LETTER: Make sure you know what you are voting for


What do the forthcoming European elections mean to people?

Ask a lot of people and they will simply say they’re not interested. Yet the European Parliament plays a major part in shaping legislation in the UK, while our EU membership is directly linked not only to what our government spends and gets back but also to markets and contracts worth billions of pounds annually.

Love it or hate it, we should not underestimate the EU. It’s a significant player both politically and economically, and not something we can afford to shrug off.

The question on a lot of people’s minds seems to be, should we be in or out? But that’s the wrong question to focus on when we enter the polling stations on May 22. We’re not voting to shape the UK government, which will ultimately decide whether to stay in or leave the EU. We’re voting for our representatives in Europe itself.

It’s important that Britain has a say in the way the EU is run. We are, after all, a part of it and affected by the things that it does. By voting to boycott the European Parliament, we run the risk of electing MEPs who will do just that – refuse to turn up and debate important issues, and fail to give the UK a say in legislation that affects us.

This is not a general election. It is not a referendum. We are not being asked whether we should be in Europe or out of it. What we are being asked is who we want to represent us in the European Parliament, and that’s the question to focus on.

Whomever you vote for, keep in mind exactly what these elections are for and what’s at stake. We’re in the EU and we need to make it work to our advantage. Boycotting it won’t do that.

Jim Hardaker