Vote for Europe!

The UK belongs in the EU. Photo © Richard J S Young.

As with all Bath for Europe blogs, this text reflects the personal views of one of our supporters.

This coming Thursday, May 23rd, we are voting in one of the most complicated elections that British voters have ever tackled. Many will not bother to vote, which is sad. We are electing the next five years’ worth of Members of the European Parliament, which is important.

The problem is that we are voting not so much for individuals as for parties. There are only six MEP seats for the whole of the England’s South West & Gibraltar Region, but there are eight parties, with three independents tagging along. The parties have devised long lists of candidates of their own choosing and order. We have just the one vote.

What goes through my mind as I peruse my ballot paper?

The alphabetical order doesn’t do much to group the parties but, helpfully, at the bottom are The Brexit Party and UKIP. They have both been hitting headlines in polls, the former doing well, the latter badly. They are the only parties wholly in favour of Brexit. They would get my vote if I doggedly dislike the EU concept. However, I would have to swallow some curious facts. The Brexit Party isn’t a party. It’s a self-described commercial company. It has one director and no members. All its funding comes from one person, Aaron Banks. So, it’s not democratic, if I have been worrying about that recently. It has one charismatic leader, yes, but he is not careful with the truth and is happy to laugh and smile through a catalogue of contradictions and veritable fabrications.  He betrayed the genuine party that he did invent, UKIP, who are now sitting near the bottom of the polls, along with the Independents and the English Democrats. Well, yes, I may not have heard of them, but they once wanted England to leave the UK – perhaps “Englexit” – and now they’re making do with demanding an English Parliament. Not unreasonable, as rural England provided far more votes for Brexit than any other UK nation, all of whose leaders are pro-Europe. An English music group performs a song entitled “So sorry, Scotland”.

Further up the ballot list is a group of parties that will be chosen by voters who really applaud the European Union. They appreciate the achieved aim of peace in Europe after the Second World War, the bringing of dictatorships of right and left into the democratic fold, the 45 years of agreed rule-making for the benefit of all Europeans and, of course, the 50-plus trade agreements, not just among member states but with nations around the world. Supporters wave EU flags, arrange protest marches on London, and point out that the EU has, since the referendum, completed two more free-trade agreements with Japan and Canada and has made it illegal to pay immigrants less than locals.

Unsurprisingly, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens are inseparable in their constant demand that the UK Remain in the European Union, and that Brexit be dropped. They have been joined recently by a cross-party group calling themselves Change UK – The Independent Group – who have abandoned their own parties to create a new one. They also consider leaving the EU to be a “great leap backwards”. My one vote could go to any of these three parties. A remarkable recent poll puts the rising Lib Dems in second place behind The Brexit Party and the Greens ahead of the Tories. The wearing of Bath’s bEUrets is spreading rapidly.

Extraordinarily, the two main Westminster parties cannot tell me which way to vote. The Conservatives have their ‘Brexiteers’ who are as extreme as possible, while their older and their more experienced Tories bewail the catastrophe about to envelope both the party and the country. The Labour party appears to be emerging as more and more pro-Europe, while their leader believes that the EU is a capitalist conspiracy and is anti-Europe. Their downward slides make it difficult for me to award them my vote.

My pencil is hovering over the ballot sheet. I can either wish to vote in an MEP who, I hope, will steer Europe towards an increasingly fair society that deals together with complex problems, or else I want an MEP that does nothing but collect the fees, obstruct proceedings and abuse the other MEPs. Oh, yes, it has happened before, and I have felt the shame. Suddenly it’s not a difficult decision.

The question of ‘which party’ is becoming clearer. As it stands now, the leadership of both Labour and the Tories may act in opposition to my wishes to Remain. Secondly, do I wish to sail my own selfish way into a romantic sunset, accepting the falsehoods as part of the scenery and ignoring the evidence of the blackest of black clouds already on us? Then I vote Brexit. Who knows, it might be fun, ha, ha!

Finally, if I am convinced by the generosity, logic and historical evidence of pro-European parties, it is highly likely that, thanks to the proportional representation method that the EU uses, my vote will produce one or more Lib Dem, Green or even Change UK candidate.

No matter which party we choose, let’s be sure to Vote for Europe!

Simon Campbell-Jones

Photo © Clive Dellard.