The power of politics

Kate Cairns and her children Lys, Jake and Leif
Kate Cairns and her children Lys, Jake and Leif

Many of us are skeptical and cynical about the effectiveness and motivations of our politicians.

But it is with respect and gratitude that I thank the retired Fiona Hall MEP for showing me the incredible power of politics.

Fiona guided and empowered me, a grieving sister and a busy, working mother from a sleepy village in Northumberland, to go and sit at the negotiating table at the European Parliament in Brussels.

All I wanted was justice for my sister, Eilidh, and to ensure that no other pedestrian or cyclist would suffer a violent and brutal death under the wheels of a lorry.

Over 4,200 people are killed in Europe every year by lorries but since Eilidh’s death in 2009 other families in our rural Northumberland have shared our pain: Janet Brown, aged 43, about to be married, was killed by a van while cycling near Cramlington in April 2011 and Josh Jarvis, from Longhoughton, aged 21, was killed by a HGV while cycling in Manchester in February this year.

Last month, I co-signed a letter with seven other national campaign groups urging the UK Government to resist lobbying of vehicle manufactures and to change its mind and support EU proposals for immediate mandatory improved direct vision in new lorries (meaning the driver can see through the windscreen instead of relying on an array of cameras, sensors and mirrors). I am pleased to report that it did so but the debate still rolls on.

This is an example of where the EU makes our country a better safer place.

Many of our laws originate from Europe and force our politicians to act on many issues: Clean seas and beaches, air pollution, energy-efficient buildings, and people trafficking.

We can’t tackle global problems such as climate change and ocean pollution on our own.

If you want to make a difference, you can.

Engage with your politicians, make them work for you, as Fiona has worked for our family and for families right across Europe, on all sorts of issues, to make life better for us all.

Kate Cairns,

Newton by the Sea,

Founder See Me Save Me