There was more faux democracy in the European Parliament today. As MEPs filed in the chamber to vote on an association agreement with the Ukraine, the outcome of the vote was probably already clear.
Ukip are not quite a lone voice opposing this deal, and indeed over a hundred MEPs across the political spectrum supported our position. It's not that we oppose a trade deal with the Ukraine, far from it - UKIP is after all the only Party which wants us to have the power to negotiate our own trade deals in the UK.
But it's just political madness, at a time of crisis between Russia and the Ukraine, to seek to provoke Russia even further than we have done already. I don't like Vladimir Putin. I don't agree with what he says, the way he says it, or his actions on the world stage. The question though is how to respond, and politics sometimes requires a bit of finesse. Putin has claimed to the world that he 'could take Kiev in two weeks', with added sabre-rattling and political posturing. And of course, some people love to put words into Nigel Farage's mouth - he did indeed once speak of Putin as an 'operator' who manages to achieve his aims, but he emphatically did not support Putin's politics.
The matter had already been debated in the morning, so we all went into the chamber to vote. The President of the European Parliament (think, perhaps, of the Speaker of the House of Commons) gave the least impartial opening address imaginable. He expected the 'vast majority' of MEPs to support the deal, and spoke of it in glowing terms. This was followed by a speech by the President of the Ukraine, and a further speech by the President of the European Parliament. All three were clearly intended to browbeat MEPs into voting in favour. I'm sure that they would have voted in favour anyway, but this blatant systematic bias is hardly what we would consider to be democratic. The votes were duly taken, the motions carried, and the President of the Parliament asked whether anyone else wanted the floor. Despite MEPs gesturing and waving for his attention, he adjourned the session. The Swedish MEPs sitting next to me were outraged. They're new here too, and I believe I heard the word 'circus' used to describe what happened.
It's nothing new. Week in, week out, these things happen in Brussels and Strasbourg. The only difference is, most of the time the decisions don't play dice with national security.Suggest a correction