From the doorsteps

I have been spending Saturday mornings walking and talking in support of European Parliament candidates. Today was a particularly pleasant sunny walk.

I found the usual mixture of local and national issues. Many voters are confused by the voting system. They want to vote for their own local Euro MEP, and dislike the regional list system when you explain it to them. Those who want to pull out of the EU are frustrated, seeing there is no way to achieve that even though these are EU elections. I rarely meet anyone who has raised an issue which the EU Parliament handles, and wants the candidate/MEP to do something. No-one I spoke to wanted the EU to do more, or said anything positive about it.

On the doorsteps today I was lobbied about school places, speed limits, planning, some MPs expenses, Council Tax and the state of the economy. I had to spend a lot of time explaining how many candidates there were, how the votes were cast and counted, how the party list system worked. I was usually told the public didn’t like that system! I have news for you – nor do I!

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18 Comments

  1. Mike Stallard
    Posted May 30, 2009 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    We ordinary voters know next to nothing about the EU.
    Our MEPs are selected in London by the Party System without consulting us. Most of them are permanently invisible. The things discussed in the European Parliament are rarely if ever reported in UK.
    The expenses are a scam. Nigel Farage admitted on Question Time that the allowance was £200,000 p.a. per MEP. Peter Mandelson took some £200,000 according to the Telegraph when he left. I am trying hard to buy Marta Andreasen’s Book “Brussels laid bare”.
    We seem to have signed the Lisbon Treaty without it even having put before parliament. (Remember Gordon Brown signing it in secret?)
    So is it any wonder that people aren’t interested?
    And, maybe, just maybe, that is how they like it…..

    Reply Parliament debated Lisbon extensively – although not in the way the Opposition wanted. It also voted by large majorities in faour of it, because this is an EU federalist Parliament. Of the three main parties only the Conservaitves voted against it and actively opposed it.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted May 31, 2009 at 8:17 am | Permalink

      The position is still that treaties are negotiated and signed by ministers as plenipotentaries of the Queen, exercising her Royal Prerogative.

      Most treaties are never explicitly approved by MPs, although many are laid before Parliament for 21 days under the Ponsonby Rule:

      http://www.parliament.uk/documents/upload/p14.pdf

      and if a majority of MPs objected strongly enough to a treaty they could no doubt find a way to prevent its final ratification.

      There is an argument that treaties should be subject to Parliamentary scrutiny and approval before signature.

      With modern communications it would have been technically feasible for a committee of MPs in London to have monitored all the negotiations for the Lisbon Treaty, accepting or rejecting draft articles. However as the government would have made sure that the committee was dominated by its supporters, it’s unlikely that would have made much difference.

    • Hugh Williams
      Posted June 18, 2009 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

      I see that Mike Stallard is having difficulty getting hold of a copy of Marta Andreasen’s book “Brussels Laid Bare”. As chairman of the company that has published this jaw-dropping story of EU corruption, I hope it’s in order to suggest that he Googles “Brussels Laid Bare” and he should find the St Edward’s Press website listed high up on the first page.

      • Mike Stallard
        Posted June 19, 2009 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

        It is true: I was having trouble. But I have now not only got a copy (from Amazon) but have actually read it.
        Thank you for your helpful comment, nevertheless!

  2. oldrightie
    Posted May 30, 2009 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

    Shows the enormous attention Jimmy Brown pays to listening to The People. NOT!!!!!!!!!

  3. dmc
    Posted May 30, 2009 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    We the electorate just feel powerless and unable to have any say on the eu.It seems the only people wanting it are politicians and eu bureaucrats,and neither will listen to us.We do not matter.We are here just to provide their wages and sums of money for them to squander.

  4. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted May 31, 2009 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    JR: “No-one I spoke to wanted the EU to do more, or said anything positive about it.”

    Yet the juggernaut trundles on unabated. Will you accept Stuart Wheeler’s £100,000 bet that Cameron will renege over his pledge to hold a referendum on the European Union treaty? It may be gimmicky but it highlights the point that there is no public trust that any main party will do anything to halt the “European Project”.

  5. Waramess
    Posted May 31, 2009 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    Only way to register that one wants to pull out of the EEC is to vote UKIP.

    Sad isn’t it?

    • alan jutson
      Posted May 31, 2009 at 9:58 am | Permalink

      Waramess

      Sadly what all of the Paties involved will say is “that it is simply a protest vote against MP’s Expenses”.

      They will still not believe the strong feeling that we are fed up to the back teeth of this absolute sham of a Democracy which is the EU.

      It has been proved in recent years that indeed our own system is not that much better, and needs a drastic re-think.

    • Graham Eardley
      Posted May 31, 2009 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

      Alan,
      That surely depends on the size of the vote UKIP get. If UKIP could get 25% plus. One of the major parties has to listen?

      • alan jutson
        Posted May 31, 2009 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

        Graham
        I hope you are right.

    • the man from UNCLE
      Posted June 2, 2009 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

      Alan, it is now the EU and voting UKIP for pulling out of it is not sad in my book at all. I have had enough of in “Europe but not run by Europe” which translates into the exact opposite of the stated intent.

      • the man from UNCLE
        Posted June 2, 2009 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

        Alan,

        Apologies was replying to the post above yours. Too keen to put my pennyworth in – can we still say pennies without being prosecuted for being ‘metricphobic’ or something?

  6. Chris H
    Posted May 31, 2009 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    I agree with dmc. Talking to a few people recently, it seems there will be mixed responses in my home area to the 4th June elections. Some aren’t bothering to go; others say they’ll go but it’s half-hearted because, as they say, “what do we ever get from a Euro-parliament? And who are they anyway?”.
    Everyone feels they’ve just been stuffed by government and forced to follow a route that offers nothing but mute obedience to Brussels, under a slave’s whip, and the gradual dismantling of our unique British society to become homogenised into the Euro-soup. People’s views don’t count….we only have to look at the disgusting Lisbon-vote fiasco in Ireland to see that fact in glorious technicolour.
    The EU has been given a green light to bulldoze everything that stands in its way of achieving total control, without consulting. The UK people have “ratified” Lisbon with gags over their mouths and the Irish will be expected to give the correct answer next time. And then we are expected to take an “active interest” in European affairs! OK, we will……to get us out.
    As I recall, Britain was a distant outpost of the old Roman Empire. Although extensively invaded and “ruled” from afar, the country eventually got rid of them as Rome collapsed under barbarian invasion. What we need is a repeat of history.

  7. Alan
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    I agree it is a pity that no one spoke up for the EU, so I will say something positive about it:

    The EU is our major trading partner. If we didn’t trade with the rest of Europe we would all be much poorer. The amount of profit that UK companies make, and the wages they pay to their employees, and the taxes they pay would all be much less if we were not in the EU. This far outweighs the contributions we make to the EU budget. Some of that budget is in any case returned to us, and some of it goes on projects that make it easier to trade and so increase our profits.

    It is naïve to assume that we could just leave and then renegotiate all our trade agreements with the EU. We would get a worse deal outside the EU than we get inside it, and the renegotiation would not be a short process anyway.

    If we had joined the euro we would have had a stable currency as well.

    • Cliff.
      Posted June 2, 2009 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

      That was a party election broadcast by the Labour Party:-)

      • Alan
        Posted June 3, 2009 at 6:37 am | Permalink

        I am not a supporter of the Labour Party. I have been in the past and I may be in the future, but not at the moment.

        Apart from the bit in favour of the euro my remarks are, I think, ones with which Mr Cameron would agree. My understanding is that he has several times made it clear that he seeks reform of the EU from the inside and to improve the UK’s standing within the EU, not the UK’s withdrawal from it.

        • Cliff.
          Posted June 3, 2009 at 9:35 am | Permalink

          My comment was made tongue in cheek however, although I am a lifelong Conservative, I find Mr Cameron’s version of Conservatism often at odds with what I believe traditional Conservatism to be.
          I am in favour of a trading block within Europe, as voted for in 1972 but, I am not in favour of a giant de facto socialist superstate which is where we appear to be heading. A trading block does not need its own army nor foreign secretary etc nor does it need fedralistic law making ability. It is my opinion that most European nations (or regions if the EUSSR has its way) have cultures and lifestyles that are incompatible with our own, assuming that our own still exists, although I can say there is a small area here in Wokingham where it certainly does!!
          I am English and proud of the fact, I do not want to be governed by the likes of the unelected Kinnocks et al with no way of removing them.
          I cannot see why our own politicians have given so much of our self determination away; What is in it for them?
          If these views make me a little Englander or xenophobic etc, then so be it, unlike so many people these days, I will not be silenced by being called names as I still feel sticks and stones etc still applies as much today as it ever did.

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    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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