Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Turkeys Voting For Christmas

Roll on a Commons vote on Cameron's catastrophic EU Budget deal, which sees the British contribution go up even while the Budget itself goes down, entirely without precedent. As for which way Labour MEPs are going to vote, which way are Conservative MEPs going to vote? People think that Daniel Hannan is a typical example. He is not. He is not even remotely.

The House of Commons has to vote on and in the best interests of the United Kingdom, while the European Parliament has to vote on and in the best interests of the European Union. In principle, it could, can and sometimes does make perfect sense for the same individual, never mind the same party, to vote one way at Westminster and another, even the opposite, way at Strasbourg.

But this is no time for such niceties. Forget a secret ballot. It is highly improbable. With Labour universally expected to clean up at the 2014 European Elections, much effort is being made to secure nominations for loyalist MPs who lost their seats in 2010, and the fact of having voting against a reduction in the overall EU Budget would be ideal grounds on which to remove a sitting MEP in that cause.

The present European Parliamentary Labour Party is as much a fortress of the Blairite Resistance as is the Labour Party's paid staff, especially in London, though also elsewhere. But Blair once purged about three quarters of Labour MEPs in one go. It can be done.

Here in the North East, however, the only Labour MP to lose her seat was Vera Baird. She is now quite busy enough as the Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria. Who, then, to replace that complete and utter EU fanatic, Stephen Hughes MEP? He and I have mutual friends within and beyond politics. He was on the platform at the Big Meeting. He is a practising Catholic, with a not half bad voting record on the push-button issues in that department. He went to the same secondary school as I did, though not at the same time.

But I could never vote for him, I never have voted for him, I have therefore never voted Labour in a European Election, and I do not know why the Labour Party, as such, continues to put up with him. For 20 years, I have been listening to him tell audiences that he wanted national institutions to disappear completely, leaving only European and regional ones. That bears absolutely no resemblance to Labour Party policy, nor has it ever done so.

Through gritted teeth, I have instead voted for the SLP (it and I were both that young, although its very young and solidly Catholic present President is well worth watching)), for Respect, and then for No2EU - Yes to Democracy. A bit more happily in the last case, but it too has since become TUSC, just another competitor for the tiny sectarian Leftist vote.

I have never failed to vote for anything from the European Parliament to the Parish Council. But I do not know for whom I am going to vote the next time that the former is up. Increasingly, that depends on who is the lead Labour candidate.

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