Today the European Parliament voted through a report that will establish a blue plaque system for sites of European historical significance. The idea is to create a better understanding of our shared history within the European Union.
Sites will be selected for their symbolic rather than aesthetic value, and must have links with key European events or personalities. One of the potential sites in the U.K. that has been discussed so far is Bletchley Park, the site of the British efforts to break the Nazi codes during the Second World War.
The scheme will be entirely voluntary for member states, with each being able to select a maximum of two sites to be considered per year. Only one, at most, will ultimately be granted the label.
During the debate before the vote today I spoke in favour of the bill. I believe there are a number of advantages to the scheme in my opinion. Firstly, it is very cheap, costing the EU very little and almost nothing for the individual member states, literally nothing if they choose not to participate. Secondly, I think it’s important for us to gain a better understanding of our shared history; the events and people that made Europe what it is today. I look forward to seeing the first sites submitted for consideration, I think it could be very interesting.
I would like to congratulate my fellow S&D colleague, Chrysoula Paliadeli, who was the rapporteur and has worked very hard to produce an excellent and constructive report.
This week saw the humiliating ejection from the chamber in the European Parliament of the UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom. I blogged about he episode here. Bloom was ejected because he used the phrase “ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer” towards German MEP Martin Schulz, the Leader of the Socialist and Democrat Group.
This was totally inappropriate behaviour for the chamber as I said in my blog. Bloom feels the Second World War isn’t yet over but yet bases himself at the heart of the very institution in which post war coperation and understanding was born. I don’t understand his stance and find his behaviour at odds with what we are all working so hard and succeeding to achieve in Europe.
In other news the new leader Ed Miliband announced yesterday at the Party’s National Policy Forum that he would hold a two-year review of all the party’s policies – it is to be led by Liam Byrne. Miliband wants to move the Party beyond New Labour.
He told the Forum that people are more likely to actively chose their allegiance to a party than to inherit it. This is true, and we as a party must be aware that the electorate expects a party to be able to deliver and they will not passively support it based just on ideology – they want to see active policies which set the party apart from its opponent, something which can sometimes be blurred in modern politics.
So I wait to see how Milibands planned reforms take shape. He’s obviously taking it seriously – it’s a two-year project and he’s appointed Byrne to over see it. You can read full details in todays Observer.