A senior member of the Liberal Democratic Party, the UK's third biggest political party, has urged Liberal Democrat activists to 'keep engaging' with eastern European communities in the UK to help it in the European elections this May.
The EU elections will decide which parties hold the UK's 73 seats in the European Parliament. EU citizens living in the UK will have the right to vote in the elections.
Issan Ghazni is the chairman of the Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats. He will also stand as a candidate for the party in the East Midlands at the European elections. He wrote an article on the party's LibDemVoice website in which he said that the party must 'get smarter about our strategy'.
Domesday predictionsMr Ghazni notes that there are 'Domesday predictions in the media that Liberal Democrats are set to lose all our MEPs to UKIP'.
Currently, the Conservative Party of Prime Minister David Cameron holds 26 seats. UKIP and the UK's official opposition, the Labour Party both hold 13 seats and the Liberal Democrats hold 11 seats.
The UK Independence Party (UKIP) is a right-wing party which calls for the UK to leave the European Union and for a reduction in immigration. Much of UKIP's support is probably 'a protest vote' against the UK's Coalition government which consists of the Conservatives of Prime Minister David Cameron and the Liberal Democrats.
UKIP's anti-immigration supportA significant proportion of UKIP's support seems to depend on its anti-immigration stance. Polls show that about 75% of the UK population believes that there is too much immigration into the UK. UKIP argues that the UK should leave the EU and that If it did so, citizens of the EU would no longer be able to easily live and work in the UK.
Polls show that UKIP is likely to come second to the Labour Party in the European elections, beating Mr Cameron's Conservatives into third place and the Liberal Democrats into a distant fourth.
Mr Ghazni dismisses the polls as 'wide of the mark' but says that the Liberal Democrats must work hard to mobilise the pro-European vote. He says that 'millions of jobs for British citizens depend on trade with Europe' as do 'jobs in industries like Lincolnshire farms who struggle to hire British-born workers'.
'In Europe, In Work'The Liberal Democrats' campaign slogan is 'In Europe, In Work'. Mr Ghazni says that this is 'a powerful statement about where we stand' but says that it needs to be 'supplemented by targeted messaging'.
He says that, the Liberal Democrats, the most pro-European of the main parties in the UK, should try to attract support from the many eastern Europeans who have come to the UK to live and work since their countries joined the EU in 2004.
He says 'As a Euro candidate in the East Midlands I am particularly keen to pay attention to the large number of Eastern European workers. They have the right vote for their MEP but many are unsure whether they can so have not joined the electoral roll'.
BostonHe says that he recently visited Boston, a small market town in the rural county of Lincolnshire. The town is home to a very large eastern European population. He says 'I recently visited five Eastern European coffee shops [in Boston] to talk with migrant workers.
As soon as they heard the Lib Dems' pro-Europe message of supporting the free movement of goods and labour they were eager to vote for us'.
'However many Eastern Europeans are unaware they had a vote. We need to spread the news that they can vote so long as they register' Mr Ghazni says.
Immigration changing UK societyMr Ghazni's article provides valuable information on the extent to which immigration has changed and will continue to change UK society.
He says 'Eastern Europeans will become more established in future decades. Securing their support today, at a time when they are repelled by the anti-immigration climate, will serve us well in future elections. And it may just take us over the winning post in May.'
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