A few comments on the elections for the new European Parliament. For the UK and the Netherlands these take place today, Thursday, while our Irish neighbours will vote tomorrow. Most countries hold the election on Sunday, but the results will not be known until Monday. So we will have to face endless claims and counter claims about whether UKIP have managed to somehow win the infamous sixth Scottish seat up for grabs. The other seats are not expected to generate much in the way of surprise, with the SNP and Labour likely to hold on to the two MEPs they currently have. The Tories hold the fifth seat and will probably do so again, thought there is a slight doubt about them. The big question is who will win the sixth and final seat – SNP, Greens, Tories and of course UKIP all claim to be in with a shout. A long wait till Monday!
Whatever the final result, both here in Scotland and across the EU, the campaign has been mostly invisible and where visible, pretty uninspiring. Partly this is due to the even more pressing vote coming up in September on independence. Not surprisingly, this has engaged voters in a much more meaningful way. The media as usual have been of little help in trying to explain the importance and significance of the European Parliament and its elections. However the main blame must go to the political parties themselves. All of them have approached this election as if it were yet another national election. It has been primarily about what each party would do for either Scotland or the UK and how bad the others have been. And in Scotland of course, we have had the added ingredient of independence, which has become a key battleground in all of the debates I’ve had the misfortune to hear or see.
Not that Scottish, or for that matter, Catalan independence is not an important matter for these elections. Far from it, as the European Parliament will have a decisive say in whether Scotland and Catalunya become full member states of the EU. This is because the European Parliament now has the power to veto any agreement governing accession to the European Union. Negotiations over Scotland’s (continuing) membership of the EU will be led by the Commission and any agreement will have to be approved by the member states in the European Council. This agreement will then have to be approved by a majority in the European Parliament. The Parliament may also be asked to formally approve the beginning of these negotiations and to approve the mechanism to be used for these negotiations. So, though our MEPs will not be directly involved in the negotiations, they will play a crucial role in any outcome.
Therefore an absolutely crucial question for our would be MEPs is, How will you personally vote when any of these three motions come before the European Parliament? As a supplementary, they could have been asked how will their party vote on these motions? But nothing like this seems to have been put to any of the condidates. Instead they were asked the usual and predictable nonsense about what Messrs Barroso and Van Rumpuy did or did not say or mean. All a waste of time as the only thing that matters when electing someone is what they will actually do when they have the chance to vote on something. Not what others might or might not, do or think.
Good luck to whoever does emerge as elected come Monday, though I fervantly hope that UKIP remain unelected in Scotland. For a bit more on these elections from an independence perspective, Thomas from Ark of Prosperity has an informative article here.