Monday, 23 January 2017

It's not the media's fault we don't know our MEPs

There was a letter in the i newspaper at the weekend from a former Lib Dem MEP candidate, agreeing with an earlier letter that few people know the names of their MEPs. 'Whose fault is that?' asks Charles Bidwell of Oxford. Well, apparently Mr Bidwell gave lots of briefing papers to the local press, which they ignored, although I'm sure they were fascinating - so apparently it's all the fault of the media.

However, I'd suggest Mr Bidwell entirely misses the point. Even if the media was full of details of our local MEPs, we still wouldn't know who they were. Because they have no significance to us.

I know who my local MP is. I've emailed him a good number of times and spoken to him face to face on several occasions. I've asked about some local issues, which he has taken action on, and I've joined with others in writing to him about key national issues, which I can't say for certain has changed his opinion, but at the very least I can feel sure has been considered when he has voted for things that affect us in parliament. I know who my MP is, because he can do things for me locally, and represent me in national votes which will make things happen.

Now let's contrast that with my MEPs (I presume under the confusingly complex system I have more than one, but I haven't a clue who they are). What can they do for me locally? Nothing whatsoever. They aren't representatives who do work in a constituency. What advantage will I have from bending their ear about matters facing Europe? None whatsoever, because their role is not to represent their constituents and sway decisions like a real MP. Why should I know their names?  We have no point of connection.

Even amongst fervent remainers I'm sure there are many who, in their heart of hearts, wouldn't miss their MEPs. Because they really aren't part of our lives.

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