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UK gears up for EU polls

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Kaliph Anaz reports on the EU campaign Scenario in the UK. British-Asian voters are still confused about the policies of the major political parties – but they are aware about the racist stance of Ukip and its leader Nigel Farage and the right-wing British Nationalist Party of Nick Griffin. Campaigners are urging the British-Asians to come out and vote against the racist parties.

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UK is going to poll tomorrow to elect a new team to represent the British electorate at European Union. In total, 73 Members of the European Parliament will be elected from the United Kingdom using proportional representation. Most of the results of the election will be announced on Sunday 25 May, after voting has closed throughout the 28 member states of the European Union. About 46 million British voters can take part.

Local council elections are also taking place in England and Northern Ireland. All the 36 London boroughs are also going to poll tomorrow.

Campaigners are appealing to the voters to shed their hesitation to vote tomorrow. Voting percentage in the UK is dwindling and it is now hovering around 40 per cent. “It is a civic duty to vote,” they said.

Activists of Anti-fascist coalition Unite Against Fascism [UAF] are campaigning across the North West for their ‘Nick Griffin Must Go’ campaign, which aims to stop the re-election of BNP leader Nick Griffin.

“BNP is making issues affecting the common man a mockery,” said Asif Iqbal, a resident of Rochdale. “They don’t care about the economy, NHS or political reforms. Their main agenda is against Muslims and they are on a war against burqas.”

Signatories to the statement supporting UAF’s “Nick Griffin Must Go campaign” include Lancashire Council Of Mosques, and MPs, MEPs, Councillors and Trades Unions across the North West.2

These include Mohammed Taj, President of the Trade Union Congress, country’s largest worker’s forum, Cllr Afzal Khan, Unite the union North West, Yasmin Qureshi MP and Blackburn Councillors including Mohammed Khan and Salim Sidat.

UAF say that the BNP is a fascist organisation, which attempts to stir up racism and Islamophobia. Nick Griffin – who described Islam as an “evil, wicked faith” – only needs around seven per cent of the vote to be re-elected as an MEP on 22 May.

Paul Jenkins, North West Regional Organiser for Unite 3Against Fascism, said: “The form of proportional representation used at the European Elections is a completely different system to that used in most elections. So every vote counts.”

Britain is one of eight countries – including Germany and France – to use a “closed list” system. So you vote for a party, rather than an individual. The parties themselves decide who goes on the candidate list for each of the 12 electoral regions. The ones at the top stand the best chance of being elected.

At present Conservatives are holding the largest MEP bloc with 26 mebers, followed by Labour’s 13, Liberal Democrats 12 and Ukip’s 9. The European Parliament has more power than it used to, although most EU legislation still comes from the unelected European Commission. Nobody wins the European elections – there are no government and opposition benches like at Westminster. But the make-up of the new Parliament is likely to have a decisive influence on the future direction of the EU – particularly if, as expected, there is a large block of Eurosceptic MEPs. In the UK, the result can have a big impact on a party’s mood and their leader’s prospects ahead of the 2015 general election.

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