European elections

A couple of weeks ago I posted “Election time again” on this blog, giving my thoughts on the forthcoming (May 22 – 12 days time) local elections. I also reflected on the fact that the European elections will take place at the same time yet said little about them, but I did say that I will talk about Europe in a future post.

I am still keeping my powder dry though before I start talking too profoundly about Europe, a complex subject about which I have held strong views, ever since my youth, yet these continue to be refined and challenged. But I do feel I ought to say something about the forthcoming European elections (for me it is more to do with voting in 7 MEPs for my (Eastern) region) before these have come and gone and people’s interests will have moved onto some new topic.

The same goes for the subject of immigration, for I want to speak on this subject as it is one of my community interests and one that has too often been misrepresented. One of the key issues in the election as I am reminded each day when I pass the UKIP billboard that informs me there are 4000 EU immigrants coming into the country each day, that overall are taking more from than what they give to the UK, creating a situation over which we have little control. There is another side and I will continue to reflect in order to present a balanced view, but check out my writings for my thoughts to date.

A recent report from the Centre for Labour and Social studies: “Why immigration is good for all of us” and a Daily Telegraph article: “The truth about immigration: it’s good for Britain” are worth reading, at least in order to help reach that balanced and informed view having visited the websites of such anti-Europe parties as UKIP and BNP. I should say though that while a long time ago I decided as much as I sympathized with the BNP for raising issues that the other parties failed to adequately address, the over-simplistic and rabid or at least over-emphasising way they dealt with immigration, among other, issues, makes me wary of voting for UKIP.

Given what appears to be a relative silence on the matter of EU elections in the media, I wonder how much interest there is and how much apathy there is among the electorate (I suspect a lot), and how much protest voting there will be. We shall soon see.

It is true, if one cares to look, that there is media coverage, like party political broadcasts, which can be helpful, when not slagging off other parties, in trying to gauge what the parties stand for, as well as some interesting television discussions, such as the recent one on EU immigration on “Question Time”, involving the main parties. But there isn’t much else; even leaflets through the door about the matter are in short supply, for, if there were, people would have more to go on before making up their mind as to who to vote for.

I confess at being a euro-skeptic because of an unease over the way this country has surrendered its powers to an entity which does not always align with traditional British values and interests or our Judeo-Christian heritage, where we have less and less control, often with negative effects. There are a number of parties putting out candidates that would like us to sever or reduce ties with the EU. For my region, besides the obvious one (UKIP), there are English Democrats, Independence from Europe and NO2EU.

As for the main parties, the Conservatives would seem to be the most euro skeptical. They purport to recognize the concerns of the anti-EU brigade and say they would offer a referendum on the matter if they are returned to power next year – something I tend to view with skepticism based on their past record.

As for the other main parties, Labour and Liberal Democrat seem to go along with the status quo while promising to get the best deal possible for Britain and pointing to the disastrous consequences, e.g. loss of jobs, if we do withdraw. However, both Labour and Liberal have a lot of convincing to do before they get my vote. Regrettably, so much of politics these days is about sound bites rather than addressing the issues and is why I know I have to dig deeper.

Having spent a few hours trawling the Internet, to gain a better understanding of the issues, I am wiser but nowhere near wise enough. While I do intend to vote, I still do not know who I will vote for, and when I do it will be on the basis of who will do most good for the people. Even that is not as straightforward, as it might be in local and general elections, because of the system of proportional representation used means we invariably end up voting for a party rather than a person, although, in its favour, minority parties often do end up with seats, unlike with our first past the post system.

While I am a euro-skeptic, I see the importance of cooperating with our European neighbours but on a based on a clear vision of what I would like my country to be. My current inclination is to vote for the Christian Peoples Alliance, not just because of their Christian base but, having read their leaflet, it seems to align most with my own values and concerns, although I sense a degree of economic naivety. Even so, I realize it is never that easy when making a choice and I would want to weigh up all the factors before coming to a decision.

One of my not yet answered questions is what influence do elected representatives have when it comes to determining EU policy. On one hand, not a lot given much of the work of the EU is done on the basis of treaties negotiated and agreed by national governments, which is a further reason why next year’s General Election will be so important, and a lot is power is entrusted to unelected officials over which the EU Parliament seems to have little control.

Moreover, when it comes to setting budgets, often an area where democracy ought to hold the casting vote, we find that in the case of Europe that is less so given that accounts have not been truly audited and seen to balance for many a year. On the plus side, elected MEPs can and do make a difference, not least in helping form policy in areas that can and do make a difference.

While I lament the lack of engagement by the common people on these important issues, I remain hopeful and respect the democratic processes that do govern us. I will close by giving three links that I have found helpful when trying to find out more, which in turn point to other links including those of the parties involved, reporting and discussion on the issues, and news of what is happening:

Care for Europe is a Christian organization, whose website explains what is happening including who my candidates are and their policies and do so in an even handed way. It has identified: Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation, Bioethics Issues, Protection of Children from Abuse and Harmful Content on the Internet, Families, Marriage and Children, Anti-Discrimination Law & Religious Freedom as issues that might interest Christians, and where MEPs do hold influence, suggesting those of us concerned about these do well to find out where the candidates stand.

About my vote appears as neutral and as matter of fact as you can get and its website provides much helpful information about the whole process to do with EU elections.

The BBC Guide to the 2014 European and Local election website does provide a lot of helpful and common sense information that can help one when trying to come to a view.