Friday 15 March 2013

Turkeys Voting For Christmas

In point of fact, the European Parliament has just rejected a Budget in which overall spending went down, while, in direct contravention of a resolution of the House of Commons, the British contribution nevertheless went up. Roll on a division of the House of Commons on that.

That House 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. 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, although 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. 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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