The mild start to the election campaign for the 2014 European Parliament elections may have largely passed you by if you live in the UK? Why is that? Perhaps it is because our main political party players are running scared? Scared of getting a trouncing that is. Keeping things low key perhaps? It’s all going to hot up now though – less than 2 weeks to go and the voting papers are going out & votes will have been cast as you read this (the postal voters that is!). While Labour (leader Miliband) had envisaged a revival of their fortunes by heading the pack in these EU elections, and the Conservatives (leader Cameron) had their tail between their legs, they are now both cowering in the corner, as UKIP (leader Farage) have challenged both of them to become the dominant pack leader!
Your voting paper might comes as a bit of a surprise to you though; out of the some forty standing, perhaps in your constituency there on the ballot paper, 10 or more so called parties (ones you have never heard of and are unlikely to again?), each possibly with seven or more names (ones you have never heard of and are unlikely to again?). You can’t actually vote for a ‘person’ though can you? Take ‘em all or none! Apart from the supposedly three main parties Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, and rising fast UKIP (and not forgetting the Greens) you will no doubt get the choice of various other anti-EU/Nationalist/Religious parties Who and how the heck any one of the individuals in them gets elected is a mystery, isn’t it? The computer will know probably.
The Election authorities give extensive information in how to vote, but you will struggle find out how such an election actually works! Well, we in the UK get to elect over seventy MEPs and in England employ a ‘party list system’ (which means YOU can’t vote for a person and those running the party simply pre-chose their best mates to get elected IF they get enough party votes to win any seats!). You see that is what democracy here in England has become!
For this election In the UK, England is split into nine regions (East Midland/East of England/London/NE/NW/NE/SE/SW/West Midlands/Yorkshire & Humber) and Wales, Scotland, and NI each are separate regions. Each region gets allocated their specific number of MEPs – between 3 and 10 so far.
When elected what do these MEPs actually do (apart from costing in excess of £1 million a year each!) – that is a fair question surely?. The MEPs of the EU parliament (which they claim is one of the most powerful legislatures in the World!) is elected by EU member states (on an increasing LOW turnout since the inception of elections some 35 years ago, which you might worry about? Perhaps people don’t believe in it?). Well truth being known, these MEPs don’t do a lot, they don’t really have much ultimate power, and THEY don’t control things do they – they can’t even propose laws? Oh no, in the EU we have the Parliament, the Council, and the Commission all apparently with their fingers in the pie –the unelected Commissioners run things and are the real law creators, surely? They are the only ones who can propose legislation – the elected MEPs (over 750 of them enjoying in being in the biggest debating society ever – Oxford & Cambridge Universities eat your heart out!) who can agree things but nothing actually passes into European legislation without joint approval of the unelected Council (ministers simply nominated from within) – merely complex or an undemocratic farce? Anyway this lot churn out a hoard of laws which override the majority of anything that our own elected MPs come up with – happy about that are YOU?
The EU parliament operates primarily from Brussels and Strasbourg but its seven institutions are located in four cities (so Luxemburg & Frankfurt as well), with MEPs (and the whole entourage) being very well travelled between locations. Sound expensive, sound silly, and sound incomprehensible?
Being in the EU Club means that each member is treated equally, with the same membership fees and same benefits, doesn’t it? Dream on everybody – and the UK is one of the memberships that come worst off of course. Then there is a requirement for free movement of people which means our small island is open to all and sundry in the EU without any regard to reciprocity of facilities – Romania or Poland for example are unlikely to entice many British to make their life there (NOT much in the way of jobs, housing, free schooling, free medical care or substantial benefits, but lovely to holiday to of course).
Don’t worry though PM Cameron has committed to ‘renegotiate’ our position (but NO PROGRESS after two years?) and ‘promised’ to give the UK (including Scotland if it is still with us!) in 3 YEARS TIME (!) an IN-OUT Referendum (just like he promised before the last election, but he means it this time – it is untrue that he swore on Libdem leader Clegg’s life). Beware, he has no intention of trying to change ‘freedom of movement’ (because there is no way whatsoever would the EU powers that be consider THAT!) – so what is the point of ‘renegotiation?; Miliband will soldier on regardless he says and loves the UK being in the EU even without the approval of the British people (just wait for a u-turn when trounced at the EU elections!); Farage definitively wants the UK out of the EU, but currently has no power to do ANYTHING whatsoever (but if he gets 30% of the votes that will be a springboard for the General Election next year, wont it?)
[Whatever your politics or view of the EU, or the Parties, or the Candidates, just VOTE – many have died to give YOU that right and responsibility, so you won’t let their sacrifice have been in vain will you?].