Over the course of the last mandate I, along with my fellow Labour MEPs, witnessed how UKIP MEPs consistently abstained from almost all votes in the European Parliament. It defended its stance by arguing that participation in the parliamentary system would indicate it endorsed the very institution it so vehemently argues is an unnecessary bureaucracy.
On many occasions they had the opportunity to vote on matters they claim were at the heart of their ‘raison d’être.’ For instance, I recall one vote concerning how Parliament meets across two sites, i.e. Brussels and Strasbourg. Just four out of nine UKIP MEPs attended the vote. Despite turning up to the vote and it being on a subject which they claim to be so opposed to, they abstained!
The above is just one example but it does raise the question that if they are not going to vote then how do they represent the people who elected them not to mention represent value for money?
UKIP needs a more responsible approach to the European Parliament. As MEPs they have been elected to represent the interests (in Europe) of the British electorate but they fail to do so. And while they may argue it can be done just as effectively in other ways, refusing to participate in the legislative process not only alienates them but illustrates that they are in no way adequate, or dedicated to what is, in fact, their job.
For me it’s a great honour to have been elected as an MEP and it is a position and responsibility which I take very seriously.
I don’t know what UKIP’s plan will be going forward into the new mandate, I assume Farage has additional worries as he struggles to get enough support to form a political group.
Whatever his plans, it’s totally irresponsible and inadequate to adopt a policy which encourages your MEPs to abstain from all votes or to vote against, and if he wants to provide opposition it needs to be far more responsible and robust than what the party currently offers.