What do Westover and Gibraltar have in common? The European Elections explained.

gib map
Westover Councillor Brian Smedley attempts to explain the European Elections .

Thursday 22nd May is the European Election. The most publicised in a long time largely due to the headline grabbing antics of former Tory Banker Nigel Farage and his ‘oh no another one’s said something daft’ bunch of Kippers. Voters in both Westover and Gibraltar will be voting for the same set of candidates, so when people in Friarn Avenue, Camden Road, Flat Bastion Road and Bombhouse Lane ask who their MEP is they’ll get the same answer.

So who is my MEP?

Well, you’ve got 6. Westover (yes, well and the rest of Bridgwater) and Gibraltar are both part of the European constituency of South West England. There are 6 MEP’s that represent everything from Gloucester, through Bristol, Somerset, Exeter, down to Plymouth, Cornwall, turn left at Lands End , (jump over Spain) and yes Gibraltar as well. At the moment we have 3 Tories, 2 Ukippers and 1 Lib Dem. That’s what we voted for in 2009 and that’s what we’ve got.

How does the system work then?

When you go into the polling booth – and in Westover that’s either the Town Hall, Westfield Church in West street or Trinity Hall on St Saviours Avenue (but it will say which one on your voting card…which you should have received…) you’ll be given a voting paper which will have 8 Political parties listed on them.

You will be able to vote for just 1 Political party.

If you vote for more then you’ve in fact ended up voting for no-one as you will have spoilt your ballot paper and it won’t be counted. Bad luck there!

gib mayor
This Gibraltese Councillor and this Bridgwater councillor will have exactly the same parties and names to choose from on their ballot papers on May 22nd.

From this point on you’re at the mercy of some 19th century Belgian mathematician called Victor D’Hondt who devised a system of PR (Proportional Representation) which divides up the total votes cast and allocates seats to the parties in a mildly complicated (so let’s not worry about that) way. At the end of the day some parties get one or more seats and some get none. But we won’t know that until Sunday. (That’s when the votes all over Europe are counted).

Who do I vote for?

Glad you asked that. Your Westover Labour Councillors would strongly suggest you voted LABOUR. Don’t forget that your votes go into the same pile as the large Labour majorities in Bristol, Exeter and Plymouth and we need as many votes as possible because the more Labour votes, the more Labour seats. Each party has a list numbered 1-6, so 3,4,5 and 6 for most parties are largely waving from the touchline.If you want to send a message to the Con Dem coalition that you’ve had enough of their ‘austerity’ or if you want to stop UKIP dead in it’s tracks then please vote Labour.

Who DON’T I vote for?

Well, you’re spoilt for choice on this one. Mainly DON’T vote for UKIP – the shame of waking up on Monday morning with Britain being represented in Europe by this bunch of foot-in-mouth, scare mongering, possibly a bit ‘racist’ , far right extremist Thatcherite throwbacks (and that’s letting them off lightly) …would be a step in the wrong direction. Unless you are of course a homophobic, climate change denying, Lenny Henry repatriating, afraid of hearing Germans speaking German on a bus,’Mister Angry’ type, in which case it probably IS the Party for you.

Who should the people of Gib and Westover vote for? UKIP want to ‘take our country back’ they say – but Labour want to ‘take it forward’.

We’d suggest UKIP are bad enough without having to say please don’t vote for the 2 even more right wing parties standing. The BNP – yes they’re not totally swept back under the stone they crawled from yet, they’re standing again, but their ‘star’ (I didn’t say swastika) has been picked up by UKIP along with a large pile of their former voters and the English Democrats (“we’re English not British” is their catch phrase) who are offering a novel alternative on the Far Right theme based on an even pettier and more ‘localised’ form of misguided Nationalism.

A slight fly in the ointment for UKIP is the appearance at the top of the ballot paper of the An Independence from Europe party. Totally indistinguishable from UKIP as they’re basically the same crowd of xenophobes–only this lot fell out with the other lot and the good news is that with such a Eurosceptic vote likely then at least they could split it. So if you’re thinking of voting UKIP, hey, why not vote for these instead.

Then of course there’s the Conservatives. They usually do well in the South West – but, well, they’re running country at the moment . Mainly into the ground. That usually means their vote will drop off. And of course UKIP – being led by a bunch of far right Tory extremists who were sad to see the downfall of Thatcher and always thought that Enoch Powell was a bit of a genius, has the other agenda of turning the Tory party back in that direction – hence the bulk of their votes will come from disillusioned Tories.

Then there’s the Lib Dems. I’ll probably stop there as people will have likely as not skipped this paragraph already. Pretty fair to say that their vote will collapse due to the massive disappointment of them putting the Tories back into power and breaking a few promises on the way.

The final party on the list is the Greens. No councillors, MP’s or MEP’s in this area and so a steep hill to climb and may just prove to be a risky vote. And anyway, we want you to vote Labour so we can maximise the anti-Rightist vote.

What happens next?

Well, like us, you’ll probably be staying up all night on Sunday to watch the election results live as they come in, excited at the swing to the left in Thessaloniki or the marginalisation of Beppe Grillo’s Partido di Clowns in Reggio Di Calabria. Or crucially to see Farage and Griffin’s faces when the people finally turn their back on them.

monte cassino
In World War 2, the people of Europe united to defeat Fascism and build a new continent free from war. These fallen Polish soldiers at Monte Cassino in Italy died alongside British soldiers fighting the Nazis for the freedoms we have today.

But what really happens next (despite what UKIP tell you) is we then have 6 MEPs who go off and represent us in Brussels. There they join up with like-minded parties from around Europe and form powerful groupings that represent similar interests and policies. So if you’ve voted Labour you’ll have strengthened the sensible centre left grouping which includes socialists and social democrats, if you’ve voted UKIP you’ll have strengthened the anti-Europe (but still claiming their expenses and not attending meetings) Euro-grouping of crazy right wingers, even crazier than the Tory right wingers (who joined a group to the right of the rest of Europe’s conservatives) but not quite as far right as the BNP.Polling stations are open from 7am to 10pm so please use your vote.

However, if you’re not convinced by our well reasoned arguments regarding who to vote for above, then give us a ring on 01278 256377. And we’ll still suggest you vote Labour.