Do I vote on Thursday?
Here in the UK, I’m supposed to do my meagre part in electing a Member of the European Parliament, yet I know very little about the running or conduct of that institution. In this, I am not alone. This is anecdotal, but I am prepared to bet only a very small percentage of my fellow electorate understand who they are voting for, or what alliances they will follow.
In UK general elections we vote using a most-votes-wins system, commonly called ‘first past the post’. The D’Hont proportional representation system used for EU elections asks us to vote for our chosen political party and the party then allocates seats to selected candidates according to their percentage of the total vote. So although the candidates’ names will be listed for the party of my choice I will not directly influence the choice of candidate: that will be up to the party.
Once elected, the candidates will ally themselves to party groups within the EP, groups with names quite different to their party label in the UK. Members of the UK Brexit party, for example, are likely to align with the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) group. Others may choose the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) or the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR). Some may select the Greens/EFA. I know about the Greens, but EFA? Well, that’s the European Free Alliance which is an association of smaller parties, one of which is called the European Pirates Party!!
A massive disconnect exists between the British system of personal accountability and this complex, remote, mildly patrician institution, separated from the UK by more than the English Channel’s defensive ditch. Few will feel any connection to it, and fewer understand the gurglings in its politically bilious maw. Its edicts are impersonal, then, and often ill-judged; its laws inappropriate to an island nation. The British are ferociously independent, and they conspicuously resent anyone who tries to tell them what to do.
Thursday will add a further layer of perplexity. Whomsoever wins will most probably be a member of the new Brexit Party or UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party), and therefore opposed to the institution they are legally required to join. If the received wisdom is to be believed, they will then be forced to surrender their seats when the UK finally leaves the EU on 29th October.
These new ‘Members’ or MEPs will by then have been in place for four months. The election that put them there will have consumed £100,000,000 of taxpayers’ money, which is clearly a very expensive fiasco unless there is an underlying intent to abandon the whole Brexit project, ignore the democratic process and keep the UK in the Federalist Union.
It is easy to become paranoid in British politics at the moment. Machiavellian ‘Remainers’ are busy in the woodwork, digging new tunnels and hatching new plots. Ever since a referendum came in with a result they did not want to hear they have been feverishly scheming, and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if they produced another rabbit from their collective hat.
So, do I vote? Do I contribute to this devious debacle, this deliberate travesty?
If I do, it will be to add my ‘cross’ to the millions of others our self-serving and arrogant ‘leaders’ will be compelled to find reasons to ignore.