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The public are not as Eurosceptic as you think; the lessons of the Scottish referendum must be heeded; and pro-Europeans need to speak a language people can hear were the key themes underpinning the panelists' answers at the EPLP fringe event on building Labour's campaign for Britain in Europe at the Labour Party Conference in Manchester today.

Byron Taylor, national officer of Unions Together, spoke of the need for something different from Europe, and for pro-Europeans to deploy stronger arguments:

"Europe is baffling to most voters, both in terms of the issues it dealt with and their context. Pro-Europeans need to get their point across better - the perception the EU is a distant entity with a democratic deficit is a huge issue.

"Freedom of movement, and the undercutting of wages, social dumping and use of agency workers are leading to a rise in support for UKIP - workers did not sign up to this. It is a huge issue and needs to be addressed.

"We need to be quicker, sharper and better in our arguments. We have good lines on immigration, maternity pay, sick pay and other rights at work and we need to win these debates. We are moving in the right direction but we have to think differently.

"There's a lot we can learn from the mistakes in the Scottish referendum campaign, which were exploited by the nationalists. We need to talk to people about issues which affect them, then we can get out messages on Europe."

Joe Twyman, YouGov's head of political research for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said:

"Europe is not actually very important to people. It's not the main issue for people. Most people don't care, don't think about it and ignore discussions. Fifty eight per cent of people want a referendum on Europe, including more than 40 per cent of Labour voters, but people will tell you they want a referendum on anything - a majority of UKIP supporters want a referendum on our membership of the Eurovision song contest!

"Whenever you ask the question, it is extremely close - 51%:49% in May. It is about 50:50 across the. But when confronted with options other than just in/out, only 25 per cent want to leave - and only 69% of UKIP voters. Less than a fifth of Labour voters, and under a third of Tories. The most popular option is renegotiation and reform. Sixty nine per cent want significant reform. One of the best and worst points is freedom of movement - more than two thirds understand why it exists, but less than a quarter think it a good deal.

"No one understands the European Parliament, MEPs, Groups. Most people couldn't name a single MEP or their party. Though the ECHR is nothing to do with the EU, people are saying 'I want to leave Europe because I hate human rights' - they're actually saying that!"

On the lessons of the Scottish referendum, Joe added:

"Don't leave it so late! There was a lot of complacency, then public opinion started to change. Then after one poll all hell broke loose. Farage and Salmond are mirror images of each other. Both are very good at mopping up the distrustful, dissatisfied and disappointed, those who feel left behind. The Scottish Yes were very good at gathering those younger voters, UKIP are getting those older voters.

"You don't succeed without a positive message. We need to talk about fairness, security and economic success. Positive messages have a greater impact."

Rachel Franklin, research and campaigns manager at British Influence, said:

"We need to talk about completing the single market, a single market in energy, a globalised world, we need to make the arguments. There is a legitimacy deficit, people don't understand what's happening in Brussels. We need people to buy into the concept. Wider society, trade unions, climate groups, NGOs need to be advocates in the media. We need to mobilise voices in society to stand up.

"UKIP's policies are the key to beating them. On equality, climate change - we need to attack them on more than their xenophobia. Also, what is their alternative? Norway? They have legislation without representation. We need to talk about these issues.

"Scotland us the value of campaigning, it was quite heartening actually. Yes did very well, getting 300,000 volunteers on the ground. Turnout was massive. We need to mobilise people ahead of an EU referendum. People say Westminster is dying. The rise of Salmond and Farage shows this. Everybody has a responsibility to speak out now."

Reform not retreat: building Labour's campaign for Britain in Europe

The public are not as Eurosceptic as you think; the lessons of the Scottish referendum must be heeded; and pro-Europeans need to speak a language people can hear were the...

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The leader of Labour’s MEPs today warned of the risks to Britain’s standing in Europe and the impact on living standards of five more years of David Cameron.

Glenis Willmott MEP, Labour’s leader in Europe, told the Labour Party Conference:

"David Cameron is a case study in how to lose friends and influence nothing. The Idiot Abroad. The Tories simply can’t deliver the leadership and reform we need in Europe.

“His incompetence on the European stage has very real and serious consequences.

“Under Cameron, the UK’s influence in Brussels has been eroded, putting our national interest, and the reforms and progress we need on hold; under Cameron, the UK is sleepwalking to exit, causing great economic uncertainty and damaging investment in our country.

“That's why we need a Labour Government. That's why we need Ed Miliband in No.10. Because in Brussels, as in Westminster, we need a Labour agenda.

“Europe is a force for good in the world. It is a force for good in Britain. But it could be so much better. With Ed Miliband as our Prime Minister sitting around that table in Brussels we can fight for the Europe we need.

“A Europe of solidarity. A Europe that puts jobs and growth first. A Europe for the many not the few. A Europe - and a Britain - made better by Labour.”

Looking ahead to the next five years in the European Parliament, Glenis said:

“Living standards under pressure, economic uncertainty, immigration - Labour MEPs are determined to put these concerns at the heart of our work in Europe.

“We will work together with our European colleagues to refocus the EU budget to deliver jobs and growth: We will champion jobs and training to get young people into work; we will take on reform of the European energy market; we will act to address the scourge of zero hour contracts, and prevent the undercutting of pay.

“And let me be very clear: your Labour MEPs will not support any EU-US trade deal that endangers the NHS.”

On the threat of UKIP, Glenis added:

“[In May’s European election] Nigel Farage managing to convince many voters he was the one who would stand up for working families - the same Nigel Farage who wants to charge you to see your GP; the same Nigel Farage who wants to give a tax cut to millionaires and make you pay more; the same Nigel Farage who wants to scrap your rights at work.

“As a miner’s daughter myself it was heartbreaking to stand in the former coalfields of my constituency, communities devastated by Thatcher, and hear people say they were voting UKIP.

“We know people have real concerns. But UKIP offers no answers for our country. And we will continue to take on and expose their deceptions and counter their inflammatory rhetoric in Brussels and at home.”

Read Glenis’s speech in full here.

Labour’s European leader warns against another term of Cameron in Europe

The leader of Labour’s MEPs today warned of the risks to Britain’s standing in Europe and the impact on living standards of five more years of David Cameron.

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If you are at Labour Party conference this week, find out more about your new team of Labour MEPs and their work. We will be hosting two fringe events.

On Monday 22 September, from 12:30-2:30, we will look at how Labour can make the case for the UK remaining at the heart of Europe, hearing from pollsters, campaigners and party members from the floor to discuss how we build a practical and popular campaign.

Our second fringe debate takes place on Tuesday 23 September, from 8:30-10:00am, looking at how the left responds to the rise of populism and anti-establishment parties, with guests from sister parties across Europe. Details here.

Hear from leading Labour Party figures at the Europe Reception on Monday evening, from 7:00-9:00pm. Ed Miliband MP, Leader of the Labour Party, Glenis Willmott MEP, Leader of the EPLP, and Douglas Alexander MP, shadow foreign secretary, will be among the speakers. Paul Kenny will also speak on behalf of TULO who are supporting the event, which is for Labour Party members only. Details here.

Come and visit the EPLP stand - number 102/103 - and discover more about the work of our MEPs. You can find details of your Labour MEP here and see the latest news from Labour MEPs here.

Many of Labour's team of MEPs will be discussing Europe and other policy issues on the conference fringe. For a full list of public events Labour MEPs are speaking at, click here.

EPLP at Labour Party Conference 2014

If you are at Labour Party conference this week, find out more about your new team of Labour MEPs and their work. We will be hosting two fringe events.

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