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?
It seems to be the general view that the Tories (read Coalition) will lose the next election. The people of the UK are tired of recession, belt-tightening measures, and cuts in social security payments. Apparently. The Liberals are discredited, and consigned to some electoral wasteland, never to reappear as a force in British politics. The job market has been handed over to the employers, and no-hours contracts, no union agreements, and poor hourly rates are driving the popularity of the Tories into the ground. The leaders of that party are Public School has-beens with no integrity, and are simply lining their own pockets, and those of their friends. They are espousing the policies of the far Right, for fear of UKIP, and because of the general popularity of restrictions on immigration.
All of this may be true. Much of it is often quoted by Leftist thinkers and commentators, although the news media seems to have given up attacking the government, and even the BBC are now accused of a distinct, and uncomfortable to watch, Right-Wing bias. UKIP are shooting themselves in the foot, with their members exposed as former National Front and BNP supporters, and their elected officials are being revealed, in some cases, as little more than sexist or homophobic buffoons. The Greens have little significance, outside of some local protests about nuclear power, and as the Scots are unlikely to vote for independence, the SNP may make some noise, but will ultimately lose face.
So, where is the opposition? There is the actual Opposition, in the form of the Labour Party. It may just as well not be there. It has no forward-thinking policies, has completely abandoned Socialism, and even unashamedly admits that it will continue some present Tory policies, if it is lucky enough to be elected. There are no strong people in its shadow cabinet, and the real Left-Wing thinkers left in that party have no influence, and even less power. It is slowly dismantling its lifelong affiliation with the Trade Unions, and distancing itself from the old guard Labour politicians, and the few outspoken characters in its ranks.
Worst of all, it has a completely ineffectual leader. A man who has the presence of an awkward schoolboy, no talent at public speaking, and the charisma of a traffic warden. Miliband is the most ineffectual leader that Labour has ever had, and considering Kinnock, that takes some doing. He never comes across as genuine, whether he feels he is, or not. He has no qualities of a statesman, and even manages to make Cameron look like a man with gravitas and sincerity. His public appearances at photo opportunities look awkward and contrived, and anything he utters on camera sounds insincere, and lacks substance. In the Commons, he comes over like a sixth former in a debating society, smug at what he considers to be his triumphs, embarrassed and awkward when he loses the point of the argument. His ‘team’ sit around behind him and alongside him, looking as if they wished they weren’t there, and as if they must be ruing the day that they elected him as their leader.
If Labour do not shake themselves up before the next election, get back to communicating with the people, and choose a leader capable and worthy of leading the party to victory, then we will all lose. We won’t have a coalition as we do now, but instead we will have a re-energised, far-Right Tory government, elected on a platform of being anti-Europe, anti-immigration, and anti-people on benefits, and the unemployed. They will be pro-business, pro-financiers, and pro-the rich. Working peoples’ rights will be further reduced, and the country will descend into a new Victorian Age, of us and them, rich and poor. Labour owe it to their voters to be a real opposition, and not just one in name only. And they must get rid of Miliband, or face disaster in the polls.