THE UKIP politician running to be one of London's eight Members of the European Parliament has said it is "nonsense" that MEPs can effectively represent their constituents. But Paul Oakley, who is also the UK Independence Party's chairman for Greenwich and Lewisham, wants the job anyway because it "gives us a voice." Arguing it was in fact the [indirectly elected] European Commission that called the shots in the EU, Mr Oakley told voters in Coulsdon on Thursday: "The fact that MEPs stand up for your interests is nonsense." Challenged as to why he were running for the post if that were the case, he said: "It is very straightforward: As elected representatives, it gives us a voice." He continued: "Nigel Farage is never off the TV and the reason is he holds an elected post." Mr Oakley's party, which wants Britain to leave the EU, is predicted to beat other British parties in the European elections on May 22. The candidate was speaking at an MEP London hustings organised by local residents, at the Coulsdon Community Centre. He was joined on the panel by Charles Tannock, one of three Conservative MEPs for London; Labour's candidate Ivana Bartoletti; Lib Dem candidate Anuja Prashar; and Green Party candidate Tracey Hague. They were quizzed on matters including waste in EU spending, environmental policy, and Britain's relationship with the EU. Mr Tannock challenged Mr Oakley's assertion that the May 22 elections were "about our membership of the EU." He added that was a matter for the British parliament, and "only by voting Conservative will there be a referendum." Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to hold in 2017 a referendum on Britain's membership of the EU, if the party is re-elected next year. Ms Bartoletti said she saw Britain's place in Europe but "in a different kind of Europe." She added: "The Europe that we have seen over the past years is not the kind of Europe that I had in mind when I started to get involved in international politics three years ago." Ms Hague said the Green Party was "working to make [the EU] more democratic and more accountable." Lib Dem's Ms Prashar said Britain was "starting to lose influence" in the EU given the growing domestic debate, something that needed to be "guarded against." The only MEP London hustings in Croydon, the event drew about 25 people – and a crew from Danish TV. Voters can pick their MEP alongside their local Council candidates on May 22. London is currently represented by Charles Tannock, Conservative; Claude Moraes, Labour; Baroness Sarah Ludford, Liberal Democrats; Dr Syed Kamall, Conservative; Jean Lambert, Green Party; Gerard Batten, UKIP; Mary Honeyball, Labour; and Marina Yannakoudakis, Conservative.
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