Monday, June 01, 2009
The Questions Euro MP candidates don't want you to ask
This piece of mine appears in The First Post.
British voters go to the polls on June 4 to choose who will represent them in the European Parliament. Canvassers will be on your doorstep soliciting your vote. How to respond? Here are some questions which show up the contradictions - and sometimes the absurdities - in the parties' policies.
Questions for Labour
1. Why did your party break its promise, made it in its 2005 manifesto, to hold a referendum on the new EU Constitution?
2. Why does your party support the UK's opt-out from the EU's Working Time directive, even though a majority of Labour MEPs oppose this opt-out?
3. Why, after the unhappy experience of railway privatisation in Britain, has the British Government pushed for other European countries to 'liberalise' their excellent domestic rail services ?
Questions for Conservatives
1. Why, when your leader is calling for a work-life balance, does your party campaign for Britain's continued opt-out of the EU's Working Time directive, which would restrict the working week to a maximum of 48 hours?
2. Why does your party support a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, but not one on Britain's continued membership of the EU?
3. Does your party agree with views expressed by leading Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan on Fox TV in America, that the NHS was a 60-year "mistake" which has made British people "iller"?
Questions for Liberal Democrats
1. If your party is so committed to 'Europe acting together', why is it against the formation of a European Army to replace the US-led Nato?
2. Can you explain how your party would reduce unemployment when it is committed to a 'liberal and open system' of global free trade and supports the elimination of subsidies?
3. Why, if your party says it doesn't want to compromise 'Britain's traditional legal system and civil liberties', does it support the European Arrest Warrant, under which a British citizen can be deported for something which is not considered a crime in this country?
Questions for UKIP
1. Why does your party say 'No to the EU', but 'Yes' to the EU's generous MEP salaries and expenses?
2. You claim that your opposition to the EU is due to a desire to protect Britain's national sovereignty. But why do you support British membership of other bodies such as the World Trade Organisation and Nato which also impinge sovereignty?
3. Why does your party refuse to publish details of its MEPs' expenses?
Questions for the Green Party
1. Where would the money for your proposed £45bn 'Green New Deal' come from?
2. How do the introduction of Eco Taxes, which hit the poor disproportionately harder than the rich, square with your commitment to greater equality and social justice?
3. Why does your party not address in its manifesto what Sir David Attenborough has described as "the frightening explosion in human numbers" and the effect that population growth has on the environment?
Questions for the BNP
1. How can you claim not to be a racist party, when membership of your party is restricted to 'indigenous British ethnic groups deriving from the class of "Indigenous Caucasian"'?
2. Your party's website states that "anyone not born here who commits a crime here should be deported". Would that apply to the likes of Sir Cliff Richard (born in India), Joanna Lumley (India), and Peter Hitchens (Malta)?
3. Why does your party's website put the word British in inverted commas when describing the black UKIP candidate Rustie Lee, a British citizen who has lived in the country since childhood?