Whilst most people have been talking about the Brexit Party, UKIP and ‘Tommy Robinson’ in relation to the forthcoming EU elections, another ad hoc grouping has decided to stand in the elections later this month.
The environmental group behind the mass protests and arrests in London recently: Extinction Rebellion.
However, instead of looking at how EU elections work in the UK (multiple MEPs are elected at a regional level via party lists under a form of PR, rather than by FPTP) and forming a combined list using a distinctive party label, the Extinction Rebellion activists have decided to stand as individual candidates, (described as ‘Independent’ on the ballot paper) seven of them in London and a further two in the south west of England.
You require a five thousand pound deposit per list/independent candidate to stand in an EU election in the UK. So that is forty five thousand quid on deposits alone they have managed to spend already. They also have no chance of getting the necessary votes (2.5% of the total regional vote) to retain those deposits, thanks to their separate nominations, regardless of how much extra they spend on their campaign.
As a result of this monumental stupidity, the ballot paper in London is huge with ten party lists (including the Greens, who would be the natural choice for anyone concerned about the environment, and the Animal Welfare Party) and eleven independents (including the seven Extinction Rebellion candidates) giving twenty one choices on the ballot paper in total. Each London elector has one vote and eight seats are available in London allocated according to the share of the vote acquired by each party list/independent candidate. In 2014, the Greens managed to get a single London MEP elected with 8.9% of the vote
Bizarrely, some of the liberal media are taking this electoral intervention by Extinction Rebellion seriously.
However, the penny seems to have dropped within Extinction Rebellion itself and the campaign has already been disowned, apparently.
In a recent statement issued by Extinction Rebellion, support was abruptly withdrawn from all the candidates declared at the end of last month, thus: “Last Friday came media reports that nine XR rebels would be standing in the upcoming European elections, raising difficult questions for the XR community. Was Extinction Rebellion now a political party? Were XR funds now being used for election campaigning? Might this move just split the vote?”
As the candidates are standing against one another, that will happen by default anyway!
The statement continues in a stern manner: ” To be absolutely clear, these individuals are not acting on behalf of XR. All those involved in the Euro elections are immediately stepping down from their role in XR and will not be able to call upon XR resources, infrastructure or funds for the duration of their involvement.”
It concluded brusquely: “Those taking part are doing so on a personal basis that is explicitly separate from XR. We are not, and will never be, a political party.”
A website has been launched to support the (now disavowed) election campaign.
Some of the candidate descriptions defy description as well.
They include a Politics and History student at a London University who “is passionate about understanding how the world works”. Let’s hope her next essay topic doesn’t ask how EU elections held in the UK work!
While another is a “Pan-Afrikan Community Advocate for Global Justice”, who happens to reside in Brixton. You couldn’t make that up!
While another one of the seven London candidates sees fit to mention he has two bikes and works as an eighties DJ!