Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Fish and Ivory: UKIP's appalling EU voting record



Of all of the parties in all of the countries in the whole of the EU, UKIP representatives have the worst attendance record, worst voting record and worst work performance of the entire lot.

UKIP MEPs don't do anything to represent British interests in the EU, they just make grandstanding speeches and claim expenses. On the rare occasions they turn up, they belligerently vote against every piece of legislation, no matter how worthy, and with no consideration of how the legislation would affect British interests. All the while they claim expenses, and even, in some cases put their non-British family members on the taxpayer funded payroll.

In this article I'm going to provide two clear examples of how UKIP are an appalling party, that behave in a shamefully unpatriotic way, whilst simultaneously harping on about what a wonderful band of loyal British patriots they are.

Ivory

In January 2014 six UKIP MEPs, including party leader Nigel Farage, voted against an EU motion to clamp down on the illegal ivory trade. Aside from Farage, the other five UKIP MEPs to vote against this motion were Paul Nuttall (the deputy leader),
Gerrard Batten, Stuart Agnew, William Dartmouth and Derek Roland.

Thankfully the motion passed by 671 votes to 14, but for me, it is a source of national shame that half of the votes against this motion were cast by British MEPs (6 of them the aforementioned UKIP members and the other one Nicole Sinclare, who was elected as a UKIP member in 2009 but defected to set up her own We Demand a Referendum party).

Not only are UKIP MEPs the laziest in the whole of Europe when they do bother to turn up to vote, they vote in a way that the vast majority of British people would find abhorrent.

The UKIP excuse for voting against the Combating Wildlife Crime motion is that they have an ideological obligation to vote against any piece of legislation that would give the EU more powers. I could write my own explanation of why it is bad to rigidly adhere to an ideological stance, even when doing so would cause you to do something appalling, but I'll leave it to the notoriously Eurosceptic historian and Daily Telegraph columnist Tim Stanley to state the case:

"[I] expect Ukip to explain that they always vote against anything that expands EU power. As a passionate anti-EU conservative, I appreciate that stance. But when it comes to taking action against something as squalid as the ivory trade, even this rabid patriot would compromise my anti-EU principles. What next? Refusing to uphold a ban on child labour?"

If you head off to the polls to vote for UKIP, be sure to remember that they are the laziest of all European political parties, and in all likelihood they're going to continue voting in appalling ways, that bring shame on our country.

Fish

The 2014 UKIP European election video contains a section attacking the EU for the damage that has been done to the UK fishing industry, and the practice of forcing fishermen to sling perfectly good fish back into the sea to be eaten by seagulls because of arbitrary quota requirements.

I actually agree with their argument that the EU fisheries policy has been a complete shambles for decades, that the discard policy wasted countless millions of tonnes of perfectly good fish, and that the British fishing industry has suffered appallingly as a consequence of this mismanagement.

There is one glaring problem with UKIP harping on about how terrible the EU fisheries policy is. That problem is that a certain Mr Nigel Farage was a member of the European Fisheries committee for three years, yet he only ever bothered to turn up to one single meeting out of 42*.

So UKIP are happy to use the suffering of the British fishing industry as part of their vote UKIP propaganda campaign, yet when Farage actually had an opportunity to stand up and fight for the British fishing industry in a place where he could have made an actual difference, he couldn't even be arsed to turn up to 97.6% of the meetings.

To put this absolute lack of effort into perspective, we can look at a celebrity chef called Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. This guy is not a politician, and he doesn't have access to the EU fisheries committee, however what he does have is a determination to fight against the appalling waste caused by the discards policy, and a commitment to stand up for the interests of small scale British fishing operations.

Hugh was so incensed by the insanity of the EU discards policy that he set up Hugh's Fish Fight, got more than 870,000 people all over Europe to sign his petition against the discards policy, and eventually got the EU discards law changed.

It really is a shameful performance from UKIP. They harp on about protecting the British fishing industry in their party political broadcasts, but when it comes to the crunch, some liberal, environmentalist celebrity chef has done infinitely more to make a positive difference than the supposedly patriotic leader of their party who was actually sat on the EU fisheries committee (which has the power to table amendments to existing legislation and table new legislation) but couldn't even be arsed to turn up to the meetings.

What is even worse is that the UKIP party political broadcast harps on about discards as a stick to beat the EU with, as if they are completely ignorant of the fact that some borderline hippy celebrity chef went and did what UKIP MEPs couldn't be arsed to do, and has already got the stupid discards law changed.

Working against Britain's interests

There are two very significant ways in which the behavoiur of UKIP MEPs work against Britain's interests.

Sometimes legislation is proposed that would actually work in Britain's interests, yet their ideological voting habits mean that they end up voting against it, on the grounds that they don't want to EU to have more powers. An example could be legislation to allow EU member states to impose import taxes on products that are produced in conditions that would be illegal in the UK. Putting a tax on pork products from caged pigs, or eggs from battery hens in tiny cages (both illegal in the UK but widely practised elsewhere in Europe) would help the British farming industry by preventing foreign farmers from undercutting their prices with barbaric animal welfare conditions. UKIP would probably belligerently vote against such a motion, even though the outcome would be positive for UK farmers and the UK economy.

The other way that UKIP work against the British national interest is their appalling attendance record, which means that they often don't bother to turn up to vote at all. This means that legislation that is bad for British interests can scrape through simply because UKIP couldn't be bothered to actually vote against it.

The former UKIP deputy leader David Campbell Bannerman (who quit through the revolving door between UKIP and the Tory party) criticised UKIP for their ideological stance and their lack of participation saying "I believe in leaving the European Union, but it is important to engage as much as possible . . . Not engaging is not helpful".

Alternatives

If you are Eurosceptic there are other parties you can vote for to get the outcome you want.

The Green party has a manifesto commitment to a referendum on membership of the EU, but you can guarantee that their MEPs will also work tirelessly to make the system better for Britain and more democratic too, rather than bagging millions in expenses despite being the laziest party in the whole of Europe.

If you don't like the idea of voting Green, there are several other Eurosceptic parties such as No2EU and New Deal that have strong anti-EU philosophies, but don't come with all of the toxic Thatcherite ideology, failed Tories and complete raving nutcases (the gay equality causes floods chap, the single finger salute woman, the my political opponents should be hung guy, the we should shoot a "poofter" guy, the gays have sex with animals woman, the "is Tuna a real fish like one that swims in the sea?" woman and the guy that calls the police on bloggers who fact check spoof UKIP posters).

Conclusion

You might think that voting UKIP is  good way of expressing your discontent with the EU, but it isn't. There are plenty of other anti-EU parties that offer us a referendum on the EU without being the laziest political party in Europe, voting against British interests for purely ideological reasons and shaming the UK by voting in appalling ways that virtually nobody in the UK would actually support.

Voting for UKIP is wasting your vote in an incredibly belligerent manner.


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