One of the deeply anti-democratic elements of the system that elects British MEPs is that the those who are on the top of the list of parties that have widespread support are guaranteed (or have been guaranteed) that they will be elected. Although the voting system, the d’Hondt system is a proportional system, the regional closed list ensures a bad outcome for those who are certain to be on top of the list. In the South East where I live, whilst the success of Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens is modest, the Conservatives and UKIP have a certainty that their top 1-2 candidates will be elected come what may. The same system acts as an impenetrable barrier to any Independent candidate from being elected across an electorate of 8M people. In our region the two names certain to be elected historically in European elections were Nigel Farage and Daniel Hannan. A friend of mine who has been close to both of those parties claims that Daniel has admitted that he could go on holiday when the campaign for re-election was taking place and it would not change the outcome, for him at least. However along with the anti-democratic process involved in the coronation of Daniel and Nigel, we have some other problems.
Yesterday afternoon on twitter Hannan wrote “A surprising number of British people on Twitter *want* the country to fail outside the EU, so as to be able to say “I told you so”.” This is clearly a ridiculous claim. There are of course some anarchists who may wish to see the UK to fail, just as no doubt there are some speculators who have a different reason for seeing our nation fail. However the vast majority of people who like me wanted to remain in the EU are not so small minded or isolated from the economy that they could possibly hope that our departure would lead to a failure for the economy. Even Hannan clearly had a challenge of conscience (or at least responded to those like me who took to twitter to ridicule his comment) by posting 3 hours later “The equivalent on the Leave side is people who want our EU allies to fail. Both are ugly and – I hope – minority positions.” I think this is as close as my MEP gets to apologising! For as long as we remain in the EU we need constructive and effective MEPs. We know that Farage has in effect put his feet up, and sadly this sort of comment shows that Hannan is focusing far more on twitter than he is on the job he is paid to carry out on our behalf. We need some real leadership in the European Parliament, sadly it is unlikely any will emerge from either of these two senior MEPs.