5 Mar 2014

EU voting records: how do Ukip and Lib Dems compare?

Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage have given us a taste of their forthcoming radio and TV debates by crossing swords today over their relative voting records.

Nick Clegg claims Nigel Farage has a terrible voting record in the European Parliament, only for the Ukip leader to retaliate and point to the fact that Clegg has participated in barely 22 per cent of votes at Westminster since the last election.

Let’s try and compare.

Ukip doesn’t have any MPs, but both parties do have substantial groups of MEPs.

On average, based on voting records assembled by the Vote Watch Europe website, I calculate that Ukip’s nine current MEPs have voted in 66.17 per cent of plenary votes in the European Parliament, that is votes in the main chamber, rather than those in committee sessions.

That’s just under two thirds.

Britain's member of the European Parliament Farage holds a British flag during a debate at the European Parliament in Strasbourg

Nigel Farage (45.57 per cent) and his deputy Paul Nuttall (44.53 per cent) have by far the worst records.

Other Ukip MEPs range from 50.85 per cent (Trevor Colman) to 90.9 per cent (Stuart Agnew).

Calculating the Ukip figure is complicated as several of those elected MEPs in 2009 have since left the party, while Roger Helmer has defected from the Conservatives, so I have confined my reckoning just to those who are Ukip MEPs right now.

The former Ukip MEP Godfrey Bloom, who no longer gets the Ukip whip, has a very poor record, having voted in just 26.47 per cent of votes. If one included Bloom (and he is still a Ukip party member) the average Ukip figure would be dragged down to 62.2 per cent.

The Liberal Democrat voting record is very different.

Their 12 MEPs have voted in 87.95 per cent of votes – more than seven votes out of every eight. Even the Lib Dem MEPs’ worst voter, Edward McMillan-Scott, took part in 70.62 per cent of plenary votes.

The Liberal Democrats’ most assiduous voter in Europe is Phil Bennion, on 95.01 per cent.

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