Monday, 5 May 2014

Who to vote for in the European elections? my emails to candidates... (part 1 intro)

It truly is odd being an active member of a political party and being unsure of who to vote for in an election. But this is the situation I find myself in at the moment. Mebyon Kernow took the decision at Conference not to contest the polls. I think this was a real shame, but the system is massively against us. Cornwall has over the years been subsumed in a bigger and bigger South West region, Cornwall is a tiny part of this area.

This would mean we would have to do spectacularly well as Dick Cole wrote:

"To get an MEP elected in such a ‘South West’ seat, the MK candidates would – based on past results – need to poll over 90% of the vote in Cornwall. But if that wasn’t bad enough, other aspects of the electoral process are unfairly rigged against Mebyon Kernow. To be allowed a party election broadcast, for example, MK would have to stand in all (nine) euro-constituencies in England – an absolute nonsense – whereas “regional” parties standing in the (single) Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland seats will be allowed their own broadcasts."
On his blog here.

So I got to thinking what kind of issues I would stand for if I was a candidate in a Euro poll. The kind of things that I think are important. This is not an exhaustive list, bearing in mind this is the European Parliament and they have a limited amount of influence on UK politics. Whatever UKIP might tell you, things like austerity, your local toilets closing, your local school being in dire need of repair, potholes being repaired or not, thousands being made redundant, cuts to frontline policing, the bedroom tax, the carve up and selling off of the NHS, ATOS, the welfare state being stripped, fuel duty, business rates, VAT. And much much more besides, you know the real debates in politics? all decided not by MEPs but by Westminster, nothing to do with the EU.

So I drew up my list with the things not decide by Westminster taken out and trimmed it down and got to 10 questions. I thought I'd email the prospective MEPs from parties standing here. To help my decide who to vote for, to get an idea of where the stood on the issues that mattered to me and ultimately I guess to hold them to account if elected as MEPs. An easy task surely in the days of the internet and widely accessible information at the touch of the google search button, how very wrong I was! I decided to email the Conservatives, Greens, Labour, Liberal Democrat and UKIP. I will later in other posts explain more and publish answers I received.

Congratulations to the Green Party's Molly Scott Cato the only prospective MEP I could find an email address for and the first one to respond to my email. UKIP were next had to email a generic "communications" email but they took a couple of days to get back. Had to also email a generic Labour South West account but they got back to me, although explained the answer would come shortly (due to family illness more on the Labour post). And that's it, the Lib Dems were the most frustrating, no contact details for Euro candidates and after finding emails published on the Devon and Cornwall Lib Dem website, I sent the questions one by one to their chairman, treasurer, secretary and campaigns manager. Every single email one by one was pinged back by my email provider as they presumably no longer exist. So I went on the main LD site, filled in the contact form (no emails available on there) and that was it, sweet fa since. Similarly no response from the Conservative party, but considering their "2014 manifesto" page is "coming soon" the page "Who are Team 2014" is "under construction". I was perhaps expecting too much from the Conservative's web abilities....

The email sent:

Dear candidate,

I'm pondering who to vote for in the European elections and was wondering if you could some questions about yourself and your party that might help me decide.

1. If elected as an MEP what would you most like to achieve in the next parliament?

2. What is your party's goal in this term of the parliament?

3. Is the European Union a force for good  in Cornwall at the moment? Why or why not?

4. Could the EU be doing more for Cornwall?

5. If there is a referendum on the UK's place in the EU, would you campaign for or against UK membership?

6. Should Cornwall have a greater say in the EU, how might this be achieved?

7. Do you think Cornish fishermen get a good deal from the Common Fisheries Policy? What aspects of the CFP would you defend and which would you change?

8. Do you think Cornish farmers get a good deal from the Common Agricultural Policy? What aspects of the CAP would you defend and which would you change?

9. Have European Structural Funds (Objective 1, Convergence) been a success in Cornwall? how should future funding be allocated?

10. The Cornish have recently been recognised as a national minority. Is this a good thing? How does this apply to an MEP?

What do you think of my questions? what would you ask?

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