In our Westminster Parliamentary democracy, our elected government and Parliament have power (or at least they did until we signed away the right to make 75% of our laws to Brussels). The government of the day decides what the laws should be, and the Civil Service is entrusted with the detailed drafting. Bills then go through rigorous Committee stages, come before the floor of both Houses several times for serious scrutiny in debate, and eventually come into law after fine tuning. We have an Official Opposition which functions to deal with bad legislation. There are areas which we’d like to be more democratic, but fundamentally the system leaves power in the hands of those who have been elected.
In Brussels, the European ‘Parliament’ is more of a rubber-stamping chamber. It’s the unelected European Commission that decides the direction of EU policy. The Commission drafts the laws, and they’re sent to the European Parliament to be rubber-stamped. They go through Committees, but on the floor of the house there’s no real debate. MEPs may sometimes get the chance to speak for 60 or 90 seconds, but there’s no chance to advance a proper argument against poor legislation.
There is no ‘government’ or ‘opposition’. If you don’t like what one ‘party’ has done, you can’t vote them out at the next election. There are roughly 170 different parties represented in the European Parliament.
A week or two ago, there was a ‘debate’ between Schultz and Juncker, two people who are likely to be proposed by the biggest groups for the job of President of the European Commission. That’s one of the few powers the European Parliament actually has, to choose the Commission President. You really couldn’t put a cigarette paper between them, and when pressed by the moderator Schultz said “Why should we act as if we do not agree?”. When pressed on EU enlargement, Schultz opposed new countries joining the EU for ‘at least 5 years’. Juncker opposed it ‘for the foreseeable future’.
The whole process is a sham, in so many ways. Hardly anyone watched the ‘debate’, whether you get Schultz or Juncker doesn’t matter anyway, virtually no-one in the UK has heard of either of them, and you can’t even be totally sure who to vote for if you want Juncker to win. This is what passes for democracy in the European Union.
We’re just a couple of days away from Thursday’s European elections. If you believe in democracy, you should vote UKIP on Thursday.