When UKIP MEPs turned their backs in protest to the EU flag they embarked on creating some truly wonderful imagery.
They had hoped to create a powerful visual protest against the EU by turning away from the EU flag. Without realising though they all turned instead to face no other than Marine Le Pen, of Front National (FN) – the far-right French political party resulting in this wonderful image:
*Photo New Europe
Of course, in the lead up to the European elections UKIP leader Nigel Farage, the man who orchestrated this parliamentary protest, spoke out about the ‘common ground’ between the FN and UKIP and the potential of working together in the European Parliament as a blocking minority.
Indeed Geert Wilders, the lunatic Eurosceptic leader of the Dutch Freedom Party, told the Guardian that hoped he could get Le Pen and Farage to work together in the parliament.
This overlap between the far-right of European politics and UKIP is seen in Farage’s recruitment of one rogue FN MEP into their political group (something which didn’t please Le Pen herself to much).
They are joined in UKIP’s ‘Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy’ (EFD) by two Swedish far right MEPs whose party was founded by white supremacists (I read that they had to write specifically distancing themselves from white-supremacist views to be allowed in) as well as Lithuania’s Order and Justice Party (a party who themselves have had to deny links with Le Pen’s far-right FN).
A charming group huh?
I wonder how many 2014 UKIP voters realized that their vote was going to be used to help grow such a far-right grouping in the European Parliament?
I suspect not many!
A few weeks ago I reported on a story that was circulating about a planned rap battle in the European Parliament in an effort to win over ‘youth votes’.
It seemed too good to be true, but no…here it is.
Hat tip to Brussels based journo Andy Carling for tweeting this!
I have written before about why I thought that UKIP would, like other far-right groups, rise and fall in the polls. I expected the May 2014 elections to represent their high before starting to crumble before the 2015 elections.
However, a new FT/Populus poll today shows that most of those planning to vote UKIP in May are also planning on supporting the party in 2015. This could be bad news for both Labour and Conservatives in key marginal seats. The Lib Dems however would surely gain from a strong UKIP turnout in 2015 as they fight their marginal seats against divided votes.
As Lord Ashcroft pointed out last month, these findings also question the effectiveness of the proposed Tory ‘Vote UKIP get Labour’ messaging planned for the next general election. Most UKIP voters don’t care if they get Cameron or Miliband. It would appear that a ‘they’re as bad as each other’ feeling is permeating UKIP supporters.
However, the FT/Populus poll also shows support for UKIP for the May 2014 elections at a relative low of 25%. Significantly 2 percent behind the Conservatives and 6 percent behind Labour. This is a far cry from UKIP’s aim of topping the polls in May 2014.
The FT/Populus poll also spells bad news for The Green Party giving them just a 3% share of the national vote (about half the lowest vote share they secured anywhere in England and Wales in 2009)!
You can see the detailed results here.
The Green Party, at their annual conference in Birmingham, have voted to support a “yes” vote in any referendum on the AV voting system. I am delighted that the Green Party has been able to show a degree of pragmatism as well as a long-standing commitment to proportional representation.
The Green Party has for years been at the forefront of political and social thought advocating policies that although may not be popular are working for a better, fairer society. Examples of these polices include the citizens income, advocating a written constitution, or even suggesting that our lives may need to change in the fight against climate change.
Often the Green Party has been accused of being able to hold on to such ideals because they hold no real power house (ignoring their 2 MEP’s, 109 councillors, 2 members of the London Assembly and not to mention the 1st Green MP Caroline Lucas). This criticism holds an element of truth though; how workable the concept of the citizen’s income would be remains debatable. The support of a “yes” vote is illustrative however of the changing nature of the Green Party, towards a greater politically mature party. It is a clear illustration of Greens interacting and engaging with compromised politics whilst not loosing sight of their ideals.
The Green Party are slowly moving into a position where they are seen as a really credible force in British politics. Their membership has grown by 50% in the last 2 years alone, they have had a break through at national elections and they sit in the fourth largest grouping in the European Parliament. Increasingly while the other parties continue to change their minds about what they stand for, the Greens continue to stand up for real change. The Greens are moving into a realm of politics where their polices are coming under scrutiny; it is with relief that at the moment the uniquely democratic nature of Green Party policy development is holding up to such scrutiny. Equally, it is with relief that their policies are pushing towards a greater interaction with the political mainstream without loosing sight of their fundamental core values.
Vygaudas Ušackas, the new EU's next special representative for Afghanistan. Photo thanks to the Baltic development forum
Last month Dalia Grybauskaitė, Lithuania’s president, deemed there to be enough evidence to sack Vygaudas Ušackas, for alledgedly helping to cover up CIA secret detetion sites. Ušackas has just been appointed as the European Union’s next special representative for Afghanistan and head of its delegation in Kabul. With the growing influence of EU delegations with the implementation of Lisbon, this appointment is a serious issue. Why has the EU deemed this man fit to represent us, when one of its Member States has deemed him unfit for national government?
The BBC reported that “The CIA set up at least two secret detention centres in Lithuania after the 11 September 2001 terror attacks on the US”. It is unknown how many other “black spots” there were/are on European soil. We do however; know that they were integral to the coalition’s widely illegal “war on terror”. The centres were used as stop off points for the US’s practice of “extraordinary rendition” (this broadly means capturing someone in one country and then moving them to another country with no legal oversight – it also just happens to be that the country that they get moved to is often notorious for its use of torture). A European Parliament report described “hundreds” such flights taking place.
The report by a parliamentary committee which highlighted Lithuania’s role in this sordid business also absolved the political elite of any responsibility stating “the president was unaware of exactly what the US intelligence service was doing”. Yet despite this, he felt it necessary to fire Ušackas. Ušackas had served as Lithuania’s ambassador to the EU, the United States and the United Kingdom before he became foreign minister in 2008. This would not have been a decision taken lightly by the President.
This remains a baffling mystery to me. Why, considering all that has been said, would the EU (you know the beacon of human rights), choose Ušackas to head the delegation in Kabul? Did Cathy Ashton (who he is accountable to) have a say in this – one assumes so! The EU needs to show the world that it holds its values in the highest priority. It cannot do this, by putting people who are (accused of being) complicit in wide spread torture in charge of a delegation – especially such an important one as Afghanistan!