European Parliament UK Office - activity in the run-up to the election
In the coming days, millions across the UK will cast their votes in the world's second largest democratic election. With the law-making role of the European Parliament much bigger and turnout traditionally low, engaging with every community and ensuring they can make an informed choice has never been so critical.
Over the past few months, the EPIO in London has been working hard with different organisations, providing information, raising awareness and encouraging engagement.
On 30 March, we joined with the Faiths Forum for London and the London Jewish Forum to host a hustings on Britain's place in the EU. MEP candidates from 3 UK political parties (Conservative, Labour and the Liberal Democrats) took part and the event was chaired by Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner with contributions from Jonathan Birdwell of the think tank, Demos.
A wide range of hot-button issues including the economy and immigration featured prominently in the discussion. Participants also discussed whether decisions such as the banning of religious symbols should be made at EU, national or local level.
An engaged audience and panel made for an interesting event. Two further hustings prior to the election are taking place: one at the Hindu London Sivan Kovil Trust on Tuesday 13 May, moderated by Jonathan Birdwell of Demos with MEP candidates from the five main political parties invited. The final one will be held at the Muslim Al-Khoei Foundation in Brent on Saturday 17 May.
In addition to our engagement with faith communities, outreach work is in place with members of the visually impaired and blind communities, of whom there are 360,000 registered in the UK. Using the services of the National Federation of Talking Newspapers, a three-minute text on the forthcoming election will be recorded onto audio cassette and USB/MP3 player and distributed via the network nationally. A weekly news service goes out via this channel informing people with visual impairments that the European election is being held.
The EPIO has also been focusing its efforts on social media, which is absolutely vital in reaching diverse audiences. Members of the team have created infographics and attractive visuals to inform the public about what the European Parliament does and create the opportunity for online debate. There have been themed weeks including gender, equality, the environment and freedom of movement and in the three weeks running up to the election, we will look specifically at candidates and political groups within the European Parliament.
The recent push on social media is more than a 'go to vote campaign'. It encourages people to think about what the EU has done for them, their country and the rest of Europe as a whole and to ask whether this has been positive.
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