THINK BEFORE YOU VOTE UKIP
Northern voters could begin the process of the UK leaving the European Union next Thursday. If that’s what you want, vote UKIP, send the Tories into a tailspin and expel the Liberal Democrat MEPs who have had the guts to stand up for the European ideal.
Be in no doubt these, usually ignored, elections to the European Parliament are very important. On the night of Sunday May 25th the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber could well return six UKIP MEPs and no Lib Dems. Nationally UKIP could win the election. Pundits will be predicting that their bandwagon could roll on to the General Election.
Tory backbenchers will panic. The pressure on David Cameron to ratchet up his demands for reform of the European Union (already large) will make them completely unacceptable to our potential allies in Germany and Sweden. If re-elected Cameron will fail in the renegotiation. He will still campaign for a Yes vote in the 2017 referendum and Britain will vote to come out.
People must have this scenario clear in their minds as they vote in these European elections. As I say if you want out you know what to do, but if you realise the damage our exit would cause Britain, then you need to halt the UKIP bandwagon before it gets started.
THE CANDIDATES: NORTH WEST
European stalwarts are standing down. Sir Robert Atkins was that rare breed, a pro European Conservative. He’s going, along with Brian Simpson who’s represented Labour on and off for 25 years. The shock departure for the party is Arlene McCarthy. The highly effective campaigner on issues like banking reform and mobile roaming charges made a late decision to call it a day.
The voting system is proportional. The number of MEPs a party gets will be decided by the strength of their support across the whole North West. Who gets elected depends on their position on party lists that have already been drawn up. The North West will elect 8 MEPs.
It is likely Labour will get 3 MEPs. Theresa Griffin tops their list. A Liverpool councillor in the 1990s, she has been fighting these elections for years. Afzal Khan, the former Lord Mayor of Manchester is likely to join her and probably Julie Ward.
The Conservatives will re-elect Jackie Foster who first went to Europe 15 years ago. There was some surprise that she topped the Tory list ahead of the higher profile Saj Karim. He was first elected to Europe as a Liberal Democrat in 2004 and since his defection to the Tories has worked hard on trade relations between India and the EU.
Now we come to the big question. Will UKIP do well enough to knock out Chris Davies, a Lib Dem MEP for the North West for the last fifteen years? UKIP are bound to get their deputy leader Paul Nuttall re-elected. The region will also elect Louise Bours a 45 year old actress from Congleton. Then the question is will the region give UKIP sufficient support to elect UKIP s effective economics spokesman Steven Woolfe?
The eighth person elected only needs around 10% of the vote and Davies will be hoping that the residual pockets of Lib Dem strength in South Lakeland, Pendle, Liverpool and Stockport will see him through, but it is likely to be close.
The Greens did well in these elections back in 1989 and the anti fracking movement might put Peter Cranie in contention with Davies and Woolfe.
My analysis presumes that the BNP leader Nick Griffin will lose his seat. His party is riven with factions and nearly bankrupt plus UKIP have stolen the agenda on immigration.
CANDIDATES: YORKSHIRE AND THE HUMBER
An extraordinary series of events means that only two of the six people elected five years ago for this region are offering themselves again under the same party colours.
Edward Macmillan-Scott defected from the Tories to the Lib Dems. The other Lib Dem MEP, Diana Wallace stood down on health grounds. Godfrey Bloom of bongo bongo land and sluts fame left UKIP, is sitting as an independent and is not offering his talents to the voters again. The BNP’s Andrew Brons fell out with the party leader, has formed another right wing party and is not standing.
With six places up for grabs, it is likely Labour will re-elect Linda McAvan and Richard Corbett, the Tories Tim Kirkhope and UKIP Jane Collins and Amjad Bashir.
The sixth place will be close between Alex Story for the Tories, Mike Hookem UKIP and Lib Dem Edward Macmillan Scott who has been in the European Parliament for thirty years and would be a real scalp for UKIP.