I am absolutely disgusted with how opposition to the increasing undemocratic European Union institutions is treated. As a former pro-EU person, I longed for reform (i.e. democratisation) of the European Union when it comprised 12 members. Reform was promised over 20 years ago. It never came to pass, and with the blatant ignoring of the Irish, Dutch, and French referenda, it never will.
All three major political parties in the current General Election campaign have a pro-EU stance. There is no mainstream opposition.
What particularly worries me is that the Liberal Democrats look like they have achieved momentum through the recent leaders’ debates. But on what basis? Because they aren’t either of the main two parties and because that nice Nick Clegg bloke seems like a decent chap. They are a committed pro EU party and yet I really can’t see how that can square their stance with the undemocratic nature of the EU. The one consolation is that they have opined that if they held power, they would seek a referendum to resolve the question of EU membership once and for all – an ‘in or out’ referendum. However, as the most blatantly pro-EU party, I could imagine that they would forget this pretty quickly, or, if they were to hold it and the ‘out’ vote prevailed, they would sweep it under the carpet as the referenda on the Lisbon Treaty in France, The Netherlands and Ireland were.
We hear nothing from parties which oppose the European Union as a political institution, because they have been largely ignored by the media, and yet UKIP came second in the 2009 European elections (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8088343.stm). There are several parties which oppose the now derailed and outdated European Union project of all political persuasions (left and right wing), but don’t be fooled into thinking that they are all lunatic fringe parties.
If you really want to know which policies parties have then please, please, please read their policy documents or manifestos. Don’t complain that you don’t know what they stand for – find out! This page is a good start: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/election_2010/8515961.stm#subject=key&col1=green&col2=ukip&col3=englishdemocrats
Please don’t vote solely on the basis of the television debates, or because your local candidate looks ‘a bit of alright’. This is not X Factor – it’s democracy and it matters.
My own fear (as someone who is interested in politics) is that the EU is and has been marching towards a benign (at the moment) dictatorship for some time – under the European Commission, it effectively already is. The class of politicians working for the EU would like to see the end of national governments within Europe and forge ahead with a European super state – that isn’t just anti-EU rhetoric – our national governments are all signed up to it and constantly ignore the popular votes when these have been held.
If you are unsure of how the EU works, please make the effort to find out. It has a massive effect on your life now, whether you like it or not.
The next few years are particularly important. Rest assured, as a Modern Languages graduate and someone who admires the diversity of European cultures, I am no xenophobe. If the EU showed any signs of true democratisation and actually implementing its policy of ‘subsidiarity’, I would have no problem supporting it. Unfortunately, it has shown itself to be arrogant, undemocratic, and quite sinister in the way it handles opposition.
Free trade is all well and good and multilateral cooperation on many things is also a great thing. Supra-national government with no democratic checks and balances is not. Please consider carefully for whom you vote. And remember – there is no such thing as a wasted vote. The more votes a party gets (even if it doesn’t win your constituency this election), the more it can be considered as a contender for future elections.