European Parliament: Voting for who?

Friday, May 29, 2009 14:00 | Filed in Politics

Right, I’m not 100% sure how the MEPs voting thing works (I think, using the party list, you vote for a party, and what proportion of the votes they get determines how many MEPs they have) but for the North East, there are three MEPs up for election. Irrespective of how disillusioned someone may feel with party politics right now, these people, along with others elected around the country, help shape our futures. This is bloody important, and so we’ve got to get it right.

What I want to know is who should I be voting for. What I am going to do, over the course of this post, is identify who I should be voting for — and why.

I was interested earlier in what Jury Team had to say, their premise being that there wasn’t a party as such, you were voting for an individual. Only it doesn’t quite work like this for MEPs: the independent South Tyneside councillor Ahmed Khan is first on their list, so Jury Team would need an unlikely 60% of the vote for a vote for them to count towards Jacqueline Riley.

Here the advantage of Jury Team — that the candidates are not beholden to any particular party — becomes a disadvantage, as I don’t know what these candidates actually stand for on any issues other than those specifically stated in their biographies. I have therefore contacted them both to ask where they stand on certain issues seemingly not covered — the working time directive, the European Convention on Human rights, border controls and the euro.

I have also tried very much to keep the language neutral, so that hopefully they will tell me what they think, not what they think I want to hear…

Secondly, the question is, well who is standing as a candidate near me?

There are thirty-five candidates, three for every party except Jury Team, who only have two candidates. Presumably therefore had I actually stood, I would by default have made it into the Jury Team selection list…

The parties standing are:

  • British National Party
  • Christian Party and Christian Peoples Alliance
  • Conservative
  • English Democrats
  • Green
  • Jury Team
  • Labour
  • Liberal Democrat
  • Libertas
  • No 2 Eu
  • Socialist Labour Party
  • UK Independence Party

Which should I vote for? Well, ideally the one that most closely matches my own beliefs, of course. The problem is knowing exactly what that is…

In the past, I have voted for Labour most of the time, although I have also voted Liberal Democrat and Green that I can specifically remember. So who should I vote for this time?

Well, one option is to watch the various election broadcasts and see what each of the parties have to say. However, there are some I can rule out quite quickly.

For example, I’m slightly pro-European: I am in favour of the EU, although I’d like it to be more transparent, actually manage to get the accounts signed off, and generally be better run. I’m therefore not likely to be in favour of a party such as No 2 EU, Libertas or UKIP which takes a strongly anti-European stance. That takes my list down to 9 parties to choose between.

Then there’s the English Democrats. I wasn’t really sure of what they stood for. However, while I am in broad support of one of their points: if you have a Scottish Parliament and a Welsh Parliament, why not have an English one? I believe the West Lothian Question is something that needs to be considered. However, upon scratching the surface, their response to everything seems to be ‘leave the EU’:

We would get control of our immigration systems by leaving the EU!English Democrats: Immigration

Then there’s the fact that they actually only appear to have four policies: “immigration”, “english identity”, “EU” and “political correctness”. I really would be expecting my MEP to be capable of looking at a little bit more than that. Equally worrying is their stance on “political correctness”:

It is time common sense prevailed. The various quangos promoting political correctness should be closed and those laws promoting political correctness repealed. We want English freedoms and values, not multiculturalism.English Democrats: Political Correctness

You want laws promoting political correctness repealed? You want it to be legal to discriminate against someone based on their gender, their sexuality, their religion, or the colour of their skin? You think it’s “common sense” that it’s okay to call someone a nigger? Well, you’re probably not the party for me, then…

And it’s for similar reasons that I’m ruling out the BNP and the CPCPA: I don’t want to vote for a party who judges people on the colour of their skin or their choice of religion. That leaves me with six parties:

  • Conservative
  • Green
  • Jury Team
  • Labour
  • Liberal Democrat
  • Socialist Labour Party

Quite a range of political views represented there — from the far left Socialist Labour party, to the right-wing er… Labour party and the Conservatives. Now I’m probably unlikely at this stage to vote Conservative, for two reasons. Firstly, they have been “the enemy” for too long, and I’m only gradually coming to the conclusion that Conservative does not equal baddie. However, if I knew the beliefs and motivations of a particular Conservative candidate, and felt they were the best match from the candidates with mine, I would probably vote for them under those circumstances.

Here however the current sitting Conservative MEP, and number #1 on the party list is a chap called Martin Callanan. And, when I was about 14, I lived in the same street as him. And — for certain reasons I won’t go into — I thought he was an arse, a complete cock and generally an unpleasant neighbour. I would suggest that shouldn’t necessarily stop other people voting for him, if they agree with his policies — after all, he might be different now, or it might just have been us who didn’t like him — but that is certainly sufficient to cost the Conservatives my vote in this election.

The next step would be considering which of the major-ish parties most closely matches my beliefs, which rules out Socialist Labour on the grounds that they aren’t big enough. I may still vote Jury Team however, but that’s to be decided when/if I hear back from their candidates…

So the next plan was to take the EU Profiler test, which measures my political views and then compares them to the views of the major parties standing in my country. Seems a sensible, logical test. It’s obviously not as good as knowing about a specific candidate but when you’re voting for a party list anyway, it’s a good start.

So, where do I stand…?

the pickards political stance: quite broadly socio-economic left; slightly pro-european (flickr)

Right. Or rather left. I stand broadly in the socio-economic left (no surprises there) and slightly pro-european (no surprises there). What is perhaps a surprise — until I stop to think about recent legislation, anyway — is the fact that the EU profiler sees the Labour Party as being slightly more right-wing than the Conservative party. Although do I find it difficult to believe that the BNP are more left wing than the Labour party…

It’s difficult to tell precisely from that which of the major political parties is the closest to me, but fortunately there is a follow-up graph:

The Pickards politics: party bar chart (flickr)

…showing that both the Liberal Democrats come out with a 79.5% match to my views, as compared to 75.9% for the Greens. Which goes to show my own approximate grasp of politics isn’t too bad, as (again, subject to what the Jury Team candidates tell me) these are the two parties I felt I was most likely to vote for this time around.

What is good is that you can also drill down to look at your matches with specific parties: where you agree with them; where you disagree; with links to manifestos (manifesti?) and other party documentation provided. You can also, out of interest, look to see which party is your closest match in Europe overall…

…for me, this is apparently the Parti Socialist Suisse with whom I have an 85.7% match. They’re the best people for me. Only for some reason, none of them are standing in the North-East of England, so it’ll just have to be Lib Dem, Green or Jury Team…

…but for you, if you’re not sure of who to vote for, why not take the time and trouble to think about it, assess your beliefs, and those of the major parties, and choose your best match. Even if they are one I don’t like. This is, after all, rather the point of democracy…

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4 Comments to European Parliament: Voting for who?

  1. paul canning says:

    May 29th, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    Spooky note: that was almost *exactly what I got.

  2. Ivor Dunmoanin says:

    June 2nd, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    Mmmmm….. liked that there is an actual thought process….rather than knee-jerk voting on the back of disillusion. Will pass this on to Polly and check if I’m a real greeny or NOT! Scary…but fun!
    Big Kisses
    Ivor XX
    PS Go Green…you know you want to!

  3. maria says:

    June 2nd, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    I am looking for a party or candidate who will have a great regard for morality. I think a christian candidate would match that criteria.

  4. JackP says:

    June 2nd, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    a Christian candidate may match that criteria, sure. However, it’s also possible that candidates of other parties may be Christian. It’s also possible for a candidate who is not Christian to have a high regard for morality.

    It’s also possible to have someone who proclaims themselves to be Christian who does not live up to the ideals they proclaim and is somewhat hypocritical about it.

    My advice: look to what you can find about the candidates standing in your area, as well as just the parties they belong to.

    Ivor: well, I voted for one of the two parties I had a match of over 75% for. Beyond that, I’m not telling :-)

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