Today is the day Britain has its say on who will represent us in the European Parliament for the next five years.
It is the oddest British election ever, because – judging from the candidates’ and parties’ leaflets – the politicians do not seem to understand what the election is about. They all seem to think that the election is about whether or not Britain stays in the EU. But it isn’t. This election will not deliver that – even if UKIP wins every single one of the UK’s 73 seats.
The only body that has the power to call a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU is the UK Parliament. If you are anti-EU, turn your attention to next year’s Parliamentary elections. But put it out of your mind as you vote today. But, not completely!
Some of the criticisms of the EU are that it is anti-democratic; that it is “Brussels dictating to Britain”; that its laws are bonkers; and that its MEPs are bonkers too.
Let’s take a look at that: Yes! Some of its MEPs are bonkers – but that is because we elect bonkers people to represent us! Nobody can be unaware by now that UKIP candidates tend to be the most bonkers of all. Nigel Farage complains that the media is only interested in exposing UKIP politicians’ silliness. That’s not true – journalists enjoy exposing ALL politicians silliness and wrong doing. Just ask John ‘two loo-seats’ Prescott or Peter ‘duck-house’ Viggers if you don’t believe me.
But what about the main charge. We can hardly complain that Brussels is imposing its will on Britain – that “they over there” are telling “us over here” what to do when you consider that nearly 10 per cent of all MEPs are from the UK.
Today, we will elect 73 of the EU’s 751 MEPs. If a country has a right to feel that it is bring dictated to, then surely Estonia, Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta, with just six MEPs each, are in a better position to complain. In fact, the UK has more MEPs than the combined total of the nine smallest EU countries – and that includes Ireland.
This gives us a tremendous ability to influence EU regulations and directives. The EU law making process is complex. Its primary legislation is made by national governments in the form of treaties (and it is now part of UK statutory law that any new treaty involving a transfer of power to the EU will be subject to a referendum).
Its secondary legislation – regulations and directives – is made by the European Council and Commission (members or representatives of national governments) working with the European Parliament.
So we do actually have an influence on European law making. But only if we use it.
UKIP tell us that they are concerned about the amount of UK laws that are “made in Europe”. But what do they do about this? They whinge and they moan, but they do not engage.
Of all the political parties represented in the European Parliament from throughout Europe; UKIP MEPs have the worst participation level; and take part in less than two-thirds of all votes (but they are happy to take the generous salary and allowances).
UKIP cannot deliver a referendum. This isn’t in the gift of MEPs. Even if UKIP win every single European Parliamentary seat, they have no power to call a referendum.
What they can do, as MEPs, is engage with the European law-making process and deliver a strong voice for Britain in the decision making process. With 10 per cent of the Parliament, Britain is in a strong position. Or, we would be if our MEPs engaged, but UKIP don’t.
So, Vote UKIP (if you want a strong Europe that steam-rollers over Britain).
Or, if you want a European Parliament with a strong British voice; and MEPs who will engage with the democratic process and actually do the work that they are elected to do; vote for a mainstream political group.
If the European Parliament is full of bonkers people, we only have ourselves to blame – we elect 10 per cent of them.
Today, make your vote count. We have a type of proportional system which means that the more votes cast for sensible political groups means the bonkers “swivel-eyed loons” have less chance of getting elected. But if don’t vote, UKIP – and worse still, the BNP – have a much easier ride.