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The Ugliest Side to the European Parliament

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This will be the last column for a while in which I discuss the inner workings of the European Parliament. There are, after all, plenty of domestic issues to consider.

The election for the Commission President was the first main item on the agenda last week. I expected this to pass without any drama. The Parliament had just one candidate to choose from. And to ensure that the public had no idea of what their democratic representatives were doing, the ballot was held in secret. I don't believe that's right. The public has a right to know how I voted (I voted 'No' to Juncker as you might expect).

Eight MEPs were chosen at random from the packed chamber to scrutinise and oversee the ballot. I settled down preparing to cast my 'No' vote. The first two accepted their nominations as scrutinisers, and took up their positions. I was rather taken aback that my name was called next.

I had to take an instant decision whether to accept or not, and decided that I don't want to be a part of the organisation of such a process. I told the chamber that I could not support a secret ballot and that constituents have a right to know how we voted.

During the rest of the week I spoke three more times, on youth unemployment and on the 'payments problem' (the EU having overspent it's budget) as well as a 'blue card' intervention on Iraq. In the debate on youth unemployment, I was astonished that the EU Commissioner present actually praised my contribution. I can't imagine that EU Commissioners often mention UKIP MEPs in a favourable light, so there was only one honourable course of action. I went to our 'chief whip', Stuart Agnew, and light-heatedly asked when my disciplinary hearing would take place.

In the same debate, I saw the ugliest side to the European Parliament. We saw racism on that day, the first time I've been confronted with racism in a very long time. A Polish MEP described black people as n***ers and n****s, comparing the millions of unemployed young people to the southern United States.

We were all stunned by the speech and I wondered at first whether I had misheard. But the 'n word' kept on coming. UKIP's Jim Carver MEP was the first to react with cries of "shame on you" and the rest of us took to booing. Incredibly, the president of the session seemed unperturbed and would have moved straight to the next speaker had there not been uproar in the chamber.

Racism is a serious word. It is a serious allegation and not one which should be taken lightly. And in modern society, there are few more serious charges that can be levelled against anyone, but I use the word advisedly to describe what happened in the European Parliament that day.

I will leave you with one thought. When the Left of British politics throw the word 'racism' about like confetti, they cheapen the word and demean the experiences of those who have been the victims of racism. They should hang their heads in shame.

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