Thursday 22 May 2014

Not Voting

For some today there are local council elections but in the words of the 'unbiased' BBC the "big one" across the country is the EU elections:
"There are local council elections in England and Northern Ireland - but the big one this year is the European election on the same day."
I've noted before that I have always been a reluctant participant in any EU elections. To do so is to legitimise a system I completely and fundamentally disagree with. The EU would actually rather have copious numbers of UKIP MEPs in the EU Parliament on the back of high participation than a low turnout altogether. A high turnout would act as a comforting safety valve for the EU - it means citizens are participating. A sentiment which can be seen by the reaction from 2004 after a low turnout (my emphasis):
"A wake-up call" is the way the current President of the European Parliament Pat Cox described this week's [EU Parliament] election results; the Dutch used the word "disaster".

But working out what went wrong is now crucial to working out how to put it right.

Officials labelled the turnout "pathetically low" in the new states, as ministers warned the political credibility of the whole EU was now at stake.

The election simply left most voters cold from Portugal to Poland. Where they did vote, most people chose to punish their governments or to promote Eurosceptic parties.

Certainly the elections were a shock for the political elite across Europe in the wake of the recent enlargement which they thought would provide renewed vitality for the European project.
With this in mind I have decided not to vote today. Previously I have done in Euro elections for UKIP and I did so through very gritted teeth (no reflection on UKIP at the time) for pragmatic reasons. I took the view that in order for UKIP to break through into the UK Parliamentary system the EU elections gave an opportunity for much publicity and funding to make a difference domestically against an unfair system.

As a result, despite UKIP's many failings, its current position in terms of dominating the media is somewhat of an achievement. It's worth noting that hardly any party in UK history has managed to break through the stranglehold that a two party system entails. One rare but obvious example is the rise of Labour in the late 19th Century.

However I've come to the conclusion that UKIP's rise is less a reflection of the party's competence more of an example of a 'canary down the mine' regarding our electoral system. Less of a solution and more of a warning of what's to come. A warning that came via the paper in 1971 named FCO 30/1048:
...the transfer of major executive responsibilities to the bureaucratic Commission in Brussels will exacerbate popular feeling of alienation from government.
Despite EU funds, the potential opportunity of UKIP finally "breaking through" properly has been squandered and it has been squandered for years. The significant funding has not resulted in a UKIP research department, a decent UKIP website and a coherent unified policy on how to exit.

Such a vacuous intellectual void leads to confusion and argument among UKIP supporters, acutely demonstrated by Suzanne Evans when interviewed by Andrew Neil. As Complete Bastard notes one UKIP activist even argued:
"Personally, I think it would be an alienating and self-indulgent mistake for UKIP to waste its limited resources on the withdrawal mechanism at this time."
Limited resources? I'm not sure Farage struggles with 'limited' resources that prevent a policy on how to exit. And of course seventeen unpaid volunteers (helped by many others) produced exit plans within four months for the IEA prize - UKIP has been going for twenty years and has still failed to produce one. What a pathetic excuse.

Given then UKIP are failing to provide policy on exiting the EU, we have to consider then what is the point of voting in Euro elections. "People died for your right to vote" is sometimes the cry. Yet the right to vote and democracy are not the same thing. It's not a right to mark a piece of paper that counts but what that mark can achieve. The crucial question is always can we throw out the executive?

In terms of the Euro elections we can't  - the executive is with the EU Commission whose Presidential elections are being held with no real reference to the "citizens" of Europe. As an example of ballot paper impotency, the people of North Korea have the right to vote via a piece of paper regarding elections to the People's Supreme Assembly, but no-one in their right mind would argue that makes FatBoy-Kim democratically accountable.

As Richard North observes regarding the Euro elections:
Certainly, there is nothing "democratic" about Mr Cameron's "top table", the Council of Ministers. There, when a vote is called, qualified majority voting (QMV) applies. Britain has 29 votes out of 352, representing eight percent of the vote. A qualified majority is 252 votes (73.9 percent), leaving Britain with a structural deficit of 223 votes.

However, in the European Parliament, the situation is little better. There are 73 UK MEPs, and these represent a mere 9.7 percent of the 751 elected MEPs (post-2014 election). Given the party splits, this level of representation is notional. UK MEPs rarely vote together as a single bloc. Even if they did, they could never muster the 376 votes needed for a majority.

Furthermore, the powers of the Parliament and the Council are limited in important but poorly recognised ways. As an increasing number of laws come into being via international standards, these are most often implemented by the EU as delegated legislation (Commission Regulations) using the comitology procedure.

Every year, more than 2,500 measures are processed via this route, passing through one or more of the 200-300 committees set up for the purpose. That is approximately 30 times more measures than are processed via the mainstream ordinary legislative procedure.
The impotence of the EU Parliament could not be better expressed than by the fact that if every one of the 73 MEPs elected from the UK were UKIP candidates, they simply could not execute their manifesto on behalf of their voters and remove the UK from the EU.

That point brings me neatly on UKIP's exit policy. Aside from having no plan, we see from Autonomous Mind that UKIP intends to remain de facto members of the EU:
...An article today in the Financial News (£) might just explain why there is no exit plan for leaving the EU… UKIP is apparently developing a carefully crafted secret weapon that would see the UK stay inside the Customs Union!  Not inside the internal market, but inside the Customs Union and negotiating its own trade agreements:
As can be clearly seen from this Wikipedia page Turkey's 'customs union' is EU membership by default. I have tweeted and emailed Tim Aker (supposedly head of UKIP's policy) to clarify the party's position to as yet no response.

With UKIP failing to exploit their position as EU MEPs for domestic reasons - instead for personal gain - it's very difficult to not conclude that to vote UKIP today merely puts more of Farage's 'mates' on the gravy train thus shoring up his position. The EU quite deliberately makes expenses, or should I say allowances, easy to claim - it encourages people to go "native". And that is what exactly happens.

UKIP may win the Euro elections, but it will have no bearing on our exit, it will be irrelevant and nothing will change. But I guess it will give a few more MEPs a comfortable salary and pension.


  1. I think the vote/abstain issue is too uncertain to call. Ideally I'd like to do both!

  2. I think voting UKIP helps keep the question of the EU on the boil. Otherwise the message is that we're perfectly happy with sending a Labour or Conservative contingent to the EUP, which is a vote for business as usual and Cameron's crap about real change in 'Europe'.

    I've no particular illusions about UKIP or the EUP.

    I saw a comment in a newspaper once which said that the way to deal with the EUP was to send comically unsuitable candidates as representatives.

    I don't think that UKIP is going to achieve our exit directly, but I can't see what will and they are anti-EU noise.

  3. I'm surprised to read this Paul. But we in the English Democrats have got a credible exit strategy. When Scotland breaks away, and we get our independence, there will be no more UK so our membership lapses automatically. There is no such legal entity as "the rest of the UK". The great escape!

    1. I would be very surprised if Scotland votes for independence. The independence movement has consistently been well behind in the polls and given the inbuilt 20% "status quo effect" I fully expect them to remain part of the UK.

      Even if they do vote for independence, EU membership for both Scotland and the rest of the UK will be fudged.

      For example Greenland won home rule in 1979 and voted to leave the EEC but they didn't actually leave until 1985. In the meantime they remained EEC members.

      Our membership cannot simply lapse automatically, there's over 40 years of integration to unravel. It won't be easy - far from it. To leave literally overnight would cause absolute chaos.

    2. Well there seem to be different legal opinions on the result of a Yes vote in Scotland - we'll have to wait and see if it happens. Frankly I would take my chance on chaos rather than remain wedged into the go-cart rushing downhill.

    3. I think we'd see an almighty fudge.

      The EU encourages regional movements, but not nationalist movements. The reasons for this are obvious.

      However, on being confronted with an independent Scotland, clamouring to slip seamlessly into being an EU member and the problems for the rest of the UK, I suspect there'd be some sort of fix and concessions extracted from the rest of the UK - a commitment to join the Euro?

      A legal position depends on the will to argue it, and let's face it, there's no will on the part of the British government to argue that the original party to the treaties has ceased to exist and so the treaties no longer apply, any more than there's a will to argue that the Lisbon Treaty was entered into fraudulently, and so under the Vienna Convention it's invalid.

      The thing to remember in all of this is that the British government, and I don't just mean the Westminster parties, the wider government, absolutely does not want to leave the EU. Cameron's very dubious referendum commitment has had to be forced from him and was probably given in the expectation that he would lose the next GE.

  4. Voting UKIP was a chance to kick the LiblabCon in the goolies .
    Why did you not take that opportunity ? Was the polling booth to far from Mount Olympus ?

  5. Regarding FCO 30/1048, I often see this referenced in debates about the EU. However, unlike other HMG documents about Europe, I notice it cannot be downloaded from the National Archives because it has not been digitised: see

    I know there are versions around with what is claimed to be the entire text, but I would prefer to read a copy of the original document. Please can anyone direct me where I can download a free copy?

    1. They used to have the original on A Case For Treason website but the link is broken. There is however the one annotated by Richard North and it does contain the entire text

  6. Hang on.....

    my point of view is that UKIP first have to win the right to a vote on Euopre (in/out). If/when they achieve this how long would there be between them winning that RIGHT to a vote and the vote actually happening? A week, a month, several months, a year?

    As you state yourself "seventeen unpaid volunteers (helped by many others) produced exit plans within four months".

    It would be only the very pessimistic indeed who would conclude that an exit plan couldn't be drafted in the available time. Meantime the electorate aren't concerned for the finer points - quoting even Article 51 as an exit route would glaze over most of them anyway never mind the contents of dcuments that won the IEA Prize..... just knowing they had a VOTE on the issue may be enough (for now). Of course the MSM/BBC will do their usual campaigns of trying to expose UKIP exit policy as 'fantasy' - much as they tried (and failed) to show them up as racist - and would backfire spectacularly and even encourage UKIP to start stating the exit obviouses(?) which the media/establishment certainly don't want people to understand or hear about..!

    And as for UKIP not making a difference to the EU as a whole - probably not - but UKIP aren't alone in their aims and many other parties with similar aims to UKIP are also on the rise and the totality of them as a voting bloc would certainly make a difference.

    You state that a refusal to vote en-masse would indicate to the (EU primarily) establishment that they have no legitimacy..... but that's the point isn't it. They already have NO LEGITIMACY yet they STILL rule over us. Refusing to vote will only indicate to them that we are 'happy' with the way things are going so they'll carry on regardless.

    I used to consider my vote for UKIP as a protest vote. This is no longer the case. My vote is a vote for change. NOT voting doesn't achieve anywhere near as much angst to the establishment as voting AGAINST them. My life is now dedicated to being a pain in their @rse - by whatever means are made available to me and one of the most obvious methods is to put my cross against the party that will cause the establisment the most problems.

    1. The media is already starting to use the fact UKIP has no policies and no exit plan to show the party up as incompetent.

      The party does not have to go on about the finer points, but it needs to be able to reassure voters there is a workable plan that would enable the UK to leave without all the damaging consequences that keep being retailed by Clegg and co.

      Given that the party was formed in order to bring about an exit from the EU, the fact it has no plan for doing so - and more crucially ignores or rejects any plans that are dangled in front of it - demonstrates they are not serious about the issue.

  7. I voted, as did my wife, and we're glad we did, because Fylde Borough Council had slipped in a referendum question on whether or not to abandon the cabinet system and return to committees. I haven't been taking any notice of local affairs; however, I do read what comes through the door, and I was unaware of any referendum. I read today that the vote was effectively 6-4 in favour of committees, at more than eight thousand votes in favour, which suggests that the locals are bright enough to have read and understood the questions.

    On a cheap looking yellow slip of paper, a landscape strip approximately one third to one half A6, were the options (not verbatim, as I had to use my slip to vote and had no camera available to copy the slip, but near enough, and in words that do not misrepresent the actual wording):

    1) The present system, in which elected councillors elect an elected councillor to lead the council (I don't recall any reference to a cabinet)

    2) A system in which committees decide things - this would require a change.

    I thought, as I coughed and spluttered at what I considered the council leader's sleight of hand, that the wording might not comply with the guidelines for referendum questions.

    Thankfully, it seems that the locals 'aren't as green as they're grass looking' and Fylde will be run by committees again in twelve months' time.

    1. Thanks William Gruff for that info. I found the actual question:

      "How would you like Fylde Borough Council to be run?

      By a leader who is an elected councillor chosen by a vote of the other elected councillors. This is how the council is run now.


      By one or more committees made up of elected councillors. This would be a change from how the council is run now."

      I would have voted in the locals, but my council seats weren't up. It's just the Euros I've always problem with

    2. Thanks for finding that, BF. I may be wrong but I felt the wording was intended to encourage a vote for the status quo: the change back to committees was decided some time ago, as I understand things, but progress has been slow. Supporters of the present arrangement have already complained about the expense of the referendum, claiming that it cost £54k, whereas the actual cost was, I think, about £3 - 4k, i.e. half the cost of the count, which, I understand, is the requirement under EU law when a ballot is tacked on to an EU parliament election. The £54k comes from halving the £108k of the EU farce and presenting that figure as the cost - naughty.

  8. Ours in Copeland was very similar, we did not have a local election here, just the EU election and the elected mayor referendum. It took a lot of explaining to the bods there that i was only voting on the referendum, not the EU elections, but eventually they me.

    the question was "how would like Copeland Borough council to be run?

    By a leader who is an elected councillor chosen by a vote of the other elected councillors (this is how the council is run now)


    By a mayor who is elected by voters (this would be a change from how the council is run now)

    seems like the standard wording of these referendums. (ps elected mayor won by more than 2:1) god only knows when the election for the mayor is going to be though