Thursday, 14 May 2009

Tell me who to vote for. Really.

So, as with everyone else I guess, I got my European Election Polling Card through the post this week.


I guess I'm about as enthusiastic about going to vote in this election as Gordon Brown is about getting up in the morning. Which is to say, I'm in the 80% of the population who royally can't be bothered with it.

Don't get me wrong, I'll go and vote. People died so I could live in a democracy and vote and that is something I don't forget. Also, I'd be a big hypocrite if I didn't go vote after years of telling people to use theirs. And if there's one thing I hate, it's double standards. Oh yeah, and the polling station is literally 100 steps from my flat.

But here's the thing. If you're asking me to choose between Eurosceptic and Europhile, I distinctly end up choosing the former. I'm all for international co-operation and institutions etc, but the EU is a huge bureaucracy which, frankly, hasn't done much and one which I think we could quite happily live without. Okay, it has stopped Europe falling into yet another war (with each other I mean) but really, are you telling me we couldn't have found a means of doing so which didn't dictate the curvature of bananas?

So here's my thing. Given how skint I am, I was thinking I would sell my vote. Person with the highest bid gets to tell me who to vote for. But then, I'm pretty sure that might be bordering on illegal (however much I need the money). So here's what I'll do:

If you feel strongly about the European election - and want me to vote for a particular party - write me a single sentence in the comments with the name of the party and why I should vote for them. And if I find a comment that I either agree with or find entertaining then I will vote for that party.

I realise that this is taking the mickey out of democracy somewhat... but in an EU election, does it really matter who we vote for? I mean, they all disappear off to Brussels (oh yeah, and Strasbourg) and are never heard from again. Until they've spent all their expenses of course.

So let me know who you want me to vote for.


Indy 14 May 2009 at 09:34  

The EU employs fewer people than Glasgow City Council.

Malc 14 May 2009 at 09:42  

And that means I should vote for...?

Indy 14 May 2009 at 10:31  

I'm not going to tell you who to vote for - simply pointing out that one of your main premises is wrong.

Quite frankly I don't think you should vote at all.

Malc 14 May 2009 at 10:38  

There's no way that is correct by the way.

I understand that - including a number of EU agencies - the total employee numbers of the EU is over 170,000 people. Which is more than the British Army (107,000).

1/3 of 600,000 residents in Glasgow City Council area work for the Council? I doubt 1/3 of people in Glasgow work...

Indy 14 May 2009 at 11:31  

Your source for that figure is here:

It is wrong. People who work as lobbyists for example do not work for the EU. The European Council and the Court of Justice are not part of the EU. The 'thousands' of people working on the implementation of EU directives in member states do not work for the EU. Etc.

The organisation you quote from - Open Europe - is 'an independent think tank set up by some of the UK’s leading business people' They are against regulation and bureacracy in the EU - they are equally against regulation and bureacracy in the UK.

If you share their views you should vote Tory.


Anonymous,  14 May 2009 at 11:38  

Libertas are a pro-eu, eu-reform party. You should probably vote for them, although I wouldn't.

Malc 14 May 2009 at 11:44  

Thanks Indy.

Slightly confused by your statement that "The European Council and the Court of Justice are not part of the EU."

The European Court of Justice was established by the 1951 Treaty of Paris - as a constituent part of the then European Coal and Steel Community - now the EU.

The European Council is a meeting of EU heads of state and is the highest political body of the EU.

I don't really want to pour cold water on your "facts" but really, a cursory look at Wikipedia would have you stand corrected here.

Nobby Clark 14 May 2009 at 11:55  

I like your thinking; I might put my vote for sale on eBay. As long as they don't use it to vote Green. Or Labour. Or Lib-Dem. Or those one-trick ponies at UKIP.

Malc 14 May 2009 at 11:59  

Thanks Nobby. At least someone is entering into the spirit of things...

PJ 14 May 2009 at 12:14  

Well there is a PJ listed so that alone makes it the most interesting fact I've come across about the elction so far! Hastily sweeping under the carpet the fact that not only is PJ short for Peregrine in this instance (surely worthy of a sympathy vote), but also sixth in party list order for the Conservatives...

That wasn't a very convincing case for your vote! I'll get my coat...

Indy 14 May 2009 at 12:18  

Sorry my mistake - the European Court is not part of the EU. The European Court of Justice is.

The Council of Europe is not a part of the EU.

The Council of Ministers is - and so is the European Council - but the Council of Europe isn't. I know it is confusing. Here is the wiki page:

That is where my confusion originates because the Council of Europe is in charge of the European Court - but not the European Court of Justice.

Its like the introduction to Soap here if you are young enough to remember it.

Malc 14 May 2009 at 12:26  

Anything about this discussion suggesting to you Indy that the EU is full of agencies and bureacracy that are fairly undemocratic, unaccountable, and that no one knows about?

I know, I know, some of them are not "EU" agencies. But let me put it to you like this: would they exist if the EU did not? I'd suggest probably not - ergo (in my book at least) they are part of the EU's bureacracy.

Malc 14 May 2009 at 12:32  

Okay, I'll re-write that. The Council of Europe would exist without the EU given it predates its existence by several years. But it does use the same flag & anthem and there is much in the way of co-operation between them.

Indy 14 May 2009 at 13:19  

Yes they would.

You should consider the possibility that the EU has actually delivered efficiencies by centralising a lot of bureacracy.

We all hear about the 70% of 'laws' made by the EU rather than by national legislators. In point of fact these are regulations rather than laws.

The eurosceptic view might be that if we did not have the EU we would not have to have any regulations. But that's daft. Matters which the EU regulates on have to be regulated. Without the Commission et al to do that job what would happen is that the 27 member states (plus the non member states who are nevertheless part of the trading bloc) would have to have their own regulatory regimes - which would not necessarily be compatible and would therefore form a barrier to trade.

Face it - if the EU did not exist it would have to be invented.

Malc 14 May 2009 at 13:33  

Indy, I'm actually in agreement. I like the concept. I just think that it could be better. More accountable. Less like a laughing stock.

Why do we never hear from our MEPs? See them on TV? Know what they are up to? It's part of the same reason that we have a Scottish Parliament - democracy looks like it works better up close. Brussels (and, increasingly, London) are just too far away to fulfil that role.

So yes, I think we need an EU. I just want one that works.

Indy 14 May 2009 at 13:47  

You never see them on TV because they largely deal with matters like agriculture and fisheries and environmental matters which the press don't care about.

I am not a complete europhobe by the way, I think a lot of things should be reformed and improved. I also am not sure there is any particular need for a parliament at all. The reality is that the EU works mainly through agreements between member states. The Parliament's prime role is to scrutinise legislation and so on from the Commission. That is a function that requires to be performed but perhaps calling it a Parliament gives a somewhat misleasing impression.

Stuart Winton 14 May 2009 at 20:10  

Indy, when you say "European Court", do you mean the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ?

As you say, the EU's judicial function resides in the European Court of Justice (ECJ), and this is often confused with the ECHR, but to use the term European Court per se invites confusion between the two.

(The Council of Europe has a wider membership than the EU and is responsible best know for the ECHR)

Also, you said:

"We all hear about the 70% of 'laws' made by the EU rather than by national legislators. In point of fact these are regulations rather than laws."

Perhaps a legal eagles could clarify, but as far as I'm aware EU regulations are as much a part of the law as any legislation originating from the UK or Scottish Parliaments?

Directives are different in that they have to be incorporated into domestic law by individual states (hence the debate about goldplating and suchlike), but regulations are directly effective.

And in your final post, you must mean "europhile" rather than "europhobe"?

Holyrood Patter 14 May 2009 at 20:12  

i had an exam today
Question 13: "Discuss the claim that the EU is an economic giant and a political dwarf"
my answer was shite so someone else can take it away...

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