One of the frequent lies from UKIP is that laws are imposed on us by “Europe” or “Brussels”. The truth of the matter is that while the Commission proposes new rules, they only come into force if agreed by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers. So the UK Government has said yes to each and every new law. Changing that Government to a more progressive one, which thinks about how laws will impact on small businesses and hard-working people instead of their friends and funders in big business is important but will need to wait until May 2015.
But choosing our representatives in the European Parliament on 22 May can also make a difference. For the past five years, Derek Vaughan has worked tirelessly for the people of Wales. While the media focused on the size of the European budget (with Labour and Conservatives wanting it smaller and Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats wanting it bigger), Derek Vaughan was working away to ensure that the budget focuses on what really matters: getting people across Europe working again. As part of that process, he also ensured that European Structural funds will continue to benefit Wales.
In contrast UKIP MEPs take the money but fail to turn up – leaving us with empty chairs representing us. The Tories have lost influence by leaving the mainstream right of centre political grouping and allying with the far right. In the Parliament they have fought to block various measures which would help protect consumers.
So how can we ensure that there are more progressive voices representing Wales in the next European Parliament? The latest Welsh poll looks like this (changes from the February Welsh Political Barometer again in brackets)::
Labour: 39% (no change)
Conservative: 18% (+1)
LibDems: 7% (no change)
Plaid Cymru: 11% (-1)
UKIP: 20% (+2)
Others: 6% (-1)
But what does this mean in terms of allocation of seats – and how could voters use this information to maximise progressive representation?
The system for allocating seats is explained here. If people vote as suggested by the poll, seats will be allocated in each round as indicated by the red boxes:
So we can expect the final seat to be a contest between Labour and the Conservatives. Leanne Wood has put out an appeal to all “European Progressives” and particularly Liberal Democrat voters to support Plaid Cymru in the election to prevent the victory of “Europhobes”. But the truth is that if she genuinely wants to defeat the Europhobes, she should be encouraging all progressives to vote for Welsh Labour.