Hot on the heels of the local elections of which some of us in the UK have been privileged to experience the excitement, comes the next fun-packed iteration of voting: the Euro elections. And this time, it’s not just for us in the UK, but Europe-wide. We seem to be sticking with the current policy of averaging at least an election per year - well, why not, because they always produce such sterling results, don’t they?
This one, though, is particularly bizarre. (Just for the avoidance of any doubt, since we all have our own prejudices about the Brexit issue I will make my position clear: I think Brexit is a mistake, but not necessarily the potential disaster threatened by some of the more excitable commentators. In fifteen or so years time, we’ll probably look back and say, well, could have gone either way: who can know what the difference would have been? What I am clear about, though, is that my view was not the majority view; and that has to be respected, even by those of us who don’t particularly like it. That’s what living in a democracy means.) So now we’re in the odd position of choosing representatives who shouldn’t really be there. If Mrs ‘Brexit means Brexit’ May had done what she said (“we will leave the EU on 31st March 2019”), then we wouldn’t be expected to trot along to the polling station this week. Still, that didn’t happen, so we have to accept where we are and behave accordingly.
So what have we got to choose from? Well, first off there’s the ruling Conservative party. Traditionally, their strong points have been economic sanity and managerial competence. Mmm….those seem to have gone out of the window, and they march steadily further towards state interventions. And as for competence…… There was recently a documentary film on UK television featuring the EU side of the negotiation between them and the UK. Neither side came out with any credit, but surely the low point was when Michel Barnier - EU lead negotiator - was asked if he had discussed something with David Davis - UK Brexit Secretary and thus lead negotiator - and the answer was “no, he hasn’t been here for three months”. Lead negotiator, just one job to do; and he couldn’t get himself across to Brussels for three months? And these are supposed to be the competent ones? Give me strength.
Then there’s the official opposition, the Labour party, led by the magic grandpa and Bombs and Bullets Johnny. Actually, magic grandpa is a bit of an insult to real grandpas, whose grandchildren look up to them as really magic; I shan’t use the phrase again - poundshop protester is probably more appropriate. Their only real promise is to destroy the country’s economy with their absurd marxist policies - never worked yet, so why should it this time? (George Santayana told us about that.) And on the EU, they have no policy - or rather, they have as many as you may want, possibly contradictory. But if the government looks incompetent, just run your eye down the names of the shadow cabinet; and shudder at the prospect.
Away from the European issue, they seem to be advocating setting up a state kleptocracy, with the expropriation of the utility companies (as a start: then watch it grow) from their legitimate, legal shareholder owners. I’ve written before about the absurdity of the economics of their policy, so I won’t rehash it here, but in no way would I vote for a party which seems determined to turn the UK into the bastard child of Venezuela and the DDR.
What about the LibDems? Some of what they say seems quite reasonable. The trouble is, for me at any rate, that they are too tinged with the (Groucho) Marxism of former leader Nick Clegg - “those are my principles, and if you don’t like them…well, I have others.” Wouldn’t touch them with a bargepole.
The Greens? Ah, the Greens….making a lot of noise recently, but all so desperately miserabilist; in order to survive, we’ve got to stop doing anything that may be remotely pleasurable and all dress in dungarees and dirty tee-shirts. On one specific point, I despair of their inability to understand that the logical hole-filler necessary because energy demand is constant yet renewable supply cannot be, is fracked natural gas, not because I want to create carbon dioxide emissions, but because it is the cleanest short-term solution to the problem.
I have another issue with the Greens, as well. One of the strap-lines on their election leaflet was to the effect that the EU gives the ability to “travel, work, live and love across 27 other countries.” What an utterly fatuous statement. On a personal note, my (British) father married my (German) mother in a London church in the middle of the second world war; just after that same war, my (German) aunt married my (Polish) uncle, in another English church. Both of those two couples remained married for the next sixty-plus years until they sadly died. I think that probably covers the ‘love’ aspect, and not an EU in sight - indeed, a war going on. According to the Green pamphlet, it couldn’t have been possible; but there are plenty of positive cases to make without resorting to this kind of asinine drivel.
So that leaves the two new ‘parties’ - CHUK and Brexit. CHUK looks like nothing so much as a smug bunch of narcissists who love preening in front of the TV cameras, having failed to register significantly in their original parties, and whose competence to be involved in important decision-making is undermined by their manifest inability to organise even themselves coherently.
The Brexit Party; I could say a lot about this, but actually I’ll just stick to just one thing. I have a loathing of politicians strutting around on stages with radio microphones, pretending to be rockstars, whipping up baying audiences. Political decisions should be cerebral, not emotional, and the sight of thousands of chanting acolytes leaves me feeling distinctly queasy. And if, when you strip all that away, there is nothing left underneath, well, that tells us something.
In the end, then, there is nobody to vote for; a terrible indictment of our political classes in recent years.
If I had a magic wand, what would I like to do? Go back to 2016, the evening before David Cameron announced the referendum, and whisper in his ear: “Dave, tomorrow stay indoors. Shut yourself up in your study, don’t talk to anybody, and if you feel the urge to make an announcement, pour yourself a large scotch, sit down again and watch TV instead.”
Alas, I’m no magician.