Alyn Smith: ‘Dark forces’ seeking to undermine European elections

Written by Martin Banks on 22 March 2019 in News
News

Scottish MEP Alyn Smith has warned that “dark forces are seeking to undermine the European Parliament elections” and that the “ingredients of Brexit exist in every European country.”

Alyn Smith | Photo credit: European Parliament Audiovisual


Speaking at a news briefing in Parliament on Thursday, Smith’s remarks were aimed at the European elections in May, where populists and nationalist parties are expected to perform strongly.

Smith told the briefing, “Dark forces seek to manipulate and misdirect genuine discontent with the status quo into an anti-EU vote in your upcoming European elections.”

“We must defend the EU and international solidarity as an idea but also explain it in practice and how it delivers for our citizens and improves their daily lives.”


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At the briefing Smith launched “Scotland in Europe,” a document first produced to “assist in Scotland” during the EU referendum.

Scotland in Europe is, he said, also an “online resource” designed to “inform and explain the European Union and explain the benefits of solidarity.”

He told reporters that Scotland “voted comprehensively” to remain in the EU with a “solid” 62 percent of the vote.

Smith has sent a copy of Scotland in Europe to all MEPs, thanking them “for their support during this troubled time.”

“I see the ingredients of Brexit present in all our countries: populism, economic insecurity and fear of ‘the other’ are present in all our debates”

SCOTLAND AGAINST BREXIT

He said, “Scotland voted to remain part of our EU family of nations, a position that has not wavered since 23 June 2016.”

“In Scotland, we won the EU referendum, across every city, town, country, island and mainland. But I urge my colleagues to learn from the UK’s mistakes.”

Brexit, he said, should serve as a “warning,” adding, “I see the ingredients of Brexit present in all our countries: populism, economic insecurity and fear of ‘the other’ are present in all our debates.”

The Scottish Government, the Scottish National Party, and most of the Scottish MEPs have, he said, “opposed the no-deal and bad-deal Brexit at every turn.”

“We will not let our country be thrown to the wolves without an argument. And if Scotland is taken out of the EU against the democratically-expressed sovereign will of her people, I personally promise that the campaign to re-join the EU begins the next day.”

The European Project is, he argued, “still the best peace-promoting organisation in history.”

He went on, “Freedom of movement is a spectacular achievement. The EU is a project built upon our shared, war-torn history. It is now in danger precisely because so many of the achievements are now taken for granted.”

“If Scotland is taken out of the EU against the democratically-expressed sovereign will of her people, I personally promise that the campaign to re-join the EU begins the next day”

“In Scotland we won the EU referendum because we have a different sense of ourselves and our place in the world, but also because we based our campaign on explaining the reality of the EU and how it works to better the lives of all our citizens.”

“Fake news, scapegoating, and misdirected bitterness must be fought and faced down at every opportunity,” he added.

While “Scotland in Europe” was designed for domestic consumption, he believes some of the ideas in it are relevant elsewhere.

“If it is of help in promoting our EU, I am delighted,” he said.

STOP EXTREMISM INITIATIVE

Meanwhile, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) welcomed the promoters of the “Stop Extremism” European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) at its plenary held in Parliament on Thursday.

Luca Jahier, EESC president, praised Sebastian Reimer and Michael Laubsch, two of the initiators and promoters of the ECI, which has gathered around 1.6 million signatures within one year. It still needs to be validated by Member States.

Stop Extremism aims to be the fifth successful ECI.

Laubsch stressed that by proposing the Stop Extremism ECI, the initiators wanted to rouse people from their "EU fatigue" and “bring together EU politics, the EU institutions and the people of Europe to discuss how to fight extremism.”

"Hate is starting to disrupt our society. Our fundamental rights need renewed support, especially from the public. The EU needs to tackle the big questions, such as extremism and terrorism, because they can only be solved at European and multinational level,” Laubsch said.

Reimer added, "We need a clear definition of extremism if we are to give the phenomenon real meaning. Fundamental rights should be the guideline and extremists are those who destroy fundamental rights.”

Oliver Röpke, President of the EESC workers' group told the meeting, "It is not enough to counter extremism, we need to prevent it.”

“This starts in schools by empowering young people to be resilient when confronted with extremist discourse, especially on online social platforms.”

“We must also address the socio-economic problems which lead to exclusion and alienation. In particular, we must empower our youth and create an enabling environment for their democratic participation.”

“But the response to the threat of extremism and terrorism should not itself intrude upon the very values we defend - those of freedom, democracy, justice and the rule of law,” he added.

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at The Parliament Magazine

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