• I'm sure you have all seen enough of the referendum vote last Monday. Whatever you think about having a referendum, especially on the terms as offered, I think you will agree that the Government are totally out of step with the electorate, which can only be to our advantage. We must try to press that home.
I was, of course, at Westminster on Monday, with Don Ransome and Sue, and some 3 or 4 hundred mainly UKIP members, protesting outside what used to be the REAL Houses of Parliament. All very peaceful with lots of placards bearing branch names, East Mids well represented. So, like other UKIP MEPs, I missed the first day of this week's Strasbourg session.
Tuesday, got here at lunch time, just in time for voting. This included a vote on motor vehicle tyres, commented on in the first of my two speeches this week [video 1 and video 2]. All this way for that? Not quite, there were 15 other reports up for voting. Another vote was on, "Application of emission stages to narrow-track tractors". Wow. These unmanned tractors work their way up and down the rows of produce, harvesting potatoes, grapes and the like, but they are nasty diesel powered jobs, emitting particulates as well as carbon dioxide. Got to be controlled.
Wednesday. Vote on the Budget for next year. In this period of financial difficulty you'd think they would hold back and trim the spending, but not this lot. The great work of the EU must go on, so most items show an increase in spending - for which we will pay more in taxes - and Cameron stands no chance of getting it reduced.
The budget is presented as line-by-line expenditure, about 100 lines in various groups. We voted against the lot, except for about 20 lines where a reduction in expenditure was suggested, which together would have saved about 119 Million Euros, roughly £100 million. Would you be surprised to learn that we were out voted on all but two of these lines, so Parliament was only prepared to save just under £1 million.
Thursday. Votes today include minding other people's business in the Ukraine, Egypt, etc. etc.
The main business is the Key Debate this morning, "Conclusions of the European Council meeting", the financial crisis and their proposals. I think I know the answer before we start. It will be more of the same, cash in enormous quantities, good money chasing bad, arrogant statements, economic government, common fiscal policy, solidarity, but my guess is, no plan "B".
The group leaders will all have a say, which includes Nigel, and his speech will be on the web in full so I will leave that for you to see. (In fact Nigel went home early so as to do 'Question Time' tonight, that's much more important. The speech as Group Leader will be given by our Dutch MEP Bas Belder).
In any case I am writing this commentary before the day's business begins as my bus to Frankfurt leaves at 1.00 pm for my 5.15 flight. Voting starts at 12.30 and I have to spend time this week as whip, standing in for Gerard, and that takes quite a bit of time each morning. I may be asked to squeeze a TV interview in as well, so I'm taking the chance to complete this week's edition now, this morning, in the right atmosphere. I can send it home to complete there, and I have done that before, but I find it loses impact for me.