On Friday I appealed to UK-based readers to write to their MEPs, and request that the latter sign a declaration calling for heavy goods vehicles to be fitted with blind spot cameras and sensors. This would be for the protection of pedestrians, pedal and motor-cyclists, 4,000 of whom are killed each year on Europe’s roads as a result of being crushed by HGVs.
London Conservative MEP Syed Kamall has replied to say that he has signed the declaration. Dr Kamall also forwarded to me a parliamentary question on this subject that was addressed to the European Commission.
Contrast this hardworking and diligent Tory MEP’s approach with that taken by UKIP’s Gerard Batten. For those unfamiliar with British politics, the United Kingdom Independence Party is a europhobic, littleenglander entity that calls for British withdrawal from the European Union (and, by virtue of its Westminster rules! policy, English imperialism within the British Isles). UKIP also adopts reactionary stances on such issues as taxation, the environment and climate change. Robust right wingers, in some cases bordering on the stiff of arm and shiny of boot.
Mr Batten writes…
“I have not signed the Written Declaration because I was elected on the basis of advocating Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union; the European Union is undemocratic and indeed anti-democratic. Therefore on a point of principle I never sign Written Declarations where they call for more EU legislation. I would like to emphasise that Written Declarations have no legislative effect.
“I always vote against EU legislation, believing that the governance of countries should be by their accountable and directly elected governments. It would therefore be inconsistent to sign a Written Declaration calling for further EU legislation. Please see the attached copy of my Personal Declaration that states the basis on which I hold my seat in the European Parliament.
“I appreciate that you may be disappointed by my response but I hope you will appreciate that I am maintaining a consistent stance for those who elected me on the principles on which I stood.”
Actually, I do not appreciate that Mr Batten is “maintaining a consistent stance” for those who elected him on the principles on which he stood.
The UKIP MEP clearly doesn’t understand the principles of representative government. If he did, he would understand that he and his colleagues have a duty toward all their constituents, whether or not said electors voted for them. In Mr Batten’s situation, as someone implacably opposed to UK membership of the EU, surely the principled stand would be to ‘do a Sinn Féin’, and refuse to take his parliamentary seat. Instead, UKIP representatives sit in the Brussels and Strasbourg chambers, whinge, pocket their expenses and insult the Belgians.
Needless to say, I am distinctly unimpressed with Mr Batten’s toys-and-prams approach to parliamentary democracy.