Vote by All Means, but Don't Use the Election to Blow a Giant Raspberry; DAVID TAYLOR-GOOBY on What We Should Be Looking for at the European Elections Next Month

The Journal (Newcastle, England), April 23, 2014 | Go to article overview

Vote by All Means, but Don't Use the Election to Blow a Giant Raspberry; DAVID TAYLOR-GOOBY on What We Should Be Looking for at the European Elections Next Month


ARE you aware that in a month's time there is to be an election? Probably not from the amount of interest I have seen in the press and people I talk to.

But there were the debates between Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage, you will say. They aroused some interest, didn't they? Yes they did, but they were not about the elections. The two protagonists were arguing about whether Britain should be in the European Union or not. So far as I am aware, the elections are not about this.

There may, or may not, be a referendum in a few years' time on this issue, but if I was a betting man I would not be putting any money on it.

The elections are about choosing representatives for the European Parliament. There are three for the North East region. The elections are on proportional representation, so at present smaller parties have a chance of winning a seat if they can secure a third of the vote on what is usually a low poll. At present there is one Labour, one Liberal Democrat and one Conservative representative.

It would be an odd council election if candidates argued about whether the council should exist rather than what they might do if elected. Yet that is precisely what UKIP is doing in this election.

They like European elections because under the proportional system they have more chance of getting people elected.

You might well argue that the European Parliament is a toothless organisation, whose members claim large expenses and debate ineffectually.

It is true that the European Union is controlled by the Council of Ministers, who represent the member countries.

It is also true that some members claim excessive expenses, UKIP amongst them, but this is not the only place where that has happened.

The Parliament is, however, responsible for framing many of the European Union's basic rules.

An example happened the other day. The Parliament passed a rule requiring large lorries to be designed with greater visibility to prevent accidents with cyclists. …

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