Report on Speech by Catherine Bearder at UWE AGM

Report on Speech by Catherine Bearder at UWE AGM Catherine Bearder, the Lib/Dem MEP for the South East Region since 2009, left school at 15 and had a variety of jobs before going to Africa where her husband studied wild animals. She took time out to have children and believes this provides women with time to reflect and think about what they really want to do. The school gates provide an opportunity to recruit women into politics and other organisations.

She managed a CAB in the early 90s and was told, ‘Don’t get angry, get active’ and started her journey into politics. At present she is on an environmental committee focusing on wildlife protection and FEMME where a growing number of right-wingers are obstructing reports on abortion, sexual rights of women etc.

She could not avoid mention of the referendum. She felt it was called to sort out problems within the Tory Party. Most anti-European MPs have never been to Europe to see how it worked.

Most voters were unaware of the benefits and the fact that Britain has more opt outs than anyone else. Europe is not on the National Curriculum and the media is mainly owned by people who are anti-Europe. MEPs were never invited to take part in referendum debates.

We need to be positive and look for opportunities created. She sees it as an opportunity for reform in both Britain and Europe.

Britain needs to look at its democracy and reasons for voter apathy. Many look back to our past empire and cannot accept that our influence has diminished which has been obscured by our membership of the EU.

The result has also been seismic in Europe so she felt the divorce would be difficult. It will take years to unscramble all the protocols and agreements.

Europe needs to reform if it is to face down the rise in nationalism, the huge pressures from migration, the pressure from Russia struggling to find a new role and the environment.

Robin Ketteringham

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