Articles

Ahead of the World Cup, MEPs are definitely supporting different teams, but there is one goal that unites us - whether our sides win, lose or draw, we all want to end  domestic violence.

According to the charity White Ribbon, sadly, domestic violence increases during the World Cup.  The most detailed research into the links between the football World Cup and domestic abuse rates showed that in one force area in England and Wales, violent incidents increased by 38% when England lost – but also rose by 26% when they won.

At The World Cup Let's Call Full-Time On Domestic Violence

Ahead of the World Cup, MEPs are definitely supporting different teams, but there is one goal that unites us - whether our sides win, lose or draw, we all want... Read more

This week marks the fifth anniversary of the comprehensive European-wide ban on testing cosmetics products on animals.

For those of us who care about animal welfare this milestone is important, not only have countless animals been spared suffering but as European cosmetics companies have continued to thrive, it has proven to the rest of the world that animal testing for cosmetics is wholly unnecessary.

Lets Make The World Cruelty-Free

This week marks the fifth anniversary of the comprehensive European-wide ban on testing cosmetics products on animals. For those of us who care about animal welfare this milestone is important,... Read more

Safer Internet DayThere are fears that 2018 could mark the final “Safer Internet Day” in Britain. The annual landmark event in the online safety calendar, is celebrated in over a hundred countries, but Britain’s day has always been funded by European cash.

 

Each year Safer Internet Day aims to raise awareness of emerging online safety issues. As the biggest safer internet day in Europe, the UK’s day is a recognised success story. Last year it reached 2.8 million children and 2.5 million parents with 87% of children saying that they felt more confident about what to do if they had concerns online after taking part in the event.

Could Safer Internet Day 2018 Be Britain's Last?

There are fears that 2018 could mark the final “Safer Internet Day” in Britain. The annual landmark event in the online safety calendar, is celebrated in over a hundred countries,... Read more

“And now on the line we have MEP Alex Mayer and John Rogers..., good morning gentlemen,” this happens quite frequently when I do radio interviews. I know “Alex” works for both men and women but I have this feeling the situation would not arise quite so often for a male politician called Alexander.

A Honour To Represent People And You Get To Change The World

“And now on the line we have MEP Alex Mayer and John Rogers..., good morning gentlemen,” this happens quite frequently when I do radio interviews. I know “Alex” works for... Read more

gr.jpgDumped half-naked in a ditch by a motorway on the outskirts of Cairo. That is how Cambridge PhD student Giulio Regeni was discovered two years ago. He was murdered. His body showed signs of extreme torture, riddled with burns, cuts, bruises and broken bones. The one aspect of the whole incident not disputed has been the manner of his death. In short: horrific.

The road to justice for Giulio, holding his killers to account and understanding how someone who simply went abroad to do field research on trade unions met such a fate, has been long. Those fighting to discover the truth behind why this intelligent and promising Italian student was murdered have had to negotiate a delicate terrain incorporating the Egyptian, British and Italian governments, the European Parliament and even the Vatican.

Two Years On Giulio Regeni's Death Still Matters

Dumped half-naked in a ditch by a motorway on the outskirts of Cairo. That is how Cambridge PhD student Giulio Regeni was discovered two years ago. He was murdered. His... Read more

IMG_1346.JPGGood morning conference.

Firstly I'd like to thank my staff: Peter, Luke, Alex, Joe and Chris.

A year is a long time in politics isn't it?

So first let's rewind to Easter, and the calling of that snap general election by the popular, competent, strong and oh so stable Prime Minister. And as she stood outside Downing Street my phone rang and BBC local radio were on the line. They wanted reaction. And the first question, “Alex, it's going to be a disaster for Labour isn't it?” “No,” I said, “not at all, I welcome any opportunity to kick out the Tories.” “But you’re 20 points behind in the opinion polls, you're going to get wiped out” ... and so it continued ...

Alex Mayer MEP's speech to Labour Party Regional Conference - November 2017

Good morning conference. Firstly I'd like to thank my staff: Peter, Luke, Alex, Joe and Chris. A year is a long time in politics isn't it? So first let's rewind... Read more

depboard.JPGWhen Ryanair first announced it was cancelling flights back in September, the headlines and my inbox were filled with complaints from angry passengers. The European Parliament even held an emergency debate on the situation.

However despite Ryanair suffering a £22 million blow in the wake of its flight cancellation fiasco, the company’s half-year profits are up by 11 per cent and its pre-tax profits climbed to £1.139 billion for the six months ending in September.

Ryanair are still flying in the face of workers rights

When Ryanair first announced it was cancelling flights back in September, the headlines and my inbox were filled with complaints from angry passengers. The European Parliament even held an emergency... Read more

Rural LabourThis weekend I’ll be in the Norfolk village of Burston, where we will be commemorating the Burston School Strike at the annual rally that celebrates the longest strike in British history.

The Burston Rally is a regular feature in my diary. Each year, we line up behind a horse and cart and go on a “march” around the village, that unlike most trade union rallies and demos always feels more like a country stroll - there are even blackberrying opportunities if, like me, you are so inclined!

The strike was called in 1914 when two teachers at the local school were sacked after a dispute with the area’s school management committee. The school children then went on strike to show their support for their teachers, husband and wife Annie and Tom Higdon. Annie and Tom then went on to set up an alternative local school, supported by the local labour movement. Norfolk has a truly radical past.

Burston is an opportunity for rural East Anglian CLPs not known for hogging the limelight to have their moment in the sun (sometimes quite literally) with stalls on the village green. The speakers from the main stage address issues that matter to rural voters, whether it was the Tories decision to scrap the AWB or the impact of austerity on residents in the countryside. Given the preponderance of urban seats Labour holds, this rural focus is often a welcome novelty.

Inevitably this year, my thoughts are on what challenges lie ahead for people living in the countryside in Brexit Britain.

My constituency (made up of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, and Suffolk) is made up of 58 Westminster parliamentary constituencies, of which 41 are officially classified as rural or ‘county constituencies' so many of the meetings I now attend across my constituency focus on how we can support our rural communities once we leave the European Union.

Sometimes a discussion of what Brexit means for the countryside can turn into a discussion simply on what Brexit means for farmers. This is an important subject and whilst Labour and Britain has rightly criticised the CAP, currently EU subsidies make up 50-60% of farm income. That is some cliff edge!

Like all other parts of the economy, farming and the food and drink industry is intrinsically linked to the Single Market. The UK exported £18 billion of food and drink in 2015, with much grown here across East Anglia. The rural economy in reliant on seasonal migrant labour with the soft fruit industry alone employing 80,000 workers from the European Union at harvest time. An end to free movement will likely need to see the reintroduction of a Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme to keep British fruit and veg on our shelves for years to come.

Yet the farming lobby is powerful and is making its case strongly to the government, other rural issues may need more amplification.

EU legislation affects how food is produced in the countryside and this has led to the UK producing some of the best food in the world, with the highest animal welfare standards. EU rules protect, not only the Cornish pasty from cheap imitations but also the Newmarket Sausage and Fenland Celery.

EU legislation led to the ban on potentially bee-harming pesticides (a big issue in my post bag) as well as on environmental legislation setting out ways to tackle climate change and support biodiversity.

All this poses questions on our new relationship with the EU, and any new trade deals with non-EU countries. How will we protect standards and allow our produce to be promoted globally and compete on the basis of quality? It is clear no-one wants chlorinated chicken on the supermarket shelves. What bodies will oversee enforcement of environmental rules?

The EU is key provider of funding for rural communities. If a Burston resident logs onto a Government rural grants website today they will find that there is nearly £10 million of European funding available for rural businesses to apply for in the Norfolk and Suffolk area. This is cash to support businesses to generate new jobs and for grants for rural visitor attractions to improve attractions, signage and footpaths to boost tourism.

In the last EU funding period of 2007-2013 in Norfolk and Suffolk, this EAFRD Programme funded 136 projects, awarded £6.28 million of grants and created or sustained 363 jobs. As well as this there is European structural funding, transport finance through the TEN-T programme and money for research and development.

The Local Enterprise Partnership that covers Norfolk says that since 2007 at least £1.9 billion worth of EU funding and finance is estimated to have been received, leveraging a total investment of £7.34 billion. What will happen going forward? How can we ensure rural areas get their fair share of resources and local control over spending?

The Conservative government has provided little certainty, few plans or assurances for our rural communities over Brexit. Meanwhile austerity has bitten hard in rural areas. Average wages are over £4,500 lower than those in urban areas while rural families often face higher living costs. A cut to transport funding in a rural area may well mean the only bus route is cut whilst a lack of affordable housing means no choice but to move away from family. At the same time it is surely unacceptable that 960,000 homes in rural areas still cannot access broadband with high download speeds. (Incidentally it is ERDF and EAFRD funds that have helped many rural areas get connected.)

With Brexit on the horizon, Labour has a unique opportunity to reconnect with rural Britain and show that unlike the Tories, Labour cares for our rural areas on and beyond the farm.

I have never seen any contradiction about Labour being a party for the countryside as well as for towns and cities. Indded my friend and colleague Daniel Zeichner, now MP for Cambridge, was once a Burston Labour councillor. Going back to 1997, 100 parliamentary seats won by Labour were classified as rural or semi-rural.

Going back 100 years to Burston's strike shows the countryside has a radical tradition that should not be forgotten.

As the Tories hard Brexit starts to harm the countryside Labour has a unique opportunity to connect with these voters and win across the whole of the UK.

Marching to Labour victory in rural areas

This weekend I’ll be in the Norfolk village of Burston, where we will be commemorating the Burston School Strike at the annual rally that celebrates the longest strike in British...

The saying goes that “a week is a long time in politics”. It turns out that a year is a very, very long time indeed. This time last year, on referendum day, I was knocking on doors in the pouring rain asking people to vote Remain and I could tell it wasn't going well. A few hours later my fears were confirmed as Britain voted to leave the European Union.

A Year Is A Very Very Long Time In Politics

The saying goes that “a week is a long time in politics”. It turns out that a year is a very, very long time indeed. This time last year, on... Read more

European ParliamentThe much anticipated moment is finally here. Theresa May has written to the European Commission to inform them of her Government’s decision to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. We’ve known for months that this day would come, but for me as a pro-European, and for many others across Britain and Europe, it doesn’t make it any easier.

Sad Day for Britain As PM Triggers Article 50

The much anticipated moment is finally here. Theresa May has written to the European Commission to inform them of her Government’s decision to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.... Read more

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