UKIP voters are not asking us to go to Brussels to spend our time crafting beautifully worded new EU legislation... We’re there to campaign to get us out, writes UKIP MEP Roger Helmer.
•I’ve just watched the BBC Sunday Politics -the local MEP segment - with Emma McClarkin, Glenis Willmott, Bill Newton Dunn, and me. Unusually, the BBC had been so struck by my little exchange with Lib-Dem MEP Bill Newton Dunn that they’d already run it as a news item on their East Midlands regional news programme.
It demonstrated very clearly (as I’ve remarked before) that Bill’s problem is, he believes his own propaganda. It’s an article of faith for the Lib-Dems that UKIP MEPs don’t work, don’t attend, don’t vote, don’t engage with the legislative process, and can’t work with MEPs from other parties. Presented with the plain fact that my voting participation rate is higher than the average for his Lib-Dem MEPs, he just couldn’t believe it. He continued obstinately to deny it, and has still declined to apologise. This is despite the fact that the published numbers confirm that he was wrong, as BBC East Midlands Political Editor John Hess points out in his blog.
It didn’t come up in the broadcast, but of course in my capacity as UKIP Energy Spokesman I do indeed work closely with MEPs from other parties. It’s a bit demeaning to have to make a list to prove the point, but it’s important, so I will in this case. I’ve worked with Hungarian Socialist MEP Edit Herczog on her Forum for Nuclear Energy (and I’m very sorry indeed that she won’t be back after the election). With British Conservative Giles Chichester on his European Energy Forum (and I’m sorry that he won’t be coming back). With Spanish MEP and VP of the parliament Alejo Vidal Quadras and with former Prime Minister of Poland and former EP President Jerzy Buzek MEP. With Slovenian EPP MEP Romana Jordan, and Finnish EPP MEP Eija-Riitta Korhola, and others too numerous to mention.
You’ll notice that there are no British Lib-Dem MEPs on that list - but I can’t think of any one of them who takes a rational view of energy policy.
This Europhile myth that UKIP MEPs don’t do any work is also reflected in a claim going around on social media that Nigel Farage has only attended one meeting of the Fisheries Committee out of 41 possible meetings. Be assured that in Plenary sessions UKIP does indeed vote regularly against the follies of the Common Fisheries Policy. And bear in mind that sceptics on any EP Committee, including fisheries, are in a structural minority and can very rarely overturn EU policy.
Bear in mind also that UKIP voters are not asking us to go to Brussels to spend our time crafting beautifully worded new EU legislation. We don’t want new EU legislation at all - there’s far too much of it already. We’re there to campaign to get us out, and in the meantime to limit the damage as far as we can.
To achieve these objectives, Nigel Farage’s time is better spent on the front row of plenary debates making those compelling speeches that regularly go viral on YouTube, not just in Britain or Europe, but around the world. Or spreading the message in public meetings across the UK, or appearing on Question Time. That serves our constituents, and our objectives, better than sitting quietly and getting regularly outvoted on the Fisheries Committee.
The key difference is this: while Bill Newton Dunn is sitting in dusty committee rooms busily crafting legislation, and “building the European House”, we’re campaigning to get us out of it. And that’s what our voters want us to do.