Poll? What poll? A big vote for apathy

THEY THINK Neil Kinnock is their MEP, that the European Parliament is about "merging governments" and are sent to sleep by debates on the euro.

As voters go to the polls today, the depth of apathy towards European elections is laid bare in an Independent survey. Lack of interest, ignorance and confusion characterised opinions, confirming predictions that turnout will be one of the lowest on record. Nearly 75 per cent did not know what the elections are for; of the enlightened, it had only been noticed because their children have the day off school while it is used as a polling station.

Just 7 per cent had been canvassed directly by any of the parties; only 6 per cent knew the name of their MEP. One man thought he was represented by Mr Kinnock (who is a European commissioner), while another believed it was Edwina Currie, a former MP.

After local elections, elections for the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly and even a parliamentary by- election thrown in for good measure, enthusiasm for another trip to the ballot-box has been severely depleted.

The survey, conducted in London and Manchester, found that while a large number of people knew there was an election today, most had no idea what it was for.

Man or woman, young or old, the survey showed the real victors in the election will be that increasingly popular political force: the Can't Be Bothered party.

The vote for Europe, page 8

Leading article, Review, page 3