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“WhyIAmIn“

October 18, 2013 3:11 PM
By Deborah Newton-Cook in Liberal Democrat Candidate, East Midlands region, for the European Parliament Elections
Originally published by East Midlands Liberal Democrats

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There has been a campaign in the last couple of months to get people to say - in various media - Why they are in favour of the UK staying in the EU. I added my contribution by a tweet, and said Peace and prosperity.

It is undeniable, despite what UKIP would try and have us believe, that we have had over 60 years of Peace in the European Union. OK, there have been problems in certain areas: Ireland and Northern Ireland come to mind, and - indeed - the on-going linguistic civil war in Belgium (not well known about, but has brought down Governments, lead to deaths, and subject to judgements from the European Court of Human Rights). Or, in Catalonia in Spain, and the Basque region.

But we have not had another World War. And it is now unthinkable that tanks, gunboats and soldiers would be sent to resolve disputes. We argue around and across tables, send emails, tweet, pick up the telephone and arrange meetings to sort out disagreements and forge compromises.

Next year, 2014, is the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War. On 11th November, Armistice Day, which is a Public Holiday in Belgium I shall take my daughter to Ypres to visit the Monument to the Un-named soldier, various cemeteries, and preserved trenches which serve as a working museum on the Somme.

My late grandfather survived Gallipoli, spent one year in hospital, and was then sent to the Somme which he also survived. He could not talk about it because of the awfulness and futility of losing hundreds of thousands of lives for 5 yards. Only to be lost, and won, and lost again. In the end, of course Germany lost.

But that did not prevent a Second World War.

In 2015, we will have another anniversary - 200 years, from 15 June 1815 when Wellington and allies beat Napoleon Bonaparte at the Battle of Waterloo. Certainly, it was one of the most decisive battles in the history of Europe. My church - All Saints' Church, Waterloo - is built on the site of Wellington's HQ, and was also the bivouac for injured soldiers. Needless to say, we are already involved in the organisational arrangements for what will be a friendly, but highly attended, "invasion".

But our membership of the European Union means that we have Liberal Democrat MEPs negotiating with now 28 Ministers in the Council of Ministers (Croatia joined on 1 July this year), and a European Commissioner representing us there. And Baroness Catherine Ashton is the EU's Foreign Representative. As one of the four largest Member States, this is where we should be: at the heart of Europe, and active. Not a sulking, recalcitrant member.

Yes, there are problems. Yes, we can make improvements. And Yes, we have to fight for them. But Liberal Democrats are campaigners, and as we are in Coalition Government, we are listened to. Because, we are IN.

The only place to be: in the European Union.