Conservative and UKIP MEP Poor Attendance Records

Labour Party

The Votewatch website has published attendance figures for MEPs for the last year. These need a little interpretation. They only reflect MEPs attending the plenary voting sessions of the Parliament. Like most of my colleagues I spend more time in committees and working with the different political groupings.

To recognise this the European Parliamentary Labour Party publishes the attendance records of Labour MEPs every quarter. This demonstrates that we do not just turn up to vote. Voting remains MEPs strongest power where we agree, amend or refuse legislation. So attendance should be good but there are times when we have conflicting commitments. This especially applies to people like Labour’s Leader in Europe Glenis Willmott (90%) who also has to attend meetings with leading members of the Labour Party in the UK. This results inevitably in diary clashes and a similar situation probably explains Conservative Leader Timothy Kirkhope’s 79% attendance. UKIP’s Nigel Farage had a serious accident which partly explains his 70%. My own attendance is 87%.

620 of the 736 MEPs had attendance records of 80% or better. I think it is worth examining those British MEPs with attendance records in the bottom sixth of all MEPs. If any of those I mention have had health or other reasons which explain their attendance records then I will be happy to acknowledge that. I assume in my comments that as MEPs we should be ensuring we represent and vote for our electors.

I am surprised to see Vicky Ford (79%) and Ashley Fox (79%) as new Conservative MEPs having poorer attendance records. My view is that one of the best ways to understand the job is to spend as much time as you can in the Parliament in your first year. Far more typical is the new Welsh Labour MEP Derek Vaughan (93%). Continuing Conservatives Nirj Deva (77%), Roger Helmer (76%) and James Elles (75%) take almost a quarter of their time elsewhere.

Scottish Nationalist Alyn Smith (74%) and Scottish Liberal George Lyon (74%)both have similar records.

Continuing with the Conservatives Robert Sturdy (69%), Dan Hannan (67%) and Saj Karim (65%)  consider  that they can spend a third of their time elsewhere. All in it together? Not if you are a Conservative MEP. Imagine the outrage for a teacher, police officer or job centre worker who was absent a third of the time. Over a third of the Conservative MEPs (9 of 25) effectively take a day off a week from their responsibilities to represent the British people in Europe.

Of course I am very unhappy with the BNP’s Nick Griffin who attends 79% of the time. I’ve got a nice big fat round figure of zero which would be far more suitable to me.

UKIP MEPs have consistently set poor performance standards so it is unsurprising they have poor attendance records. For those UKIP supporters who say their poor attendance record reflect their disdain for the Parliament, why do some attend regularly whilst others stay away? Some consistency would be welcome.

Right at the bottom (and pictured) is Paul Nuttall (58%) competing closely with Godfrey Bloom (60%) to be Britain’s worst attending MEP. David Campbell-Bannerman (65%) is not far behind and Gerard Batten (78%) is London’s worst MEP. 5 out of 12 UKIP MEPs with poor attendance records is sadly not that great a surprise.

Two parties who claim they will represent British interests in Europe have many representatives with the poorest attendance records.

I want to finish with a gentle boast. Of the British mainland parties only Labour has representatives consistently voting on behalf of the British people.

5 thoughts on “Conservative and UKIP MEP Poor Attendance Records

  1. The justification for the poor attendance by Paul Nutall could be explored further. Leaving aside two factors in his ability to attend; his chairmanship of UKIP and his paternity leave, let’s focus on his mandate from the people who elected him in his North West constituency.
    Mr. Nutall was very clear in his campaign material to stress that he wished to spend large portions of time campaigning in this country for UK Home Rule. The voters are getting what they were promised.
    People who vote for the UK independence Party are unlikely to want their MEP to fritter away their time sitting on committees to decide what chocolate is or to hang around the Parliament making courtly bows to Emperor Rompuy or pretty compliments to Baroness Ashdown.
    His plan to hold an MEP ‘surgery’ in every one of the 75 parliamentary constituencies in the NW is a refreshing example of commitment to engaging with the people. It is a pity that more MEPs do not follow his example. Apart from visits to schools and hospitals their meetings seem mostly to be with activists from their own parties.

  2. percentages percentages (?shmercentages)

    I was however very pleased at the appearance not of a percentage, but a unit…

    Cameron’s MEP Belgian allies, the Lijst Dedecker, have dropped from five seats to one.

    I find these people, the LD, perhaps the worst of his allies… some of the others are clowns.

  3. As you know, Mary, there can be a phenomenon known as “presentism” whereby people compete with one another in a macho manner to see who can stay latest at the office – whilst not actually achieving that much! It may well be – and certainly is in the case of some of the Conservatives – that their lower attendance percentages cover the fact that they have to attend meetings back here in the UK.

  4. Sally
    This is not presenteeism we are voting on legislation. If the Conservative Leader Timothy Kirkhope can achieve 79% then that should be a minimum. He will have UK commitments. Perhaps the low attenders can release their diaries for ALL their absences? I suspect there will be few if any justifiable meetings as the schedules are known long in advance.
    Thank you for all your comments, I hope you have a pleasant holiday over the summer.

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