With nineteen boxes to choose from on the ballot paper — 89 candidates in total — I ought to have been spoilt for choice as I voted earlier today in the election for the European parliament. It wasn’t so. Perhaps I’m an electoral purist, but when I vote I do so on issues within the remit of the body I’m electing people to. So in local council elections, I vote on local issues not national ones: and in European elections I vote on issues that the European parliament can influence, not national ones.

In the run-up to the election I only received election communications from five parties. Despite supplementing that with the fairly comprehensive coverage of the candidates in the Adver, and searching the internet for the website of each candidate, if they had one, I could find little evidence of effort to propound their policies on matters that an MEP could vote on. The three mainstream parties all tried to make this a referendum on the performance of Mr Brown’s government — quite why the red nest chose to do that is puzzling but if they wish to commit electoral suicide, nobody’s going to stop them. Then there were the sixteen single issue, single policy and nutter parties plus one independent. Each either too extreme to contemplate or trying to make this a protest vote against our MPs’ troughing at our expense. I’m not happy with the behaviour of my MP, but that’s no reason for me to give my vote to some fringe party: where’s the evidence that they’d be more trustworthy?

If politicians wish — as they say they do — the British electorate to take European Parliament elections seriously, then they need to do so to, campaigning on issues that the European parliament can influence.

Thus it was that as I contemplated a ballot paper so large as to make it impossible to vote in total secrecy, with reluctance I picked up the stubby thick black pencil and used it to indicate ‘none of the above’.