Monday, 11 May 2009

The price of MP's expenses

I'm back. Did you miss me?!

It seems like while I was away, the world has fallen in on Westminster's head. What the hell are they up to down there? It seems like they are ALL at it, it's a plague on all their houses. So really none of the parties stand to benefit from it if a General Election were called today.

Well, actually, that might not be strictly true.

The main fear for June's European Election is if the Labour vote tanks (and some polls have them falling as low as 17% though I'd be surprised if they didn't manage 20%) then the main beneficiary will not be a mainstream party.

Think about it. You want to send a message to the government, but in a way that doesn't (quite) bring it down
but you don't want to vote for your own Labour party.

If you don't live in Scotland, there's no SNP to vote for (and even if there was, you are an ardent Labour voter, you have a visceral hatred for the Nats) so you can't vote for them. There's no natural crossover to the Tories, for they are (predominantly) Eurosceptic and you quite like the EU. Ditto for UKIP. While the Lib Dems are as inoffensive a bunch as you could find, you don't really want to see them overtake Labour. So, instead of voting, you stay at home and hope the day doesn't go too badly.

Which means that votes for parties in the centre are reduced while parties on the left and right (Greens and the BNP) are likely to increase their share of the vote - even if they don't increase their actual vote. And in a recession, where there are few jobs going, I suspect the BNP might sweep the anti-immigration vote in places like Leeds, Bradford and Burnley, where they already have a presence on local councils.

End point - from Gordon Brown's catastrophic handling of the economy and the public perception that MPs are all on the take, the BNP manage to sneak two or three seventh place finishes in English regions, and BNP MEPs are elected.

So use your vote or you could end up with the BNP. You have been warned.


Sam 11 May 2009 at 13:50  

I wouldn't dismiss the Lib Dems so easily. The main beneficiaries of corruption by sitting MP's are surely the main challengers for that seat. Lib Dem's being the third party they have a lot of candidates across the country with local name recognition from councils & previous election attempts.

BNP will certainly look to take advantage in the places you mentioned but its a big leap to go from being annoyed by your local Lab/Con MP to voting for a xenophobic manifesto.

Turnout will likely decrease in the EU elections as it has been consistently but it won't make a massive difference, & certainly not in the General election. We always hear about the rise of apathy but a few of us invariably end up wandering reluctantly down to the village hall.

PS Of course we did! Did you enjoy Vienna? Personally I love it, though I found Brussels a bit small after a day.

Malc 11 May 2009 at 14:31  


I think you misunderstand me. I don't think the votes will transfer - I think the BNP will get MEPs due to apathy not due to Lab/Con/LD voters voting for them.

In the Euros it is easy for them to take advantage - which was the point I was making. I am (sadly) expecting a couple of them to be elected to Brussels in June. But in the GE, it is likely to be main opposition parties who gain from apathy.

Vienna is architectually (is that a word?!) wonderful. And I know my way round Brussels quite well - and I quite like it too. Getting quite continental...

Sam 11 May 2009 at 14:44  

In the immortal words of Alan Partridge it is now!

I've only done fleeting visits to Brussels but I got the feeling there wasn't much to it unless you worked there. Did have a memorable steak though!

My girlfriend studies in Vienna so I may be biased but it seems like the perfect capital city to me. Everything you need without the vastness of London. And the underground kicks arse!

I do feel like quite the jetsetter sometimes (entirely without foundation) as I sit in another airport lounge! I like modern travel even if that's a somewhat unpopular view!

Sam 11 May 2009 at 20:33  

The Euro electorate is getting more apathetic every election & the BNP hasn't got in yet. Does it actually take much interest in European elections? It mostly seems to get talked about in local & council election contexts. I would be more worried about UKIP if I was a sitting mainstream MEP.

Actually if I was a sitting mainstream MEP I wouldn't be worried about anything bar how much beluga caviar, parma ham & white truffle I could fit in my face in one go. That's where the gravy train has really been rolling for the last few years & it hasn't seemed to matter much.

Anonymous,  11 May 2009 at 20:58  

" are an ardent Labour voter, you have a visceral hatred for the Nats"

Actually they don't. There's a lot of crossover between SNP and Labour voters.

Members and activists? Now that's a different matter where visceral does play a part.

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