Getting Responses

There are currently 73 MEPs in the UK. Elected every five years (although I don’t actually remember the last MEP election). Being involved in Europe means the UK needs a lot of bodies to “fairly” represent the UK in matters being discussed in European committees, councils and so forth.

According to the Euro Parliament (Office of the UK) website, the region I live in has 7 representatives. 7!

  • Patrick O’Flynn (UKIP)
  • Vicky Ford (Conservative)
  • Richard Howitt (Labour)
  • Stuart Agnew (UKIP)
  • Geoffrey Van Orden (Conservative)
  • Tim Aker (UKIP)
  • David Campbell Bannerman (Conservative)

What do the MEPs actually do? Other than causing us mere mortals a massive headache at times with some utterly ridiculous policies (yes McAvan I’m looking at you!) they are supposed to:

represent your interests and those of your city or region in Europe. They do this by listening to people with local and national concerns, to interest groups and businesses. Where necessary, they question and lobby the Commission and the Council of Ministers.

Checking through, it seems Vicky Ford is a proponent of vaping, the UKIP reps are bound to be against anything emanating from the EU Legislature, simply because of the national party they belong to.  Of course, there’s the sole Labour MEP representing my region and of course we know that most of the Labour party are more than a little short-sighted when it comes to “protecting the public health” as they do so love to proclaim. The other Conservative MEPs, are mostly proponents of vaping, Van Orden doesn’t appear to have voted but is actually Pro-ecig.

It is odd that my region is predominantly represented by the Conservative and UKIP national parties. UKIP want sweet FA to do with Europe, and the Conservatives are supposedly heading in the same direction, though I’ll believe that when I see it.

Last week, I decided to write to ‘The Seven’ (anyone who knows Game of Thrones should recognise that), after all a section of EU legislation does allow for the Directive to be re-evaluated early under certain circumstances. I’d say that the PHE report, PAS 54115:2015 and a few other advancements certainly qualifies.

Disappointingly I’ve only received one response so far, and it wasn’t even drafted by the MEP himself. Unsurprisingly, it was a UKIP representative (or his “Political Advisor” in this case).

Thank you for your email regarding restricting or banning the use of e-cigarettes, addressed to Stuart Agnew MEP. He has asked me to reply to you on his behalf.

Whenever I see someone writing “on behalf” of someone, I get a little irked. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate honesty but writing “on behalf” of someone doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence that the information that follows is exactly what the person would have written or actually believes.

UKIP MEPs were elected on a platform of withdrawal from the EU and thus have no mandate for supporting EU legislative proposals and would not, therefore, support the legislation on e-cigarettes. They are opposed, as a matter of principle, to unelected members of the European Commission being the sole originators of all new EU legislation, much of which is binding upon the British people.

This is pretty standard political waffling here. After all, this is a response from the United Kingdom Independence Party.

Electronic smoking devices are already well regulated in this country and we do not need the EU sticking its nose in. The UKIP MEPs, including Mr Agnew, have publicly said this on many occasions.

This bit worries me a little. “Electronic smoking devices”, I suppose it’s a marginally better term than the one coined by the WHO (‘ENDS’), but even so in my original message I did not mention the term “electronic smoking devices”. Not once. If an elected representative (or his advisor) can’t get that right then it’s more than a little worrying. But he is right in one thing here, we don’t need the EU sticking its nose in.

Rest assured that the UKIP MEPs will continue to oppose this legislation. It should be a matter for our elected Government and Parliament at Westminster, not the European Commission in Brussels. However, do bear in mind that there are 751 MEPs and the UK has just 72. Many of the latter are EU supporters and will not vote against this nonsense. Another problem we have to face is that many member state countries are net beneficiaries of EU largesse (taxpayers’ money) and will rarely vote against the Commission i.e. bite the hand that feeds them. It is a deeply undemocratic and unsatisfactory system and is one of the many reasons why UKIP MEPs campaign so hard for UK withdrawal.

Hmm, a minor fopar here in that the legislation has already been passed at EU level so there isn’t much they can do to oppose it as such. There are things they can do, but I’ll get to that further on. It should indeed be up to Westminster and the actual elected representatives of this country to decide what to do, not Brussels. Sadly, the next few points are pretty much spot on. Many of the 751 MEPs are fervent EU supporters and will gladly kowtow to the dictats emanating from Brussels without so much as a “but” from them. He is also right in the fact that is a “deeply undemocratic and unsatisfactory system” mostly because MEPs don’t actually listen to the people they represent. Well most of them don’t anyway, and the routes to getting things done by a member of the public are pretty bloody obscure.

Unfortunately, while we remain members of the EU, we will be subject to rule by Brussels diktat.  Sadly, much of what emanates from the Brussels legislative sausage machine is extremely damaging to the best interests of the British people, to our business sector and, in this case, to our health! UKIP was created in 1993 to campaign for our country’s freedom from the EU and we will continue to campaign for exactly that outcome.  I do hope that we can rely on your support at future elections, both domestic and European.

Sigh. I don’t think much needs to be said here. This is the second paragraph of the response that is predominantly political waffling, coupled with the reliance on my ‘support’ of UKIP at future elections. I’ll be basing my political choices on how the representative directly affects me with their policy stances on a number of topics, not just vaping. I’ll admit I’m more than a little disappointed with the content of this response as it is purely party line propaganda. At least when I engage with my MP he actually comes across as a human being with a modicum of understanding, in this case the MEP doesn’t appear to really give a flying rat’s rectum. Firstly, he didn’t respond himself he left it to his ‘Advisor’ and secondly, the entire content of the response is themed along the lines of “UKIP want out, so you do too” party-line, boiler plate type answer.

That wasn’t what I wanted. I raised some very clear points with crystal clear requests for action from the MEPs that I reached out to. I guess this is just another example of how the political system of the EU just doesn’t work or more to the point, the complete lack of willingness from those chosen to represent me to engage with the people they actually represent. In this case, there is provision for MEPs to redress the Directive far earlier than the proposed five years (defined in Articles 27 & 28) under Article 27.5 and Article 28.2 where the MEPs can, if they so choose, have the Directive reviewed early (after being implemented at national level) which can ultimately lead to a complete rewrite of Article 20 in the face of the growing body of evidence.

I do hope that the other six MEPs, if they decide to respond are a little more credible in their replies.