The European elections are upon us once more and once again the British electorate, if the polls are to be believed, are going to return Mister Farage to his very well paid position as uncooperative anarchist at the heart of the EU.
However, despite the fact the Farage will continue to live life on easy street (as he has done since he was a child, despite his one time claim to be ‘skint’) it is hard to begrudge his success. After all, democracy is to blame, not Nigel. The fact that successive governments and the media have failed to explain to the common man what the EU is and how it functions has allowed Farage, Boris Johnson and others to paint their own picture of the institution, to their own, personal, benefit. And, as yet no-one has been able to hold them, convincingly, to account.
There are a few simple facts that could do wonders to get the public to actually do something worthwhile with their European vote rather than simply use it as a protest for national issues (as they have done since the elections began.)
National governments should have a duty to highlight five key areas before the electorate cast their ballot:
- An MEP has no power to remove a nation from the EU (that’s the job of national governments)
- An MEP who does bugger-all still gets paid out of your taxes (so elect someone who will actually work for your interests)
- MEPs can propose legislation for the whole of Europe, as well as vote for or against other proposed legislation. (The EU is as democratic as any other national parliament, despite claims to the contrary)
- An elected MEP qualifies his party for EU funding. (UKIP and the French National Front, for example, rely on EU funds to survive)
- An MEP is immune from prosecution for anything that comes out of their mouth, however untrue it might be. (Unless the Parliament vote to withdraw it – as they did with Marine Le Penn after she shared a beheading video from ISIS)
- Each MEP gets a salary of 100k € tax-free plus a fantastic pension and an expenses account of 50k € per year.
This being the case, the newly formed Brexit party, upon election to the EU, will enable them to have 90% of their costs paid for by, er, the EU, and all their new MEPs will start to enjoy their 150k EUR, without being required to actually do anything other than show up to ensure they get their expenses signed off. Farage used to have a proper job apparently – but it didn’t pay as well.
It is clear that the populists standing for election are motivated by the money, and not by any political ideal they might be spewing to the ignorant electorate. For me, the image of Farage as a punk in 1983 flipping a ‘V’ at the cops tells all about the man: anarchy, not populism, is what Brexit is all about.