results last Thursday: new mayors in Doncaster and North Tyneside, taking control of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire councils, and even winning a county council seat in Witney – Cameron’s backyard. Our progress in the south was encouraging in places like Cambridge and Norwich where we need to win MPs in 2015.

The results showed we’ve come a long way under the leadership of Ed Miliband since 2010, but they also showed we have a way to go. If a general election was held tomorrow, Labour wouldn’t win a majority. This was always going to be a big ask – under any leader – after our terrible result in 2010.
But Ed has made great strides over the last two years, we have re-energised our activists, rebuilt our base, reached out to disaffected Lib Dems – all crucial steps to victory in 2015.

We’re half way there, both in terms of time lapsed and progress made. I’m confident we’ve done enough to stop the Tories winning outright, and produce another hung parliament. But the truth is if we want a majority in 2015, we need to be performing better than we are now.

The old Tory-Labour duopoly has been broken. UKIP will remain a force at the next general election, with momentum from next year’s European elections. The right will remain split, at the Tories’ expense. The Lib Dems will do badly in the national share of the vote but probably hold onto all or most of the seats where they are well dug in and contesting with the Tories; where they are fighting us they will lose. Labour is well placed in this new f our-party arena.

While we shouldn’t dismiss people’s concerns about Europe and immigration, this is not what will decide the next election. Nigel Farage will not be prime minister. Labour’s focus f or the next two years should be squarely on the economy and living standards.

We cannot afford to be equivocal about our economic policy. We need to be more up front with the public about our intentions. Yes, we will borrow more in the short term in order to generate the growth that will reduce borrowing in the medium term. It makes sense to do so with interest rates so low. We will borrow to invest in new homes, in major infrastructure projects, refurbishing schools, creating employment. Schemes that will stimulate the economy. But we will nevertheless run a tight fiscal regime.

The Tories are trying to cut their way out of the recession. We need to be clear we would grow our way out of it, a less painful and ultimately more successful approach. We need to make this case with confidence and def end it robustly.

I’m confident Labour can win the economic argument if Ed has the support of a loyal team around him, it’s important that all members of the shadow cabinet play their full role in explaining and def ending Labour’s policy and approach. Labour’s Treasury team need to get out on the stump now and work even harder. It shouldn’t just be left to Ed and Harriet to carry the heavy load, whether on the World at One, the Today Programme or anywhere else.

Victory in 2015 is in our grasp, and we’ve made great strides toward it under Ed’s leadership so far. But ‘one more heave’ won’t deliver a majority. We need to up our game.


Attack On UKIP For ‘Giving Succour To Far Right’

Peter Hain MP for Neath speaking at a rally in Transport House, Cardiff of Wales Unite against Fascism on Saturday 20 April 2013:

‘It is a scandal that UKIP are giving succour to far-right parties across Europe. In the European Parliament in January Nigel Farrage’s Party refused to oppose a funding package for some of Europe’s worst hate-mongers, including the BNP.’

‘UKIP likes to paint itself as a credible third party, but can there be anything credible about a party which gives a nod and a wink to openly fascist and racist organisations?’

‘The Alliance of European National Groups in the European Parliament stands to receive £340,000 from the European Commission with further funding to set up a far-right think tank.

‘We know that far-right groups across the continent communicate with each other, sharing strategies and funding. But this is a new and explicit attempt to legitimise their hateful and worrying ideas and to pool their collective bile.’

‘It is unthinkable that a Party that gives succour to these racist and fascist groups could be seriously considered as contenders in a General Election.’

Call For EU Leaders to Curb Spending

South Wales Evening Post

NEATH MP Peter Hain has defended his role in pressing the UK Government to seek a cut in Brussels spending.

It comes after the Prime Minister suffered a humiliating defeat when Labour MPs and 53 Eurosceptic Conservatives joined forces to vote down a freeze in the European Union (EU) budget.

Although the vote was not binding, the House of Commons instead demanded he pursue a cut when he meets Euro leaders

Read more in the Evening Post.


Pro Europe pro EU Budget squeeze

To be pro-European does not mean enabling the EU to escape spending cuts imposed by every member state on almost every public service.

In truth Europe would be more popular with its citizens if it showed more willingness to tighten its belt just as they are having to do. Europe’s leaders cannot retain confidence by preaching austerity for everybody else except themselves.

David Cameron and Nick Clegg simply do not get it. They seem to think the elites can be protected from their cuts while everyone else suffers.

So I voted last night to curb Brussels budget as a pro-European who believes this is in the interests of both Europe and Britain.