links for 2009-06-03

On the European elections

It’s the European elections tomorrow.

official EU elections graphic


Given that going to the polling station and placing an X should be compulsory (with the added provision of a none-of-the-above option), what choice is there for a euro-enthusiast in the UK?

Here’s my understanding:

  • Labour: policy seems to consist of deferring any decision or committment to Europe for ever, because if you always have to decide tomorrow, then you never have to decide at all. But then, given the current mess of the domestic Labour party, I wouldn’t trust them to decide how to get out of a paper bag.
  • LibDem: nominally the most pro-euro of the three main parties, but with some quite clearly bonkers policies, most notably the idea of a referendum on EU membership. I can’t quite understand the need for this – allegedly it is to highlight the benefits of membership, but surely we can do this without such silly and unnecessary brinkmanship? But I think they’ll do well this weekend.
  • Conservatives: can see the benefits of being in the EU, but want to renegotiate the terms of the UK’s membership, presumably to make the UK even more semi-detached. Committed to oppose the Lisbon Treaty and committed to never signing up to the euro. And probably not to Schengen either. So, let’s be totally and utterly semi-detached with no influence on the way the EU is run – clearly bonkers, as how can you change and improve something you perceive as flawed if you don’t get involved in running it? It’s like the man in the Dog and Duck who always says that “they” should do something about it. Unless you are one of “them”, then you can’t do anything.
  • Libertas EU: Declan Ganley’s plaything, easily confused with the completely bonkers perma-tanned Kilroy-Silk’s madcap adventure (which was called Veritas). Although portrayed by the media as an anti-EU party, they are, in fact, pro-EU. But they want to completely redefine the EU – and show a basic misunderstanding of how the EU works (that is, that a massive chunk of EU power and decision making actually comes from the Council, not the Commission, and is therefore made by elected politicians – national leaders and cabinet members). I don’t think that there is any doubt that the EU needs some reform, but I’m not sure that this is the right model.
  • Green: again, a reform-heavy agenda. But their manifesto states that they are opposed to the euro and opposed to the Single Market and intend to levy more taxation in international trade. Surely these policies (certainly the last two) combined with their desire to break up “large” companies, thereby destroying economy of scale, would be so disruptive to commerce and trade that they would seriously damage the economy – and it’s probably not a good time to be doing that. Also, they want to encourage the “individual and household economy” which sounds like a way of encouraging so-called grey or black market transactions – completely outside the scope of the taxation system. The problem with that is that, somehow, they have to pay for the environment and social welfare policies (free care for all elderly persons, regardless of wealth, anyone?). This way financial ruin lies – even worse financial ruin than that we already have.

So, I’m stumped. I want to vote for a pro-Europe, pro-EU, pro-euro party. But I don’t like any of the options available. Any ideas?

By the way: I will be flying an EU flag at our gate tomorrow. If my neighbour can put up BNP posters (I’m not kidding), then it seems the right thing to do.