Daniel Korski

Do you know what your MEP is up to?

Do you know what your MEP is up to?
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One of the major forces driving the public’s reaction to the expenses scandal has been the feeling that we, the voters, simply don’t know what our elected representatives are up to. But this goes well beyond claims for moats, bathplugs and so on. We the electorate actually know very little about what our MPs do. If an MP isn’t in the front rank, their actions go pretty much unreported. Sure, the really determined can read Hansard to find out what their MP is doing. But it is still sometime hard to determine what precisely is going on in that house on the river.

If the performance of Parliament and that of MPs is hard to ascertain in any detail, however, try figuring out what the European Parliament is up to. Whether you believe it is a good, bad or simply irrelevant institution, voters need to know what is going on there. This need becomes even more paramount if the Lisbon treaty is ratified and the European legislature gains equal power with the Council of Ministers (i.e. national governments) in deciding most European Union-wide laws. But besides the occasional story, say about expenses, or a kerfuffle over the Working Time directive, little is heard about the European Parliament.

Thankfully, a new website, http://votewatch.eu, has sprung up, allowing citizens to track the voting records of their MEPs. It is a great resource which yields lots of useful information. The website shows a whole bunch of things, like the number of times a party is part of a majority i.e. how successful they are, who votes with whom—the Tory bloc vote with the EPP 74 percent of the time. (Even Dan Hannan who has left the EPP, votes with them 70 percent of the time) It is a great tool that should help usher in more transparency and should be extended not only to Westminster, but also the devolved legislatures.