a leaflet appears through my door.

It is from the Liberal Democrats.

Its headline: ‘Labour Must Go’. It goes on the criticise the failings of local Labour MPs, and suggests that I ‘send Gordon Brown a message he can’t ignore’

From this leaflet, one would assume that there is a forthcoming General Election, that local voters will have the opportunity to elect different MPs, or to elect a new British government

This line is echoed by much of the press, who suggest that the forthcoming European elections offer a chance to ‘give Labour a kicking’ or ‘send a message to the main political parties’.

But this is complete rubbish.

The British government is not up for re-election, and we are not voting to remove MPs who claimed excessive expenses.

We are voting to elect the members of the European Parliament, a place not controlled by Labour or Gordon Brown, and one where, believe it or not, there are bigger issues at stake.

We are electing MEPs to the main party groupings in the European Parliament, 1) Party of European Socialists (centre-left) 2) European People’s Party (centre right) 3) Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (centrist, Liberal). Smaller groups include the Green bloc, the Left Bloc and the Anti EU bloc, which UKIP sits in. We should, then be choosing which of these blocs we want to strengthen, not basing our vote on short-term Britain specific issues. Generally it is obvious in which group each of the main British parties sits; Labour in 1) Liberal Democrats in 3) and the Greens in the Green bloc. The Conservatives have up until now sat in 2), being part of the leading parliamentary group. However David Cameron has decided that Conservative MEPs should leave this group after these elections, and should co-found a new group which is set to include extreme nationalists, homophobes and neo Nazis.This should be taken into account by anyone considering voting Conservative.

The European Parliament has power in key areas such as environmental legislation and carbon emissions, animal welfare and rights, civil liberties, corporate social responsibility and trade.
While it is true that much power is held by the unelected European commission, the parliament has gained far more power in recent years, and has an effective voice and veto on 75% of EU policy. This site is a good information source,

For those planning to vote UKIP I ask one simple question? Why would a party stand for election to a body that it does not believe should exist? Given this belief how can its MEPs possibly be effective parliamentarians? The only way the UK could leave the EU would be if the UK Parliament voted to do so. Therefore it makes perfect sense for them to stand in UK parliamentary elections, but for them to gain MEPs is just a recipe for bad parliamentarians who only turn up to claim their expenses ( as some UKIP MEPs have openly admitted).

So given that the Tories are in bed with lunatic right wingers, and UKIP shouldn’t be there at all, who should we vote for, if only to keep the BNP out?

Whatever you may think of them in British Politics, Labour and the Liberal Democrats are both reasonable bets. Both the Socialist and Liberal Blocs are basically progressive, and tend to be broadly liberal, social minded and interested in promoting the welfare of citizens over the desires of states and corporations.

But a far better idea would be to vote Green. The Green Bloc in the Parliament are consistently effective in fighting for progressive measures : employment rights, social rights (such as the working hours directive setting a legal maximum on the working week), imposing serious targets to cut European carbon emissions, restricting the power of multinational corporations, fighting privatisation of public services, harmonising employment legislation across Europe (so non-national workers can’t be paid less), animal welfare, and having a consistent commitment to human rights. Also, given the forthcoming Copenhagen talks on cutting global emissions, it is crucial that the EU takes a very ambitious position-electing more Greens will help to do this.
Normally, voting Green risks being a ‘wasted’ vote in our massively flawed Westminster electoral system. But here, it is not the case, because the election is taking place under PR, where the results will fairly represent the votes cast, Greens will win seats. Some polls have shown them taking up to 10% of the vote. So for once, principle can be combined with voting,

So firstly, vote. Not doing so is simply lame.

Secondly, don’t vote on British issues, when the election is electing a supranational parliament.

Thirdly, don’t use your vote to protest against the EU, use your vote to help make it better.

Preferably vote Green. But if nothing else, vote intelligently.

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