Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Now, we most of us are aware that Richard Corbett is an EU loving MEP who thinks so much of his constituents that he doesn't live anywhere near them, but were you also aware that he has no sense of humour and is also anti-democracy, in that he doesn't think the British people should get a say on the Constitution and thus how they are governed and the future of their country.

Anyone who knows that he drafted the European Parliament report which supported the European Constitution was probably aware of his distaste for democracy, seeing as the people of the UK aren't as fond of handing over sovereignty to the EU as he is.

Despite loving the EU and all the rules, he apparently doesn't like them when it means that other people can use them to get their point across. Take his latest post:

A month after bringing the tactics of football hooliganism to the European Parliament, four or five Tory Eurosceptics and UKIP have again worked in cahoots to undermine the work of the European Parliament.

They hit on two tactics. The first was to demand a full roll call votes (instead of a show of hands) on every paragraph and every amendment before the house. (Imagine that the House of Commons had a division (corrected spelling by me) on every paragraph of a bill). This slows down voting and costs £300 per vote (but they don't really care about taxpayers money).

I will give you some background on this from the fine words of Graham Booth:

In October 2005 during one of the European Parliament's monthly voting sessions, acting President Antonios Trakatellis called for a vote on an amendment and surveyed the 600-odd arms waving like corn in the field. He declared that it was "approved". Several MEPs doubted that he had made the right decision and called for an electronic check, which showed that it had actually been rejected by a massive 502 votes to 128.

If an error of such magnitude had been made by a fledgling government in a developing Third-World country it would either have been greeted with howls of derision or possibly with sympathy and offers of financial aid to install proper electronic equipment.

The figure of £300 used is not an accurate figure either, and is based on the printing costs of all the roll call votes, which are on the internet. Mighty hard to find, I might add, but we wouldn't want the voters knowing what was going on!

The European Parliament also takes more votes in one session than Westminster does in about a year. When there is a vote in Westminster it is all over the news, but in Strasbourg there are hundreds of votes every day, and there is electronic equipment on the desk already, so of course there is no need for a division. Only between the public and MEPs who like to keep what they are doing out of the public eye.

The second was to use the procedure of "Explanation of Votes" which allows Members to speak after a vote, even if they have already spoken in the preceding debate, to explain why they voted in a particular way, for instance if they change their mind following the debate. Usually, only a few members avail themselves of this possibilty, and often do so in writing, which is also allowed. But yesterday, every UKIP member and several Tories asked to explain their vote verbally on every item on the agenda, whether or not they had already spoken in the debate. This would have held up the next scheduled debates for several hours, so the President proposed to take these explanations after those debates. This was agreed by the House, but UKIP and Dan Hannan protested that they were being "censored", that minority views were being crushed and that they had an absolute right to delay proceedings if they chose to do so.

Let one thing be clear, this is not about their freedom of expression. The European Parliament has a very wide range of poitical views and speaking time in debates is shared out proportionately among all the political groups - so all views will have been heard in the debates.

I would also point out to Richard Corbett, who admitted that the adjourning of the Parliament to lunch without taking a vote, so to not allow MEPs to explain their votes, was illegal under the parliaments own rules. The reason that MEPs decided instead to go to lunch rather than follow their own guidelines is because the MEPs in question were using the opportunity to call for referendums. Not something Archbishop Corbett and his ilk are fond of, since it means that their precious plot would be blown out of the water.

Most MEPs take their role as elected representatives seriously, working to deliver legislation and policy outcomes for their voters. In contrast, some Tories and UKIP are apparently only interested in disrupting the work of the elected Parliament either through behaving like football hooligans or procedural jiggery-pokery. The sheer contempt they show to democracy is breathtaking.

I'll progress with some more of Graham Booth's article:
Many serious errors have been recorded since then but, in May this year, the acting president Vidal Quadras, hit the jackpot when he declared an amendment rejected, whereas the electronic check that was called for showed that it had been approved by 567 votes to 17 (with 18 abstentions)! He then blamed MEPs for "not holding their hands high enough."...At a recent voting session again under the chairmanship of Vidal Quadras, the speed of voting was so outrageous that I made a point of order saying: "This is a complete fiasco and we MUST go to full electronic voting. This is BLOODY ridiculous!" Mr Quadras replied, "Look here, Mr Booth, it's certainly NOT a fiasco. We've made mistakes here which, in a vote of this size, are statistically normal. What are ridiculous are interventions like yours."

So this is why UKIP and some Tories, notably Mr Dan Hannan, decided to roll call vote all the votes, to ensure that the right results are being reached and that MEPs are accountable to the people who put them in power and pay their wages. Of course, another reason why they would not want full electronic voting is they say it will slow the session down and so it would take longer for their barmy and damaging legislation to get passed. I think they should bear in mind that democracy is more important.

So, Mr Corbett. You may not like it, but that's because the views you hold are abhorrent. And I would also add that voting did not take much longer than usual, and you could still go back you your monastery and eat your crust of bread and drink your glass of water whilst praying to your God Barroso.

To coin a phrase from the Sun:

Democracy: We Love It


Anonymous said...

Well well well. Richard Corbett has certainly got you rattled.

You have already proved that you know nothing about the European Parliament. Please don't make it worse by parading your ignorance of the House of Commons.

The Kusabi said...

'Anonymous' being the sort of idiot who thinks if he throws mud it always sticks, despite him not having said anything.

Clunking Fist said...

Anon is a chicken. Come out and comment like a man.

Mark Wadsworth said...

CF - Anon makes a fair point. Trixy's post seemed a fair summary of what goes on in the EU Parliament (I have heard this many times before from people who have actually attended) but having read Anon's analysis I have henceforth decided to leave UKIP and join the Lib Dems. Not!

Trixy said...

Anon is terribly amusing. I love the fact that he says I know nothing about the European Parliament when I worked there for 2 years and still am regularly involved in its working, rules and regs.

But I shouldn't confuse the issue with facts for the poor poppet. These europhiles don't like that!

JO said...

Corbett is a prat of the first order. A man who would sell his own granny if it furthered the cause of EU integration.
Great posting.

Anonymous said...

As Mr Booth admits, when there is doubt about a vote by show of hands, an electronic check can be made, so no problem.
This is quite different from a full roll-call vote, which as you know takes longer and costs money.

Trixy said...

Do you not think that people should be able to know how their MEPs are voting then, Mr Corbett?

It did not take much longer to do by Roll Call Vote and there is no need for everything to be printed out so long as there are a few paper copies and the results available on line.

It's not even a question of the Parliament saying that they will do full electronic voting: as you can see from the minutes above calls for any sorts of checks are treated with disdain by the chairmen.

JO said...

Corbett wrote "This is quite different from a full roll-call vote, which as you know takes longer and costs money".

And since when has the EU bothered in the least about the waste of taxpayers money? What does it cost to shift between Brussels and Strasbourg every month?
How many years since the EU accounts have been signed off?

And Potterings consequent power grab is an outrage against democracy. Shame on you all, Mr. Corbett.