SCOTLAND goes to the polls tomorrow to elect six members of the European Parliament. Normally those MEPs would be looking to serve a five-year term, but unless Article 50 is revoked they will be out of a job by October 31 at the latest, as British MEPS will cease on Brexit.

ALONG with the European Commission and the European Council, the parliament is one of the three institutions that make up the controlling bodies of the European Union.

It is the only one of the three that is directly elected by the people of the EU who will go to the polls in their respective countries over the next few days to elect a total of 751 MEPs. It is estimated that up to 200 million electors will actually cast their votes, making it the second-largest democratic vote in the world after the Indian general election, which has just finished.

READ MORE: EU election: A list of every candidate in Scotland standing for MEP

GROWING out of the Common Assembly project that began with the original Communities in 1952, the Treaty of Rome in 1957 gave the assembly status and it was renamed the European Parliament in 1962.

From the outset it was a consultative body only, with no powers and with members appointed by governments, but it gradually assumed control over the communities’ budget and in 1979 the European Community, as it was known then, called the first direct elections.

As with any new legislative body, there was some confusion at first as to the powers of the parliament. On one subject, France was determined to make a definite stand and that was the location of the parliament building itself. They wanted Strasbourg and presidents Georges Pompidou and Valéry Giscard d’Estaing were not prepared to budge. So while the home of the European Commission remains in Brussels, which also hosts committee meetings, the parliament is still housed in Strasbourg, with other civil servants based in Luxembourg necessitating much commuting between the three cities by politicians and civil servants alike.

The parliament has gained many more powers since 1979 and now has a much more active role in supervising the work of the European Commission.

WINNIE Ewing, then an MP, was appointed by Harold Wilson’s government to sit in the parliament in 1975. When direct first-past-the-post elections were first held in 1979, Ewing won her Highlands and Islands seat – MEPs were elected by constituencies back then – and she thus became the only non-Tory or Labour MEP. Her strong advocacy for Scotland soon earned her the nickname Madame Ecosse and by the time of her transfer to become an MSP in 1999 she was Scotland’s longest-serving MEP.

Other Scottish MEPs to make their mark were Labour’s Janey Buchan (1979 to 1994), the Conservatives’ Struan Stevenson (1999 to 2014), the SNP’s Ian Hudghton (1998-2019) and Alyn Smith, SNP MEP since 2004 who has shot to prominence with his oratory against Brexit.

Labour’s David Martin is the longest-serving Scottish MEP, having been first elected in 1984. He is the second-longest serving MEP of them all.