This post is a bit different to usual. Normally I post raising awareness and understanding of autism and mental health, but with the EU elections happening in a couple of days and with the various recent news reports about how well the Brexit Party are expected to do in the EU elections I wanted to write a post about it, because in my opinion voting for the Brexit Party in the EU elections would be a vote against democracy, a vote to reduce the say we have over decisions made in the EU that directly impact on us as UK citizens.
I want to share in this post why I am voting Liberal Democrat in the EU elections and why I feel that Brexit leave voters should too.
I am not voting Liberal Democrat as a protest vote, I’m not voting Liberal Democrat because I am a Lib Dem voter (I generally align myself more with Labour although I wouldn’t say I have affiliation to any party), I’m not voting Lib Dem because I want to send a message that I want us to remain in the EU, I am voting Lib Dem because I want politicians in the EU who will democratically represent me as a UK citizen, I want democracy to work.
I voted remain in the Brexit vote, so I obviously would prefer us to remain in the EU, but I can understand that the way Brexit has been handled has made a lot of leave voters angry. I can understand the desire for leave voters to vote for the Brexit Party and how this would send a message to the Government about what leave voters want. This blog post isn’t about whether we should remain or leave the EU, this post is about democracy.
My view is that those who want to vote for the Brexit Party should do so in a General Election, this is the place to fight for Brexit, within UK Parliament, to oust the Conservatives and get themselves into power to deliver Brexit. Whether you are a remain voter or a leave voter the chances are you believe in democracy and want the UK to have a say in decisions made in the EU for the whole time we are members. This is why it makes sense to vote Lib Dem.
Historically leave voting member’s of European Parliament have had lower attendance records than remain voting MEP’s (you can check voting history of MEP’s here), there are obviously some who attend frequently, but there are more with lower attendance than remain voting MEP’s. By choosing not to attend and not voting on laws and decisions being made which impact the UK these politician’s are making a mockery of our democracy.
They will claim that the EU is made up of unelected bureaucrats who make decisions we have no say in (which is untrue), when in reality the EU is more democratic than the UK, they have the European Commission which is similar to our UK civil service, they come up with proposed laws and policies etc, and then the elected MEP’s vote on these and then work together on the fine detail and on implementing any laws or regulations to make sure they are as agreeable as possible for each country and sometimes countries may opt-out of things. MEP’s have the power to force the European Commission to resign and they decide on the EU budget and how EU money is spent (you can find out more here). European Parliament’s role is to promote democratic decision making.
There may need to be compromise among people, but MEP’s work together and negotiate to form a way forward which everyone largely agrees on. This means as laws or regulations go through, they change until most people agree that the final outcome is acceptable to those in their own country. People often seem to talk in terms of ‘them and us’, talking about the ‘EU’ making decisions which impact on the UK, rather than focusing on how the ‘UK’ is part of the ‘EU’, we play a significant role in decisions that are made.
This is far more collaborative and democratic than UK politics where, if someone from Labour came up with a brilliant idea, unless it would look negative to vote against it, Conservatives largely would vote against it because it is a Labour idea, and any brilliant Conservative ideas presented, unless it would look negative to vote against it, Labour would largely vote against it. There is very little working together collaboratively.
Since 1999 the UK has only lost about 2% of EU votes (and abstained about 3% of the time, so we have won votes about 95% of the time). If we start electing representatives who don’t attend and who, when they do attend, vote disruptively, rather than for the benefit of the UK, then this is going to have a negative impact on us as citizens and mean that our democratically elected MEP’s are acting undemocratically by not supporting the best interests of the UK, just for the sake of making a point to the EU and the UK Government.
Whether someone voted remain or leave, they must be able to see that voting in people who decide not to represent us isn’t a good thing. We may well leave in June or October, or face further delays, or perhaps not leave at all. Whatever happens, for the time that we are a part of the EU I want us as a country to be working democratically and to be engaging meaningfully in EU decisions which may have an impact on us. This is why I will be voting Liberal Democrat because politicians who want to be a part of the EU will turn up and engage in the creation, development and passing of laws and regulations which will impact on UK citizens, they will vote based on what is in the UK’s best interests and vote against things which aren’t in the UK’s best interests and will work collaboratively with MEP’s from other countries.
I feel the Brexit Party is an ideal party for unhappy leave voters to support in a UK election, but not in the European elections. A vote to ‘send a message‘ to the Government about respecting the referendum result isn’t a good reason to vote for the Brexit party in the EU elections, that is a good reason to vote for them in a General Election because then they have the power to get Brexit done. Just like remain voters voting for Lib Dem and Green in a General Election would give a clear message about what they want.
The question to ask yourself if you are thinking of voting for the Brexit Party in the EU elections is ‘beyond voting for them to send a message to the Government, what will they be doing for you in the EU between now and when Brexit happens?’
Will they promote your democracy by attending regularly, by voting and engaging meaningfully in EU decisions in the best interests of the UK, or will they be sacrificing your democracy by being disruptive and rarely attending?