I didn’t vote today. I never expected to read those words written (typed) by me. I was always a great advocate of the need to vote, and felt that the many years of struggle and suffering of others to guarantee me that vote deserved my effort. I simply cannot see the point of voting for a European Parliament in which I have no faith or belief. To me, it is like being given the choice of voting for three different fascist parties, and feeling that I should at least use that vote, even if I despised their policies. Not only is it completely pointless, it is never going to happen.
When I was a younger man, I expressed militant ideas. I espoused the causes of revolutions in far-off lands, and agreed with the justifications of armed struggle, and achieving a goal by any means necessary. I was class-conscious, to the point of hatred, and regarded many sections of society as my sworn enemies. Somewhere in my now older head, all of this still swirls around. I have T-shirts emblazoned with the logos of Brigate Rosse, slogans from the Spanish Civil War, and silhouettes of Lenin. I don’t just lean to the Left, I lurch wholeheartedly towards it. My heart longs for a return to the days of the Soviet Union, devoid of utilities billionaires, and Tito’s Yugoslavia, offering a practical approach to European Communism.
My head knows that this is all gone, never to return. The Red Brigades became gangsters and kidnappers, Yugoslavia destroyed itself in sectarian blood-lust, and they pulled down most of the statues of Lenin to make room for Starbucks. The world has moved to the Right. In almost every European country, the choice for the people is between one version of a right-wing party, or another. Business rules; ideals don’t pay dividends. The few countries in other lands which still boast anything remotely resembling a left-wing government are paralysed by the need to trade with capitalists, to sell their oil, their cheaply manufactured goods, or the fast-diminishing natural resources of their land. Globalisation has finally arrived, and along with it, the politics of nationalism, racism, and self-interest.
So what of the ‘enemies’? If there is ‘another side’, a modern-day natural enemy to the capitalist vine that is slowly choking the planet, then that is surely Islamic Fundamentalism. But this is no cause to defend. Its own politics are even further to the right, significantly more terrible than those pale imitations in the West. It comes with a medieval callousness, and a completely ruthless agenda. If it was not for the religious zealotry, the flippant disregard for women as individuals, and total intolerance of all things non-Muslim, I might find myself admiring such fanaticism. We should look on in terror, as here is a war we can never win. They are the future, because they don’t care about the future. They want to restore the past, and they are prepared to die, to see that happen.
When I look back at my apparently militant youth, I see now that it was many things. Fashion, protest, rebellion by argument, even something as basic as choosing a side. It was never really militancy. We may well have called it that, but we only have to look to modern day Islam to see what it really means. Total commitment, sacrifice, abstention, loyalty, and devotion. I might have had some of this, but never in large enough measure. Compared to these people, I was a child playing with ideas as toys.
Here in the UK, we are soon to have the chance to elect our members of the European Parliament. This is one of the elections that gets the least attention from the Great British Public, and the only one where proportional representation is used to determine the winners nationally. Like many voters, I am not a fan of proportional representation. We don’t really understand it, and we don’t like the idea that our vote might be transferred to someone completely different, in a second round ballot. There is a lot of coverage of the forthcoming elections on TV news, both nationally, and locally. If you didn’t know better, you could be forgiven for thinking that the average person is remotely interested.
The constituencies for members of the European Parliament from the UK are very large. It is impossible to see how the elected person could possibly hope to represent the diverse interests of the electorate from such a wide area. The costs of paying salaries and providing expenses for these members is well-known to be ridiculously high, and the fact that many of them just sign in and then go home again, is also well-reported. It is little short of a scandal that it exists at all, and the constant increases in running this European farce are unjustified, and unnecessary. We should all be very angry about it. We should be behind barricades, burning tyres in protest, We are not though, because we are just bored with it all. We cannot get out of it, and nobody in a position of power seems to genuinely want to escape the clutches of the Euro-monster that has us in a death-lock. If you are told enough times that there is nothing that you can do about it, then boredom sets in, along with its usual bedfellow, apathy.
The various parties are parading their platforms on TV news. Labour want to stay in, at all costs. Lib-Dem want to stay in at all costs. The Conservatives want to stay in at all costs, but add that they will promise a referendum on continued membership. But not until 2017, and only if they are the sole party in power. The UK Independence Party (UKIP) have gained ground, with an anti-European stance, and a pledge to keep the pound, and to oppose further immigration. Pundits predict that they will do well in these elections. So will this fervently anti-European party get us out of the EU? They can’t. It takes the government in power to do this, not the members of the European Parliament. Will they refuse to take their seats in protest, decline the salaries and expenses, to protest and to highlight the problem? Not a bit of it. They will take the wads of cash, turn up in Europe, and moan about being there. They can rest easy, knowing that they are unlikely to ever be in power in the UK, leaving them with the luxury of blaming the traditional parties for keeping us in. Hypocrites all. More members for the club of greed, opportunism, and hypocrisy that is the European Union.
Those other smaller parties, what of them? The Extreme Left is virtually non-existent now. The Greens want to stay in Europe, and the Extreme Right want out of it, but will never be in a powerful enough position to make that wish come true. So, after the election, we will see a list of those elected, with parties claiming victory, or conceding defeat. We will forget the name of our MEP as soon as we hear it, and the whole circus will continue, with this under-elected crowd getting rich from the system. Nothing will change, except for a few faces, and the sound of some speeches.
Is it any wonder we’re bored?