I like the European Parliament elections. It makes EU stuff interesting and now is one of the few times that the mainstream media is interested in EU matters. At short notice I was contacted by BBC Radio 5 Live this morning and asked to appear on the Victoria Derbyshire show commenting on MEPs’ expenses, essentially replying to this article in today’s Times. I was up against Mats Persson of Open Europe, and you can hear the debate here – 1 hour 5 minutes into the programme. Overall the debate was rather strange – the MEP pension and expenses rules are very complex and, as with the UK MP scandals, there’s no rule breaking here – it’s just that the rules are set up wrongly. Plus there is little debate about openness of expenses in out EU countries – more on that here. Anyway, a fun experience to be on UK national radio.
In EU news more generally – the stuff I would have liked to talk about – there are 2 new developments today regarding the nomination of the UK’s member of the European Commission, a matter I’ve previously posted about. Geoff Hoon has been further implicated in the UK expenses scandal today, and looks likely to be ousted in Brown’s reshuffle this week. Patricia Hewitt has also announced she is to stand down as a MP, presumably to spend more time with her consultancies family. Or is she just paving the way for a nomination as Commissioner? Overall though all the mess in Westminster means that a strong outsider is needed more than ever – come on Ken Livingstone, Brussels needs you!
Haven’t seen The Spectator and if there is something about a referendum then it’s not on their website as far as I can tell. If – as I imagine – you mean the debate about whether to hold a referendum on electoral reform at the same time as the general election then yes, I am in favour of that. I don’t like referendums much – it’s so hard to get a decent and fair campaign organised – but there’s no other option in order to make this issue move. I’ll be actively involved in any campaign efforts – for ‘yes’ to reform of course.
Hmm. That came out as a bit of a non-sequitur without the bit my toddler deleted… what I meant to say was…
Good stuff Jon.
You’re right that we’re effectively taking a UK perspective and extrapolating that others should also find the expenses scandalous when it’s not top of their agendas and then reacting that this itself is scandalous… It’d be good to actually get a pan-European discussion sometimes but it so rarely happens.
But while you’re looking at all things UK and EU… have you seen the Spectator this week? What do you think about the referendum bill?