European election leaflets: The main parties

Scottish Conservatives

This is a pretty substantial leaflet, with lots of copy for you to read. It’s pretty slick. One thing that strikes me is that it avoids the tacky symbolism adopted by the other right-wing Eurosceptic parties. The only sign of nationalism is a rather washed-out Union Flag acting as a background.

Content-wise, it starts with a number of cut-outs of newspaper headlines chronicling Labour’s many disasters — as if we needed reminding. Below that is a picture of Gordon Brown photoshopped to make him Janus-faced, which is disappointingly base.

Policy-wise, the focus is very much on European issues. While I may not agree with all of their policies, I appreciate the effort they have taken to tell us exactly what they have done and plan to do in the European Parliament.

Unfortunately, this focus on Europe goes out of the window during the message from David Cameron and Annabel Goldie. They essentially encourage you to vote to send a message about the Labour government in Westminster. There is no escaping the fact that the European Parliamentary election is a second-order election, and will therefore often be used as a way to “send a message” to the government. But I’d rather the Conservatives wouldn’t encourage people to discard European issues for a European election.

No word on the coalition of charmers they are trying to build up either.

Scottish Greens

We have not heard a peep from the Greens. No leaflet came through the door. So I have taken a look at their website.

The blurbs are full of the sort of stuff you come to expect from Greens. For instance, it attacks “reckless growth”, apparently oblivious to the fact that it is the lack of growth that is hurting everyone so much just now. They attack the economic system, but offer little in the way of alternative ideas, apart from more control and more regulation. And renewable energy.

Among their main plans is a promise to create “hundreds of thousands of jobs”. Good luck with that one. They also advocate mutual financial institutions, glossing over the problems that hit the Dunfermline Building Society.

Scottish Labour

This leaflet is not just tailored for Scotland. It is aimed more narrowly at Fife and Tayside. We learn that Labour has the vote of Kariann and Kenneth from Rosyth, whose are pictured with their son Ryan. Oddly, they all look rather glum. Their quote says:

It’s Gordon Brown’s leadership that will get us through these tough times. Labour is the only party on the side of hard working families, standing up for Scottish people nationally and in Europe.

They’re not doing a very good job of it though, are they? As for “Gordon Brown’s leadership”, I can only imagine that Kariann and Kenneth are by now the laughing stock of Rosyth. There can’t be many towns in Scotland that have been more badly hit by Labour’s disastrous economic policies than Rosyth.

I’ll never forget the Dunfermline and West Fife by-election, when Gordon Brown stood in Rosyth banging on about job security — only for 700 jobs to go at Lexmark. According to this page, 1,599 jobs had been lost in Rosyth — around an eighth of the town’s population — between 1997 and 2006. Labour’s economic legacy in Gordon Brown’s patch.

When you open up the leaflet, the first thing it does is play the unionist card, as you would expect from Labour. It’s not that I disagree with the message, but it does seem a bit ham-fisted. It is perhaps a mistake for the rest of this page to focus on Labour’s economic record, which is in tatters.

Page three concedes that “it may seem hard to talk about an upturn now”. It certainly is hard to talk about it while Labour are in charge. There is only a brief mention of what Labour’s MEPs have done, and nothing at all about what they plan to do in the future. The rest focuses on the SNP’s record in the Scottish Government. Above this blurb is a rather unflattering photograph of Gordon Brown and Lindsay Roy, two people who always look uncomfortable in front of a camera. Neither of them look particularly happy, reflecting the mood of the times.

The back page sees the return of Kariann and Kenneth, telling us what they think. They tell us that the SNP “have broken almost all their election promises”, then list all the “wrong decisions for Scotland” the SNP have made. Nothing about European issues.

They are “not voting for the Tories because of the last recession.” Hahahahah! Quite why the relatively benign recession that happened almost twenty years ago matters more than the one that is ruining everyone’s lives today is not entirely clear, although I suppose we have come to expect this sort of logic from Labour supporters. Anyone but the Tories, never mind the facts.

Scottish Liberal Democrats

The Lib Dem message on the front is simple and effective: “Stronger together, poorer apart”, illustrated by a tug-of-war team wearing orange and black. Inside, the copy focuses on “international action” that the Lib Dems help take.

Admirably, the entire leaflet focuses largely on European issues. There is a section at the bottom on why each of the other major parties are so bad. Gordon Brown is pictured shaking hands with George Bush — a bit of a cheap shot. The SNP are bad because a “broken up” Britain would be weaker in Brussels. The Conservatives would also isolate us from Europe. Apparently the Tories “only agree with small fringe parties including UKIP and Sinn Féin.” Ouch! Another low blow.

Despite the cheap shots, this is easily the leaflet that speaks the most to me. I appreciate the focus on European issues, underlining the importance of international action in certain areas — a concept I agree with.


The SNP are a major party, so there are none of the amusing loon-policies. However, what it does mean is a lot of bland platitudes. “SNP MEPs will always do what’s best for our nation, our families and our communities.” What does this actually tell us? Would any party say they wouldn’t do that?

One thing that differentiates the SNP is the promise to “Campaign for Scotland to be a member of the European Union in its own right” — in other words, independence. Surprise surprise.

Disappointingly, Alex Salmond’s message focuses on what the SNP Scottish Government is doing, rather than what the party plans to do in Europe. The back of the leaflet provides a list of what the SNP is doing to protect Scottish jobs. This feels more like an opportunity to remind us of what the Scottish Government is doing rather than a plea for us to vote SNP in the European Parliamentary election.

1 comment

  1. “The SNP are bad because a “broken up” Britain would be weaker in Brussels”

    Great thinking from the Liberal Democrats.

    How many MEP’s would an independent Scotland have?