Not much European election fever

European Parliament  Election special studio in Brussels The European Parliament's election special studio in Brussels

Last week I stood on the third floor of the European Parliament building in Brussels watching engineers put the finishing touches to a glittering new open-plan "election" television studio.

It is a measure of how much interest there is in the upcoming European Parliament polls that television news channels from across 27 member states are already queuing up to broadcast from it.

There is, of course, a 28th EU member state.

"I think BBC Scotland has been in touch but I would have to check to see if any other UK broadcaster has enquired about booking the studio," an official of the Parliament's broadcasting department told me.

Three months to go

As I write, it is three months to the elections which will be held in the UK on Thursday, 22 May - with the rest of Europe voting on Sunday, 25 May.

Back home in Yorkshire the regional and national newspapers are increasingly filling their pages with election news - but we are talking September's Scottish referendum and the 2015 General Election.

The European polls hardly get a look in.

The media are not alone in failing to talk about the European elections.

The day after my return from Brussels I was at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds to watch Labour leader Ed Miliband field questions from an invited audience of party members and trade unionists.

He was asked about Labour's policies on issues ranging from the economy, HS2, benefits and the NHS. Neither he nor the audience said a word about Europe.

'Bring it on'

In an interview with me afterwards Ed Miliband carefully avoided any mention of UKIP when I asked him why Europe and immigration had been missing from the discussion.

Labour Leader Ed Miliband answers questions at party meeting in Leeds No mention of Europe from Ed Miliband in Leeds

"I think what this shows is that the Labour party knows that if we put forward a positive programme with positive policies that will make a difference then we will get people's support," he said.

"It isn't about negativity."

Interestingly Mr Miliband was speaking on the day Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg had challenged UKIP 's Nigel Farage to a public debate in the run-up to the European elections.

Mr Miliband would not answer questions on how he would react if he was also asked to take part in that debate.

Mr Farage, whose party is the bookie's favourite to take a majority of the 60 seats up for grabs in the nine English regions, simply said "bring it on".

The Conservative reaction came from Lord Heseltine who told the BBC's Marr Show that Mr Clegg's challenge was "unwise".

I suppose that is as close as we get to Euro election fever.

Len Tingle Article written by Len Tingle Len Tingle Political editor, Yorkshire

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  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    Give us an in out referendum on the EU and there'll be plenty of interest. If it was an England only referendum - England would be out. Bring that on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    Little interest in EU elections.
    Could it be that the majority of British folk are just tired of being dominated by the EU?
    It seems to me that the only interest and benefit of this unelected bunch is to the clowns in Westminster and the multinationals,ie: foreigners who now rule our country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    It's wrong to assume that nothing would have been achieved without the eu.
    Life didn't stop outside the eu.
    All the worlds other trading blocs have been forging ahead, concentrating on competition & trade, not political federation.
    Being an unwieldy, centrist, undemocratic & protectionist federation isn't progress.
    Unless Comecon 2 with better suits and expenses is the objective.

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    Why would we be interested in MEP elections- they have no real power.
    We can only use our votes for protest.
    No doubt the liblabtories+establishment will collude with the ec to remove even this last vestige of democracy if it interferes with their beloved eu project.
    And we shouldn't fear protest votes letting Labour back in at local & general elections; it'll just hasten their end.

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    There's no nuances in this debate the EU is either a communist plot if you believe the antis or a panacea for everything if you believe the pros (who seem to think techie credibility rests on insulting the uk). It's neither of these polar extremes but I am not interested in the elections as they are less seen as a chance to shape Europe but to send a message to the national government.

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    I used to watch Euro Trash it was great, Lola made that show.

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    38. ronnieboy1

    Do you actually hear funny voices when you read other peoples posts?

    Do your lips move?

    Has anyone actually told you they value your opinion?

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    People would perhaps be more interested in the EU elections if they knew more about what the EU does and what it gives us. Free travel, human rights, trade agreements, they're all good things but from my experience most people just view the EU as more money spent on more out of touch party politicians and that doesn't help anyone.

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.


    So it's Zero MPs in "only" Twenty Years.

    In a Country where a bloke in a Monkey suit can be elected Lord Mayor with 52% of the Votes cast you'd expect one MP in twenty years.

    Just win a by-election if the party is that popular.

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    Knut Knutson ukip is only 20 years old they have done remarkably well in that time by anyones standards, unless of course you are a europhile who thinks democracy is not to be trusted as unelected failed politicians are clearly the way to go.

  • Comment number 38.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    Drawback with the European Parliament is that they don't actually do anything, it's no surprise people aren't interested in voting for them, nor for that matter candidates interested in campaigning for votes.

    I want to vote directly for the commissioners who actually wield the power in Europe... How about campaigning for real democracy, BBC?

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.


    Zero MPs

    A Leader who refuses to stand in a by-election.

    A slogan previously used by the BNP

    And the support of Britains worst newspaper.

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    The eussr parliament is as irrelevant as a parish council, they do not hold the power, they are there for only one reason and that is to pretend that there is democracy in the eussr, so the turnout is unlikely to be any greater than for the little parish councils.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    A lot to do with our island nation status, I suspect. Attitudes here seem to be along the lines - "Europe is them over there. They're not like us over here. They mustn't be trusted, or taken seriously".

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    id love to see farage and milliband in a head to head on europe...and see farage rip milliband to shreds...the main parties dont like talking about the EU because all 3 agree with it....none of them have the slightest interest in giving the people a say on EU membership.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    The lack of coverage is in many ways a reflection of the lack of interest in Europe, among the media and the general public.

    That is an issue for UKIP, which can't rely on public opinion over Europe to sweep it into power.

    But it's also a problem for the openly pro-EU parties, notably the LibDems, who are useless anyway.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    The BBC reports on US elections as though they were happening here.

    It spends very little time talking about mainland Europe, only focussing on the difficulties of Berlusconi and Sarkozy, who they regarded as anathema.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    16. Solutionist
    "My father and millions of other people fought to keep this country from being run by foreigners."

    Both my Grandfathers in two World Wars, Four of my Uncles fought in WWII and my Dad was in Korea etc

    Often they would argue about Politics, but I don't think on any occasion did any of them use service as a trump card to win an argument.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    The media is in the pockets of the main parties - and they assume they will be defeated by UKIP in the May elections - so it stands to reason that these elections will be kept out of the limelight by the mass media.


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